Our researchers

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 and his collaborators in the SSHRC-funded Living Architecture Systems Group installed Noosphere/Aegis at the Royal Ontario Museum from June to October. Over 60,000 visitors toured the exhibition, and it was the site for Waterloo-supervised research on how we assign agency to inanimate objects (Psychology) and machine learning algorithms for enhancing visitor attention (Electrical & Computer Engineering). Two major LASG installations will open in Fall 2019, at Futurium in Berlin (2 year installation) and they are very excited about a long-term installation in the Gaslight District under development in Cambridge near the School of Architecture. In addition, Rob is a part of the leadership team for the Waterloo-led Mental Health Promotion Innovation Fund (MHP-IF) Knowledge Development and Exchange Hub. This national group of research and practice leaders will be managing knowledge development and exchange among partners and out into communities for the Canadian Public Health Agency’s upcoming MHP-IF call for projects related to Child & Youth Mental Health Promotion.

John McLevey

Social network analysis, Science and public policy, Environmental sociology, Sociology of education, Computational social science, Information science, Research methods

current highlights: John was awarded tenure and promoted to Associate Professor. In addition to his book on natural resources, economic development, and tourism in North Atlantic coastal communities, he is completing a book on computational social science methodology for SAGE. He is also co-editing a special issue of the journal Social Networks on climate change and social networks, and is co-editing a special issue of Society and Natural Resources based on a workshop on climate change and energy futures at Memorial University. He co-organized the workshop with Vanessa Schweizer, Mark Stoddart, and Catherine Wong. He continues to write articles and chapters with his grad students. He is happy to welcome two new KI students to NETLAB, his research group. 

Katie Plaisance

Philosophy of the behavioural sciences and the public understanding of science.

current highlights: Katie continues to lead and take part in multiple research collaborations with faculty and students from a variety of disciplines. With Prof. John McLevey, she recently wrapped up a SSHRC-funded project investigating the “Impact of Philosophy of Science in Scientific Domains,” and plans to expand on that project in order to facilitate fruitful collaboration between philosophers and scientists. Katie is also collaborating with scientists herself as part of a Templeton-funded project on “Genetics and Human Agency.” She is using her philosophical skills to analyze key conceptual and methodological assumptions in human behavioural genetics to determine novel directions for the field. She and her psychologist collaborators at Michigan State University recently published a paper that lays out these assumptions and offers a new integrated method for conducting more dynamic research.

Finally, Katie is continuing her research in the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, which is currently funded by a Learning and Innovative Teaching Enhancement (LITE) grant. The project examines the ‘collaborative skills gap’ at the University of Waterloo, and how Katie’s new course, INTEG 210: Making Collaboration Work, is able to close this gap for students across campus. She and her social psychologist collaborators will be reporting their findings at the UW Teaching and Learning conference in May 2019. She has also been working with several students from Knowledge Integration, GBDA, and Biology to create a new website, Making Collaboration Work, which will be launched at the beginning of May. This website houses several resources for both students and educators on best practices for collaboration, all of which was created or co-created by Katie’s 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 and colleagues (John McLevey, Mark Stoddart, Catherine Wong) are co-editing a special issue of Society and Natural Resources based on their co-organized workshop on climate change and energy futures held at Memorial University. In 2018, Vanessa published a conference paper with early-career colleagues (Ricarda Scheele, Hannah Kosow) regarding scenario methods for reflexivity in the proceedings of the 9th International Congress on Environmental Modelling & Software. At the start of 2019, Vanessa published an article in Current Climate Change Reports on scenario analysis and how it could support knowledge accumulation in the controversial field of climate change and violent conflict. She also has a chapter on the Sustainable Development Goals and climate risk in the book, Achieving the Sustainable Development Goals: Global Governance Challenges, forthcoming with Routledge and co-edited by colleagues at the Balsillie School of International Affairs (Simon Dalby, Susan Horton, Rianne Mahon).

Also at the Balsillie School, Vanessa is mentoring two Masters students preparing a policy brief for Global Affairs Canada on opportunities to simultaneously pursue gender equity, climate-compatible development, and poverty alleviation. This brief will be formally presented in Ottawa in June. This Spring, a project on semi-automated literature retrieval to support scientific assessments of climate change impacts will continue with the support of NSERC USRA and a KI student research assistant. Finally, over the past year, Vanessa was elected a Councillor to the Society for Risk Analysis, appointed to the Steering Committee of the International Committee on New Integrated Climate Change Assessment Scenarios (ICONICS), and selected for membership in the Global Young Academy.  

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

  • Each student does a senior research project as part of their BKI degree
  • 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).