Brock student researchers shortlisted in national video competition

Brock University photo – Brock University graduate students Larissa Barelli, Michelle Przedborski, Dan Hughes and Angel Phanthanourak, have placed in the Top 40 in the national Science Action! video competition.

Brock University press release – Brock University graduate students have earned four spots in the Top 40 of a national video competition showcasing graduate research.

Angel Phanthanourak, Dan Hughes, Larissa Barelli and Michelle Przedborski join those vying for awards in the Science, Action! competition sponsored by one of Brock’s major funders, the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC).

The four students are now asking for the public’s support to make it to the second round.

Each student submitted a 60-second video and a 100-word summary of their research to NSERC. The 25 videos with the most views on YouTube between Feb. 1 and Feb. 28 will move on to the final round, where a panel of judges will select the winners.

All videos are posted on the Science, Action website.

The Brock entries are:

Angel Phanthanourak, Department of Health Sciences, researches how anxiety and a fear of falling influences the way we move our bodies. If we stiffen up, or have poor postural strategies, it might increase our likelihood of falling during voluntary movements. “By demonstrating the role psychological factors play in reducing the efficiency of postural control, I hope to aid in the development of interventions meant to reduce feelings of anxiety and encourage older adults to engage in activities.”

Her video, “Fear of Falls,” can be found here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SnQitCPFurE&feature=youtu.be

Dan Hughes, Department of Earth Sciences, focuses on the impacts of climate change on lakes, rivers and their interconnections within an arctic permafrost landscape across Old Crow Flats in the northern Yukon Territory. “This research is working to understand the adverse effects landscape changes have on local communities, the ecosystem and help to predict future implications of a changing arctic climate.”

His video, “A Changing Arctic,” can be found here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bwBauVgOM5U&feature=youtu.be

Larissa Barelli, Department of Biological Sciences, studies how a certain type of fungus that kills bugs transfers nutrients from the bugs to plants and how plants transfer nutrients back to the fungus. This could lead to the development of a natural fertilizer that would replace the chemical-laden options that are typically used. “To be able to promote plant health, increase stress tolerance in crop species, and integrate a form of pest control all through one association would redefine food production and the agricultural industry.”

Her video, “Insects, a Dinner for Two,” can be found here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XxxlU0iA8SY&feature=youtu.be

Michelle Przedborski, Department of Physics, researches “solitary waves” – stable disturbances that travel with a fixed shape and constant speed – in granular chains. The concept can be easily seen in an ornament that sits on many desks: a row of metal balls suspended in a metal frame so that they are just touching each other; when you lift and swing the ball on the far right, the ball on the far left rises, while the balls in the middle stay put. “Being able to predict and control the energy transport properties of these systems could lead to new or improved shock absorbers and energy harvesters.”

Her video, “Grains, chains, and solitary waves,” can be found here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AmGPqA5Y0SU&feature=youtu.be

“I am absolutely thrilled that four of our extremely talented graduate students have been selected as part of the Top 40,” said Dr. Jens Coorssen, Dean of Graduate Studies.

“These students are making great strides in their fields of study and we are honoured to have them representing research at Brock,” he said. “I would encourage everyone in our campus and local communities, and beyond, to support these student researchers by watching their videos and sharing them with others.”

The Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada is a federal government agency that supports faculty and student research in post-secondary institutions across the country as well as encouraging Canadian companies to participate and invest in postsecondary research projects.

The 15 finalists will be announced no later than April 5.

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