Study uses Twitter to reveal our mental-health state

A Western-led international research team hopes that tweet you just posted – and the millions of others posted to the popular social media site – will provide insights into our collective mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic. “It’s almost like we’re looking at the footprint of COVID-19 on mental health through social media,” said Daniel Lizotte, a Computer Science and Epidemiology and Biostatistics professor. “This gives us one kind of view of what’s happening, what people are choosing to

Report: Canadian youth show no movement in activity

The school year may have a few days remaining, but one report card is already in – and it shows that we have a lot of work to do. Canadian kids earned a D-plus from the 2020 ParticipACTION Report Card on Physical Activity for Children and Youth. That was the same grade handed down in 2018. The picture doesn’t get much better when breaking it down by category, including a D-plus for sedentary behaviours, D-minus for active transportation and an F when it comes to adhering to Canada’s 24-Hour Mo

Project targets climate resilience post-COVID-19

Gord McBean sees an opportunity to hit the reset button. “The COVID-19 pandemic happened. When we come out of it – and we will come out of it – let’s come out in a way that is more proactive to rebuilding society in a way that is climate resilient, more friendly for all people,” said the Geography professor emeritus and Research Chair at Western’s Institute for Catastrophic Loss Reduction (ICLR). “We have been presented with a challenge. Let’s respond to it in multiple and actively progressive

Red flags prompt alumna to help end hunger

Monica Rivero could not turn a blind eye to the red flags hanging from windows and doors in the poorest parts of her native Colombia. “I quickly learned what they meant,” said Rivero, BMSc’16, MSc’18. “It was their cry out for help. Red flags meant their family was hungry. Suddenly, they were everywhere. It was heartbreaking and eye opening.” Today, Rivero is leading an effort to alleviate some of the hunger and see those flags lowered one at a time. Through crowd-sourced donations, the Red F

Global isolation inspires student’s Rwandan effort

As the COVID-19 pandemic dawned, Aimee Utuza’s thoughts returned to Rwanda. “As you can imagine, life is difficult for many people there in the best of times,” said the second-year Health Promotion PhD candidate who came to Canada with her five children in 2018. “During the pandemic and lockdown, they cannot work or find food easily. Life has become more difficult.” That struggle inspired Utuza to create

Study backs shelter space as housing solution

A program to convert emergency shelter space into long-term affordable housing showed incredible benefits for the community’s most vulnerable, prompting a call from Western researchers to push for additional permanent housing solutions in emergency shelters nationwide. Since 2004, the Salvation Army Centre of Hope in London has provided pay-for-stay private units in a building that also offers emergency shelter. With 66 private, transitional rooms, it is the only shelter in the country to offer

Study links concussions to loss of inhibition

Consistent signs of compromised inhibition found in a study of concussion sufferers were mirrored in separate tests on Canadian university football players. These findings open new doors to predicting the impact of the often debilitating injury, as well as raise questions about the long-term impact of contact sports, according to Western researchers. The study, Concussion related deficits in the general population predict impairments in varsity footballers, was recently published in the Journal

‘Cough chamber’ shows six-feet not far enough

Editor’s note: Visit the official Western COVID-19 website for the latest campus updates. A recent Western-led study says two metres might not be far enough away if someone lets an uncovered cough loose in your direction – meaning sneeze and cough etiquette is more than a simple social nicety, but a key to stopping the spread of diseases like COVID-19. “It’s pretty hard to avoid a cough,” said Mechanical and Materials Engineering professor Eric Savory. “By the time you react, it’s reached you.

Researcher among those giving VOICE to children

Gail Teachman is speaking up for children across Canada – lending her VOICE to give them a voice. The Occupational Therapy professor is one of a group of researchers, students and community partners from across the country looking to eliminate the humiliation, distress and trauma many children experience in their daily lives as their voices and experiences are discounted in decisions that affect them. In order to accomplish that, Teachman serves as a co-investigator with VOICE (Views On Interd

Study: Sexual orientation plays part in pay gap

Lesbian, gay and bisexual community members continue to find themselves on the lower end of the pay scale when compared to their heterosexual male counterparts – findings one researcher says call for further exploration and could support the inclusion of sexual orientation in employment equity legislation. Currently, the Federal Employment Equity Act says federally regulated industries have to take specific measures to accommodate four groups in the workplace – women, visible minorities, Indige

Sensors set stage for happier patients post-op

A simple technology may offer more specific rehabilitation plans, smoother recoveries and clearer expectations about the future for thousands of knee-replacement patients nationwide. By combining wearable sensors with machine learning, Western Medical Biophysics and Surgery professor Matthew Teeter is helping patients with arthritis better understand their present conditions in order to have realistic expectations for life after surgery. For his work, Teeter was recently honoured by the Arthri

Researchers team up for freshwater fish focus

Biology professor Bryan Neff will be – ahem – fishing for answers with his latest project exploring the health of Canada’s 200-plus freshwater fish species in the face of increasing (mostly human-made) challenges. “Think about all the lakes we have. We have over a million lakes in Canada,” said Neff, one of the principal investigators with the newly formed GEN-FISH (Genomic Network for Fish Identification, Stress and Health) team, made up of 23 researchers from 13 academic institutions. “What

Milad Nahavandi: A loss felt with each passing day

When Milad Nahavandi first contacted Chemical and Biochemical Engineering professor Charles Xu in 2016 about becoming a grad student at Western, Xu wasn’t sure if he was on the up-and-up. Nahavandi was simply too good to be true. “I checked his CV and realized he had already published two or three papers at that time, and one of them was a single author,” said Xu, adding it’s nearly unheard of for someone just beginning their PhD to have solo published. “It made me a little worried and I became

Research explores state of migrant worker protections

Federal protections lacking in clarity, accessibility and enforcement are leaving thousands of migrant workers across Canada open to exploitation, and in some cases putting their health and lives at risk to maintain employment, according to a Western researcher. Through on-the-ground interviews with migrant workers, Nursing professor Susana Caxaj discovered huge gaps in how, where and even if migrant workers are able to access information on employment standards, occupational health and safety

Hickey embraces ‘opportunity’ for home, self

Rhodes Scholar Patrick Hickey, HBA’19, will join a class of 100 from more than 60 countries as recipients of this distinguished scholarship to study at the University of Oxford next year. Nominated by the Newfoundland and Labrador region, he is one of only 11 Canadian students to earn the esteemed award and the 24th Rhodes Scholar in Western history. With an interest in economic resilience and the fishing industry, the 22-year-old St. John’s, N.L., native plans to pursue a career that embraces

Research takes brewing technology to new high

With Lars Rehmann’s research on biofuels, there are different problems he can run into – but flavour has never been one of them. The Chemical and Biochemical Engineering professor’s latest project, however, will require the approval of taste buds as he is developing a hybrid yeast to be used in crafting beers made from hemp and cannabis. “My research for the last few years has been more on the bio-fuel side. Our goal was always to make sure the materials get converted to ethanol and fuel produ

Conversation, journey help reroute life for student

It was a conversation that not only changed his life but those of other youth seeking a rerouting in their lives and mental wellbeing. Wrapping up his first year in the DAN Management and Organizational Studies program, Zachary Smith was lost. “I was in a bad place. I didn’t know what I was doing with my life. I was sort of just going through the motions, sort of drifting,” said Smith, who dealt with depression and learning disabilities in his youth. But a conversation with his Lambda Chi Alp

Course lands Juno Beach connections back home

Graham Broad anticipates the looks on his students’ faces as they share the same soil as thousands of Canadian soldiers who stormed Juno Beach on June 6, 1944, during the Second World War. “It’s like seeing the Mona Lisa in a book and then standing in front of it,” the King’s University College professor explained. “There’s a power of place.” Broad will deliver that power through The World Wars in History, Memory, and Reconciliation, a new experiential upper-year history course at King’s that

Study eyes air pollution, noise links to epilepsy

Epilepsy, a neurological disorder in which patients experience recurring seizures, can develop from a number of causes. Genetics plays a role, while some people develop it as a result of conditions like stroke, tumours or head trauma. But for 1-in-3 sufferers, there is still no known cause. Could long-term exposure to air pollution and city noise increase a person’s risk of developing epilepsy? Building on existing research, Western researchers are exploring these factors and what it might mea

Study eyes ‘silent’ stroke threat after surgery

Seniors who suffered a ‘silent stroke’ after surgery faced double the risk of dementia or further strokes than those patients who did not have a stroke, according to a recent Western-led international study. These findings open the door to revolutionizing stroke care and prevention for millions of patients. “Although we know stroke affects cognitive function, it was still surprising that it created this toxic stew where it doubled the risk of delirium,” explained Dr. Marko Mrkobrada, a Schulich
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