Our researchers

Mathieu Feagan

Ecological consciousness, different ways of knowing, transdisciplinary capacity building, climate just futures, emancipatory pedagogies.

current highlights: Matt's research remains focused on using different ways of knowing to address sustainability challenges, with a view towards social transformation and just futures. Some of this work is pedagogical in nature. For example, he has a grant from the Centre for Teaching Excellence that aims to understand how we build transdisciplinary capacity using self-evaluation in the context of urban sustainability; or in his latest publications he explores the pedagogical dimensions of knowledge co-production for holistic green infrastructure implementation, and he shares lessons about transformative learning and teaching in ecohealth communities of practice. Other work is focused more on building meaningful researcher-community relations. For example, through a grant from the Climate Institute/Water Institute with colleagues Dr. Marta Berbés and Dr. Nandita Basu, Prof. Feagan is developing partnerships with researchers working in informal settlements in Latin America, where local knowledge and struggles reveal innovative pathways for alternative futures. The theoretical core of his work remains anchored in the concept of ecological consciousness as understood through systems thinking, Indigenous ways of knowing, and critical theory, and he is currently developing an article re-evaluating the role of consciousness in social change.

Rob Gorbet

Interfaces. Physical interfaces, interfaces between disciplines, interfaces between people. Interface design; interactive artworks; human interaction in collaboration, teaching, and learning.

current highlights: Rob was invited back to the Domaine de Boisbuchet art & design retreat in the south west of France, where he delivered a hands-on workshop Shadows and Whispers for 14 mid-career design professionals with Living Architecture Systems Group collaborator Philip Beesley.  He continues to produce the podcast Living Dialogs, and received grant support from the Canada Council for the Arts for additional episodes in 2023 and 2024.  He did several invited presentations on Art, Technology, and Collaboration.

John McLevey

Computational social science: social and cultural networks, diffusion, generative models, Bayesian data analysis, agent-based simulation computational text analysis; cultural cognition and affect, cultural learning, social influence, identity theory; public opinion, polarization, and large-scale cultural change; political and environmental sociology.

current highlights: John's 4th book, The Sage Handbook of Social Network Analysis, co-edited with John Scott and Peter Carrington, is currently in production and will be in print by October 2023. He is currently on sabbatical as a visiting scholar at University of British Columbia, where he is working with collaborators across Canada, the US, UK, Europe, and Australia on his Insight Grant project Disinformation, Deliberation, and Political Polarization.

Katie Plaisance

Philosophy of science, philosophy of the human behavioral sciences, interdisciplinary collaboration, interactional expertise, and the scholarship of teaching and learning (SoTL).

current highlights: Katie gave several invited talks on interdisciplinary collaboration and team science this year, and she continues to lead a 5-year SSHRC-funded project aimed at fostering meaningful collaboration between science and humanities scholars. She has been applying this work to student training as well: over the past year, Katie has worked with colleagues at McMaster to develop a Foundational Skills Assessment tool, designed to help students articulate and evaluate transferable skills such as collaboration, communication, and conflict management, which will be rolled out in the next few months. This tool will be used as part of a ”Future Ready” program that Katie and Vanessa Schweizer are developing for KI students.

Vanessa Schweizer

Collective decision-making. This includes many processes such as articulating aspirations and values, exercising foresight, confronting uncertainties and risks, and negotiating tradeoffs.

current highlights: Vanessa helped launch a new interdisciplinary Waterloo Climate Interventions Strategies Lab (WatCISL) with SEED colleagues Neil Craik and Juan Moreno-Cruz.  WatCISL investigates a wide range of geophysical, economic and regulatory implications of climate intervention strategies such as carbon dioxide removal and reflecting sunlight, in a Canadian policy context. Schweizer also co-leads “Robust Decision Making Using Dynamic Adaptive Policy Pathways For Direct Air Capture Deployment in Canada” with Eric Croiset (Chemical Engineering).  The project has a budget of over a million dollars, with $480,000 funded by Environment and Climate Change Canada’s Climate Action and Awareness Fund.  Schweizer's research with her trainees on modeling changes in values in socio-technical systems as well as 'big picture' scenarios for international social-ecological systems appeared in the journals Prometheus: Critical Studies in Innovation and Sustainability ScienceAs the current director of the Waterloo Institute for Complexity and Innovation (WICI), she is working with interdisciplinary WICI Steering Committee members (Dawn Parker, School of Planning; Chrystopher Nehaniv, Systems Design Engineering) to organize a joint workshop with the Fields Institute of Mathematical Sciences on "Mathematics for Complex Climate Challenges" to further develop the nascent Mathematics for Climate Change pan-Canadian network.

KI students are involved in a wide range of research at the undergrad level, for example:

  • Each student does a senior project as part of their BKI degree
  • Ariane Wilson's final paper, “Quantum Bayesianism – Embracing Subjectivity in Science”, which she wrote for a course on The Philosophy of Quantum Theory was awarded the Angus Kerr-Lawson Essay Prize in Philosophy from the University of Waterloo, and appeared in Issue 11 of The Rational Enquirer.
  • Hannah Gardiner, 4th year KI student, presented her paper “Academic Writing and Standard English” at the Scholarship of Undergraduate Literary Studies (SOULS) in March 2019 at Bishop’s University in Quebec. She notes that "As a KI student – and neither an English minor nor major – being asked to present an English essay is not only an honour, it also supports the notion of an interdisciplinary education: that one need not focus their studies exclusively in one discipline to be able to meaningfully contribute as a young scholar."
  • Chloé St. Amand, 4th year KI student, was a Student Moderator at the 2018 Latornell Conservation Symposium, a large, three-day conference/symposium with several hundred attendees from academia, the government, and private sectors. This 2018 theme is "Land to Great Lakes - Relationship Status: It's Complicated". Her experience at the symposium complements her studies in Knowledge Integration and Earth Sciences, specializing in Hydrogeology.
  • Bronwyn McIlroy-Young, BKI'18 presented at the 2018 congress of the Canadian Meteorological and Oceanographic Society (CMOS). The congress in Halifax, NS, is an annual meeting of Canadian scientists and other professionals focused on atmospheric, ocean and earth sciences. She was invited by CMOS to present a poster of her KI senior research project on Canadian TV weathercasters and climate change communication.
  • Thomas Huijbregts BKI'15, continued working on his KI senior research project after he graduated, and the paper he wrote about it was accepted for publication at the ACM International Conference on Interactive Tabletops and Surfaces. His paper is entitled "TalkingTiles: Supporting Personalization and Customization in an AAC App for Individuals with Aphasia", and he travelled to Madeira, Portugal to attend the conference.
  • Bronwyn also presented at the Feminist Epistemologies, Methodology, Metaphysics, and Science Studies (FEMMSS 2016) conference at the University of Notre Dame in Indiana. She presented her research on gender diverse people in social epistemology, research which originated in a paper that she wrote for the KI core course INTEG 221: The Social Nature of Knowledge.
  • Georgia Lamarre BKI'16 and Akanksha Madan BKI'16 presented at the Science of Team Science Conference in 2016 in Phoenix. They discussed the research they did with Katie Plaisance (Associate Chair, Knowledge Integration) on a number of projects to improve knowledge, skills and understanding of collaborative practices at the University of Waterloo.
  • Alexandra Olarnyk BKI'15 had her Knowledge Integration senior research project work, "You're Totally on Your Own": Experiences of Food Allergy on a Canadian University Campus, published in the Universal Journal of Public Health.
  • Cynthia McLauchlan BKI’14 presented her KI research project “Does taking a statistics course improve statistical literacy?" at the Statistical Society of Canada annual conference in 2014.
  • Eric Kennedy, BKI’12 presented at the International Conference on the Public Communication of Science and Technology in Florence, Italy in 2012. He shared research connected to his KI senior research project, which investigated the nature of short-term, project-based collaboration between scientists and Indigenous communities in Canada.
  • Kaleigh Eichel, BKI’12 went to the 2012 International Polar Year Conference "From Knowledge to Action" in Montreal, to present her KI senior thesis: "Conveying polar research to the public through audio podcasting." She also attended Congress 2012 of the Humanities and Social Sciences in Waterloo to present her KI senior research project at the Environmental Studies Association of Canada, "Conveying polar research to the public through audio podcasting" and to present an independent studies project at the Canadian Association of Geographers, "Nutrient uptake and primary productivity responses to experimental nutrient enrichment in small shallow, tundra ponds."
  • Trystan Goetze BKI'12 has presented his research, and will be presenting work from his KI senior research project at the Communities of Integration conference in June 2013, during the workshop on Socially Relevant Philosophy of/in Science and Engineering (SRPoiSE).