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WEIRD AND WONDERFUL RESEARCH: Innovation across vast spectrums

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- Belle DeMont

Atlantic Canada is a hub for innovative and exciting research and we want to share it with you! Each month, we will highlight some of the weird and wonderful research happening at the region’s 16 universities. From biology and climate change, to psychology, culture, and the human condition, you never know what you might discover. So join us on a brief exploration each month, and open your eyes to the amazing work being done right here in Atlantic Canada.

Hodgepodge of Exciting Research to Wrap up 2019

The research happening across Atlantic Canadian universities spans an astounding variety of topics, proven in this month’s research roundup. If you’re looking for experts in housing, climate science, or artificial intelligence, look no further than our own backyard where researchers are working hard and positioning Atlantic Canada as a leader in innovative discovery.

Master’s student thesis shares difficult stories

Mount Saint Vincent University master’s student, Kelly O’Neil, has been recognized with an award for best thesis after submitting her work outlining housing experiences for older women in Halifax. While pursuing a degree in family studies and gerontology, O’Neil was drawn to the first-hand stories shared by these women, and hopes her findings will inspire change in the municipality. Claudia Jahn, director of community housing development with the Affordable Housing Association of Nova Scotia told CBC that O’Neil’s work is particularly important now, at a time when Halifax is experiencing an affordability crisis.

Can artificial intelligence tell if you’re sad?

According to findings by a research team at Université de Moncton, the answer is yes. Sidi Yakoub, a postdoctoral researcher on the LARIHS research team recently travelled to Austria to present the team’s work on the automatic identification of human emotion by AI. By employing advanced algorithms, the AI is able to non-invasively process human speech signals and determine whether the tone of voice represents sadness, worry, happiness, or anger. One potential application of this system could aid in language-learning by catching and correcting slight inflection and pronunciation errors in human speech.

St. F.X. supercomputer

Hugo Beltrami, Professor of Earth Sciences at St. Francis Xavier University and Canada Research Chair in Climate Dynamics, is the proud owner of a supercomputer that creates localized predictions for the effects of climate crisis. His Climate Services and Research Centre at StFX has teamed up with municipal governments to predict floodlines in Antigonish as well as foretelling regional increases in tick populations; it will continue to expand its services to plan for the future’s changing weather.

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In Other News: Researchers at Mount Allison University are helping athletes recognize the dangers of concussions through their study of a condition called chronic traumatic encephalopathy.

Jill Ellsworth is a writer and a life-long learner who lives in Dominion, N.S. Working as CBU’s digital communications specialist has opened her eyes to the groundbreaking research happening at Atlantic Canada’s universities, and now she’s here to share it with you each month. She can be reached at

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