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Featured Student Research

RDC Student ResearchStudents at Red Deer Polytechnic engage in applied research and practical learning across our programs. These types of projects are interesting, hands-on and relevant to what students will see in the real world. 

By collaborating with faculty and community partners, students elevate their research and communication skills. By  studying relevant topics of interest to them, students gain applied knowledge that they can transfer to their future goals. 

Depending on the course or program, students may engage in learning with their classmates through community-based or capstone projects, or they may undertake an independent research project with the support of a supervising instructor. 

researchscholarshipoffice [at] rdpolytech [dot] ca (Contact us) if you are a student who is interested in learning more about research at Red Deer Polytechnic or if you have a project idea. 

Want to see examples of student research? See the featured projects and classes with research opportunities listed below or visit the Red Deer Polytechnic Digital Repository, which showcases scholarly, research and creative works undertaken by students, faculty and staff. All students, whether current Red Deer Polytechnic students or high school students, are welcome to attend research-related events to speak with faculty and staff and learn more. 


Featured Student Projects


Agora Student Conference and Journal
The Agora Undergraduate Conference showcases student work completed in Humanities and Social Sciences, Social Work, and Justice Studies classes, bringing together Red Deer Polytechnic's diverse community in celebration of student excellence.

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Perceptions of the Therapeutic Relationship held by Parents of Children with Complex Needs (Psychology Independent Study Project)  

Student Researcher: Mckenna Causey 

Faculty Supervisors: Greg Wells, PhD and Reiko Yeap, PhD 

This exploratory study, completed under the supervision of Dr. Greg Wells and Dr. Reiko Yeap, seeks to better understand perceptions of the therapeutic (parent-therapist) relationship held by parents of children with complex needs by examining contributors to parental satisfaction with this relationship – a relationship closely tied to the effectiveness of therapy and to the child's perceived quality of life. The study will take place in two phases. Initially, a sample of parents recruited from on-line discussion forums dedicated to the issues and concerns of parents of children with complex needs will complete an on-line survey consisting of measures of parental satisfaction as well as various potential predictors. In a second phase, subsequent semi-structured interviews will be held with a subset of approximately 20 volunteers drawn from the survey participants. It is hoped that the results of this study will be of value to parents and therapists seeking to enhance the therapeutic relationship and provide direction toward future research in this area. 


Working Memory Capacity and Thinking Styles Unable to Predict COVID-19 Vaccination (Psychology Independent Study Project) 

Student Researcher: Caitlin Lanthier 

Faculty Supervisor: Stephen Brown, PhD 

Failure to comply with vaccination mandates during the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic poses a great challenge to the Canadian health care system. Choosing not to vaccinate may reflect concerns about the costs of vaccination while discounting its public health benefits. This research sought to find if this decision-making is associated with limits of one’s mental capacity, specifically working memory capacity. In addition, the degree to which individuals choose to approach decisions with either experiential (intuitive) or rational (logical) thinking was considered. To measure these cognitive functions, participants completed the N-Back as well as the Rational Experiential Inventory-40 questionnaire. The purpose of this study was to investigate if working memory capacity and individuals’ thinking styles can predict attitudes and status towards COVID-19 vaccination. However, the results of this study did not find thinking styles or working memory capacity to be statistically significant predictors of vaccination status. The results of this study propose that executive functioning levels cannot predict vaccination. 


Fungal Communities Associated with White Spruce (Picea glauca) and Trembling Aspen (Populus tremuloides) Seedlings in the Red Deer Area (Biology 399 Project) 

Student Researchers: Allicia Irwin and Isabella Miranda 

Faculty Supervisor: Cyrus (Ahmad) Esmaeili Taheri, PhD 

Fungi are a very diverse group of microorganisms that play critical roles in all ecosystems. While some fungi cause diseases in plants, others form symbiotic relationships such as mycorrhizae with them and help them with absorbing water and nutrients and tolerating environmental stresses. The objective of this research was to characterize mycorrhizal, pathogenic, and endophytic fungal and oomycete communities associated with the roots of White Spruce (Picea glauca) and Trembling Aspen (Populus tremuloides) in the Red Deer Region. Root samples were taken from the seedlings growing on Red Deer Polytechnic’s campus and from a private property East of the City of Red Deer. Roots were surface sterilized and aseptically plated on Potato Dextrose Agar (PDA) medium. Isolates were grouped into 282 Operational Taxonomic Units (OTUs). PCR-based identification of OTUs is in progress. Preliminary results of the experiment indicated that the fungal communities associated with the above-mentioned hosts are very diverse. A greater understanding of the fungal and oomycete communities associated with White Spruce and Trembling Aspen trees can be helpful in protecting natural vegetations and rehabilitation of disturbed sites. 


Acoustic Monitoring of Bat Vocalisations in Red Deer in the Vicinity of the Proposed North Highway Connector (Biology 399 Project) 

Student Researcher: Kira Weddell 

Faculty Supervisor: Sally Stuart, PhD 

This project attempts to gain an understanding of the bat species occurring in the vicinity of the proposed North Highway Connector in Red Deer prior to its construction. Furthermore, bats play a significant role in the ecosystem. As the devastating fungal disease known as White-Nose Syndrome moves ever closer to Alberta, it is particularly important to gain an understanding of their current status. 

Over the past two years, during May to September, bat vocalisations were recorded using a Wildlife Acoustics Song Meter SM4 ultrasonic recorder. Data was analysed using Kaleidoscope Pro analysis software and the statistical tool R. The data collected has allowed for a year-to-year comparison of possible bat species in the area as well as insight into the different calls and foraging styles of the bat species present.  


Extraction of Cortisol from Hair as a Measure of Stress Levels in RDP Students (Biology 399 Project) 

Student Researchers: Ria Chauhan and Jaydon Bick 

Faculty Supervisors: Ryan Butler, PhD, and Sally Stuart, PhD 

Cortisol is a hormone that organisms release in response to a broad range of stressors. It has many metabolic effects, such as immune-suppression and increasing blood glucose levels. For this experiment the analysis of human hair was used because it allows for an accurate, non-invasive measurement of long-term levels of cortisol in the body. Employing previously described techniques cortisol was extracted from 39 hair samples from first and second-year science students. A Cortisol EIA kit and spectrophotometer were used to quantify levels of cortisol concentration in the samples. Results indicated significant, but normal, concentrations of cortisol in a majority of the samples; however, a correlation to a specific academic program, course load, age, or sex could not be established.


Pneumatic Solar Panel Duster (Engineering Technologies Capstone Project) 

Student Team: Kyle Victor, Carson West, and Nathaniel Crombie 

Faculty Supervisor: Craig West 

Keeping solar panels free of light obstructing physical foreign agents (leaves, dust/dirt, etc.) is a common need for large-scale photovoltaic installations.  Currently, such cleaning is accomplished by either human intervention (hand cleaning, vehicle-assisted sprayers) or emerging robotic means.  Human intervention is simple to implement but at the greatest cost.  Robotic sweepers have low operational costs but can be overly complex, expensive to acquire and maintain, and are significantly limited for implementation across a variety of panel geometries and dynamics. This project involves the design of a pneumatic “air blast” cleaning system that involves essentially no moving cleaning parts, requires little/no routine maintenance, low cost to acquire, simple to install, application independent of panel geometry or dynamics, and is powered self-sufficiently via the very same solar panels the system is deployed to clean. 


Robot Assisted 3D Scanner (Engineering Technologies Capstone Project) 

Student Team: Gregory Chiles, Vrutikkumar Patel, and Emmanuel Kammogne Tamto 

Faculty Supervisor: Craig West 

This project involves the design, development, and proving of a robot-assisted 3D scanning system for the Centre for Innovation in Manufacturing – Technology Access Center (CIM-TAC) at Red Deer Polytechnic. The CIM-TAC project is to 3D print custom case inserts for sensitive equipment. A 3D scan of the case containing the equipment will produce a 3D object file so the insert can be created and printed. The 3D scanning process will be automated to increase the speed and accuracy of the scan. Automating the process will also allow the operator to focus on other tasks while each case is being scanned. 


Micro-Scale Compressed Air Energy Storage (Engineering Technologies Capstone Project) 

Student Team: Matt Lapointe, Tyler Podgorenko, Kyle Salaway, and Kyle Bennett 

Faculty Supervisor: Craig West 

Intermittent renewable energy systems such as solar and wind require energy storage to capture and store excess power generated above load requirements and later released back to persistent loads when solar/wind power generation is insufficient.  This project involves the design, fabrication, and proving of a micro energy storage system (ESS) that captures excess electrical energy in the form of compressed air driven by an electrical prime mover (motor).  When electrical energy is required, compressed air is released to produce electricity (generator).  This ESS system is to be fully automated to recognize when to store or release compressed air energy as per the electrical load. 


Classes with Research Opportunities

BIOL 399 - Biology Research Opportunity Program 

This course provides students with the opportunity to work on research projects under the supervision of Biology faculty members. For example, for the last several years instructors Ryan Butler, Sandra MacDougall, and Sally Stuart have been working with students on a project involving collecting hairs from different bears at the Innisfail Discovery Wildlife Park, sorting them and analyzing them for levels of cortisol. The levels of cortisol are an indirect measurement of stress and, since cortisol can accumulate in the hair, it gives researchers information about long term stress levels in these animals. The project has recently expanded to measure the cortisol levels in the hairs of Red Deer Polytechnic students as an indirect measurement of stress levels of students at different times in the academic year. 


EDPS 445 – Issues in Middle Years Education  

The purpose of this course is to help students critically examine and develop an understanding of a variety of issues and policies affecting Middle Years education. Students conduct research as a way for them to go deeper with their learning, specifically in an area of contemporary topics that has implications for teachers and students.   

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