College of Arts and Science Plan Celebration Day 2023

March 22, 2023 | Celebrating research, scholarly and artistic work in the College of Arts and Science

The College of Arts and Science continues to make progress on Think Big – Be Bold, the college’s plan to 2025. Today's event celebrates recent achievements in one of the four college-specific commitments in the plan: Excellence in Research, Scholarly and Artistic Work.

Throughout the day on Wednesday, March 22, screens on campus are showing videos and slides recognizing College of Arts and Science researchers and research projects. Keep reading to learn about the exciting work underway in our college and the people who make it possible.

Featured projects

Dr. Ehab Diab (PhD)

Assistant professor, Department of Geography and Planning

Dr. Ehab Diab (PhD) is leading a project focused on developing a new transit service model that integrates information about ridership, service quality and users’ level of satisfaction and preferences in Saskatoon and in Canada. The goal is to help authorities efficiently plan and make better investments in order to grow transit market share and predict future demand.

Randy Morin

Assistant professor, Department of Indigenous Studies

Of the more than 60 Indigenous languages in Canada today, only three are projected to still be spoken in 25 years. Randy Morin is one of a small group of language experts working to ensure Indigenous languages not only survive, but thrive. Morin teaches Cree language classes at USask and is collaborating with others to create new programs and tools, including a Cree/nehiyaw language and culture certificate program. Morin’s goal for the program is to create new speakers of the Cree/nehiyaw language and teach them about Cree/nehiyaw culture, history and traditions.

Dr. Véronique Mathieu (DMus)

Assistant professor, Department of Music

Dr. Véronique Mathieu (DMus) is currently researching and developing a set of 12 violin etudes in collaboration with 12 internationally established composers. Mathieu is working with USask music students to evaluate the etudes as they are being composed on aspects such as technical requirements, clarity of writing and educational potential. The etudes will aim to address contemporary techniques used in 20th- and 21st-century violin repertoire, and fill a gap in pedagogical literature for the violin.

Dr. Scott Thompson (PhD), Dr. Julie Kaye (PhD), Dr. Kevin Schneider (PhD), Dr. Zadia Codabux (PhD), Omar Abdelaziz, Alana Glecia Demkiw, Cerah Dube, Sarah Buhler, Hilary Peterson

Department of Sociology / Department of Computer Science / College of Law

A multidisciplinary research team is studying prairie police services’ use of street checks—“carding”—to determine community impacts of the controversial practice that’s often criticized for unfair treatment of persons based on race and socioeconomic status. Dr. Scott Thompson (PhD) leads the project. Dr. Julie Kaye (PhD) is working with youth to learn how they understand and experience street checks. Sarah Buhler and Hilary Peterson of the College of Law are investigating legal rights around carding. Dr. Kevin Schneider (PhD) and Dr. Zadia Codabux (PhD) are using machine learning to process police data from 34 municipal police services across Western Canada.

Dr. Gabriela Mángano (PhD), Dr. Luis Buatois (PhD)

Department of Geological Sciences

Dr. Gabriela Mángano (PhD) and Dr. Luis Buatois (PhD) examine novel applications of ichnology—the study of traces such as burrows and trackways left by living organisms—to new and old geologic problems. In a recent collaboration, they were among the first scientists to model how well-preserved fossilized animals could have been moved by mudflows. The research showed that fossilized animals previously thought to have lived together might have actually been brought together across large distances after death.

Dr. Kathryn McWilliams (PhD)

Professor, Department of Physics and Engineering Physics

Dr. Kathryn McWilliams (PhD) leads both SuperDARN Canada and the international SuperDARN collaboration: a radar network that studies how space weather conditions impact the Earth's atmosphere. As the sun enters a period of increased activity during Solar Cycle 25, McWilliams and her team—along with SuperDARN partners in nine other countries—are monitoring space weather and looking for geomagnetic storms. These storms create beautiful aurora displays but can play havoc with systems we rely on every day, such as power grids and satellite communication and navigation systems.

Dr. Megan O'Connell (PhD)

Professor, Department of Psychology and Health Studies

During the COVID-19 pandemic, health and safety precautions led to greater isolation of many older adults living with dementia, accelerating their cognitive decline. Dr. Megan O'Connell (PhD) studied how the pandemic has impacted people with dementia. Her research team launched initiatives such as virtual socialization hubs for older adults and a system for remotely monitoring the mental health of aging adults via phone.

Dr. Pamela Downe (PhD)

Professor, Department of Archaeology and Anthropology

Saskatchewan has the highest rate of HIV/AIDS transmission in Canada. In her recent book Collective Care: Indigenous Motherhood, Family, and HIV/AIDS, Dr. Pamela Downe (PhD) offers an ethnographic account of urban Indigenous life and caregiving practices in the face of Saskatchewan’s HIV epidemic. The book is based on a multi-year study conducted in partnership with Prairie Harm Reduction.

Dr. Debajyoti Mondal (PhD)

Associate professor, Department of Computer Science

Dr. Debajyoti Mondal (PhD), in partnership with Saskatoon Transit, is undertaking a project to improve transit services in the Bridge City and beyond. Mondal is using big data techniques to develop fast and trustworthy transit analytics to evaluate ridership data. This data will uncover riders' behaviours and transportation needs, allowing planners to make data-driven decisions to optimize transit services. Mondal's algorithms will bring data analysis time from hours to seconds.

Dr. John Pomeroy (PhD)

Professor, Department of Geography and Planning

Dr. John Pomeroy (PhD) is a global expert on climate change in cold regions and an elected representative to the United Nations (UN) Water and Climate Coalition Steering Committee. Pomeroy has spoken several times at UN events to present research and urge action on climate change. In September 2022, he addressed the UN at a high-level side event about the melting cryosphere and the ongoing threats to groundwater, streamflow and the sustainability of water resources management.

Dr. Michel Gravel (PhD)

Professor, Department of Chemistry

Researchers theorized in 1995 the existence of a stable form of [10]annulene, a flat ring of 10 carbon atoms attached together by alternating single and double bonds, but it proved impossible to produce in the laboratory—until now. Dr. Michel Gravel (PhD) and a team of students succeeded in synthesizing the compound, which has potential for use in applications including electronics and solar panels.

Mandana Bidarvand

PhD candidate, Department of Mathematics and Statistics

Mandana Bidarvand is studying and simulating qubit arrays—sequences of quantum bits—with a goal of improving technologies such as quantum computers and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) machines. Qubit arrays are a fundamental building block to many quantum-enhanced instruments and systems, and gaining knowledge of these objects will advance the field. Bidarvand's work is supervised by Dr. Artur Sowa (PhD).

Shannon Blanchet

Assistant professor, Department of Drama

Shannon Blanchet's performance in the Canadian film Before I Change My Mind premiered at the prestigious Locarno Film Festival in Switzerland in August 2022. Blanchet has had a long career as a theatre and voice actor, but Before I Change My Mind was her debut in a principal role in a feature film.

Dr. Valerie Korinek (PhD)

Professor, Department of History

Dr. Valerie Korinek (PhD) is recognized internationally as a leading cultural and gender historian whose innovative and bold research has challenged accepted narratives about feminism and queerness in 20th-century Canada. Her recent book, Prairie Fairies: A History of Queer Communities and Peoples in Western Canada, presents a ground-breaking history detailing gay and lesbian activism and community-building in Western Canada. The book earned several national awards, including Best Book in Canadian Gender and Sexuality Histories.

Carla Orosz

Associate professor, Department of Drama

Carla Orosz is undertaking a research project called Training the Eye that will shine a spotlight on a major need in theatre—designing to complement diversity on stage. Orosz is developing resources for theatre training institutions and the theatre community to help develop colour palettes for diverse skin colours in all facets of a production: costumes, makeup, accessories, scenery, projection and lighting.

Dr. Kristina Bidwell (PhD)

Professor, Department of English

As the Canada Research Chair in Indigenous Storytelling, Dr. Kristina Bidwell (PhD) studies the ways in which stories create meaning and influence actions. Bidwell has observed a surge of collaborations among Indigenous writers, Elders and storytellers in Newfoundland and Labrador that is contributing to an Indigenous literary and cultural renaissance. In a recent episode of CBC’s Ideas, Bidwell argued that the Indigenous peoples of Newfoundland and Labrador—after decades of attempted erasure by governments—are reclaiming history through storytelling.

Dr. Kathryn Labelle (PhD)

Professor, Department of History

For her recent book Daughters of Aataentsic, Dr. Kathryn Labelle (PhD) collaborated with the Wendat/Wandat Women’s Advisory Council to highlight and connect the unique lives of seven women whose legacies are still felt today. The book shows how Wendat/Wandat people and place came together across the continent and how generations of activism became intimately tied with notions of family, community, motherwork and legacy from the 17th to the 21st century. Daughters of Aataentsic challenges colonial interpretations by demonstrating the centrality of women, past and present, to Wendat/Wandat culture and history. 

John Graham

Associate professor, Department of Art and Art History

During a three-month artist's residency in Budapest, Hungary, John Graham collaborated with performers and other artists to create the experimental short film "UNFOLD." Described as "a poetic laboratory that visually symbolizes the unpredictable revealing of oneself to another in friendship," "UNFOLD" was released in 2019 and has been screened at more than 30 film festivals worldwide. Graham's international collaborators included The Ziggurat Project dance company of Budapest and composer Claus Gahrn of the Danish National Academy of Music.

Dr. Jerry White (PhD)

Professor, Department of English

What do you call a separatist movement that doesn’t want separation? Dr. Jerry White (PhD) is studying “non-separatist separatism” in Europe: movements whose members demanded greater recognition of their linguistic and cultural differences, but also insisted these differences be accepted as part of their nation, not separate from it. By examining media and literature connected to the movements, White will uncover more about how the members of three such groups—the Gaeltacht activists of Ireland, the Jurassian separatists of Switzerland and the militant Catalan speakers of France—understood themselves and their nations.

Dr. Jesse Stewart (PhD)

Associate professor, Department of Linguistics

Dr. Jesse Stewart (PhD) has spent more than a decade collaborating with speakers of Media Lengua in the community of Pijal, Ecuador, in an effort to document their language. Media Lengua is an endangered mixed language with Spanish vocabulary and Quichua grammar that is spoken by approximately 4,000 people in the Ecuadorian highlands. Stewart recently co-authored the world’s first Media Lengua dictionary and published it with Dictionaria under a Creative Commons license.

Dr. Matthew Mitchell (PhD)

Associate professor, Department of Political Studies

What does it mean to be “Indigenous” in Africa? How have activists in the region advocated for land rights based on Indigenous identity, and what are the political implications? A project by Dr. Matthew Mitchell (PhD) investigates these and other questions through case studies of African countries such as Democratic Republic of Congo and Uganda. In so doing, it aims to consider the promise—and potential perils—of attempting to mobilize groups around the politically contested idea of Indigenous rights in the African context.

Matthew Fellwock, Dr. Elliott Skierszkan (PhD), Dr. Matthew Lindsay (PhD)

Department of Geological Sciences

Permafrost thaw is driving major changes in groundwater hydrology and chemistry in subarctic regions globally. These changes are increasing concentrations of potentially hazardous metals in groundwater resources, which are the principal source of drinking water for over 95 per cent of Yukon residents. Excessive exposure to uranium, arsenic and other metals can have serious implications for ecosystem and human health. Research by a team in the Department of Geological Sciences aims to improve understanding of the underlying processes responsible for metal release during permafrost thaw.

Dr. Natalia Stakhanova (PhD)

Associate professor, Department of Computer Science

Cyberattacks are on the rise, affecting every aspect of daily life. To predict and detect attacks, research led by Dr. Natalia Stakhanova (PhD) focuses on the digital identity of an “adversary”—the person or people launching the attacks. Stakhanova develops and analyzes methods for monitoring adversaries and their behaviour, including sophisticated techniques for code authorship attribution: analyzing code to determine who wrote it. Stakhanova’s work will lead to a reduction in cybercrime.