PWIAS: Connections and Collaborations
August 15, 2021
The PWIAS Wall Scholars program provides the time and space for scholars to explore new ways of thinking and build new connections with scholars outside of their field.
This wide-ranging exploration between disciplines would not happen anywhere else and results in ideas and scholarship that enrich UBC and impact society through ground-breaking research, influential public policy, artistic collaborations and award-winning publications.
PWIAS Wall Scholars have gone on to receive more than $55 million in research funding, including $30.2 million from Canadian Tri-Council research agencies.
Read on to learn more about the results of some of the important collaborations and connections that could only happen at PWIAS.
Taking Action on Climate Change
Sara Milstein, Anna Casas-Aguilar, Malabika Pramanik & Jessica Dempsey collaborated across the Arts and Science faculties to create the Zero Emission University Initiative to highlight the serious impact of academic travel-related air emissions. Supporting alternative choices for academic travel related to conferences and research is now part of the UBC Climate Action Plan 2030. (November 2019)
Engineering Solutions through Theatre
Madjid Mohseni and George Belliveau collaborated to expanded Mohseni’s crucial research into water treatment solutions for remote communities by using community-based theatre to enhance dialogue and seek solutions for Indigenous drinking water systems. Together they received a $1.6M Network Centre of Excellence Knowledge Mobilization (NCE-KM) award to further develop a humanized perspective for successful water solutions. Development of the small-scale water treatment process was also a Wall Solutions Initiative. (November 2019)
Architecture meets Microbiology
Joe Dahmen, Steven Hallam and their students developed an award-winning design for a compostable toilet to be used in refugee camps. The team won first prize in the Museum of Modern Art Biodesign Challenge in New York. The toilet is produced from a biodegradable biocomposite building material made from mycelium (mushrooms) and has the potential for wide reaching humanitarian impact. Dahmen and Hallam met as Wall Scholars and their prototype design was supported by the Wall Solutions Initiative. (September 2018)
Peter Klein founded the Global Reporting Centre (GRC), an award-winning, independent centre for innovative journalism, and a concept inspired by his time as a Wall Scholar. The GRC has developed other Wall Scholar collaborations, such as Xiaonan Lu & Peter Klein’s award-winning documentary The Fish You (don’t know you) Eat, about the true costs and environmental impact of the global fishmeal industry. The film received four digital publishing industry awards. (May 2020)
Emotions, Empathy and Education
Tara Mayer created On Feeling and Knowing, a teaching tool for educators exploring innovative approaches to pedagogy that acknowledge the role of emotions and empathy in the classroom. Through intimate, candid conversations with seasoned scholars, the video series looks at the realities of teaching fraught material in complex times. Mayer conceived of the project during her time at PWIAS, where she became interested in how conversations between diverse scholars could inform not just research, but also the understanding and practice of teaching. (Series launches September 2021)
Tackling Viruses with Engineering and Mathematics
Nelly Pante, Alireza Nojeh and Jimmy Feng jointly proposed a new mechanism by which some viruses can enter cells using propulsive force, and adapted this mechanism to deliver carbon nanotubes into the cell nucleus. Fruitful discussions with Nojeh on carbon nanotubes, and Feng on mathematical modeling during their Wall Scholar residency led to this discovery. (August 2019)
Expanding Neuroscience with Engineering
Guy Dumont and John Steeves, long time collaborators since connecting at PWIAS in 2011, brought the study of brain connectivity patterns in functional motor tasks to the ultra-low noise underground research laboratory, Laboratoire Souterrain à Bas Bruit (LSBB) in France, leading to the creation of a joint UBC-CNRS Laboratoire International Associé (LIA) research agreement. (January 2021)
Deconstructing The Financial Crisis through Theatre and Music
Hallie Marshall, Helen Eastman and Janis Sarra, invited judges, economists, scholars and actors to produce a play about global financial markets, encouraging audiences to engage with far reaching financial issues. Performances of Foreclosure Follies were staged around the world, including Vancouver, New York, London, Oxford, and Athens. (October 2017)
For more in this series, please visit PWIAS: Ideas and Impact, and PWIAS: Page by Page.