McCalla Abstracts 2011-2012

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 2011-12 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 2011-12 McCalla Professors.

Faculty of Agricultural, Life & Environmental Sciences

DEBRA DAVIDSON (Rural Economy)

During the award period, Dr. Davidson will focus on vulnerability and adaptation to climate change in rural communities. Rural communities are among those social systems at greatest risk, yet they can play a significant role in mitigation and adaptation and hold a tremendous level of knowledge pertaining to adaptive land management. Dr. Davidson is pursuing two projects. First, she is engaged in a comparative study of forest-based Alberta communities. Second, she is working in the Orinoco region of Colombia. This region is interesting because emerging local land use activities represent what could be considered ideal to support climate change mitigation and adaptation.

Faculty of Arts

FRANCES POWNALL (History and Classics)

Dr. Pownall's McCalla project focuses upon the compelling, yet elusive, figure of Alexander the Great. Although Alexander's brilliant military leadership has made him a household name, his portrayal by both ancient and modern sources is strikingly varied, ranging from a dreamy idealist to a dreary butcher. Dr. Pownall will teach a seminar course on Alexander, emphasizing the historical problems associated with his reign, many of which stem from the near-complete loss of all the contemporary historical accounts. Her research will focus on the source tradition for Alexander in order to arrive at a more balanced assessment of his actual achievements.

SUSAN SMITH (History and Classics)

Dr. Smith's McCalla Professorship will enable her to address the pressing needs of the Department of History and Classics and her SSHRC-funded research project. First, she will expand the learning opportunities for graduate student instructors and teaching assistants in the department through the development of a series of teaching workshops. Second, she will make research a greater part of the undergraduate learning environment in order to get students excited about Arts disciplines in general and the field of history in particular. Third, she will write a book called Mustard Gas Madness: The Health Consequences of World War II in North America.

School of Business

JENNIFER JENNINGS (Strategic Management and Organization)

Award-winning management scholar Dr. Jennings will utilize the McCalla Professorship to involve undergraduate and graduate School of Business students in several research initiatives related to entrepreneurship and family enterprise. One Ph.D. student will be comparing the experiences of family and non-family managers working within family-owned firms. Another doctoral student will be examining the roles of gender, cognition, and affect in the early-career decisions of potential entrepreneurs. The Bachelor of Commerce student will take the lead role in preparing a practitioner-oriented report on findings from a new study of entrepreneurs' strategies for managing the work-family interface.

Faculty of Education

INGRID JOHNSTON (Secondary Education)

Dr. Johnston's McCalla program will focus on deepening her scholarship and teaching in the areas of cultural difference, teacher education and curriculum development in English language arts education, framed by postcolonial theory and pedagogy. The Professorship will support two research projects with significance for her undergraduate and graduate teaching: a new collaborative community-based project that explores the use of resources for diversity in high schools with large immigrant and refugee populations, and the extension of a current project with practising and beginning teachers on introducing Canadian literature to secondary school students to promote issues of social justice in the classroom.

Faculty of Engineering

WARREN FINLAY (Mechanical Engineering)

Professor Finlay will investigate the use of industry-oriented research in engineering education. Specifically, he will examine the use of open source computational fluid dynamics research software in thermofluid pedagogy, as well as the inclusion of current engineering industry problems in capstone research projects and advanced analysis courses. Sustained enhancement of the skills of graduating students, as well as increased liaisons between University and industry stakeholders, are anticipated outcomes from this work.

Faculty of Law


The sustainable management of our natural resources is of enormous social, economic, political, and environmental importance to Canada. Our public lands support a range of uses including ecological preservation, recreation, wildlife, water, forestry, grazing, and mineral extraction. This project involves the creation of a teaching textbook to survey the key legal issues common to all of our resource sectors. In an era where globalization, population size, urbanization, and rates of resource consumption are on the increase, resource scarcity, land-use conflict, and risks associated with new technologies are creating enormous pressures on our resources, and law is of central importance to these many management issues.

Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry

SARAH FORGIE (Pediatrics)

Antibiotic resistance is increasing worldwide. Since antimicrobial prescriptions in primary care contribute greatly to antimicrobial resistance, it is imperative that healthcare workers have an excellent grounding in this area. As students, healthcare workers learn about the basics of bacteria and antibiotics but may have trouble translating and integrating this information in their future clinical practice. Through connections with the Department of Comptuer Science, Dr. Forgie's McCalla will allow her to create a novel tool that can be used in many levels of healthcare worker education - an infectious diseases Livebook. The Livebook is an interactive, multimedia electronic publication that will integrate the principles of infectious diseases with the practice of infectious diseases - addressing the need for rational antibiotic use.

Faculty of Physical Education and Recreation


Dr. Spence's research program focuses on understanding the role of the environment in promoting sedentary behaviour and obesity, and reducing physical activity, and the factors that may mediate the relationship between environment, behaviour, and obesity. Because the measurement of physical activity now requires the use of sophisticated tools (e.g., accelerometers), the technological expertise expected of researchers has increased in the past few years. The McCalla Professorship will allow Dr. Spence to explore new options for measuring physical activity and sedentary activity in his research while developing a course on measurement for graduate students.

Faculty of Science

JULIA FOGHT (Biological Sciences)

As the world seeks sustainable fuels and feedstocks, microbial fermentation of biomass is emerging as a viable supplement to petrochemicals. Fermentations go far beyond conventional (and controversial) ethanol production from cornstarch, encompassing "next-generation biofuels" like bio-butanol and bio-hydrocarbons, and "platform chemicals" for polymer synthesis. Microbial fermentations also produce antibiotics, enzymes, food additives, bioplastics and biodegradable fibres, among others. It is essential that our students, the citizens of the future, understand the principles of fermentation so as to contribute to informed debate surrounding these biological products. A renovated Industrial Microbiology course will prepare our students for the coming "carbohydrate economy".


The McCalla Professorship award will be used by Professor Marsiglio to embark on a program to integrate teaching and learning. The starting point is advanced undergraduate classes, where students will be regularly exposed to problems that require numerical solution, through software such as Maple, Mathematica, and/or MatLab; this methodology will complement their learning through more traditional mathematical routes. Some of these problems and their solution will lead to publishable pedagogical articles in peer-reviewed journals. Some of the problems will serve as an entry point for students to more advanced research projects. In either case, introduction of these kinds of problems will result in students attaining an important skill set that our undergraduates are currently lacking.