Current Research Chairs
Dr. Heather Sparling, Canada Research Chair in Musical Traditions
Dr. Heather Sparling is the Tier Two Canada Research Chair in Musical Traditions. She has published extensively on Nova Scotia Gaelic song and is also researching Atlantic Canadian disaster songs (disastersongs.ca). Dr. Sparling is interested in exploring how traditional music helps to sustain communities. For example, she is exploring how Gaelic song can help sustain Nova Scotia’s Gaelic communities, and she’s interested in how disaster songs help grieving communities to cope with – and rebuild from – tragedy and loss. She is also interested in exploring practical applications of her research, such as through a tablet-based museum exhibit in development and through the creation of Gaelic song resources for use by language learners. Dr. Sparling is the recipient of multiple SSHRC and CFI grants and was the first CBU faculty member to win the Association of Atlantic Universities’ Anne Marie MacKinnon Educational Leadership award in 2012. She organized the International Small Island Cultures conference in 2012 and was one of the co-chairs of the Society for Teaching and Learning in Higher Education conference in 2013. She is the editor of MUSICultures, the academic journal of the Canadian Society for Traditional Music. She has published numerous articles, including in the top journal in her field, Ethnomusicology.
Dr. Marcia Ostashewski, Canada Research Chair in Communities and Cultures
Dr. Marcia Ostashewski is the Tier Two Canada Research Chair in Communities and Cultures. Dr. Ostashewski’s work is specific to communities with a focus on music, dance and digital humanities research, as a mean to address concrete social problems. This research will improve understandings of music, dance and digital media, and how we create and make them meaningful in our lives. With the support of The Canadian Foundation for Innovation and Nova Scotia Research Innovation Trust, Dr. Ostashewski’s research will help to foster the collaborative creation, presentation and critical scholarly inquiry into innovative, creative music and dance projects to address concrete social problems together with the communities that face them.
Dr. Bruce G. Hatcher, Research Chair in Marine Ecosystem Management and Director of the Bras d’Or Institute
Dr. Bruce Hatcher builds capacity for marine research and ecosystem-based management of natural resource use in the academic, public and private sectors. His partnerships in research with the federal and non-governmental organizations, community and fishing groups has improved understanding of emerging fisheries and land-ocean interactions in the coastal ecosystems of Cape Breton, especially Sydney Harbour and the Bras d’Or estuary. He strives to reconcile ecologically and economically sustainability use of marine resource through collaborative action and rigorous experimentation. Since his appointment at to the Bras d’Or institute Bruce has renewed productive partnerships and attracted more than $1M in research funding from a wide range of organizations. Bruce is actively building an underwater science program at CBU and training research divers.
Dr. Keith G. Brown, Purdy Crawford Chair in Aboriginal Business Studies
The Purdy Crawford Chair in Aboriginal Business Studies will promote interest among Canada’s Aboriginal people in the study of business at the post-secondary level, while undertaking pure and applied research specific to Aboriginal communities. The Chair will focus attention and research efforts on the Membertou Business Model, Unama’ki Partnership Model and national and international comparative analysis. Over the past 30 years, Dr. Brown has demonstrated interest and commitment to Aboriginal education. His professional and academic experience spans local, regional and national First Nations issues and he is recognized as an international educator, author and speaker on the subject of Cultural Tourism Marketing. His demonstrated leadership has supported partnerships, research, programming, national accomplishments and most importantly, successful graduates. In his role as a Shannon School of Business faculty member, Dr. Brown sees the establishment of the Purdy Crawford Chair in Aboriginal Business Studies as a critical next step to guide and generate business strategies destined to influence and impact Aboriginal communities across Canada.
Dr. Ken Oakes, Industrial Research Chair in Environmental Remediation
As Industrial Research Chair in Environmental Remediation, Dr. Oakes is involved with examining the long-term integrity of managed sites through remediation technology. His research focuses on understanding and predicting the impact and fate of chemicals in the environment. This includes working with the Centre’s Mine Water Management Chair to assess ecosystem risks of mine water discharges in relation to their impacts on freshwater aquatic systems. Ken’s portfolio also includes conducting and developing research related to emerging environmental technologies – nanotechnology and biosensors.
Dr. Martin Mkandawire, Industrial Research Chair in Mine Water Remediation and Management
Dr. Martin Mkandawire joined the Verschuren Centre as Industrial Research Chair of Mine Water Management in October 2012. The Mine Water Chair position was created in partnership with Enterprise Cape Breton Corporation to gather and develop best practices on all aspects of mine water management. Dr. Mkandawire’s program examines options around the natural, passive discharge of flooded mine water – offering the potential to greatly reduce future management costs in Cape Breton and other mining sites around the world. This area has the additional commercial potential to use the mine water as a geothermal renewable energy source. The core focus of mine water research is to manage mine pools at former mine sites by cost-effectively mitigating environmental damage. The Centre’s mine water management and environmental remediation chairs collaborate on several projects.
Dr. Graham Reynolds, Viola Desmond Chair in Social Justice
The Viola Desmond Chair in Social Justice is named in honour of the pioneer Black businesswoman and civil rights icon who many regard as Canada’s Rosa Parks. In 1946, Viola Desmond was wrongfully arrested for refusing to give up her seat in a racially segregated theatre in the town of New Glasgow, Nova Scotia. The Chair was created in 2010, following the action of the Nova Scotia Government in posthumously granting Viola Desmond a free pardon. Since its establishment, the first chair holder, Dr. Graham Reynolds, has been active in raising awareness about the history of Blacks and the struggle for racial equality in Canada. His recent book, Viola Desmond’s Canada: A History of Blacks and Racial Segregation in the Promised Land (Fernwood Publishing, 2016) is the first authoritative and comprehensive account of the Viola Desmond story and the history racial segregation in Canada. It is written for general readers as well as all students of Canadian history.
Dr. Ashlee Cunsolo, Canada Research Chair in the Determinants of Healthy Communities
Dr. Ashlee Cunsolo completed part of her Tier Two Canada Research Chair in the Determinants of Healthy Communities at Cape Breton University. Dr. Cunsolo’s research will improve knowledge surrounding the causes of health disparities and develop strategies to decrease health inequities in many parts of Canada. Using community-engaged health research, Dr. Cunsolo’s research supports and enhances the determinants of healthy communities in resource-dependent, rural and remote, and Aboriginal populations across Canada. For more information visit ashleecunsolo.ca
Dr. Dale Keefe, Canada Research Chair in Molecular Spectroscopy
Dr. Dale Keefe completed his five year term as a Tier Two Canada Research Chair in Molecular Spectroscopy in 2011. Dr. Keefe studies weak interactions in liquids, particularly hydrocarbons; his research interests are focused on understanding how iterations within liquids affect their physical and chemical properties from both experimental and theoretical perspectives. Dr. C. Dale Keefe is Interim President at Cape Breton University.
Dr. Richard MacKinnon, Canada Research Chair in Intangible Culture
Dr. Richard MacKinnon completed his seven year term as a Tier One Canada Research Chair in Intangible Cultural Heritage in 2012. His research interests include all aspects of Atlantic Canada’s culture including oral traditions, music, language, material culture and vernacular architecture. He is the founding director of the Centre for Cape Breton Studies, a research centre that includes a state-of-the-art digitization lab and the Rotary Music Performance Analysis Room. His publications include Vernacular Architecture in the Codroy, Newfoundland (Ottawa: National Museum of Civilization, 2002), and Discovering Cape Breton Folklore (Sydney: Cape Breton University Press, 2009). He is the editor of Material Culture Review which is distributed to more than 20 countries. He has developed numerous multimedia tools, recordings and websites for the communication of research.
Dr. Cheryl Bartlett, Canada Research Chair in Integrative Science
Dr. Cheryl Bartlett completed her Tier 1 Canada Research Chair in Integrative Science in 2013. Integrative Science is the concept pioneered at CBU, in conjunction with Aboriginal Elders and educators, by which Indigenous and Western worldviews in science and education are brought together for the benefit of all people. “My research program sits at the nexus of science, culture, and society”, says Dr. Bartlett. “It serves an overall, two-fold, long-term goal: to help Aboriginal individuals and Indigenous knowledges become increasingly and actively involved in science in the 21st century, AND to help mainstream science better engage with Indigenous knowledges and ways of knowing.”