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 collaborates with a lot of artists and designers to help bring their projects to life and to a living audience.  He greatly enjoys co-creating with people from across the disciplines.  For example, in 2021, he is collaborating with artist Gary Kirkham on a 30’ sand pendulum that is instrumented to allow for real-time electro-acoustic composition based on the pendulum location, with a performance planned for Fall 2021.  Rob has also been busy preparing for Grove, the Living Architecture Systems Group’s (LASG) invited contribution to the 2021 Venice Biennale of Architecture, opening May 22, 2021.   On the education front, Rob is contributing important service via Co-Chairing the Education Onward Council, a group of two-dozen school board directors from across Canada meeting regularly to discuss K-12 pandemic education. He is also producing the Living Dialogs, a series of podcasts/webinars whose goal is to bring the ideas and language of Living Architecture to a generalist audience. 

Rob is often involved in STEAM education outreach, and is working with LAUNCH Waterloo to deliver a summer program based on Meander, the LASG’s largest living architecture installation, located in Cambridge.   He is also currently co-leading an 8-month project with Riverview High School in Riverview, NB in which students are engaged in a STEAM project to create an interactive light fixture for their local theatre.

John McLevey

Social network analysis, computational social science, natural language processing, political sociology and social movements, environmental social science, environmental governance, cognitive social science / cultural cognition.

current highlights: In 2020-21, John published the research monograph Industrial Development and Eco-Tourisms with Mark Stoddart and Alice Mattoni, comparing the social, economic, and political dynamics of these two development strategies in Norway, Scotland, Denmark, Iceland, and Newfoundland and Labrador. His book Doing Computational Social Science with Sage UK also went into production. He co-edited a special issue of Society & Natural Resources with Vanessa Schweizer and other colleagues on climate change and energy futures, and a special issue of Social Networks on the topic of social networks, climate change, and socio-ecological systems, which will be published in 2021. In addition, he published journal articles and book chapters on a variety of methodological topics, including computational network science, network methods for substantive research on collective action and social movements, and practices for improving reproducibility, accountability, and transparency in machine learning research.

John received a SSHRC Insight Grant for his new project “Disinformation, Democracy, and Online Political Deliberation” and a supplement from the  Department of Canadian Heritage’s Initiative for Digital Citizenship. He also completed two large government research contracts on disinformation campaigns in Canada and the UK, and co-authored a research report “COVID-19 Pandemic and Canadian Schooling” for the Education Onward Council convened by Fair Chance Learning in response to the COVID-19 pandemic with Janice Aurini, Rob Gorbet, Allyson Stokes, and Jessica Ritzk. John also developed and released new open source software for reproducible and transparent statistical computing. 

Katie Plaisance

Philosophy of science, philosophy of psychology, social epistemology, & interdisciplinary collaboration.

current highlights: In 2020-21, Katie made several important research contributions to her own discipline (philosophy of science) as well as related scientific fields. This included publishing the first qualitative study of the broader impacts of philosophy of science, specifically focusing on the influence philosophers of science have had in scientific domains. She will be continuing this line of research over the next five years through a SSHRC-funded project on “Engaging Science with Philosophy: Best Practices for Fostering Effective Collaboration,” which seeks to leverage philosophy in ways that improve STEM research. Katie has also continued to collaborate with scientists herself as part of a larger research program on Genetics and Human Agency. Last fall, Katie and her collaborators published the empirical results from the first-ever randomized intervention study with twins, entitled, “Can a Brief Intervention Alter Genetic and Environmental Influences on Motivational Constructs? An Experimental Behavioral Genetics Approach.”

More recently, Katie has also developed a new research program on the concept of a Collaborative Mindset. This includes her Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL) research on effective ways to teach collaborative skills (especially interdisciplinary collaboration), as well as an investigation of the relationship between social diversity on teams and the role of psychological safety for improving team outcomes. Over the past year, Katie has worked to integrate this line of research with her existing research projects as well as her courses and her pedagogical practices. For example, in 2020, she was invited to give the keynote presentation on Excellence in Team Science Undergraduate Education at the annual International Science of Team Science (InSciTS) conference; this in turn, has led to a number of consulting opportunities related to teaching and facilitating interdisciplinary collaboration, especially in science teams. She has also developed and disseminated a new tool that uses collaborative principles to enact anti-racist and inclusive pedagogy. This initiative is part of Katie’s work as an educational researcher, leader, and innovator, which contributed to her nomination for a 3M National Teaching Fellowship in 2021.

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: In 2020-21, Vanessa became the Global Young Academy Co-chair on one of the Focal Areas for this year, Anti-discrimination in Science. She lead-authored an invited primer in the open-access journal One Earth on the carbon-dioxide removal scenarios published in the IPCC Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5°C. She and her students presented co-authored conference papers on the topics of conflict resolution and decision support systems at the IEEE International Conference on Systems, Man, and Cybernetics. On the topic, “How Achievable are the Sustainable Development Goals?”, Vanessa was an invited panelist on the Global Insights series webcast by the Balsillie School of International Affairs.

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).