Research Recap for April 2

Western’s faculty and students are engaged in exciting research across a variety of fields. Periodically, Western Today will share short summaries of the latest developments in scholarship and research at the University. Interested in reading in-depth stories about science and research at Western? Go to Gaia, the university's online journal of research, discovery and scholarship, and subscribe (it's free) to that site by clicking the "Follow" button.

Hilary M. Schwandt and Seth Feinberg

Fairhaven College Associate Professor Hilary M. Schwandt and Professor of Sociology Seth Feinberg and their students published an article in BMC Health Services Research, titled “… the way we welcome them is how we will lead them to love family planning: family planning providers in Rwanda foster compassionate relationships with clients despite workplace challenges." The article looked at contraceptive use in Rwanda and the relationship between family planning providers and clients, with data analysis revealing that, despite workplace-related challenges, relationships between providers and clients are strong. Family planning providers work hard to understand, learn from, and support clients in their initiation and sustained use of contraceptives. The study, using qualitative study methods that included focus groups with providers, nurses and contraceptive users, found that given the existing context of purposeful efforts on the part of family planning providers to build relationships with their clients, if the current level of government support for family planning service provision is enhanced, Rwanda will likely sustain many current users of contraception and engage even more Rwandans in contraceptive services in the future.

Nick Galati

Assistant Professor of Biology Nick Galati is among 55 Fellows selected for Scialog: Advancing Bioimaging, a new initiative from Research Corporation for Science AdvancementThe first meeting of this Scialog series will be held virtually May 20-21, 2021. 

Sponsored by RCSA and the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, with additional support from the Frederick Gardner Cottrell Foundation, the series of three yearly meetings will bring together a diverse group of scientists from a wide range of fields to address the challenges involved in enhancing high-resolution imaging of tissues to support basic science and the treatment of disease. Participants will include optical physicists, chemists, engineers, and biologists.

Scialog is short for “science + dialog.” Created in 2010 by RCSA, the Scialog format creates communities of early-career scholars selected from multiple disciplines and institutions across the U.S. and Canada. Guided by a group of senior Facilitators, participating scientists discuss challenges and bottlenecks, build community around visionary goals for developing and deploying these technologies, and seek collaborators for cutting-edge research projects. 

The Scialog fellowship is an exciting forum for interdisciplinary scientists across biological imaging, optics, engineering and data science to envision the next generation of biomedical imaging techniques, Galati said. Each year the entire cohort gets together to listen to inspiring, big-picture talks related to problems in biomedical imaging. Then the Scialog fellows form small teams to write grant proposals to address the outstanding problems. We write these proposals in a highly collaborative way. At the end of the conference we submit our team proposals to Research Corporation, Frederick Gardner Cottrell Foundation, and the Chan-Zuckerberg Initiative for funding. The idea is to rapid prototype cutting edge ideas to transform biomedical imaging. The cohort comes from across the country and includes fellows from R1 institutions like MIT, University of Pennsylvania and Yale University.

“My group is interested in understanding how these tiny, antenna-like structures called cilia allow cells to process information and generate fluid flow along the cell surface," Galati said. "Cilia are 200 nm in diameter and they can beat back and forth up to 30 times per second, so from a microscopy standpoint they are a very challenging structure to image. Through Scialog, I hope that we can use cilia as a model to envision new ways to capture and quantify biological process with high spatial and temporal resolution. Since dysfunctional cilia lead to a number of devastating congenital birth defects called ciliopathies, developing new ways to image cilia could lead to new therapies and a deeper understanding of human embryonic development.”

Hope Corbin

Associate Professor of Health and Community Studies Hope Corbin has edited a book that was recently published, "Arts and Health Promotion: Tools and Bridges for Practice, Research, and Social Transformation."

This open access book offers an overview of the powerful and dynamic array of opportunities to promote health through the arts from theoretical, methodological, pedagogical, and critical perspectives. The text connects disparate inter-disciplinary literatures into a coherent volume for health promotion practitioners, researchers, and teachers. The diverse applications of the arts in health promotion transcend the multiple contexts within which health is created, i.e., individual, community, and societal levels, and has a number of potential health, aesthetic, and social outcomes. The book has 19 examples of arts-based health promotion initiatives from over 15 different countries, incorporating numerous art forms from drawing to theater to film to movement and many combinations in between.

"I am interested in this area because art can facilitate deeper engagement with one’s self and with others, and can provide an outlet for making sense of difficult circumstances thus building resilience and encouraging healing," Corbin said. "I also believe that the arts can be a pathway toward liberation. The arts can promote social justice by amplifying voice, leveraging power, and honoring multiple ways of knowing."