May 29, 2024

UCalgary celebrates transdisciplinary doctoral scholarship award winners

President’s Circle hosts luncheon and networking event, sharing stories of complex research problems and potential solutions
A group of people
Members of President’s Circle pose during luncheon event held March 2024. Faculty of Graduate Studies

The President’s Circle held its second-ever networking event on March 20, 2024, as part of the University of Calgary’s drive to support transdisciplinary research and scholarship. Among the attendees were Dr. Ed McCauley, University of Calgary president; Dr. Tara Beattie, dean and vice-provost (graduate studies); Dr. Dave Anderson, associate dean of transdisciplinary research; President’s Doctoral Recruitment Scholarship in Transdisciplinary Research recipients and staff from the Faculty of Graduate Studies.

The President’s Circle is a community of President’s Doctoral Recruitment Scholarship award winners that provides high-level networking opportunities with university and community leaders. This group supports multi-disciplinary doctoral research by providing award winners opportunities to connect, and develop their leadership, collaboration, and communication skills. The President’s Circle equips its members with the necessary tools to become leading transdisciplinary researchers.

In her opening remarks during the event, Beattie emphasized UCalgary’s vision to promote transdisciplinary research as part of the university's strategic plan, Ahead of Tomorrow, which embodies long-term, foundational commitments to equity, diversity, inclusion, and accessibility; Indigenous engagement; mental health; global engagement; and sustainability. 

“The University of Calgary is highly invested in transdisciplinary scholarship,” she said. “The President’s Circle supports UCalgary’s transdisciplinary objectives by providing scholars engaging in cross-disciplinary research with a community that can contribute to research success.”

The event also featured remarks from McCauley who reiterated his belief and conviction in the potential for change that lies in cross-disciplinary research: “Creating knowledge to solve society’s wicked problems is difficult. So, it is important to bring together multiple disciplines to address these complex problems.” 

For the doctoral scholars in attendance, McCauley’s remarks reaffirmed the support for their multi-disciplinary research from UCalgary’s highest levels of authority.

Solving complex problems through multidisciplinary approaches

The luncheon event included presentations from Yomna ElGhazouly, first-year PhD student in computational media design, and Katy Lowe, first-year PhD student in educational psychology. These presentations showcased ongoing, fascinating cross-disciplinary research by members of the President’s Circle.

ElGhazouly’s research draws on knowledge from architecture, computer science, sociology and kinesiology to create designs that are inclusive, enjoyable and safe for all. ElGhazouly’s research expands architectural design by contributing to the creation of spaces that are accessible and enjoyable for vulnerable populations such as the elderly and people living with disabilities. 

Her research could potentially increase access to private and public spaces and improve human well-being. Through her research, ElGhazouly seeks to balance aesthetics in architectural design with enhanced user comfort and accessibility. 

“The most important aspect of architecture is the users and how they feel interacting with architectural design,” ElGhazouly says.

A woman wearing a hijab and collared shirt smiles at the camera

Yomna ElGhazouly

Claire Sheehy

Lowe’s research addresses another important societal issue by focusing on improving attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) diagnosis in girls and women. Lowe, an alum of the University of Calgary, is building on her master’s degree research through her doctoral research. 

She says, “I chose the University of Calgary for my PhD because of my supervisor, Dr. Emma Climie, an ADHD specialist with a huge interest in girls and women. In addition, the environment of support, mutual respect, and growth provided by my research supervisor is what drew me to the University of Calgary.” 

Her research combines insights from psychology, education, nursing, psychiatry and health sciences to identify developmental patterns and associations related to ADHD outcomes. Lowe’s research seeks to change stereotypes that have negatively impacted the development of appropriate diagnosis and treatment of ADHD in young girls. 

Her research is novel in that it is contributing to an increased awareness of gender gaps in medical research on ADHD. Lowe hopes, through her research, to narrow this gap and improve health outcomes for girls and women. 

“Identifying risk and protective pathways can help allied health professionals create targeted interventions that can improve long-term outcomes for girls and women with ADHD symptoms,” she says.

A woman with brown hair smiles at the camera

Katy Lowe

Courtesy Katy Lowe

Yomna ElGhazouly and Katy Lowe’s research endeavours demonstrate the important work being carried out by members of the President’s Circle and reflect UCalgary’s commitment to equity, diversity, inclusion and accessibility, and the overall improvement of human health and well-being.

At the heart of UCalgary's vision is a commitment to collaborative innovation. The President’s Circle plays an important role in this exciting vision through the active support and celebration of transdisciplinary scholarship. As an ever-growing community of multi-disciplinary researchers, the President’s Circle looks forward to the inclusion of more scholars through the expansion of awards and opportunities to support fascinating and critical transdisciplinary research.

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