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Research Stories

Students, faculty and staff from across Red Deer Polytechnic engage in innovative and dynamic research that has real-world applications and community impact. View the stories below to learn more about the types of research happening here.  

Guriqbal Singh Munday
Michael Simaeys
Jennifer Gorcak
Caleb Johnson
Ashley Larsen-Stewart
Peter Fiala

Guriqbal Singh Munday Conducts Industry Research in RDP's CIM-TAC

Guriqbal Singh Munday Image
Image courtesy Guriqbal Singh Munday.

Meet Guriqbal Singh Munday (he/him/his), an Industrial Research Associate who works in RDP's Centre for Innovation in Manufacturing - Technology Access Centre (CIM-TAC). Gurigbal’s recent project was based on a CIM-TAC client and their innovation needs. 

"The applied research projects at RDP's CIM-TAC facility embody the four key elements of successful research:  

  • Passion, which drives the client and the CIM-TAC team toward a common goal;  
  • Challenge, as the solutions are not readily available and require significant research efforts;  
  • Opportunity, as the learning curve is steep and provides a valuable learning experience for all involved; and  
  • Contribution, which consists in enhancing the client's product and mentoring students. 

Together, these elements create a dynamic and enriching research environment that leads to innovative solutions and meaningful contributions to the industry. 

I participated in the RDP Research Showcase to highlight our exceptional research facilities and the incredible internship/co-op opportunities available to students in RDP's CIM-TAC. By showcasing our cutting-edge facilities, we hope to inspire the brightest minds to join our team and help us continue pushing the boundaries of innovation. 

The research project I presented was based on a CIM-TAC client. The client has developed a manual push cleaning unit currently being tested for a particular task. They would like to expand the innovation in their product and contacted RDP's CIM-TAC for support. The research addresses advancements of their current design and applied research, manufacturing, and validation services to address several technical issues. 

This research project matters because it can result in the development of a product that meets the target audience's needs and generates more revenue for the client. By conducting research, we can identify key market opportunities and design a product that optimizes resources and addresses gaps in the market. This can lead to increased customer satisfaction and loyalty, higher sales and revenue, and a competitive edge for the client. Additionally, the research helps to mitigate risks and optimize the product development process, ensuring the efficient use of resources. 

Red Deer Polytechnic is uniquely positioned to support projects like those featured in my research presentation due to its CIM-TAC, which houses over $6.6 million of advanced prototype and manufacturing equipment. In addition, the availability of a team of designers, technicians, and machinists, as well as the expertise of various trades at the Polytechnic, provides valuable resources and support to the project. This combination of advanced equipment and skilled personnel allows RDP to offer high expertise and support for the projects. 

Through this research project, I learned that I like to be in fast-paced environments that embrace a ‘fail-fast’ philosophy, where experimentation and iteration are critical components of the development process. By adopting this approach, I can rapidly prototype and refine solutions, ensuring we achieve the best possible outcome in the shortest time.    

I am also deeply passionate about making learning fun through teaching, mentoring, and sharing knowledge. Having had some truly great teachers myself, I understand the impact that they can have on students' lives. To help make learning more engaging and relatable, I believe in explaining research concepts in a way that is accessible to everyone, with stories that connect with people on a personal level. " 

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Michael Simaeys Examines Preferred Pronoun Usage in Middle School Settings

Michael Simaeys Image
Image courtesy Michael Simaeys.

Meet Michael Simaeys (he/him), a fourth-year student enrolled in the Bachelor of Education collaborative degree between Red Deer Polytechnic and the University of Alberta.

"Through the practicum portions of my degree program, I met middle school students who utilized preferred pronouns and names within the classroom setting. I also met students who could not utilize preferred pronouns and names due to school policy. From these practicum experiences, I was inspired to do my research project to understand the overall benefits and potential downsides of preferred pronoun usage implementation in middle schools.  

My research project examined preferred pronoun usage implementation exclusively within a middle school setting. I obtained qualitative data via in-person interviews with teachers and administrators. Both positive and negative impacts were thoroughly considered, as well as potential mitigating factors.   

Regardless of how one may feel about the widespread adoption of a non-binary gender paradigm, the traditional dichotomous gender paradigm fails to capture the entirety of the student population within today's middle schools. Thus, it would be a significant disservice to the student population to fail to recognize this expanded construal of gender identity. This leads to the need to ensure that teachers are properly informed and trained within this topic area so that they may enrich the lives of all students. My research project aims to emphasize and extend the importance of this need. 

Engaging in this research project has allowed me to gain a deeper understanding and appreciation for the diverse identities of students and the overall culture at the schools that I obtained qualitative data from. Overall, this research project has allowed me to make valuable connections with teachers, administrators, and colleagues.   

In addition, this project process has allowed me to realize my passion for teaching further and for putting the students first. I will continue to put forth great effort in advocating for all of my students throughout my teaching career."  

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Jennifer Gorcak Confirms Research into Plant Pathology Solutions

Jennifer Gorcak Image
Image courtesy Jennifer Gorcak.

Meet Jennifer Gorcak (she/her), a fourth-year Bachelor of Science in Biological Sciences student at RDP. Earlier this month, Jennifer participated in RDP’s Research Showcase

"The Research Showcase was a perfect opportunity to present my group's work in the lab to the staff and students at RDP. In the lab, we are reconfirming the inhibitory role of tenuazonic acid, produced by Alternaria alternata, on Mycena citricolor growth. [Alternaria alternata and Mycena, or M. citricolor, are two species of fungi that cause leaf spots and blights on plants.] 

Not only did the fascinating relationship between both fungi intrigue me, but also how the initial research involved both Microbiology and Organic Chemistry. Both of my professors involved in the project, Cyrus Taheri and Warren Elgersma, encouraged me to work on this research. 

This project helps further confirm the previous research conducted by my professor, Warren Elgersma, during 1988-1990 at the University of Alberta and puts it on course to being published. This project repeats the co-culture assay of both fungi. I was inspired by the hard work and dedication that had gone into this research, and the chance to repeat the work was an amazing opportunity. 

 It expands on this research through a pilot study, which involves testing isolates of M. citricolor with different concentrations of tenuazonic acid. It also has applications for mitigating American Leaf Spot Disease, a serious problem in coffee plants around Latin America. 

The project has enabled me to create friendships with other students and staff at RDP. Everyone I have collaborated with for this project so far has been extremely kind and helpful and has made this process so much more rewarding, including my whole research team, the Biology laboratory staff, and many other professors at the Polytechnic.  

If any prospective or current students want to do a science-based research project but need help figuring out how to get going, RDP's Research Showcase is for you! The chance to do research at Red Deer Polytechnic is an amazing opportunity.    

By the time I was interested in starting the research, my professors were extremely positive, encouraging, open to conversation and flexible with my course load when I wanted to get started. This is all thanks to the learning environment at RDP that enabled me to build stronger relationships with other students and professors throughout my degree. So if you ever shy away from this type of work, or don't even know where to start, don't be afraid to ask for guidance!" 

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Caleb Johnson Explores if Having a Male Teacher Affects Middle School Students

Caleb Johnson Image
Image courtesy Caleb Johnson.

Meet Caleb Johnson, a fourth-year student in the Bachelor of Education collaborative degree between Red Deer Polytechnic and the University of Alberta.

"My research project explored the question, ‘How Does Having a Male Teacher Affect Students in Middle School?’ The project involved interviewing certain members of the middle school community in central Alberta.

I made a couple of new connections with members of the education community, including administrators, teachers, and post-secondary faculty. However, rather than creating entirely new connections, I mostly reinforced existing ones, which was of great benefit. I collaborated with these members, the faculty and my peers at RDP. I discussed my area of inquiry, interviewed members of the education community, and worked with faculty at RDP to ensure my research was conducted properly.  

I shared my research [at the 2023 Research Showcase] because it is highly relevant, and others would benefit from hearing the story from this research paper. This research project can help address some sentiments about male teachers in middle schools. It also provides some recommendations that stakeholders in middle years education should consider.       

While doing my research project, I discovered that I am capable of producing something for the education community that is insightful and valuable. I also learned to reach out to others to learn from their experiences and knowledge." 

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Ashley Larsen-Stewart Assesses Messaging Surrounding Therapeutic Use of Psychedelics

Ashley Larsen-Stewart Image
Image courtesy Ashley Larsen-Stewart.

Meet Ashley Larsen-Stewart (she/her), a fourth-year student in Bachelor of Arts in Psychology. After

graduation, she hopes to become a Psychedelic Assisted Therapist. Ashley’s research assessed “The Effectiveness of Positive versus Negative Framing of Health Messages Concerning the Therapeutic Use of Psychedelics.” 

"I was inspired to do this project because there is a growing interest in the potential therapeutic benefits of psychedelic drugs. Still, negative stereotypes and misinformation often shape public attitudes toward them. Designing effective public health messages that can help to educate people about the potential benefits of these drugs may be a key factor in changing attitudes and improving mental health outcomes. 

Evidence on the relative efficacy of positive versus negative framing is mixed and can be influenced by individual factors such as age, involvement, and personality. The present study explored the role of individual perceptions and experiences of a sample of younger and older adults on the relative effectiveness of positively versus negatively framed messages about the potential therapeutic utility of psychedelic drugs. 

This research project aims to contribute to the development of evidence-based best practices for designing public health messages about the potential therapeutic use of psychedelic drugs. With growing interest in the therapeutic benefits of these drugs, there is a need for accurate and effective messaging that can help educate people and dispel negative stereotypes and misinformation. The study focuses on the impact of framing on the effectiveness of health messages. This is an important area of research because how messages are presented can significantly impact how people receive and respond to them. 

Throughout this process, I've developed a keen interest in research and have enjoyed growing my communication, critical thinking, and collaboration skills.    

I'm grateful for the community involvement, particularly from the Golden Circle, a senior resource centre. I am also grateful for the many Psychology instructors willing to collaborate on this research and share the survey with their students."  

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Peter Fiala Analyzes How Implementing AI Impacts Creativity for VFX for Film and Games

Peter Fiala Image
Image courtesy Peter Fiala.

Meet Peter Fiala (he/him), an Animation and Visual Effects instructor who has been teaching at Red Deer

Polytechnic for almost eight years. Peter’s research analyzed “Implementing AI in the 3D Asset Creation Pipeline for VFX for Film and Games.” 

"Although I never stop practicing some form of Animated and Visual Effects related research, I'm often too shy to broadcast it. This year, I was strongly encouraged by a kind and supportive peer to participate in the Research Showcase [held on March 2, 2023], and so I decided to go for it. 

My project is titled, Implementing AI in the 3D Asset Creation Pipeline for VFX for Film and Games. I was curious about both the capabilities and the controversy surrounding Artificial Intelligence (AI) generated artwork. 

This research matters because the AI genie is out of the bottle, and there's no shoving it back in. The big question is: will the use of AI in the VFX industry be nothing more than hype and ephemeral, or will 3D artists have to redesign their entire workflows and employment expectations? 

Trends in the AVFX industry are technology-driven, and it is the responsibility of us, as faculty, to be as informed as we can be by experimenting with what may or may not be the next big thing. It's not enough to only read about it. We may need to incorporate what we learn into our current courses. 

The content in the fun classes I teach at RDP allows for and necessitates my undertaking these projects. It's important to me to future-proof the skills my students graduate with. I want to minimize the surprises my students may face when entering the Animation and VFX workforce. I appreciate that Red Deer Polytechnic encourages applied and creative research, not just traditional scholarship." 

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