McCalla Abstracts 2017-2018

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 2017-2018 awards provide funding for research and teaching initiatives at the University of Alberta.

The following is a brief description of the work being conducted by the 2017-2018 McCalla Professors.

Faculty of Agricultural, Life and Environmental Sciences

MARLENY SALDAÑA (Agricultural, Food and Nutritional Science)

Dr. Saldaña's teaching, research, and community service focus on integrated food/biomass processing by subcritical water, pressurized water+ethanol and supercritical CO2. I have been working on green sub/supercritical unit operations, involving extraction, fractionation, reaction, and particle formation. My aim is to develop novel processes to obtain desired high-value ingredients/products from biomass to contribute to the growing bio-economy of Alberta and Canada. Funds obtained by the McCalla Professorship 2017-2018 award will support the purchase of a laboratory scale subcritical water unit, a simulation software SuperPro-Designer® 6.0, and salary of a part time TA to assist in the development of some course material.

Faculty of Arts

MICHAEL O'DRISCOLL (English and Film Studies)

This project will digitize and make publicly available the rich collection of recorded literary readings held at the University of Alberta since 1969. These readings include many authors of national and international prominence, attracted here in part because of the Department of English and Film Studies' acclaimed Writer in Residence program. With the support of McCalla funds, the "SpokenWest Archive" will break new ground in the teaching, study, and dissemination of recorded oral literary performance, and will ensure the preservation of and access to important audio records of Canada's literary heritage.

Alberta School of Business

TRISH REAY (Strategic Management and Organization)

Successfully managing organizational change remains one of the greatest challenges for public sector managers. The McCalla professorship will allow Trish Reay to draw together her teaching focus on managing organizational change with her ongoing research interests in how public sector managers work with professionals and other staff to improve the quality and effectiveness of services provided. To advance these joint interests, Dr. Reay will: develop networking activities to connect graduate students and public sector managers for mutually beneficial learning, facilitate paper development workshops for PhD students, engage graduate assistants to write teaching cases for classroom use, and advance research initiatives.

Campus Saint-Jean


I have been researching the usefulness and the innovation of using educational data mining as a viable research tool to analyze large-scale data from longitudinal formative assessment. The online language assessment tool that I have developed thus far on is innovative, in that (1) it adapts to students learning abilities and progress, and (2) it uses data mining to provide reports to students and administration. From a theoretical point of view, the construct I am isolating as the basis of this online assessment tool would engage students in progressing in their language competence in parallel with the courses they are taking. It is a provocative and unique way to look at assessment as a teaching tool.

Faculty of Engineering

ANASTASIA ELIAS (Chemical and Materials Engineering)

My research focuses on developing new functional and responsive materials for use in advanced sensing and electronic devices, and engineering techniques to pattern these materials micro- and nanoscale. In my senior level course in 'Nanostructured Materials', I teach students a fundamental understanding cutting edge nanomaterials with remarkable properties. The concepts of the course are reinforced in a lab where - in addition to allowing students to build technical skills - students have the opportunity to explore and connect with unique materials. Through my volunteer work with organizations such as U School, WISEST, and Discover E, I work to make engineering and science accessible, understandable, and fun for all. I have developed hands-on activities that teach students about two of my favorite topics: nanotechnology, and smart materials.

The support from the McCalla Professorship will be used to fabricate conductive and stimulus-responsive polymer composites for use in the lab component of my course and in my outreach work.

Faculty of Extension


I realized through my first post-secondary teaching experience at Maskwacis Cultural College, that the history and realities of Indigenous people were absent from the curriculum. I attempted to make the teaching and learning more transformational by including accurate history, but did not have the relationships or ability to incorporate Indigenous knowledge. Twenty years later, I am privileged to work with Indigenous Elders and scholars who are committed to privileging Indigenous knowledge in post-secondary. The project will pilot and evaluate a mentorship program aimed at increasing the cadre of Indigenous knowledge keepers teaching Indigenous knowledge at post-secondary institutions.

Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry

FRANCES PLANE (Pharmacology)

Pharmacology is the science of how drugs interact with biological systems. It is fundamental to medicine, pharmacy, dentistry and veterinary medicine, and impacts all of our lives. Research in pharmacology extends from developing new drugs, to re-purposing of drugs already in use, exploring how genetic variations impact drug action, and assessing drug efficacy in the clinic. This McCalla Professorship will be used to introduce modern research approaches into our undergraduate Pharmacology program to provide students with a unique learning experience which will equip them with the necessary skills to work as pharmacologists in lab, industry or regulatory or policy-making environments.

Faculty of Science

MARTIN JÄGERSAND (Computing Science)

Robotics and mechatronics is rapidly growing out of its traditional base in industrial manufacturing. Mobile robots are already used in hospitals and logistics centers. At home inexpensive robots can vacuum floors. The next challenge is to go beyond mobility. In the most recent 2015 DARPA challenge humanoid robots with arms and hands performed first response tasks in a disaster scenario. Growth areas for robot arm and hands include first response field robotics, medical and service robotics. These are all in areas of importance to the Alberta economy. The proposed initiative strengthens University of Alberta's competence by developing courses, a certificate in robotics and mechatronics, conducting outreach to industry, and recruiting through summer camps. Robotics is interdisciplinary, and this initiative will connect together Computer Science and Engineering students and faculty.