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More than $3 million awarded to U of R researchers for wide array of projects

By University Advancement and Communications Posted: June 15, 2021 10:00 a.m.

Dr. Andrew Stevens received a $95,527 SSHRC Insight Grant to examine racialized hiring practices in Saskatchewan and Ontario.
Dr. Andrew Stevens received a $95,527 SSHRC Insight Grant to examine racialized hiring practices in Saskatchewan and Ontario. Photo: stock

Twenty-four researchers at the University of Regina have received more than $3 million in federal grants to delve into dozens of projects that span multiple disciplines. 

The grants, provided through both Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) and the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC), will provide support for projects ranging from the examination of racialized hiring practices to determining if climate change is turning forests from carbon sinks to carbon sources.  

Dr. Andrew Stevens, associate professor in the Hill and Levene Schools of Business, received a $95,527 SSHRC Insight Grant. Stevens will work to discover whether one’s immigration status, race, and Indigenous identity affects job search success amongst job applicants in Saskatchewan and Ontario. 

“Our research will try to determine if hiring managers prefer white applicants over Indigenous, immigrant, and racialized applicants and if there are differences between hiring managers in Regina (a small urban centre with a high proportion of Indigenous residents) and Hamilton, Ontario (a large urban centre, with a high proportion of racialized immigrants),” explains Stevens. 

His focus will be on two industries, one low-skill and one high: food services and accounting. 

“Our research questions are going to focus on the context of the re-opening of the economy during COVID and will look at the attitudes and perceptions held by managers and employers, given the important role they have in shaping the experiences of workers and job applicants.” 

His team will examine what factors managers and employers consider important during hiring, and to what extent racialized stereotypes, country of origin, and gender play a part in their hiring decisions. 

“We will use interviews and a large-scale call-back study, where we will apply for actual jobs with eight simulated resumes that are equivalent in terms of the applicant qualifications, but that differ in terms of the applicant demographics.” 

Biologist Dr. Mark Vanderwel received a $200,000 NSERC Discovery Grant for his project focused on forest carbon dynamics. 

“Stretching from Manitoba to the Yukon, Canada’s western boreal forests store vast amounts of carbon,” says Vanderwel. “But my research project will help to uncover how that may change in the coming years.” 

Vanderwel says the managed portion of the western boreal forest region contains the equivalent of about 130 years’ worth of national greenhouse gas emissions and represents a globally significant carbon pool. However, reduced moisture in recent decades has caused forests to start losing carbon. 

“Dry conditions have slowed tree growth and increased tree death,” says Vanderwel. “These changes pose a significant threat as warming temperatures and increasingly dry conditions together exacerbate the risk of fire, predispose trees to attack by insects, reduce timber supplies, and trigger damaging climate change ramifications in the form of carbon being released back into the atmosphere.” 

Over the next five years, Vanderwel’s research team will conduct field studies and modelling experiments to provide a clearer understanding of carbon dynamics across Canada’s western boreal forest, where there is currently little data. 

“Although the conventional thinking is that these forests are a net carbon sink, model projections based on the extensive new data we will collect could reveal their potential to become a carbon source if moisture stress increases as we expect it to over the coming decades,” says Vanderwel. 

A better understanding of the sensitivity of the western boreal forest to climate change would resolve important uncertainties concerning its influence on Canada’s national greenhouse gas emissions and the global carbon/climate system. 

Dr. Kathleen McNutt, Vice-President (Research), says this substantial support of University of Regina researchers from the federal government sends a clear message that University scholars are conducting crucial work, and that their research will positively impact the lives of people around the globe.  

“The diversity of projects supported by this funding shows that University of Regina researchers are immensely curious and compassionate, and have a strong desire to make our world a better place, now and into the future,” says McNutt. 

For a full list of NSERC grant recipients please visit: https://www.canada.ca/en/innovation-science-economic-development/news/2021/06/government-of-canada-makes-major-investment-in-canadian-science-research-and-engineering.html 

For a full list of SSHRC grant recipients please visit: https://www.sshrc-crsh.gc.ca/news_room-salle_de_presse/latest_news-nouvelles_recentes/2021/ssh_investment_june-investissement_sh_juin-eng.aspx