McCalla Abstracts 2007-2008

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 2007-08 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 2007-08 McCalla Professors.


Faculty of Agriculture, Forestry, and Home Economics

NAOMI KROGMAN (Rural Economy)

The social impacts of resource development are emerging as key issues in northern Canada as demand for northern resources and the pace of resource development increase. Professor Krogman’s McCalla Professorship is focused on furthering Canadian scholarship into methods for cumulative effects assessment, particularly around the long term and interactive social impacts of resource development. In particular, Professor Krogman will obtain training on social change methods, develop curriculum to train students in this area, and embark upon a set of research projects that are designed to further refine these methods to be culturally appropriate and integrative with larger projects on cumulative effects.


Faculty of Arts

DIANNE CHISHOLM (English and Film Studies)

Professor Chisholm’s McCalla Professorship will launch a new project, provisionally entitled, “Nomad Ecology: Nature Writing for a New Earth”, a Humanities-based project that will collaborate with the Faculty of Science to create a culture of ecological literacy. The specific aims of this project are to: write a book that introduces, explains, and illustrates “nomad ecology” as distinct from such prevalent concepts and theories as “deep ecology”, “social ecology”, and “radical ecology”, and that reveals the critical contribution of contemporary nature writing and philosophy to ecological thinking; develop and conduct new courses in environmental and ecological literature and criticism; outline and implement an interdisciplinary program of teaching in the field; and write an essay collection of creative non-fiction that maps the diverse and colliding, becoming and collapsing ecologies of Alberta’s front ranges from Grande Cache to Pincher Creek.



Cognitive science typically employs analytic modeling. First, data are collected; then modeled; finally, the model is evaluated using a goodness-of-fit metric. In an alternative synthetic approach, the model is constructed first and is then studied in an attempt to shed light upon a phenomenon of interest, which eventually leads to the collection of data from subjects. The purpose of Professor Dawson’s research is to use the synthetic approach to explore the extent to which cooperative behaviour can be produced in very simple robots that cannot communicate directly, but can communicate indirectly by changing the environment. Professor Dawson’s previous work has explored synthetic psychology using artificial neural networks. He has considerable expertise in illustrating synthetic psychology with LEGO robots in his PSYCO 403 course, “Research in Cognitive Science”. This McCalla Professorship will provide him with an opportunity to merge these two endeavours. One result will be the discovery of new results in cooperative robotics. The second result will be the development of a more systematic set of teaching materials, demonstrations, and activities (probably in the form of an online book or a web resource) to be incorporated in his course, as well as in courses at other institutions.



MILTON SCHLOSSER (Fine Arts – Music)

Dr. Schlosser will be active as a performer and researcher in projects characterized by collaboration and innovation. As solo pianist, he will premiere internationally a work written for him by American composer Frederic Rzewski. As collaborative artist, he will perform in recitals as part of a newly-formed ensemble also featuring violinist Guillaume Tardif and cellist Tanya Prochazka. As researcher, Dr. Schlosser will investigate neuroscience-based strategies for the effective use of video recordings by pianists and piano teachers. He hopes to show through video that understanding the brain’s response to emotions associated with performers’ self-observation can be used to improve performance.


Faculty of Business

JENNIFER ARGO (Marketing, Business Economics and Law)

Dr. Argo’s research focuses on the notion that “No Consumer is an Island” as she investigates the impact social influences (i.e., other shoppers) have on consumers’ thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. One stream of her research investigates the notion that consumers believe that the essence (e.g., germs) of another shopper in a retail context is contagious and that it can be transferred to a product, and in turn influence consumers’ evaluations of the touched product. Another stream of research focuses on the presence of deception during social interactions. She is studying when consumers are willing to lie to another person to protect both their own self-image and self-worth, and that of another person.


Campus Saint-Jean


Professor Parent has received a McCalla Professorship as a result of a fifteen year, community-based research initiative on semiotics and cultural development. The release-time will facilitate publication of a reference manual needed to consolidate his award-winning articles and educational documentaries on cultural analysis, intercultural communication and creativity training. The McCalla award will also permit completion of French and English language teaching kits for classroom use of the videos in professional and postsecondary training. In collaboration with the Faculty of Extension, University of Alberta colleagues, and an international working group of scholars, Professor Parent will also initiate a series of grant proposals to begin scientific evaluation of the educational outcomes of his interdisciplinary approach.


Faculty of Education

ALISON TAYLOR (Educational Policy Studies)

This award will support Professor Taylor’s current research looking at social partnerships involved in high school apprenticeship programs in two provinces. The outcomes of such programs depend on the articulation between schools and workplaces, how partnerships are structured, and the strength of partnerships between players. Research, therefore, addresses the influence of the institutional context on learning opportunities for young apprentices in Alberta and Ontario by examining partnerships that involve a variety of players and learning contexts. Her purpose is to highlight the conditions that support effective high school apprenticeship programs. Plans for teaching during the period of award involve the development of a graduate course on work and learning. The award will also facilitate further national and international collaborative work.


Faculty of Engineering

PHILLIP CHOI (Chemical and Materials Engineering)

During the period of his McCalla Professorship, Professor Choi will be writing an introductory polymer textbook for undergraduate students who major in chemistry, physics, materials science and engineering, pharmacy and chemical engineering. The rationale for writing such a textbook is that essentially all introductory polymer textbooks available on the market were written for researchers in the polymer field, not for undergraduate students studying in different disciplines. One main feature of the proposed textbook is that it will include chapters covering topics such as behaviour of biomacromolecules, applications of polymer science to various disciplines, and use of polymers in nanotechnology.


Faculty of Extension


Netcasts, often called podcasts, may be considered a decentralized form of radio. Their topics are typically more specialized than those of conventional radio broadcasts; they are asynchronous, in that users choose when and where to listen to them. Netcasts can enhance teaching and learning at all levels, including higher education. This research project will explore and document the use of netcasts in graduate courses and programs of study at the University of Alberta. The project’s outcomes will include a suite of electronic resources to be made available to those interested in using netcasting as part of their teaching.


Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry

LUIS SCHANG (Biochemistry)

Professor Schang is interested in the roles of cellular proteins in infectious diseases. During the McCalla Professorship, he will strengthen the expansion of his research and teaching programs into three directions that derive from recent discoveries in his lab. He will focus his teaching and research efforts on novel cellular mechanisms of defence against viruses, novel inhibitors of viral infectivity, and the pathogenesis of transmissible spongiform encephalopathies. His aim for this year is to have his group established as a leader in these three areas and to have them firmly incorporated into his current and future teaching.


Physical Education and Recreation


Dr. Maraj has a nationally funded program of research to study motor learning strategies for persons with Down Syndrome (DS). He will put together a research team of undergraduate students to develop innovative visually based methods to optimize skill acquisition. The group KURT (Kinesiology Undergraduate Research Team) will utilize newly-developed software to build on the ability of children with DS who show enhanced learning with visual versus verbal prompts. KURT will work as an integral part of Dr. Maraj’s research program to design visually based protocols which will be tested for their efficacy in facilitating motor skill acquisition. The findings will be used to inform professionals about methods to effectively facilitate learning in persons with DS.


Faculty of Science

MARK LEWIS (Mathematical and Statistical Sciences)

The McCalla Professorship will provide Professor Lewis with resources to develop courses for a newly proposed International Graduate Training Centre in Mathematical Biology. The courses will teach modern mathematical and computational methods to students in life sciences, ranging from medicine to ecology. The courses will develop theoretical methods and applied components needed for modern research. They will involve, not only the mathematics, but also the methods of scientific enquiry and interdisciplinary research needed to connect the mathematics with the science. In keeping with this, the goal of the courses is to train true interdisciplinary scientists whose central discipline is mathematics and statistics.


AL MELDRUM (Physics)

A silicon-based light emitter compatible with existing technologies is to be desired. Unfortunately, bulk silicon is an inefficient light emitter, principally due to the indirect nature of the bandgap. In recent years, however, luminescence has been achieved using a variety of different methods, especially by making use of quantum effects in silicon nanostructures. Professor Meldrum’s work involves understanding, modeling, and controlling the fluorescent properties of crystalline, amorphous, and nanoscale silicon, and to establish tighter control over the emission spectrum. With his collaborators, Professor Meldrum is developing these materials towards applications in photonic devices such as optical waveguides, LEDs, and sensors.