TWU researchers advance social good during COVID-19, share discoveries

“This new Research and Creativity Symposium showcasing the cutting-edge research of our faculty, graduate students, and undergraduate students proved to be an excellent experience for everyone involved.”
— Dr. Richard Chandra, TWU Director of Research Services

“When we face the unknown, one of the great blessings we have is our inquiring minds,” says Dr. Richard Chandra, who is Director of Research Services at Trinity Western University.

“Research is one of the ways we can develop strategies to answer questions and solve problems in challenging times,” he adds, mindful of the current global context.

Tackling global challenges through scientific inquiry

Recognizing that research is an effective way to solve problems, governments around the world have devoted significant amounts of funding to research.

172 countries are currently discussing potential participation in COVAX, a global research initiative aimed at working with vaccine manufacturers to ensure that countries worldwide will have equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines, according to a report by the World Health Organization. To date, supporting countries and agencies have contributed $ 1.4 billion towards this project.

Here in Canada, the federally funded Tri-Agencies—consisting of three federal research funding agencies: Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR); the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC); and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC)—has contributed $275 million towards researching medical counter-measures against COVID-19.

Additionally, the Canadian government has provided $600 million towards vaccine manufacturing research, and $15 million in NSERC grants. Many of these grants are empowering Canadian companies to research and develop strategies for local manufacturing of healthcare supplies, including PPE and hand sanitizer.

How TWU researchers are advancing social good

At TWU, researchers are benefitting Canadian society through their work during the COVID-19 pandemic. For example, Dr. Rick Sawatzky is analyzing the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on health outcomes for older adults who are living at home, providing vital data to improve healthcare services for older adults.

Dr. Bill Strom studied emotional resilience, mental health and coping strategies during the COVID-19 pandemic.  

Dr. Herbert Tsang is working with students to develop lightboards and recording systems for teaching remotely.

These are just a few examples of the incredible amount of research activity happening at TWU.

“It’s really important to see these great stories of research,” says Dr. Chandra, “Research creates a great platform for the faculty to work with students, and to further the TWU mission.” The mission of TWU includes developing leaders for every sector of society, including sciences and research.

Creating leadership opportunities for students

A research project provides an unparalleled opportunity for students to work directly with professors, which greatly enhances students’ educational journeys.  

Participating in research provides students with hands-on experience, while publishing and sharing results further gives students professional exposure.

“Research goes beyond what students can learn in the classroom,” Dr. Chandra explains, “The research opportunities develop innovation, confidence, and leadership in students.”

The recent TWU virtual Research and Creativity Symposium provided such an opportunity for student and faculty researchers to share their work with the public.

Ideas converge at TWU’s summer research conference

On August 28, 2020, TWU hosted its first-ever virtual research conference, a one-day event for TWU researchers to showcase their work, called the TWU Research and Creativity Symposium. Participants at the conference could choose to learn from 54 different presenters, spanning all disciplines across TWU. The conference was hosted on Zoom with attendees joining from locations as far reaching as New Zealand. The interactive event featured a mix of research presentations and dialogue with audiences.

It has been Dr. Chandra’s vision to host an event like this at TWU.

“This new Research and Creativity Symposium showcasing the cutting-edge research of our faculty, graduate students, and undergraduate students proved to be an excellent experience for everyone involved and should become a signature event for the University,” Dr. Chandra remarks.

The Research and Creativity Symposium was successfully planned and executed by Dr. Chandra and his team at the Office of Research and Graduate Studies, which include Sue Funk, Elizabeth Kreiter and Adam Bielka.

Positive responses drive future outlook

Participant feedback for the Research and Creativity Symposium revealed that many found the event to be enjoyable and insightful. Many attendees were impressed by the variety research topics, which spanned fields such as biology, linguistics, family studies and nursing. In fact, one downside noted by an attendee was the difficulty of having to choose among concurrent presentations.

The online format made the event very accessible, and even people from outside of Canada were able to attend without travel costs. New faculty members said that they appreciated the opportunity to know what is happening on campus and connect with other faculty.

One presenter expressed, “It was so awesome! I really enjoyed presentations across a range of disciplines. It was so well done, thanks for doing it! I also loved that it was virtual.”

Seeing the positive responses from participants and knowing the benefits of sharing research work with the broader community, Dr. Chandra and his team hope to build from the success of this year’s conference and turn it into a signature event for TWU.

See the Aug 28 TWU Research and Creativity Symposium conference booklet:
Aug 28 Conference Booklet

About Trinity Western University

Founded in 1962, Trinity Western University is Canada’s premier Christian liberal arts university dedicated to equipping students to establish meaningful connections between career, life, and the needs of the world. It is a fully accredited research institution offering liberal arts and sciences, as well as professional schools in business, nursing, education, human kinetics, graduate studies, and arts, media, and culture. It has five campuses: Langley, Richmond-Lansdowne, Richmond-Minoru, Ottawa, and Bellingham, WA. TWU emphasizes academic excellence, research, and student engagement in a vital faith community committed to forming leaders to have a transformational impact on culture. Learn more at or follow us on Twitter @TrinityWestern, on Facebook and LinkedIn.

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