McCalla Abstracts 2008-2009

The McCalla Professorships, named after the first Dean of the Faculty of Graduate Studies and Research, provide faculty members with an opportunity to explore and implement strategies integrating their research and teaching. Recipients, nominated by their Faculty, are outstanding academics who have made significant contributions to their field of research, teaching and learning. The 2008-09 awards provide funding for teaching release, and research and teaching initiatives. These awards are tenable at the University of Alberta.

The following is a brief description of the work being conducted by the 2008-09 McCalla Professors.

Faculty of Agricultural, Life and Environmental Sciences

CATHERINE FIELD (Agricultural, Food and Nutritional Science)

Catherine Field's McCalla scholarship plan involves developing a senior undergraduate course that provides students the opportunity to acquire and practice skills in teaching large junior courses in the nutrition and food area. These senior undergraduate students will assist the professors and graduate students, who teach classes of 120-370 first and second year students, in providing valuable experiential learning. Her research plan is to initiate the projects in the three new interdisciplinary teams she has a leadership role in that focus on: childhood obesity; maternal-infant health; and the implementation of practical behavioural modifications in the treatment of type 2 diabetes.

Faculty of Arts

SALLY RICE (Department of Linguistics)

High quality and comprehensive documentation of endangered languages is both a moral and a scientific imperative. During the McCalla year, Sally Rice will integrate documentation efforts and basic research of understudied Aboriginal languages of Western Canada with the training of native speakers as linguists in their own right, developing curricula and syllabi for the six-course Community Linguist Certificate delivered through Linguistics on behalf of CILLDI. A second project involves the analysis of previously collected language data in order to develop learning objects (problem sets) for undergraduate linguistics courses as well as searchable language databases for use by scholars and speakers alike.

JENNIFER WELCHMAN (Department of Philosophy)

We all seem to agree that we should "be green" or act as stewards of nature, but what exactly does this mean? Stewardship involves acting to promote someone else's interest in whatever is entrusted to one's care. This raises a series of interesting questions. Whose interests should our stewardship serve? Towards which features of nature can we meaningfully act as stewards? Third, do the answers to these questions explain how or why "being green" or acting as a steward of nature is increasingly being seen as a necessary ingredient of a good moral character?


GLEN HVENEGAARD (Geography and Environmental Sciences)

Professor Glen Hvenegaard recognizes the inherent value of fieldwork for teaching and research. However, for many, that value is simply assumed rather than explored and rigorously evaluated. He will examine the theory and pedagogy of fieldwork from researchers' and practitioners' perspectives. He will assemble an inventory of effective practices in fieldwork and re-design the fieldwork components of his courses, all in the context of Augustana Faculty's emphasis on interdisciplinarity and the liberal arts and sciences model of undergraduate education. Last, he will conduct research to evaluate the effectiveness of fieldwork components of his courses.

Faculty of Business

LLOYD STEIER (Strategic Management and Organization)

Entrepreneurship is increasingly recognized as a key driver of societal wealth creation. While there has been tremendous growth in related educational programs and research, deficiencies still exist. Disproportionate attention is placed on individual action models of venture creation while ignoring the important role of business families in most economies. The research will examine innovation and entrepreneurship within familial contexts and will articulate the process and patterns by which next generation entrepreneurs mobilize and leverage existing resources to create new ventures. Findings will be reported in conferences, academic publications, and integrated into courses and modules useful in University curricula and outreach programs.

Campus Saint-Jean


Public readings are an effective means to increase competence in a minority language within bilingual populations. Revealing the full potential of the language, they introduce new performance horizons for individuals rarely exposed to the complete range of its resources. In doing so, public readings act as a cultural incentive to go beyond the linguistic limitations of a bilingual nation especially in settings where one official language is clearly predominant. Under the supervision of Louise Ladouceur, a professional actor and award-winning scholar in theatre and translation studies, various activities related to public readings in French will be developed at Campus Saint-Jean, including courses and workshops on reading aloud for students and professionals.

Faculty of Education

ANDRÉ GRACE (Educational Policy Studies)

This award will support André Grace's research into the resilience of sexual-minority youth. He will research resilience as an asset-creating process that enables the individual to transgress the adversity induced by heterosexism, sexism, homophobia, and transphobia; to deal with consequential mental and emotional trauma; to grow into self-respect and self-confidence; to set realistic goals and engage in problem solving as part of surviving, thriving, and acting in the world; and to build supportive, collaborative relationships. In his research program, he will engage in queer critical ethnographic resilience research on sexual-minority youth within a larger contextualized, reflexive study that builds an emergent queer critical theory to frame the research, locates the researcher as the researched in queer critical research, and uses queer critical theorizing and resilience research to guide educational policymaking and implementation focused on meeting sexual-minority needs.

Faculty of Engineering

SUZANNE KRESTA (Chemical and Materials Engineering)

Our students and professors have a strong preference for visual learning, but most of our teaching resources are best for verbal learning. In an echo of this anomaly, mixing is a very visual phenomenon, but our current measures of industrial mixing depend on averages, ignoring the scales of mixing and segregation. Dr. Kresta has a long standing commitment to visual teaching and learning tools, and these tools have a demonstrated impact on student learning. During the McCalla year, she will study visual information and problem solving, seeking new ideas for her courses. In tandem with this visual thinking, she is developing fundamental definitions of mixing which explicitly account for the scale of segregation and allow the development of a more rigorous framework for mixing theory.

STANISLAV KARAPETROVIC (Mechanical Engineering)

Professor Karapetrovic will investigate the application of international quality management standards in engineering education at the University of Alberta. Specifically, he will work on the development, testing, and integration of standardized management systems for customer satisfaction in undergraduate and graduate courses. This research will focus on three standards, namely the ISO 10001 guideline for customer satisfaction codes of conduct, the ISO 10002 model for complaint handling, and the ISO 9001 requirement for quality management systems. More effective assurances in the quality of course delivery and systematic improvements in the teaching process are some expected benefits for students and other stakeholders.

Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry

MICHAEL ELLISON (Biochemistry)

Dr. Ellison will use this award to create an interdisciplinary undergraduate curriculum in Synthetic Biology that builds on the success of the University of Alberta 2007 team at the International Genetically Engineered Machines Competition (iGEM) at MIT. The curriculum is designed to lead undergraduates from research theory to practice over three stages (half courses) with the goal of competing in the iGEM competition. Interdisciplinary team-play is fostered by relaxed course prerequisites. Interfaculty governance is maintained by a steering committee of relevant academics representing participating faculties. The first course, "The design and construction of synthetic biological systems", begins Fall 2008. McCalla funds will be used to support the development and implementation of this effort.

Physical Education and Recreation


The University of Alberta's Connecting with the World, Dare to Discover, and Dare to Deliver documents, as well as in the Faculty of Physical Education and Recreation's Academic Plan, have all acknowledged the importance of local and global community engagement. Associate Professor Gordon Walker has studied and taught about the leisure and leisure behaviour of two such communities-Mainland Chinese and Chinese in Canada-and his McCalla Professorship will allow him to conduct a systematic review of refereed articles, conference presentations, and so-called "gray" literature (e.g., unpublished theses, technical reports) on this topic. By synthesizing this information, identifying major themes and existing research gaps, and disseminating findings through refereed publications and conference presentations, increased knowledge in this area will result. Moreover, the above will also serve as the basis for the development of a new undergraduate course that will examine recreation, sport, and tourism from a cross-cultural perspective generally and a Chinese perspective specifically.

Faculty of Science

GLEN LOPPNOW (Chemistry)

Glen Loppnow will use the McCalla Professorship and Teaching and Learning Enhancement Fund funding to advance scholarship in his research and teaching. He will use the teaching funds to develop and incorporate diverse perspectives from the Arts, Business, and Science faculty on such significant scientific issues as climate change and cloning into courses and extracurricular student activities. His research programme examines the reactions between radiation and nucleic acids, DNA and RNA, to understand the molecular origins of life and the determinants of disease. The research funds will be used to further develop personalized DNA and RNA chips to assess individual susceptibility to disease.

ARTURO SANCHEZ-AZOFEIFA (Earth and Atmospheric Sciences)

Dr. Sanchez-Azofeifa's research and teaching deal with studying the responses of tropical ecosystems to global and climate change, primarily conducting comparative studies in Mexico and Brazilian dry forests. Dr. Sanchez-Azofeifa has served as a member of many international conservation organizations, including the Society for Conservation Biology - Neotropical and Austral Section and the Association for Tropical Biology. His teaching focus is an introductory course on Global Change (EAS 208), and on the Environmental Applications of Geographic Information Systems (GIS). Dr. Sanchez-Azofeifa has been the recipient of the 2006 Aldo Leopold Fellowship from Stanford's University Woods Institute for the environment, the 2007 Faculty Research Award, and has been appointed to the prestigious position of 2007 Research Associate to the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institution (STRI). During his tenure as a McCalla Professor, Dr. Sanchez-Azofeifa will be working on developing new and innovative techniques to bring global change research into the classroom.

OSMAR ZAIANE (Computing Science)

While we developed sophisticated means to collect and amass large collections of data, these huge collections do not necessarily help decision makers if the data is not properly analyzed and interpreted. Given the sheer size of the data, simple data analysis does not suffice. Data mining is a means to extract potentially useful patterns from large data collections. These patterns become actionable if people (or machines) can act upon them for subsequent actions or decision support. Dr. Zaiane's research consists of devising new efficient data mining techniques capable of discovering patterns in extremely large data collections or devising techniques for the extraction of novel patterns. His research will focus in the application of data mining in the health and medical domain. He is targeting three different directions: Helping clinical decision support, facilitating patient record management, and assisting medical research.