Disclosure of Grant Recipients
In response to COVID-19, Carleton University swiftly developed an internal funding opportunity to provide seed funding for individuals or teams of researchers for original, innovative, and time-sensitive research to propose solutions to the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, or to apply to external research grant competitions targeting the COVID-19 pandemic. The research had to have the potential to contribute to the global response to the COVID-19 pandemic, or to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 and/or its negative consequences on people and communities. The grant was open to all full-time tenured or tenure-track faculty members.
The response was unprecedented and we are very proud to announce the successful proposals.
Many thanks to our community of researchers who heard the call “to do good” and responded.
- Cannabis Use, Mental Health, and Social Media: The Influence of COVID-19 & Social Isolation
Dr. Alfonso Abizaid and Dr. Kim Hellemans
This study will investigate how the current COVID-19 pandemic has influenced cannabis use, stress, and mental health among university students. Taking advantage of an ongoing research study examining these behaviours and outcomes prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, we will create a new “post-COVID-19” participant pool that will allow the comparison in our measures before and after COVID-19. Findings from this study will highlight how COVID-19 is affecting cannabis use, stress, and various mental health indicators, and will help inform Carleton University’s strategy for creating and implementing mental health supports for students in the current COVID-19 climate. Results will also determine how social media platforms (e.g., Twitter) can serve as tools to predict vulnerability as reflected in posts within these platforms. In addition, we will outline the development and dissemination of targeted knowledge mobilization tools and resources to help maximize the impact of this research.
- Semi-Autonomous Mobile Robotic Systems for Remote Assessments of COVID-19 Patients
Dr. Mojtaba Ahmadi
This collaborative research project between Carleton University’s Advanced Mechatronics Laboratory (ABL) and the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario (CHEO) proposes robotic remote patient assessment to enable physical distancing, thus preventing disease outbreaks. The ABL’s expertise in medical robotics will be complemented by CHEO’s medical expertise in developing and testing this technology. Carleton’s existing robotic platform will be enhanced by additional medical instrumentation, advanced sensing and control tools, teleconferencing capability, and the required hardware and software infrastructure. Moreover, small-size UV-based disinfection apparatus will be considered for integration. This short-term project focuses on developing a proof-of-concept platform and conducting preliminary experiments at CHEO’s simulation environment. This will allow medical researchers with various expertise to conduct early research in preparation for more systematic clinical trials to be funded by further joint research applications.
- Social Learning in Economic Networks: Evidence from COVID-19
Dr. Mohamed Al Guindy
One of the negative consequences of COVID-19 has been the rapid and sudden decline in the stock market. This decline adds to existing economic, social, and psychological aspects of the pandemic. My research examines the learning process in economic social networks as viewed on social media: How do investors learn about COVID-19? And later, how do they make trades in response to this news? My project will also examine the propagation of this news to investors’ networks, identifying hubs and critical nodes in the networks. The research will apply network theory, textual analysis, and statistical techniques to a large dataset of 20 million financial tweets encompassing all publicly-listed North American firms. The goal of this work is two-fold: first, to learn about the proliferation of fear shocks in economic social networks; and second, to inform policy changes, particularly economic policy, in the recovery phase, and in the aftermath of COVID-19.
- Identifying Effects of COVID-19 Pandemic-Related Changes on Academic and Social Experiences of Autistic University Students
Dr. Natasha Artemeva
The COVID-19 pandemic-related isolation measures have caused rapid changes in academic instructional delivery and social interactions. Similar changes and measures are known to have a long-lasting impact on the general population, with autistic individuals experiencing even greater difficulties than their nonautistic peers. Autistic individuals are now facing an unprecedented change in their daily routines. Given a growing enrollment of autistic students in universities worldwide, there is a need to develop an understanding of the effects of COVID-19 related to: a) rapid changes in the mode of academic instruction delivery, and b) unexpected isolation measures on this student population. By drawing on interviews with and a survey of autistic university students in Canada and internationally, this study will have direct implications on the mitigation of the academic and social challenges that the autistic student population experiences and, ultimately, on the retention of autistic students under rapidly changing conditions.
- Online Assessment of Pandemic-Triggered Traumatic Stress: Towards Developing Assistive AI Technologies
Dr. Kenta Asakura and Dr. Amedeo D'Angiulli
In the face of uncertainty and disruption to normalcy, the COVID-19 pandemic is causing much stress in people’s lives. Due to physical distancing measures, mental health therapists have shifted to providing services using videoconferencing platforms (e.g., Zoom). While these platforms will likely remain a predominant service delivery model for the time being, little is known about whether and how therapists can accurately assess clients’ mental health when having to rely on their 2-D images on screen. To lay the groundwork for ultimately designing assistive AI technologies for online therapies, this interdisciplinary (social work and neuroscience) team will collaborate with Spreedix, a local AI start-up, and identify the level of severity and the types of stress responses to pandemic trauma presented online. We will collect data from therapists’ assessment of simulated clients (i.e., trained actors) on Spreedix’s mobile app and employ various AI algorithms to identify verbal and non-verbal stress signals.
- The Short-Term Economic Consequences of COVID-19: Exposure to Disease, Remote Work, and Government Response
Dr. Louis-Philippe Beland
This project investigates the impact of the COVID-19 epidemic on labour market outcomes in Canada and the United States. It investigates which workers, industries, and occupations are most affected by COVID-19. Using the monthly Canadian labour force survey and the current population survey in the U.S., we will answer the following questions: What are the short-term impacts of COVID-19 on employment and wages in Canada and the U.S.? Are the labour market effects larger for areas with a greater number of COVID-19 cases and deaths? How largely, if at all, do the economic consequences vary across demographic groups? What are the effects for immigrants, self-employed workers, and for different occupations and industries?
- Development of Peptide Inhibitors of SARS-CoV-2: Human Protein Interaction
Dr. Kyle Biggar and Dr. James Green
The COVID-19 pandemic, caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus, has led to catastrophic loss of life and the necessity to implement quarantines globally to contain the virus’s propagation. In order to reduce the transmission of the virus between people, three strategies can be used: wide-spread vaccination, wide-spread use of anti-viral medication, and social distancing (immediately applicable, though highly disruptive). Our work focuses on the second strategy by using algorithms developed here at Carleton University to study the novel coronavirus and to produce novel peptide-based anti-viral drugs designed to inhibit virus-human interactions. This research represents a collaboration between two bioinformatics labs: The Green Lab will focus on the computational goals, while the Biggar Lab will confirm and characterize novel-predicted targets using experimental techniques. By understanding and controlling the interactions that exist between the SARS-CoV-2 virus and humans, this research will identify new ways to disrupt the virus-host relationship.
- COVID and Seniors at Home: Addressing Diverse Needs, Supporting Seniors' Service Innovation
Dr. Susan Braedley and Dr. Renate Ysseldyk
How are seniors and their carers coping during the COVID-19 crisis? What are services for seniors doing to help? What promising practices are being deployed to ensure service delivery while also protecting the health of seniors, carers, and services staff? For seniors aging at home, services such as home care, day programs, and meal programs have become essential supports; yet COVID-19 pandemic measures have closed or restricted these services. Building on a research study with Ottawa’s seniors’ services, completed in June 2019, this project will follow up with research participants, including seniors, carers, and services, to address these urgent questions. The project will produce and share a timely portrait of how diverse seniors and carers in Ottawa are faring, identify promising practices in service delivery, and include analysis of how seniors’ services funding, staffing, and services models may support and/or restrain crisis response.
- Canadian Autonomous Rapid Test Center (CUCART)
Dr. Scott Bucking
The Community Design Lab (CDLAB) recently completed development of a rapidly deployable, autonomous, tiny home. An industry partner approached CDLAB with a request to adapt the design for use as a decentralized COVID-19 testing facility. The purpose of the proposed project is a pedestrian flow study of the modified design, to increase testing capacity by maximizing the number of patients processed per hour. The placement of key areas will be coordinated through an iterative approach, accommodating social distancing limits and occupant separation, as required.
As governments reopen economies, the need for pre-screening populations will exceed projected test capacity. A rapidly deployable autonomous unit, or Centre for Unitary, Contained and Autonomous Rapid Testing (CUCART), with integrated equipment, could help meet this demand. In combination with an NSERC Alliance proposal for digital design of the facility, and support from an industry partner well-versed in medical testing, the CDLAB intends to develop and assess the CUCART.
- Attending (to) Class: An Intersectional Study of COVID-19 Adaptation in Universities in Canada and Africa
Dr. Doris Buss and Dr. Blair Rutherford
With universities across the globe rapidly moving their curriculums online, this pilot study examines the gendered, socio-economic, racialized, and rural/urban contexts that shape access and participation in distance education for women and men students. Focused on one university in each of Canada, Kenya, and Sierra Leone, this project will examine access and use of the technology (phones, computers, internet) needed for distance education, and the differences in class, race, and rural/urban locations, alongside other obligations, including caring roles, that women and men students navigate when undertaking their studies. The four lead researchers, Professors Aisha Ibrahim (University of Sierra Leone), Sarah Kinyanjui (University of Nairobi), Blair Rutherford and Doris Buss (Carleton University), together with student researchers from each university, will conduct interviews and focus group discussions with students and university administrators at each institution. The resulting data on intersecting inequalities and student access to distance learning will inform ongoing COVID-19 responses.
- SARS-CoV-2-Host Interactions: Implications for Secondary Bacterial Co-infections
Dr. Edana Cassol and Dr. Joerg Overhage
Respiratory viral infections – including human corona viruses – have been shown to predispose patients to bacterial co-infections, which can lead to increased disease severity and mortality. Up to 50% of patients with COVID-19 pneumonia have secondary bacterial infections, but it is unclear if these super infections contribute to disease. In this study, we will use in vitro and in vivo models to investigate if and how SARS-CoV-2 (causative agent of COVID-19) reprograms host immune responses to bacteria. We will also evaluate if this reprogramming drives excessive inflammation and increased lung destruction and damage. These studies will provide critical insights into the ability of SARS-CoV-2 to modulate the host immune responses and may identify new opportunities to inhibit inflammatory damage and prevent the development of secondary bacterial pneumonias in those most at risk.
- Piece of Cake: Food Choices During the COVID-19 Pandemic
Dr. Melissa Chee, Dr. Hymie Anisman, and Dr. Kim Matheson
COVID-19 has produced pronounced stress as we manage physical distancing or self-isolation. Feeling stressed leads some of us to crave comfort foods, which might serve as a way of coping, regardless of whether we are aware of it or not. When stress is chronic, the increased consumption of tasty comfort foods may lead to weight gain and even obesity. Inflammatory factors produced by fat cells, particularly around the belly, increase the risk for immune- and inflammatory-related diseases, like diabetes and heart disease. Notably, obesity and its comorbid diseases are serious risk factors for COVID-19 complications.
This online research survey will gather data on the effects of stress, mood, and mental state on our food choices during the COVID-19 quarantine. This is concerning not only because of potential effects on the severity of COVID-19, but also because the ramifications for mental and physical health may persist during the post-pandemic period.
- COVID-19 and Anti-Chinese Racism
Dr. Xiaobei Chen
The upsurge of anti-Chinese, anti-Asian racism amid COVID-19 is a growing social crisis. The research question of this project is: How do Chinese Canadians from mainland China understand their experiences with racism associated with COVID-19 and consider possible actions pushing back racism? Its objectives are: 1) to examine how mainland Chinese Canadians make sense of the rising anti-Chinese racism and respond; 2) to develop sociological analyses that connect individual experiences and perspectives with societal and historical conditions; 3) to mobilize knowledge to contribute to the efforts of the Ottawa Chinese Community Service Centre (OCCSC) to offer public education programs; 4) to prepare a larger project proposal for funding from external sources. This qualitative study uses textual data, interview data, and auto-ethnographic accounts and is conducted by a researcher with extensive experience in relevant fields, linguistic competency for fieldwork, and ongoing community engagement.
- Reopening Retail: Architectural Strategies for Adapting Retail Environments to Physical Distancing Protocols
Dr. Zachary Colbert
This research will develop adaptive architectural design standards and recommendations to accommodate physical distancing measures in Ottawa retail environments that will protect public health while bolstering customer confidence. According to Statistics Canada, nearly 3 in every 10 Canadian workers are employed in trades or manufacturing. Of the trades, retail is the largest sector of the Canadian economy, employing approximately 2.7 million people. Research outcomes will contribute to developing architectural design standards and recommendations for retailers in Canada and internationally that safely incorporate physical distancing practices into their stores.
- Mapping Indigenous Economic Venture Responses to the COVID-19 Crisis
Dr. Rick Colbourne
Indigenous-led economic development initiatives are crucial to achieving greater prosperity for Canadians from coast to coast to coast. The current COVID-19 crisis is threatening to disrupt Indigenous economies and negatively impact Indigenous peoples, communities, and individual health and socioeconomic well-being across Canada. The goals of this project are two-fold: 1) to develop new insights and understandings, through co-creation of knowledge; and 2) to explore and provide insights into the composition of Indigenous economic venture and development corporation responses that mitigate and address risks, issues, and challenges to community health and socioeconomic well-being presented by the COVID-19 crisis. Our expectation is that this research will stimulate further dialogue, innovation, and action on how Indigenous economic ventures, economic development corporations, and their non-Indigenous partners collaborate to practice resilience through adopting practical governance and risk mitigation strategies that address the unique challenges manifested by the COVID-19 crisis.
- Longitudinal Monitoring of Lung Function in COVID-19-Induced Pneumonia
Dr. Jeff Dawson and Dr. Andy Adler
Electrical Impedance Tomography (EIT) rapidly and non-invasively provides graphical and quantitative lung function data. Knowing where air is in the lungs during the rapid deterioration of ventilatory capacity is necessary for understanding COVID-19-induced acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS). We will use these funds for a longitudinal study (diagnosis to discharge) of 10 patients over the course of their stay in the hospital and/or ICU. We have two research objectives: 1) to obtain EIT data (imaging) to better understand the progressive changes in regional ventilation (pulmonary shunting) occurring in COVID-19 specific ARDS, and 2) to further develop and enhance existing software tools for the analysis of EIT data, to increase its accessibility and clinical usefulness. We will take advantage of our established collaborations with front-line physicians and nurses at The Ottawa Hospital and The Ottawa Hospital Research Institute for data collection, allowing our team to work remotely toward our goals.
- Experiencing COVID-19 Through Science and Technology: Adjusting, Adapting, Innovating
Dr. David Dean
This project documents how people have adjusted their lives to the realities of home-bound living during COVID-19 through the lens of science and technology. This lens has become integral to our understanding of everyday experiences of COVID-19: How much are we relying on science and how are we depending on new and old technologies? How have people adjusted their expectations of daily life during their experience of social distancing, of lockdown, and of quarantine? What adaptations have they been forced to contemplate and put into effect? How have they needed to innovate in their use of technologies in everyday life? By creating an archive of changes in domestic and other home-based technologies, and generating content for future exhibitions (virtual/physical) associated with the Carleton Centre for Public History and Ingenium, our project will help individuals, families, communities, and institutions learn from this experience and prepare for future outbreaks and new pandemics.
- SARS CoV2 Aptamer Development for Surface Testing
Dr. Maria C. DeRosa
COVID-19 testing demand is outstripping capacity and testing supplies are limited. Current virus detection methods require hours-to-days, as well as proper sample handling and storage for optimal performance. There is also an urgent need for surface testing methods for hospitals, homes, and workplaces. Ideally, these should not add to the clinical testing backlog by using the same scarce resources employed in diagnosis. Aptamers are short DNA or RNA sequences that can be used to capture a variety of molecular targets, including viruses, which could be employed for surface testing without depleting resources needed for clinical testing. We propose to leverage our expertise in aptamer discovery for viruses and our experience preparing aptamer-based detection tests on cloth and paper to develop a SARS CoV2 test strip or “wipe-test” that could be employed for surface testing with minimal training and equipment.
- Toward Crowd-Sourced and Anonymous Contact Tracing
Dr. Babak Esfandiari
This project will develop a database of social events and gatherings attended by people potentially infected with COVID-19, in order to trace the spread of disease and focus testing on those most likely to be infected. Contact tracing has proven to be useful for reducing the spread of disease and could be instrumental in re-opening the economy. The database must be developed in a very short time frame so it can be presented to interested stakeholders — such as healthcare providers and software companies — as soon as possible and adopted for immediate use. Once the system is deemed useful and usable, future developments include the ability to automatically populate the database by hooking onto existing contact apps that will detect and identify large gatherings where contact has taken place, such as sporting events, concerts, and religious gatherings, as a means of preventing community spread.
- Social Wearables – Crowdsourcing eHealth Technology
Dr. Paulo Fernando Rocha Garcia
Wearables are now commonplace as monitoring devices for personal health information. However, the COVID-19 pandemic has shown that we must move from a personal to a social approach to health. This social approach must be supported by adequate technology, beyond what is currently available.
We believe wearable technology will play a key role in preventing future pandemics by crowdsourcing health information (likely through connections to our phones), thereby creating networks of contact that help in identifying and preventing contagion, and correlating personal health information to identify suspected infections, etc. For this to be realized, we must address privacy concerns at a fundamental level of wearable hardware and software, and design trusted wearable devices with the required level of computational power and communication, whilst maintaining lasting battery life. This project will research the technologies that support social wearables towards a social response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Development of Anti-COVID-19 Peptide Drugs
Dr. Ashkan Golshani
We plan to make directed peptides capable of interfering with the replication of the SARS-CoV-2 virus. If successful, these peptides can be used to treat COVID-19. This is an important research endeavour as currently no cure or vaccines are available to combat SARS-CoV-2. We plan to use the principles of protein-protein interactions to design specific peptides that can bind to a region of viral protein S, known to be important for virus replication. This is a collaborative work with the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute (OHRI) and the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF). We plan to further test our peptides in a pseudoviral system that resembles SARS-CoV-2 infection. The continuation of this work will be to test the peptides in a mouse system.
- Risk, Resilience, and Recovery: A Path Forward for Canadian Charities in a Post-COVID-19 World
Dr. Nathan Grasse and Dr. Susan Phillips
The charitable sector is as important to Canada’s economy as the extractive or manufacturing industries, and Canadians rely on charities to provide essential services during the COVID-19 crisis. The loss of events, fundraising revenues, and volunteers has already put many charities near collapse, although a lack of data has prevented us from knowing what makes some charities vulnerable and others resilient. This project analyzes vulnerability and resilience across the charitable sector in two stages. First, it forms a base by studying recovery from previous crises using financial data. Second, through online discussions with charity and foundation leaders, it provides a deeper understanding of the emerging challenges they are facing, how they are adapting, and how philanthropic foundations can provide more effective supports. By widely communicating the findings promptly, the project will assist charities and foundations to be optimally adaptive in managing through and recovering from the crisis.
- The Psychological Consequences of Social Distancing Measures for Single People During the COVID-19 Pandemic
Dr. Cheryl Harasymchuk and Dr. Nassim Tabri
The COVID-19 pandemic has created widespread anxiety and stress and has rearranged people’s lifestyles. The psychological implications are profound, particularly for people that are single and living alone. The purpose of this study is to examine the consequences of social distancing measures imposed during the COVID-19 pandemic with a sample of single people living alone. In this project, our goal is to identify psychological factors among single people that help differentiate those who are more resilient (vs vulnerable) to pandemic-related stress and its consequences (e.g., loneliness, lower life satisfaction, poor coping such as substance use, gambling, binge eating, overworking). More specifically, we will examine the buffering roles of social support strategies (e.g., communicating with others to feel cared for, validated, and understood) and secure attachment style (comfort with intimacy and trusting others) in reducing potential negative consequences associated with the pandemic.
- Examining the Impact of COVID-19 on Canadian University Reddit Communities: A Text Mining and Visualization Approach
Dr. Mike Hine
Canadian universities have over 1.4 million students, employ over 300,000 people, and are a $35B enterprise. The impact of COVID-19 on higher education has been immense and will be long-lasting. This project examines the impacts of COVID-19 on the most important university stakeholder: the student. It relies on text mining and network visualization techniques to explore the 20 most active Canadian university Reddit sites. Reddit provides real-time authentic student community response to the COVID crisis and is increasingly being used for studies of online communities. Results from this project will include an understanding of what COVID-related topics student communities are talking about during the COVID crisis; whether/how topics discussed changed through critical event periods experienced during the crisis; and whether/how student community topics are similar/different than what were experienced during a similar time frame in the previous non-COVID year. This project will have widespread impacts for educators, administrators, government legislators, academics, and students.
- Pandemic Pedagogies: Using Writing as a Tool to Develop the Citizen Scholar
Dr. David J. Hornsby
COVID-19 has forced universities around the world to move their learning online to ensure teaching and learning continue. This shift provides an opportune time to rethink pedagogical practices in the academy. Thus, as we shift to online learning at universities in three different socio-economic contexts (Durban, Johannesburg, and Ottawa), this study investigates how faculty members are enabled and constrained to implement evidence-informed pedagogy that effectively introduces their students to the tacit knowledge and communication practices in their disciplines. Students’ continuing struggles to employ these tacit practices, which will only be exacerbated in these new online learning contexts, will prevent them from gaining membership to their disciplinary communities and will also result in low rates of graduation. Guided by these findings, we will determine if and how faculty development practices, particularly in online teaching, can be implemented to ensure faculty are explicitly teaching their students how knowledge is constructed and communicated in their disciplines of study.
- Surviving and Managing in a Post-COVID-19 World: Implications for International Business Activities of Small- and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs)
Dr. Diane Isabelle
This research explores global disruptions resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic on the international operations of small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), with an emphasis on global value chains and management post pandemic. Drawing from relevant academic literature and employing artificial intelligence-based modeling, the goal is to identify determinants of successful international activities, business model innovation, and integration of technology such as digitalization for an effective recovery. The research will also address effective policy responses globally and their applicability to Canadian international SMEs in selected industrial and service sectors of importance to Canada. The research will expand academic knowledge in the critical area of SMEs’ international activities post COVID-19, and generate future areas of research, as well as provide an extensive application of AI-based approaches to social sciences. The research outcomes will enhance business strategies and improve public policies to deal with COVID-19 impacts in the shorter and longer terms.
- Border Protection for COVID-19 Through Symptom Analysis
Dr. Chris Joslin
The COVID-19 pandemic has shown that while Canada is capable of defending its borders against illegal immigration, smuggling, guns, and other nefarious unwanted elements, it is only able to deny entry to those carrying disease by almost completely shutting down borders (bar trade goods). And while Canadians are proud of their national health service, this same service faces tough challenges when dealing with pandemics such as COVID-19. Therefore, it is important for Canada to strengthen its borders to these viral agents and provide quarantine to carriers where necessary, to secure the health of its population while maintaining trade and tourist routes alike. This research program will deliver methods of monitoring the key health factors of people entering the country (whether returning or simply visiting) so that COVID-19, and future potential diseases, can be kept out of the country.
- Racial Discrimination and the Well-Being of Asian Canadians in the COVID-19 Context
Dr. Dennis Kao
Recent news has highlighted the increased incidences of racial discrimination in the COVID-19 context, specifically targeting Asian Canadians. The economic turmoil faced by millions of Canadians, high levels of uncertainty and anxiety, and the unfortunate framing of COVID-19 as “the Chinese virus” may all be contributing to the current environment of hostility towards Chinese Canadians, as well as towards individuals who “look Chinese.” Racial discrimination—both overt and subtle—has been shown to have adverse effects on one’s health and mental health; however, relatively limited research has focused on Asian Canadians. This study seeks to understand and build public awareness regarding the impact of racial discrimination among Asian Canadians in the COVID-19 context. An online survey will be broadly distributed to Asian Canadians across Ontario to solicit information about their recent experiences with discrimination, levels of vigilance, resilience and coping mechanisms, and health and well-being.
- Developing a Macro Model of COVID-19 for Canada: Interaction of Monetary, Fiscal, and Health Policies
Dr. Hashmat Khan
We will develop a unified framework integrating a social-distancing-augmented Susceptible-Infectious-Recovered (SIR) epidemiological model of COVID-19 and its evolution with a
state-of-the-art macroeconomic model, thus overcoming a major modelling gap. This integrated model will study: (i) public health interventions to slow the spread of disease, (ii) sequentially restarting economic activity in different sectors, and (iii) the interaction between health, fiscal, and monetary policies. Our diverse and experienced international research team, involving two PhD students, is well poised to take on this challenge and develop a model that can be rapidly deployed for quantitative scenario-analyses for Canada using aggregate and provincial data, and to inform decision-making and planning at the Bank of Canada. A key innovation in our research is to introduce age-specific social distancing within a multi-sector economic model. This model will help determine “road maps” to economic recovery, and how the interaction among policy responses can support them.
- Consumer Food Purchasing Behaviour During the COVID-19 Pandemic
Dr. Irena Knezevic
Our survey, titled “Consumer food purchasing behaviour during the COVID-19 pandemic” will collect qualitative and quantitative data to gain insights on food access, food purchasing, and consumption behaviour, including the food-related perceptions and concerns of Ontario consumers during the COVID-19 pandemic. This research will contribute to the call by food systems experts (concerned with reports of outbreaks in processing plants, and food dumping in the midst of this crisis) to urgently transition into a more reliable and resilient regional food system, especially since small and local producers, processors, and distributors are faring better, while large operations are having distribution problems. This research is part of a coordinated comparative regional research project with food scholars and civil society actors in British Columbia, Alberta, Quebec, and the Atlantic provinces to inform food systems planning and policy during and post crisis.
- User Trust: The Key Issue in the Application of the Autonomous System Embedded with Ambient Intelligence for Protecting Elderly People
Dr. Vinod Kumar and Dr. Uma Kumar
COVID-19 has caused havoc on the elderly population; their number of deaths is staggering. An autonomous care system embedded with ambient intelligence can ensure independence for elderly people and increase cooperation, social interaction, and adaptation. However, the degree of innovation and the level of independence of any autonomous system vary significantly by the vendors’ strategy, design criteria, and, most importantly, consumers’ adaptability and behavioural attitudes. This study seeks to understand the level of trust elderly people must have to accept autonomous systems instead of human support, and how trust and personal characteristics can improve the intent to adopt autonomous systems. Through this empirical study of elderly people in Ontario and the structural equation modeling analysis, we will develop an understanding of how trust can be enhanced in these less-familiar living machine systems. This study will have significant implications on the design and understanding of the support requirements of future autonomous elderly care systems.
- Airworthiness Effects of Decontamination Processes on Drone Aircraft
Dr. Jeremy Laliberté
In this project, we will examine industry-accepted decontamination methods and chemicals used in the traditional manned aviation industry and assess their applicability, operational impact, and potential to degrade the airworthiness of large and small remotely piloted aircraft systems (RPAS or “drones”). The short-term goal is to identify and develop an acceptable decontamination process for these aircraft for immediate deployment while identifying long-term design modifications and improvements to simplify decontamination of future drone aircraft of all types.
- Tracing COVID-19 Data
Dr. Tracey Lauriault
There is much official COVID-19 data reporting by federal, provincial, territorial, and Indigenous communities. As the pandemic evolves, and more information comes to light, there is a call to add data attributes about Indigenous, Black, and racialized groups, and the affected labour force, and to report where cases predominate. The pandemic has also revealed that foundational datasets are missing, such as a national list of elder care homes, maps of local health regions, and data about the digital divide. This project will embrace technological citizenship, adopt a critical data studies theoretical framework, and employ a data humanitarian approach to rapidly assess data shortfalls, identify standards, and support the building of infrastructure. This will involve training students, conducting rapid response research, developing a network of experts, learning by doing, and garnering a trans-disciplinary team of peer reviewers to assess results. The knowledge will be mobilized in open access blog posts, infographics, policy briefs, and scholarly publications.
- Mathematical Modeling of the Spread of COVID-19 in Canada
Dr. Emmanuel Lorin
This project is devoted to the mathematical modeling of the spread of COVID-19 in Canada. The main objective is to develop a hierarchy of accurate epidemiological models, and a corresponding simulation code, for the space and time propagation of COVID-19 in Canada using: i) the most recent available data (infection, susceptibility, recovery rates, etc.), and ii) machine learning techniques to include the parameters in the mathematical models. We will explore different scenarios (quarantine, tracing, testing, border control…) and take into account different types of population by age and health condition. Ultimately, this tool is expected to guide public health decisions, based on rigorously derived models and simulations.
- Staying Green vs. Staying Safe: Consumer Attitude Towards Sustainable Consumption During the COVID-19 Pandemic
Dr. Irene Lu and Dr. Ernest Kwan
The acceptance of recycled or second-hand products is important for ecological sustainability. Recent findings show that Canadians have become increasingly concerned about the environment. Nevertheless, research also suggests that humans’ instinctual fear of contagion can make recycled or used products unappealing. This fear may be especially compelling for consumers grappling with a pandemic.
We propose a study to examine Canadians’ attitude towards sustainable products during the COVID-19 pandemic. Past research has identified factors that can alleviate and aggravate a consumer’s fear of contamination. We examine the extent to which such factors continue to have an impact during a pandemic. We also examine the generalizability of this impact across four types of sustainable products.
Our findings could help retailers adapt their current marketing strategies. Our study also offers guidance to policymakers and green marketers on how to promote conservationism and sustainability, while addressing a heightened sensitivity of contagion in Canadian society.
- Assessment of Masks and Aerosol Characterization from Cough, Sneeze, Speech, and Breath
Dr. Edgar Matida
COVID-19 can be spread by sneezing, coughing, and possibly even through normal conversation. The proposed research comprises numerical, in vitro, and in vivo fundamental studies of the characterization (size and velocity) of droplets and aerosols during sneezing, coughing, talking, and breathing as functions of time and distance from the source. An adjustable cough and sneeze aerosol generator will be created and used to test filtration levels of popular designs of homemade masks. During the in vivo portion of the work (planned for when the present pandemic has subsided and social distancing regulations have eased), plume visualization using high-speed shadowgraph imaging techniques will be performed to complement the simultaneous measurement of aerosol size and velocity using phase Doppler anemometry at determined distances from the airborne material source. Numerical simulations of aerosol dispersion, validated against the experimental data, will provide a complete spatial characterization of the plumes.
- Habit Formation in Changing Circumstances
Dr. Marina Milyavskaya and Dr. Rachel Burns
With the rise of COVID-19, a large proportion of the population has had to make changes to their daily routines, from work to social activities to health behaviours such as exercise. This affords a unique opportunity to examine contextual mechanisms of habit formation over time, and will allow researchers and public health officials to provide evidence-based advice on how people can maintain healthy habits (e.g., exercising, washing hands regularly) and reduce or avoid developing bad habits (e.g., snacking too much, touching face). Data from approximately 500 participants will be collected via monthly surveys over the course of 6 months. This will allow us to: 1) Examine the prevalence of trying to adapt new habitual behaviours and reducing unwanted behaviours; 2) Understand the nature of these behaviours; 3) Examine changes in the frequency and automaticity of these behaviours over time; and 4) Examine predictors of successful habit formation/reduction.
- Monitoring of SARS-CoV-2 in Wastewater to Minimize/Prevent Future Outbreaks
Dr. Banu Ormeci
SARS-CoV-2 is present in the guts of COVID-19 patients and shed with their stool. As a result, the virus is present in raw (untreated) sewage and recent studies have shown that SARS-CoV-2 RNA can be detected in sewage much earlier than the first confirmed case in a community. Thus, monitoring of SARS-CoV-2 in sewage provides an effective tool for early warning surveillance and understanding the prevalence of the disease in a community. Until a vaccine is found, COVID-19 will likely come back in waves and there is a need for noninvasive, effective, and easy-to-employ monitoring tools to effectively manage future outbreaks. This research will monitor the SARS-CoV-2 RNA levels in raw sewage as an early warning surveillance tool and at wastewater treatment plants to investigate the presence, fate, and removal of the virus.
- Expansion and Scaling of Electronic Health Services for Rural Communities: An International Analysis
Dr. Paul Peters
Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, eHealth was promoted as a solution for equitable provision of rural health services. However, most eHealth programs did not live up to the promise over the long term. The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in the immediate and widespread expansion of eHealth services in Australia, Canada, and Sweden (as elsewhere). As the pandemic spread between countries, virtual visits shifted to the norm for many regions of the world, often in a matter of weeks or even days. Numerous reviews have highlighted barriers to effective implementation of eHealth, but the issues identified in these reviews have not yet been addressed, despite widespread adoption of eHealth as a primary mode of service. This project is concerned with scaling-up rapid rural eHealth expansion and building a framework to strengthen health and care systems in rural locations during and beyond the pandemic. This project is engaged with rural physicians, communities, and researchers.
- Point-of-Care Sensor Device for Early Stage Detection of COVID-19 Using Isothermal DNA Amplification
Dr. Ravi Prakash
The COVID-19 pandemic has caused a global healthcare crisis which necessitates extensive, rigorous, and early stage screening of the virus. A significant challenge in monitoring community spread is that over 50% of carriers can be asymptomatic and still spread the infection. As a result, extensive testing at centralized laboratories would be challenging. Existing DNA and antibody biomarker-based COVID-19 tests have also been limited due to their complexity and dependence on benchtop instruments. There is a strong push towards designing rapid point-of-care (POC) nucleic acid test (NAT) systems to extract and amplify the viral RNA using improved DNA molecular probes to facilitate miniaturization and reduce screening time. Our interdisciplinary research team possesses expertise in POC NAT system design for influenza and arboviruses, and novel DNA biomarker discovery. We have initiated a sustainable partnership to significantly improve the existing sensor device design and incorporate novel isothermal DNA amplification primers for COVID-19 testing.
- Automatic and Continuous Assessment of Blood Pressure Waveforms for Cardiac Health Monitoring of COVID-19 Patients
Dr. Sreeraman Rajan and Dr. Yuu Ono
There is a need for non-invasive, inexpensive, disposable, automatic, continuous sensing of vital signs during the COVID-19 pandemic – both in hospitals and homes – due to the rapid deterioration of vital functions. This project will deliver a low-cost, continuous automatic sensing system for arterial functions, such as blood pressure waveforms, using a disposable ultrasonic sensor with machine-learning-based signal processing algorithms that can be used in hospitals and homes. Such a system is not currently available. The deliverables of this project will reduce the workload of the healthcare system, help health authorities to guide and manage better treatment plans, and provide home-care patients and caregivers with a tool to make better decisions regarding hospital visits. Furthermore, this system will improve safety for healthcare workers and for those in long-term care facilities. This system will have future use by helping in long-term monitoring of cardiac health beyond the pandemic and in emergency situations.
- Public Health Enforcement, Social Justice, and the Uneven Geographies of COVID-19 Containment
Dr. Jennifer Ridgley
This project focuses on the social geography of pandemic management. Using a social justice lens, it will examine the effectiveness of municipal efforts to contain the spread of COVID-19 through the regulation of public space, and the impact these efforts have had on marginalized communities and residents in Ottawa, Ontario. An in-depth case study of municipal pandemic management in Ottawa will help inform public health, policy, and community responses to COVID-19, and will serve as a pilot study to develop an effective methodology for comparative research in other cities.
- Coronavirus, Sex Work, and Mutual Aid in Latin America
Dr. Megan Rivers-Moore
Sex workers in Latin America are some of the most precarious and vulnerable workers in a region already defined by high levels of informal labour. This project explores how they are experiencing and responding to the coronavirus pandemic. Paying attention to the ways that sex workers in Latin America have practiced mutual aid, and how their efforts to practice collective care have shifted during the current crisis, will provide a useful example of how marginalized groups respond to complex social problems. Centring the perspectives and knowledges of those most discounted, oppressed, and disempowered within current social relations, this research explores the ways Latin American sex workers’ mutual aid strategies have shifted during the coronavirus crisis, and aims to record and disseminate their practices because they hold key lessons that are useful to other marginalized groups in the global south and beyond.
- Design and Performance Assessment of Fast-Built Hospitals with Modular Construction
Dr. Vahid Sadeghian and Dr. Jeffrey Erochko
Because of COVID-19, construction of fast-built temporary hospitals has gained significant attention. One effective solution for building such structures is to use modular construction with prefabricated components. However, currently there are not any specific design and construction guidelines for modular hospitals and the research in this area is limited.
In the proposed project, a multi-disciplinary research team will systematically investigate the safety and performance of modular buildings under different operational conditions for pandemic response; propose a series of modular designs that vary in capacity, deployment range, and construction materials; and evaluate and optimize the designs using computer models.
The expected impacts of the project include providing accessible medical resources for remote northern and rural communities, ensuring safety and improving efficiency of temporary hospitals, reducing the risk to medical professionals and minimizing outbreaks, and providing unique training and highly employable skills for HQP.
- CDSN COVID-19 CAF Rapid Assessment Project
Dr. Stephen Saideman and Dr. Stephanie Carvin
Recently, the Canadian Defence and Security Network (CDSN) hosted a virtual workshop involving nearly 60 academics from across Canada, and across various disciplines, on the roles, both domestically and internationally, of the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) in addressing and combating COVID-19. We had solicited questions from the Department of National Defence (DND) so that our conference would have immediate policy relevance. The webinar produced a series of recommendations for a short briefing note for immediate policy impact. We now have funds to do the research necessary to explore and further develop our policy recommendations. This project will consider five issues that DND identified as important – ranging from international implications, to the impact of the CAF on Canadian communities, to the budgetary implications, and to the impact on the CAF itself.
- The Changing Nature of Work Due to COVID-19
Dr. Linda Schweitzer
The COVID-19 pandemic has necessitated significant and widespread changes in how most people work. The current work-at-home directive has resulted in the sudden collision of work and home life for many individuals. The rapid and urgent shift to remote work has forced many people who would not otherwise have had the opportunity and/or desire to work remotely to do so. As we collectively confront the challenges and opportunities afforded by the mass movement to remote work, this study investigates what working at home through the COVID-19 pandemic reveals about the future of working. Specifically, we explore the short-, medium-, and long-term shifts associated with people’s adjustment to working remotely from home, including the nature of work (employer expectations, hours, workspace), professional identity and career aspirations, the interaction of work and personal life, the division of labour in the home (housework, caregiving), and physical and psychological boundaries.
- Are they Effectively Learning? Enhancing Student Learning Experience Using LMS Analytics Amid and Post-COVID-19 Pandemic
Dr. Omair Shafiq
In the unprecedented times of the COVID-19 pandemic, education delivery through online learning management systems (LMS) has become crucial for educational institutions, now more than ever. Online delivery of education has benefits and challenges. One of the challenges is to find out if students are effectively learning and are connected with course material and, eventually, with their study program. In this research, we will design and develop a solution that will seamlessly monitor and track engagement patterns and learning experiences of students with course materials via online LMS. Our research will allow instructors, academic support staff, and students to gain deeper insights into student interaction, engagement, and learning experience through online LMS. The proposed research will also open up new possible ways to carry out early predictions of students who may be at risk of failing, thus allowing educators to take measures to improve student performance.
- Sequential Classification Under Uncertainty: A Mathematical Toolkit for Decision Makers
Dr. Tom Sherratt
Problems individuals face during a pandemic include whether a patient should present themselves for testing, whether a healthcare professional should recommend testing, whether a clinician should declare a test positive, and whether a policy maker should recommend relaxing social distancing. In each instance, the decision maker has to classify signals (the symptoms, the test result, the number of confirmed cases) in a binary manner (suitable/unsuitable for testing, infected/uninfected, discontinue/continue social distancing), but with uncertainty about their correct choice and different associated payoffs. The standard framework for these classificatory problems is signal detection theory (SDT). However, in an epidemiological setting, several discriminative decisions are made sequentially. Our project will apply sequential SDT to classification problems in epidemiology to directly estimate parameters of greatest value to decision makers. By combining this approach with classical SIR models, we will provide tools for signal classification that will serve decision makers dealing with COVID-19.
- A Secure Privacy-Preserving Quarantine Notification System
Dr. Wei Shi and Dr. Jean-Pierre Corriveau
Due to a large number of asymptomatic carriers, the COVID-19 contagion is complex to monitor. Consequently, confirmed patients, as well as potentially infected individuals, are required to quarantine in order to control the spread of the virus. When a person is confirmed infected, a Contact Tracing System (CTS) is used by health authorities to determine this person’s whereabouts and obtain a list of individuals with “close” encounters so these individuals can be advised to self-quarantine. Several countries – such as China, South Korea, and Singapore – have developed and already use CTSs. However, these CTSs do not preserve the privacy of their users. That is, health authorities keep track of everyone’s whereabouts and can identify confirmed cases and their “close” contacts. Such an approach is not acceptable in Europe and North America. Consequently, several CTS proposals have been put forth to improve privacy. Proprietary closed-source solutions (e.g., from Apple/Google) are not acceptable in light of recent breach-of-privacy scandals. Some have inherent security vulnerabilities. Others (e.g., from UK’s NHSX and from the MILA lab in Montreal) require human intervention.
We have developed a Privacy-Preserving Quarantine Notification System. Through the use of Bluetooth and WiFi-enabled mobile devices, a user can receive a notification to quarantine if this user has encountered a confirmed COVID-19 patient 14 days before or after the lab confirmation date of this patient. A future version will also support IoT sensors. Our system is the only one we know that fulfills the following requirements:
1) secure (i.e., resilient to cyber attacks)
2) fully automated (i.e., not reliant on human intervention, except for its easy installation)
3) privacy preserving (i.e., prevents unlawful identification of an individual)
4) efficient (i.e., quarantine notifications must be timely)
The guarantees of our system with respect to security and privacy favour its widespread adoption by Canadians, which, in turn, will ensure we stop the spread of the virus and successfully restart our economy.
- WAAM WEB: An Online Interface for Telematic Community Music Making
Dr. Jesse Stewart
Building on the success of the We Are All Musicians (WAAM) research-creation project, this project will develop an innovative online musical interface known as WAAM WEB that will allow multiple people to control a mechanical percussion system remotely while they shelter in place during the pandemic and beyond. A live video feed of the WAAM WEB percussion installation will allow people to see and hear the results of their interactions with the system and with each other in real time.
After the successful creation of this telematic musical interface, I will use it to conduct research into the nature and impact of telematic community music making on health and well-being, building on concepts and methodologies drawn from the emergent fields of community music studies and digital ethnography.
- How to Help? A Review of Community Group Responses to Collective Trauma
Dr. Sophie Tamas
This project aims to provide research support to help community groups in the small town of Almonte, Ontario, figure out how to respond to a high concentration of local COVID-19 deaths. It will do so by employing a skilled research assistant to review pertinent academic and practitioner sources in order to gather key points from the literature and translate them into plain language reports tailored to local needs.
- COVID-19 – Design of Long-Term Care Homes (LTC) – Learning for the Future
Dr. Chantal Trudel
The appropriate design of long-term care (LTC) homes is crucial in balancing infection prevention and control (IPAC) with residents’ quality of life and care, particularly during pandemic conditions such as COVID-19. While hospital IPAC protocols are relatively well-established, LTC protocols are not well developed and may not “fit,” and may even clash, with the unique characteristics of LTC. To address this, and support the redevelopment of Canada’s aging LTC infrastructure, we will develop short-term and long-term design studies focused on IPAC in LTC to explore front-line cognitive aids that can be readily deployed to support healthcare workers, as well as concepts to support future new builds and redevelopments of LTC homes. Such studies will be instrumental in helping us break ground in understanding the impact of COVID-19 in LTC homes and will also help provide impetus to build a dedicated program at Carleton focused on design and engineering for LTC.
- Mechanical Ventilator Milano (MVM): A Novel Mechanical Ventilator Designed for Mass Scale Production in Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic
Dr. Simon Viel
The COVID-19 pandemic creates an urgent need for mechanical ventilators. Mechanical Ventilator Milano (MVM) is the product of an international collaboration of physicists and engineers in partnership with medical doctors on the front line. This new ventilator is designed to provide pressure-controlled and pressure-supported breathing modes needed for intensive care, with as low cost as possible, and suitable for rapid large-scale production. For all these reasons, there is interest in MVM from industrial partners worldwide. MVM prototypes are now under test to ensure that the ventilator is safe and effective. Carleton University has taken responsibility for leading the MVM-Canada data analysis team towards certification by Health Canada, and during the mass production of this life-saving equipment.
- Impacts of COVID-19 on Ambient Concentrations of PM2.5 in Ottawa and Nationally
Dr. Paul Villeneuve
The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted human health on a global scale and necessitated major changes in human behaviour. The implementation of physical distancing practices in Canada, and elsewhere, has resulted in a greater number of individuals working from home, and substantial reductions in use of industrial processes, and motor vehicles. This, in turn, has impacted concentrations of outdoor air pollution. Decreases in air pollution levels since the pandemic began have been reported in several countries; however, Canadian analyses have been limited. Specifically, there has been no comprehensive effort to describe changes in fine particulate matter (PM2.5) pollution. PM2.5 is the most widely studied pollutant in terms of human health and has been estimated to cause 10,000 deaths annually in Canada. This project will extract daily data for PM2.5 in 2020 from a comprehensive series of monitoring stations and satellite imaging data to quantify how COVID-19 has impacted PM2.5 concentrations nationally and in select cities.
- Platform for Experimentation with Indoor Spatial Models of COVID-19
Dr. Gabriel Wainer
In recent years, we built various simulation models based on the traditional Susceptible-Infected-Recovered (SIR) equations that are being used worldwide to predict the pandemic dynamics. We also have experience on integrating simulations and complex spatial visualization engines to allow decision makers to study how the virus spreads.
This research will study how viruses expand indoors. We will use detailed 3D models of the buildings on campus and adaptations of the SIR model for indoor environments. We will also study how the virus expands on larger areas. We will use Geographical Information Systems and Carleton’s Digital Campus map to build spatial versions of the SIR model with adaptations and improvements. The models will be available through the web for remote collaboration and for use by decision makers. This tool will permit studying different strategies for returning to campus at the end of the pandemic and for dealing with future outbreaks.
- Robust Solutions for Online Music Ensemble Pedagogy
Dr. Ellen Waterman
Musicians everywhere are seeking new ways to make music together under COVID-19 physical distancing. University music students are critically affected because ensemble music pedagogy develops core skills: listening, timing, blend, expressiveness, and teamwork. An effective methodology for online choir, band, and ear-training is urgently needed. This research project will develop, test, and assess a robust networked ensemble music methodology that combines current best practices in online music pedagogy, technologies for networked music performance (making music together online in real time from separate physical locations), and innovative teaching and learning strategies, including improvisation. With leading expertise in improvisation, music performance pedagogy, and music technologies, our Carleton team is uniquely positioned to create a resource hub for networked ensemble music that will have wider benefits for educational, community, and professional music ensembles. This research makes an original contribution to studies in teaching and learning, improvisation studies, and community music.
- Longitudinal Assessment of Changes in Gambling and Co-morbid Substance Use and Risky Online Behaviours During the COVID-19 Pandemic Casino Closures
Dr. Michael J.A. Wohl
In late March 2020, due to mounting concern over the COVID-19 pandemic, the gambling industry took the unprecedented step to close gambling venues worldwide. The result for gamblers was a sudden reduction in access to gambling. A recent survey of gamblers in Ontario, conducted by the Responsible Gambling Council (RGC), found high rates of negative economic impacts, increased reports of depression, anxiety, and substance use, as well as risky behaviours such as online gambling. In the proposed program of research, we will conduct a secondary analysis of the RGC data and a second wave of data collection with the participants from the RGC study to examine changes in mood, anxiety, substance use and a variety of online behaviours, including gambling, occurring throughout the pandemic and the continued closure of land-based gambling venues. Results will yield critical information about possible addiction substitution during COVID-19, and the means of mitigating casino-closure associated harms.
- Environmental Sampling of SARS-CoV-2 in a Healthcare Setting
Dr. Alex Wong
Rapid person-to-person spread of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, is known to occur primarily via respiratory droplets. We know little, however, about whether SARS-CoV-2 is present in, and can be transmitted through, the built environment, especially in high-density areas like hospitals. Under the current opportunity, we will develop molecular techniques for detecting SARS-CoV-2 in environmental samples, and we will carry out a pilot study to detect the virus on surfaces in The Ottawa Hospital. This project has the potential for immediate impact in the healthcare setting by supporting infection control and facility disinfection practices.
- A Statistical Learning Tool as Decision Support to Control the Spreading of COVID-19 and its Resurgence
Dr. Yiqiang Q. Zhao
We propose to develop a novel statistical learning tool as decision support to mitigate the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and its resurgence. The main objective is to develop a new model based on the recent progress in network science and machine learning. This new model will allow us to adequately analyze the data stream related to COVID-19 and thus to precisely understand the evolution of the situation and the degree of the threat on our province (and across Canada and beyond). Compared to other available models, our approach is expected to be robust and dynamic, and parameters can be easily updated through learning processes according to decision mitigation measures. Such a tool is needed in both the short and long terms to inform effective and objective policies and strategies to be adopted in order to minimize morbidity and mortality, and societal and economic disruption at the same time.