Celebrating two more Early Researcher Award holders in Arts

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Fifteen University of Waterloo researchers will receive $2 million from the provincial government to advance Ontario’s knowledge-based economy -- including Allison Kelly, a professor of psychology, and Jessica Thompson, a professor of fine arts. The Early Researcher Awards program recognizes promising new researchers with $140,000 each to build a research team. Read about the research plans of professors Kelly and Thompson.

Allison Kelly

Allison Kelly, Psychology

Facilitating treatment seeking among postsecondary students with mental health problems

Only twenty per cent of postsecondary students with mental health problems seek help. Untreated mental health problems can lead to long-term disability and too often suicide. To increase treatment-seeking, campuses have focused on raising students’ awareness of mental health services. However, this approach has had limited success because it fails to target one of the strongest barriers to treatment-seeking - shame. Professor Kelly has found that one of the most powerful antidotes to shame is self-compassion. This study will extend her work to examine whether, among students who screen positively for a mental disorder, a two-week online intervention that fosters self-compassion will reduce shame and thereby increase the likelihood of treatment-seeking over time. This project can improve Ontarians’ quality of life, save the province millions in lost productivity and healthcare costs, and revolutionize the way campuses and communities across the world promote mental health treatment-seeking, making Ontario a global leader in innovation.

Jessica Thompson

Jessica Thompson, Fine Arts

Borderline – A mobile artwork to “play” urban data

‘Borderline’ is a research-creation project that uses the sonification of algorithmic data to create new understandings of place. Algorithms have inextricably changed urban experience, identifying patterns in data capable of creating new economies, but also, sometimes, reinforcing social and economic disparities. Drawing from Professor Thompson’s prior research, ‘Borderline’ will locate uneven geographies in four of Ontario’s largest urban centres, and will make these areas audible through data-triggered musical systems embedded in mobile and wearable technologies. Audiences will be able to listen ‘in place’, discovering invisible borders in their communities that affect social and economic mobility.