Many of our faculty members are involved in research. Students have the opportunity to participate in some of them. Following is a brief sample.
Nathan C. Ackroyd, PhD — Medicinal Organic Chemistry
Ackroyd, instructor in Chemical, Biological and Environmental Sciences, is developing SPECT imaging agent methods to assist medical doctors in the non-invasive diagnosis of breast tumors. Cancer cells that contain high concentrations of the estrogen receptor are particularly susceptible to hormone therapy treatment, allowing patients to avoid the undesirable side-effects of radiation or hormone therapy. This imaging technology has the potential to replace biopsy as the preferred method of tumor-type identification in breast cancer patients. Ackroyd is also interested in the development of MRI contrast agents that are capable of crossing cellular membranes. With few exceptions, Magnetic Resonance Imaging Agents are restricted to extra-cellular environments.
Manuel Diaz-Avila, PhD — Quantum Superfluids
As a Postdoc, Diaz-Avila’s research focused on the characterization of nanostrutures based on III-V and II-VI compound semiconductors grown by molecular beam epitaxy. These materials have direct energy bandgaps and thus are suitable for photonic applications such as emitters, detectors, modulators, etc. Research also involves electrical injection of spin polarized carriers in GaAs/AlGaAs light emitting diodes from a variety of spin polarizing contacts which might be relevant for the generation of new technologies based on spintronics. A variety of non-destructive optical techniques in the visible and near infra-red are employed; reflectivity, absorption, photoluminescence, electroluminescence, magneto photoluminescence, and magneto-electroluminescence are used.
Diaz-Avila’s PhD research focused on the study of Quantum Superfluids. Mainly research was centered on the behavior of confined He4 at low temperatures under restricted geometries that modified the dimensionality of the system, which in turn modified its thermodynamic properties such as superfluidity and heat capacity. Helium is confined and constrained to flow in well understood geometries which are lithographycally patterned into silicon wafers. The silicon wafers are directly bonded to another patterned wafer to complete the experimental cell. The techniques used as ways of detecting the superfluid helium density are High Q Torsional Oscillators and Adiabatic Fountain Resonance. The study of finite–size effects on the specific heat of He4 near the superfluid transition was performed using AC calorimetry.
Christopher Lovallo, PhD — Computational Chemistry
The modeling of chemical reactions by a computer has become an important part of modern chemistry. This technology has allowed individuals to learn about chemistry without having to touch or deal with potentially dangerous radioactive substances. Modeling is being used as a technique in a variety of fields such as the clothing industry, the military to develop better body armour, the drug industry to create less toxic pharmaceuticals, and even the cutting-edge field of nanotechnology.
With the rising demand of computational modeling, the requirement for computer power is increasing at an alarming rate. The focus of my research is to develop methods that allow calculations to be performed at the same accuracy but in less time.
Once the models have been developed, they must be tested to ensure they work to expectations. My current project involves a reaction performed by a series of transition metals. These metals are all in the same column of the periodic table, which indicates that their reactivity should be similar, but not identical. The project will use the computational models to test the reactions of each transitional metal and compare the results with their actual measurement of reactivity where available.
This research project brought up some interesting questions that I hope to study more closely and will most likely be my next project. I also intends on studying the biochemistry of cancer and chemotherapy drugs within the next year or so.
Sean Maw, PhD — Sports Engineering
Maw, an instructor in the Bachelor of Engineering - University Transfer program, teaches Engineering Design and Mechanics. He also leads the development of the new Industrial Design program at Mount Royal. In addition, each week he spends time on Sports Engineering research activities in conjunction with the Olympic Oval at the UofC. These have included studies on skin suit aerodynamics, blade curvature measurement, timing systems, crash/fall databases, impact dynamics, and klap-skate kinematics. Looking ahead, Maw is also moving into micro-wind power research, looking at new turbine designs for residential and rural use.
Barbara McNicol, PhD — Community and town planning for second home owners
McNicol, Chair, Earth Sciences, is working in partnership with the Town of Canmore to survey and evaluate second home residential ownership to better understand implications for land use and town planning in this national park gateway community. The initial study, funded by the Mount Royal Reserve Fund, evaluates foreign ownership of second homes: markets from the United States, the United Kingdom and other foreign countries. Funding from the Town of Canmore expanded the study to include the Canadian second home market. Comparative data is used to understand how domestic and international ownership may affect future use of residential lands. Overall, the study data and insights will lead to a better understanding of cross-cultural amenity tourism markets and how similarities or differences may affect planning and management of amenity migrants to mountain gateway communities.
Todd Nickle, PhD — Effectiveness of employing active learning techniques in the classroom
Nickle is investigating the effectiveness of employing active learning techniques in the classroom. This includes the use of a Personal Response System (a.k.a. “clickers”) to solicit student feedback during class time. In addition, Nickle is using a Blended Learning approach (Hybrid Delivery) to try to foster more student reflection on the material.
Peter Zizler, PhD — Software development to map out geographical risk of crime victimization
Zizler, Department of Mathematics, Physics and Engineering, combines applied mathematics with Justice Studies and is working on, as a project leader, a development of a mathematical/statistical software to map out geographical risk of crime victimization. The software will predict, and test the prediction, how crime spreads spatially. The software will assess and display, among other features, a geographical crime risk surface for the given area. The end users are expected to be law enforcement agencies and residential services.
Saint-Fort publishes landfill stabilization findings
Environmental Chemistry instructor Roger Saint-Fort, PhD, has recently published an article in the Journal of Environmental Science and Health. The article, Assessing Sanitary Landfill Stabilization, chronicles his study of the stabilization processes involved in a typical landfill in the Calgary area. Saint-Fort's findings will have wide applications in municipal landfill management.
Roger Saint-Fort, PhD, instructor in Chemical, Biological and Environmental Sciences, can often be found performing geo-technical work or ground water studies out at Weed Lake, Alberta-an important waterfowl and staging area. MRC, the Western Irrigation District, Municipal District of Rockyview No. 44, Ducks Unlimited Canada and Alberta Environment are collaborating on the Weed Lake Restoration Project to provide environmentally-friendly solutions that will ultimately result in the restoration of the lake. By the end of November, Saint-Fort is expected to complete a water well monitoring program that will monitor well conditions in the area on a long-term basis.
Sustainable Remediation Technologies Initiative (SRTI)
Israel Dunmade, instructor in Chemical, Biological and Environmental Sciences, is spearheading the development of criteria and indicators and decision making tools for assessing the sustainability of remediation technologies that are in common use in Alberta. The first phase of the work which is in collaboration with colleagues from Frac Rite Environmental, AMEC, City of Calgary, Pioneer Land & Environmental, Trium Environmental, Alberta Environment and others is expected to facilitate the evaluation and improvement of various technologies being used in the soil and water remediation industry in Alberta.
Characterization of Biobased Fibers for Industrial/Engineering Applications
Israel Dunmade is testing the engineering properties of a number of biobased natural fibers to determine their potential for various industrial/engineering applications.
Swimming Pool Wastewater Treatment and Reuse Project
Israel Dunmade is collaborating with colleagues at Olds College in the AACTI-funded project on the treatment of swimming pool wastewater project for water reuse applications.