Updated weekly, SFU's Scholarly Impact of the Week is selected by the Office of the Vice-President, Research and International to celebrate scholarly milestones and research impacts from across the SFU research community.
Examples can include: publishing a paper in a high-impact journal; patenting an invention; debuting a new performance piece; publishing a monograph or book; changing a government policy; or changing the way we think about or understand the world around us. We expect most of these to be "recent" impacts, but will also publish a transformative impact from the past, from time to time.
Breakthrough technology fuels clean energy shift
Steven HoldcroftFaculty of Science
Steven Holdcroft is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, a professor of chemistry and the Tier 1 Canada Research Chair in Electrochemical Materials. He is a leading authority on advanced materials for electrochemical energy conversion and storage, materials that are vital to the creation of sustainable energy sources such as fuel cells. His recent paper, On the Evolution of Sulfonated Polyphenylenes as Proton Exchange Membranes describes his ongoing work to create new and environmentally friendly ways to manufacture clean energy.
Why a ban on conversion therapy isn’t enough
Travis SalwayFaculty of Health Sciences
Travis Salway is an epidemiologist and an assistant professor of health sciences at SFU. He conducts research in affiliation with the B.C. Centre for Disease Control, the Centre for Gender and Sexual Health Equity, and the Community-Based Research Centre. Though these collaborations, and by speaking to people with lived experiences, Professor Salway investigates unjust and avoidable harms to sexual and gender minority populations. His research is some of the first of its kind in Canada and is helping inform policies and practices to prevent these harms, including Bill C6, known as the Act to ban ‘conversion therapy’ in Canada. He and his students recently published “They Want You to Kill Your Inner Queer but Somehow Leave the Human Alive”: Delineating the Impacts of Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity and Expression Change Efforts.
Confronting the business model of modern slavery
Laya BehbahaniFaculty of Arts and Social Sciences
Laya Behbahani is a labour scholar and advocate against human trafficking, forced labour and slavery. She is also a lecturer in Labour Studies, the director of the Student Experience Initiative and PhD student in the School of Communication at SFU, where she received a 2020 Pierre Elliot Trudeau Foundation Scholarship to support her studies. Behbahani collaborated on Confronting the Business Model of Modern Slavery, co-authored with Andrew Crane from the University of Bath, Genevieve LeBaron from the University of Sheffield, and others. Their paper outlines the phenomenon of forced labour and exploitation in several industries across the United Kingdom and reveals how slavery continues to flourish in the modern economy.
Course conundrum: How do students choose between online and in-person learning?
Kevin O'NeillFaculty of Education
John NesbitFaculty of Education
Even before the pandemic forced university coursework to virtual platforms, education professor Kevin O’Neill wondered about the factors that made undergraduate students choose online versus in-person learning. He, Professor John Nesbit, and their colleagues surveyed 650 students to learn what modalities they preferred and why. It’s one of the most comprehensive surveys of its kind and enriches the understanding of students’ education choices.
Information and collaboration key to addressing opioid crisis
Bohdan NosykFaculty of Health Sciences
Bohdan Nosyk is an associate professor of health sciences at SFU and the St. Paul's Hospital CANFAR Chair in HIV/AIDS Research. He leads a team of researchers focused on the impacts of health policy on substance abuse and treatment, and the treatment and prevention of HIV/AIDS and viral hepatitis.
Nosyk is a founding member of the Opioid Use Disorder Modelling Group - a consortium of health researchers who are studying the effectiveness of various interventions across jurisdictions to improve the quality of care for people who use opioids. The group recently published the paper: How simulation modeling can support the public health response to the opioid crisis in North America: Setting priorities and assessing value.
UK Biobank data advances human genetics
Lloyd ElliottFaculty of Science
Curious about how your genetics affect your health? So are the scientists using the UK Biobank – an extensive biomedical database containing in-depth genetic and health information from half a million volunteers. In order to advance modern medicine and discovery, the database had been made accessible to approved researchers from around the globe.
SFU statistics and actuarial professor Lloyd Elliott, Stephen Smith from the University of Oxford and their colleagues are mining the database to study and map the associations between human genetic variants and diseases. So far, they’ve looked at almost 40,000 brain images and observed a diverse set of variations associated with brain development and disease. Their paper, An expanded set of genome-wide association studies of brain imaging phenotypes in UK Biobank, outlines their findings.
University-community collaboration extends reach of ancient clam gardens
Dana LepofskyFaculty of Environment
Dana Lepofsky is a professor of archaeology at SFU and one of the coordinators of the Clam Garden Network and the Herring School, collectives of people from Indigenous and academic communities, government and non-governmental organizations who are passionate about these two cultural keystone species. The collectives work alongside local and Indigenous knowledge keepers to understand and apply traditional knowledge to current issues.
Lepofsky and her research team recently conducted an in-depth survey of clam gardens on Quadra Island that are known to be thousands of years old. Their paper, Ancient Anthropogenic Clam Gardens of the Northwest Coast Expand Clam Habitat, provides insight into traditional sustainable mariculture – knowledge that is being revitalised to increase food sovereignty in coastal communities.
CO2 removals are not equal to CO2 emissions
Kirsten ZickfeldFaculty of Environment
Kirsten Zickfeld is an SFU Distinguished Professor of climate science and director of the SFU Climate Research Lab. Her research focuses on the long-term effects of human activities on climate. She recently led a study that found CO2 emissions into the Earth’s atmosphere are not equal to the climate changes from deliberate CO2 removals, a finding that could affect climate targets. Asymmetry in the climate–carbon cycle response to positive and negative CO2 emissions was published in the journal Nature Climate Change.
What makes a problem hard?
Pavol HellFaculty of Applied Sciences
How do you schedule, in as few days as possible, thousands of students for hundreds of exams without anyone being scheduled for two exams at the same time? This is a hard problem to solve. Yet the problem of calculating the shortest distances amongst even tens of thousands of towns is easy to solve quickly.
For over five decades, mathematician Pavol Hell has been interested in understanding what makes some problems hard, while other similar sounding problems are easy. He recently retired from SFU, where he taught computing science and published prolifically, including some of the most highly cited mathematical papers. His recent article, Distance-two colourings of Barnette graphs, is an example of how the field of graph theory can aid in analyzing the difference between hard and easy problems.
Competition or cooperation? Bonding rituals can help
Rekha KrishnanBeedie School of Business
Rajiv KozhikodeBeedie School of Business
Rekha Krishnan is an associate professor of international business, innovation and entrepreneurship at SFU’s Beedie School of Business. Her research focuses on interaction rituals, social networks, status dynamics, entrepreneurship and emerging economies.
Rajiv Kozhikode is an associate professor of international business, management and organization studies, also at Beedie. His main research interest is understanding how markets, states, and civil society interact to shape a variety of organizational and entrepreneurial choices.
In their latest research, Krishnan spent several months observing a Silicon Valley accelerator seeking insight into workspaces that are collaborative yet also competitive. Their paper, An Interaction Ritual Theory of Social Resource Exchange: Evidence from a Silicon Valley Accelerator, provides lessons on how to build cooperative working environments.