VIU Provides Special Funding for COVID-19 Research Projects

Vancouver Island University faculty members are researching the social impacts of coronavirus.

Vancouver Island University faculty members are researching the social impacts of coronavirus. Photo courtesy of Pixabay

July 6, 2020 - 10:30am

The University’s Research Award Committee funds nine faculty coronavirus projects for a total of $40,782.

Vancouver Island University’s (VIU) Research Award Committee is supporting nine COVID-19 research projects that will help gain a better understanding of the virus’s impact on society and how to improve responses for potential future pandemics.

The pandemic has impacted every sector of society and resulted in rapid and unprecedented responses and coordination efforts by government, the health-care sector, the private sector, not-for-profits, philanthropic organizations and the public. VIU recognized the need for immediate research to gain a better understanding of the situation.

VIU researchers were invited to address a range of issues, including public health response; understanding family and community adaptions, attitudes and behaviour changes; understanding the role of recreation, leisure and travel during the outbreak and changes caused by public health advisories; cultural and historical dimensions of the epidemic including its impact on vulnerable groups and more. The committee reviewed 13 projects and awarded a total of $40,782.

“The response that VIU received for this special call demonstrates the commitment of our faculty to apply their research skills to address the far-reaching impact of COVID-19 in society,” says Dr. Nicole Vaugeois, Associate Vice-President of Scholarship, Research and Creative Activity. “We look forward to learning what these researchers discover and sharing those insights with others.”

Projects supported by the VIU Research Award Committee include:

Dr. Michael Lait, Tracking the Social Impacts During the COVID-19 Crisis: Quality-of-Life and Housing Surveys of the Cowichan Valley, Nanaimo and Powell River Regions.

Lait’s project will explore how people’s quality of life and housing situations have been affected by the pandemic. His community-based research project will also ask respondents if their aspirations or future plans have been affected by the crisis.

Dana McFarland, Creating a Selective Web Archive of Central and North Vancouver Island Community Information during COVID-19.

Since 2017, VIU Library has extended curation activities to non-traditional collections, including archiving we-based content. McFarland will curate a web archive related to COVID-19 impacts for central and north Vancouver Island. Materials gathered will be made available for open access for scholars and citizens.

Dr. Marian Riedel, Alternative Delivery in K-12 Schools: COVID-19 Experiences and Possibilities.

The COVID-19 crisis required teachers and communities to shift suddenly to alternate, online and remote learning for students. This meant rapid and drastic change in the way teachers teach and students learn. The research undertaken by Riedel and her interdisciplinary team explores the experiences of this shift for teachers and school employees in both public and independent schools in the central Vancouver Island and coastal BC region. Working collaboratively with six community partners, the research will help support planning for future alternate K-12 delivery and inform post-secondary programming.

Dr. Marla Morden, The Psychosocial Impact of COVID-19 on Canadian Adults, Including the Behaviour and Birth Outcomes of Pregnant Women.

Morden will assess the psychosocial stressors associated with COVID-19 in pregnant and non-pregnant Canadian adults, the birth preparation behaviours of pregnant women and explore the experiences of giving birth during COVID-19.

Dr. Shannon Dames, A COVID-19 Response and Recovery Effort: Working Across Sectors to Aid Healthcare Providers Suffering from Mental Illness.

Dames and a multi-agency and multidisciplinary team aim to respond to and promote recovery from the debilitating mental health consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic. The team plans to develop a patient-orientated research pilot program that integrates ketamine assisted psychotherapy with evidence informed resilience curriculum for health-care professionals struggling with treatment resistant depression and or post-traumatic stress disorder.

Dr. Lauren Mayes, Provincial Corrections: Re-entry, Recidivism and Re-incarceration During COVID.

Mayes will examine if or how COVID-19 is impacting the process for people exiting and re-entering correctional centres during the pandemic. She says this is especially important because many of the nation’s most vulnerable people – Indigenous people, people with substance use and mental health issues and people with histories of trauma – are overrepresented in the criminal justice system and correctional centres. Mayes’s research aims to identify issues that are potentially contributing to re-entry and provide information to help direct resources into areas of pressing concern for those living in correctional facilities.

Dr. Alana Devereaux, Acute-Care RNs’ Experiences During the COVID-19 Pandemic.

Devereaux says registered nurses (RNs), as the largest body of health-care professionals, are significantly impacted by pandemics but there is little research about RNs working on the front lines during these types of crises. Devereaux will interview RNs to learn how they were impacted professionally and personally while working front line during COVID-19 with the aim of identifying practices that can protect these health-care workers from identified concerns, and to help promote quality nursing practice during future pandemics.

Dr. Aggie Weighill, Leisure as a Mechanism for Coping with Stress Related to Public Health Interventions due to COVID-19.

Weighill says physical distancing measures have drastically altered leisure behaviours of Canadians, including limiting access to public spaces, activities and people. She intents to examine how Canadians are using leisure to cope with stressors associated with COVID-19 and the consequences of related to public health guidelines.

Dr. Gillian Anderson, The Burden of Care: Exploring the Gendered Impact(s) of COVID-19 on Mothers’ Caring Labour.

Anderson says the boundaries between home, family, school and work have been blurred and struggles to combine paid labour, child care and schooling have taken a particular toll on women as mothers. The gender-based research project will examine the impact on mothers on the mid-Island: Nanaimo, Ladysmith, Parksville and Qualicum Beach through an online questionnaire. The project’s research results could help in the development of social supports to help mothers with caring labour and help guide the creation of future pandemic policies and responses.



Rachel Stern, Communications Officer, Vancouver Island University

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