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 designed and installed their largest public sculpture to date, Meander, at the Tapestry Hall event space in Cambridge Ontario. The permanent public sculpture is influenced by the Grand River and will inspire visitors to think about sustainability and their relationship to nature. Rob and his team are working to develop a STEAM curriculum for area K-12 students to support school field trips to the sculpture and encourage integrative learning and problem-solving. Meander will also be a permanent site for researchers from Waterloo and Monash University to study distributed software and hardware architectures for interactive installation work, and machine learning algorithms for enhancing visitor attention. In 2019 Rob also collaborated with John McLevey and other colleagues from Sociology and Memorial University to run a SSHRC-funded 2-day cross-sectoral workshop on teaching 21st Century Human Skills to high school students, producing a white paper to inform important research directions. With Katie Plaisance, he developed and delivered a one-week workshop for 30 faculty from the largest Engineering school in Mexico, on the effective integration of group work into their classes.

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 2019-20, John co-authored articles in Journal of Quantitative Criminology and Synthese, completed the manuscripts for two co-authored research monographs, and released a new piece of scientific software called Nate (with his graduate students), which facilitates the integration of methods from network science and applied natural language processing. He also co-organized an interdisciplinary and intersectional workshop (with Vanessa Schweizer and Mark Stoddart) called Climate Change and Energy Futures, which was funded by a SSHRC Connections grant.  John, Vanessa and colleagues are co-editing a special issue of articles from the workshop that will appear in the journal Society and Natural Resources. 

Katie Plaisance

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

current highlights: Katie continues to be a research leader in the area of engaged philosophy of science. In 2019, she published the first comprehensive survey of philosophers of science regarding broader engagement, co-authored with John McLevey and two UW graduate students. More recently, Katie published an account of how philosophers can effectively collaborate with STEM researchers and/or increase their impact in STEM domains, focusing on the importance of learning the language of other disciplines and cultivating trust with other researchers. She also collaborates with scientists herself to study growth mindset in twins. (The study design that she and her collaborators at Michigan State University developed enabled them to conduct the first-ever randomized intervention study with identical twins, laying the foundation for a new methodology. Katie and her collaborators are in the process of publishing the empirical results of that work.) Katie continues to pursue research on the scholarship of teaching and learning around student collaboration as well. She presented the results of pre- and post-course surveys from INTEG 210: Making Collaboration Work at the annual meeting of the Science of Team Science network in 2019. To build capacity for teaching student collaboration at UW, she and Scott Anderson started a new Community of Practice (CoP) on Collaboration and Teamwork, funded by a University of Waterloo LITE grant.

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 April 2019, Vanessa was formally inducted into the Global Young Academy. Last summer, she transitioned from being a Fellow at the Balsillie School of International Affairs to being a Faculty member. Also last summer, she became Associate Director of the Waterloo Institute for Complexity and Innovation, and in May 2020, became its Director. Vanessa has had a productive year with her students and colleagues on her research in scenario methods, with accepted papers in Climatic ChangeSociety and Natural Resources, and Science of the Total Environment. She also diversified into multiple fields. In water research, she and Derek Armitage welcomed a PhD student, who became the Faculty's latest Trudeau Scholar. With her student in Systems Design Engineering co-supervised with Keith Hipel, Vanessa published a paper in Sustainability on conflict in India's Cauvery River Basin. Partially inspired by her teaching activities in INTEG 251 and INTEG 452, Vanessa also diversified into innovation studies. She has an accepted paper with colleagues in IEEE Engineering Management Review entitled "Modeling and Analytics to Support Emerging International Innovation Partnerships". In this vein, she is currently mentoring four Masters students at the Balsillie School preparing a policy brief for Global Affairs Canada on how Canadian democracy, economy, and the rules-based international order might be strengthened in our algorithmic age. Finally, Vanessa was very excited to see more of Canada this Winter, as she visited Ottawa with Olaf Weber and Ann Fitz-Gerald to promote the book, Achieving the Sustainable Development Goals: Global Governance Challenges. Vanessa was also invited to the University of Calgary to speak about climate change, alternative futures, and design thinking.

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).