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Research Roundup


Health Sounding the siren

Robin Campbell was a volunteer firefighter for 10 years in the Annapolis Valley, and is now hoping her research will lead to policy changes that will improve mental-health training, awareness and support for volunteer firefighters across the province. Starting in January 2020, Campbell, currently a PhD student in Health, is working with three rural fire departments in Nova Scotia, with five or six volunteer firefighters participating from each department. She is using photo-elicitation—which involves having volunteers take pictures of what it’s like to be a firefighter and their environments—and focus groups with the senior leadership in the fire departments to learn what barriers volunteer firefighters face surrounding mental health support and how that affects what they can do for their teams.
Researcher: Robin Campbell, Faculty of Health

Political Science Gendered roles in the military

When Ottawa announced last year that Canadian peacekeepers would deploy to western Africa, Dalhousie researcher Andrea Lane set off on a mission of her own to learn more about what Canada’s contribution would look like. The PhD candidate was curious about whether Canada would meet a UN goal to have women comprise at least 15 per cent of the military peacekeeping force, and if certain gender stereotypes were behind the recruitment drive. Lane is researching how perceived ‘gendered’ roles could be creating a conundrum for some female peacekeepers who may suppress their femininity to fit into a male-dominated military culture, while being encouraged to play up stereotypical feminine traits.
Researcher: Andrea Lane, PhD student in the Department of Political Science

Environmental Sciences Permafrost’s carbon emissions

Arctic regions have captured carbon for tens of thousands of years, but researchers have found that winter carbon emissions from the Arctic may now be putting more carbon into the atmosphere than is taken up by plants each year. The study, published in Nature Climate Change, warns that winter carbon dioxide (CO2) loss from the world’s permafrost regions could increase by 41 per cent if greenhouse gas emissions continue unabated. The research by scientists from dozens of institutions, including Jocelyn Egan from Dalhousie, is the latest warning that northern natural systems that once reliably kept carbon out of the atmosphere are starting to release it.
Researcher: Jocelyn Egan, a doctoral candidate in the Earth and Environmental Sciences Department, and researchers at Woods Hole Research Center, The Arctic University of Norway, Queen’s University, Chinese Academy of Sciences, National University of Singapore, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center and 36 other institutions.

The new research suggests enough nutrients are already being harvested to substantially reduce malnutrition globally. (Supplied: Applied Ocean’s Research Group at NSCC)

Biology Fish for the malnourished

Researchers from Dalhousie University, the UK and the United States have found that millions of people are suffering from malnutrition even though some of the most nutritious fish species are being caught just off their shores. Their paper found that children in coastal areas could see significant health improvements if just a fraction of the fish caught near their homes made it onto their plates. Aaron MacNeil, an associate professor and Canada Research Chair in Fisheries Ecology in Dalhousie’s Biology Department, developed a model to predict the likely nutrient content of thousands of fish species that had never been nutritionally analyzed.
Researcher: Aaron MacNeil, associate professor in the Biology Department; Lancaster University, James Cook University, University of Tasmania, University of Washington, Worldfish, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health

Images of debris captured from 26 camera stations on the floor of the Bay of Fundy. (Supplied: Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada)

Resource and Environmental Studies Trash in a Canadian treasure

Cameras scanning the floor of the Bay of Fundy revealed an unseemly mess of plastic, rope, rubber gloves and fishing gear in the first audit of marine waste in the area. The study led by Tony Walker, a professor in Dalhousie’s School for Resource and Environmental Studies, estimates there are almost two million pieces of junk on the bay’s seafloor, with much of it plastic. The researchers, along with the Applied Oceans Research Group at NSCC, Fisheries and Oceans Canada and the Full Bay Scallop Association, collected the data over three years and found that much of the waste was concentrated within nine kilometres of the shore.
Researchers: Alexa Goodman of Dalhousie’s Marine Affairs Program, Tony Walker of the School for Resource and Environmental Studies, Craig Brown of Oceanography, Brittany Wilson and Vicki Gazzola of NSCC, Jessica A. Sameoto of DFO

Health Housing for LGBTQ+ seniors

A study led by Dal researcher Jacqueline Gahagan hopes to uncover concerns among older LGBTQ+ Canadians considering long-term care and other housing facilities for seniors. Dr. Gahagan, a professor in the Health Promotion Division in the School of Health and Human Performance, says some seniors fear that if they go to a facility that does not respect their sexual orientation or gender identity, it could “become the final closet they will spend the last years of their lives.” Dr. Gahagan’s research project, funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council in partnership with the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corp., frames housing as a key determinant of health for LGBTQ+ Canadians.
Researcher: Dr. Jacqueline Gahagan, Health Promotion Division in the School of Health and Human Performance