University of Manitoba research: A very quick glance

There have been many interesting and important research studies that have involved the University of Manitoba, as well as people from the university. Some have had far reaching implications and have been important in various policy changes in Canada.

As a UofM student it is important to learn what your university has done, what it is capable of doing, and, depending on your area of study, what kinds of far reaching research studies you have the chance to be a part of. The following is an overview of only a few select cases; some of the more interesting and important research studies from various faculties that have been done at the university to showcase the types of talent U of M is home to.

Globalization and Cultural Studies – The effect of globalization on cultural notions of belonging
Dr. Diana Brydon is the Canadian Research Chair, the Director of the Research Centre for Globalization and Cultural Studies, and is a U of M professor of English studies. She is currently conducting research on the topic of how notions and concepts of belonging, home, and citizenship are changing with regards to globalization.

Brydon has three main areas of interest in research. The first is centred on literary, visual, and analytical representations of home. In this area of interest her main research question asks: “How do images and descriptions of home shift ideas of accountability, belonging, and social responsibility?”

The second part to Brydon’s research looks at how “cosmopolitanism, diaspora studies, and theories of planetarity” change the practice of various academic disciplines and cultural studies, as well as their structure.

The third part of her research aims to answer a variety of questions: how does globalization affect what people need to learn and know, how can we change the practices of governance to ensure a proper social well being, and how can people communicate their level of understanding.

Plant Science – The creation of canola
Dr. Baldur R. Stefansson is a professor and researcher who graduated with a PhD from the University of Manitoba in 1966, within the faculty of Plant Science. Stefansson is considered today the “father of canola” for his work in plant science developing an edible form of rapeseed. His research culminated in the creation of canola, which is now the world’s second largest oilseed crop and Canada’s top edible oil.
Stefansson began his research by surveying different variations of the seed around the world. He found one in particular, Liho, which he used as the parent in a breeding experiment and found that the oil could in fact be extracted from the rapeseed.

Psychology – The psychology behind exercising
Dan Bailis is a professor of psychology at the University of Manitoba, who conducted research on the subject of the psychology behind our motivations to exercise and keep an exercise routine.

Bailis experimented with upwards of 1,000 undergraduate students who were considered to be highly motivated to keep exercise and stay healthy and in shape. He then divided the group of participants into different groups, some of which received subtle reminders of other goals or priorities they may have ­– such as academic or relationship related priorities. These reminders usually came in the form of pamphlets, videos, or a task such as writing a statement about their academic goals.

The result was that those who were subtly prompted with reminders of other goals and priorities were more likely to change their exercise routine by exercising less.
According to Bailis, “In the week following, people who have been put through a goal conflict will exercise less. Even in the few minutes after they’re done a task, their mood and self esteem temporarily gets worse.”

Sociology – Social impacts of Winnipeg’s bedbug problem
Dr. Elizabeth Comack, a University of Manitoba professor of sociology, is interested in sociology of law and feminist criminology. Comack conducted a study entitled “What Happens When the Bed Bugs Do Bite? The Social Impacts of a Bed Bug Infestation on Winnipeg’s Inner-City Residents.”

The study looked primarily at the “social impacts of a bed bug infestation on inner-city residents” of Winnipeg. Research was conducted through interviews, which included: 16 residents, five workers at inner-city agencies, three landlords, and two public health inspectors.

The results of the interviews showed that the consequences of bedbug infestation were extremely distressing for people’s “daily lives, their social relationships, their identity, and their physical and mental health.”

The study also outlined the social conditions under which bed bug infestations occur. While anyone can be subjected to a beg bug infestation, people with low incomes are more susceptible to infestations.