Through innovation and collaboration, our researchers, faculty members, external partners and students are improving quality of life and strengthening our community, our province and our world. Explore our current research projects below.

The Virtual Home

  • Funding for the project: CARIF
  • Project duration: 2017-2018
  • Lead researcher: Cherie Reitzel (instructor, Interior Design Technology)

The intent of this research project is to illustrate the potential for true sustainable design practices using virtual reality and immersive design approaches in the residential, architectural marketplace. The goal is to innovate a more efficient, affordable and forward thinking digital housing prototype that is modular, sustainable and transformable. The system is one that works within the framework of current architectural global lifestyle trends and technological advancements, carving out an attainable way of life for the average consumer. National marketability is achievable and can be experienced in the virtual world via the implementation of interactive immersive technology tools utilized to measure lighting output, solar gain, home efficiency and material and finishes selections.

360-degree Storytelling

  • Funding for the project: CARIF
  • Project duration: 2017-2018
  • Lead researcher: Kris Hodgson (instructor, School of Media and Design)

The overarching goal of this applied research study is to determine how to use 360 video to engage various audiences in journalism. This study is using surveys and six focus groups aimed at three demographics (two focus groups per demographic) – 16-29, 30-59 and 60 and over. A Digital Communications and Media (DCM) student will facilitate these focus groups after being trained to do so. Secondly, a best practices guide for creators of 360-degree pieces for both technical and narrative aspects of storytelling will be developed. Second-year DCM students will be creating content as part of curriculum. Instructors will document their personal experience through journaling, reflecting student and instructor experiences working in this new platform. This study will also look at viewer engagement through the analytics component of our website, where 360-degree content will be posted. Through identifying what demographics engage with 360-degree content most effectively, the study seeks to identify viewing habits to compare mobile phone and headset use. Finally, to identify industry future trends and plans through a survey emailed to national print, online and television media organizations.

Supporting Students through Texting, Photos and Explain Everything

  • Funding for the project: CARIF
  • Project duration: 2017-2018
  • Lead researcher: Jeff Hamilton (instructor, Academic Upgrading)

Traditionally at Lethbridge College faculty have been mandated to provide office hours outside of class time. This still works well for many students. However, with the devices students and faculty have at their disposal, alternate forms of communication may be beneficial in providing effective communication between students and their instructors outside of class time. This study will research the effects of providing students with an instructor’s cell phone number to communicate through texts, images and customized videos connected to their course work.

Optimizing Haskap Berry (Lonicera Caerulea L) Drying Techniques as a Value Added Food Product

  • Funding for the project: CARIF
  • Project duration: 2017-2018
  • Lead researcher: Ron Sonnenberg (instructor, Culinary Careers)

Haskaps, also known as honeyberry, are being grown locally. The perishable and delicate nature of this berry requires that much of the fruit be processed or preserved. Phoenix Haskaps have asked for assistance in developing value added products for the marketplace.

Drying these berries in the same manner as other fruits reduces the berry’s health – promoting benefits and negatively affects dried appearance. This proposal looks at factors involved in drying whole berries, including drying temperatures, air flow and drying times. The proposed research hopes to identify optimum drying conditions that will produce a high quality, cost effective, shelf-stable product.

Poverty and its Effects among Post-Secondary Students: A Mixed-Methods Study

  • Funding for the project: CARIF
  • Project duration: 2017-2018
  • Lead researchers: Bonnie Faries (Institutional Planning, Analysis and Risk Services) and Jennifer Davis (instructor, General Studies)

Although there exists statistical data describing income levels among post-secondary students, little is known about the impact of poverty on other aspects of their lives, particularly in the Canadian context. There is little information about the linkages between income, quality and safety of accommodation, food security, health and academic achievement. By answering the research question “What is the experience of post-secondary students at the University of Lethbridge and Lethbridge College who live in poverty?” this mixed-methods research study will close the existing knowledge gap, and can be applied directly for the benefit of students by informing policy-related decisions and institutional planning.

The Transition of the Practitioner to Instructor

  • Funding for project: CARIF
  • Project duration: 2016-2018
  • Lead researcher: Jim Urasaki, instructor, Criminal Justice

This research study will investigate the process of transition that former police officers have undergone in order to become a college instructor. The transition of professional practitioners to instructors is a relevant topic of discussion as a successful transition will contribute to the goal of providing opportunities for student learning from individuals with relevant industry and professional expertise. This study may provide insights into the development of novice college instructors and provide opportunities to facilitate the development of appropriate perspectives and instructional strategies for present and future faculty.

The Antibiotic Alberta Plant Project

  • Funding for project: CARIF
  • Project duration: 2016-2018
  • Lead researchers: Sophie Kerneis-Golsteyn (instructor, Biological Sciences) and Leanne DuMontier (lab technician – Agriculture)

The Antibiotic Alberta Plant Project (AAP Project) aims to discover antibiotic molecules from indigenous plant species based upon evaluation of scientific ethnobotanical and First Nations knowledge of native plant species. These molecules may serve pharmaceutical and cattle industries. A plant extract library will be established providing a long term benefit for Lethbridge College. Plant extracts will be screened for their antibiotic activities and will allow identification of active antibiotic molecules in partnership with pharmaceutical companies or chemists.

Toward Understanding and Reciprocity among Indigenous and Non-Indigenous People: The Impact of the Lethbridge College Experience on Student Bias

  • Funding for project: CARIF
  • Project duration: 2016-2017
  • Lead researcher: Terry Dreaddy (instructor, Criminal Justice)

The problems facing Aboriginals in Canada have reached crisis proportions. In education, implicit bias can add to the crisis if there is a lack of awareness of its influence on students. Lethbridge College has committed to increased understanding and reciprocity among indigenous and non-indigenous peoples. This study contributes to that commitment by bringing awareness to the issue of implicit bias and measuring the impact of the college experience on negative biases held by students. It is intended to either affirm our efforts to prepare students for the service industry or to identify the need for more specific intervention.

Advancing Commercial Food Production Through Integrated Fish and Plant Systems to Meet the Needs of Industry and Community

  • Funding for project: NSERC
  • Project duration: 2015-present

With over 12 years of experience and expertise, Lethbridge College is a leader in Integrated Fish and Plant Systems (IFPS) research. Building on the success of its two-year CCI-IE, dedicated towards optimizing and expanding commercial aquaponics systems, the college has worked closely with aquaponics, aquaculture and greenhouse producers to identify critical issues facing the commercial food production sector in southern Alberta. To address these, Lethbridge College has taken a multi-disciplinary approach that also aligns with its strategic focus on agriculture. Accordingly, the objectives of the proposed activities centre on three main areas: food safety, consumer acceptance and economic return on investment (ROI). Each of these areas will drive projects that are specific to the needs of both industry and community that in turn will lead to commercialization opportunities.

The outcomes of the project will include knowledge transfer, skills development, and products and services. By year five, Lethbridge College fully expects to be able to adapt and transfer findings throughout the partnerships.

Agriculture and value-added agriculture are key aspects of the regional economy. If successful, funds from this proposal would bring tremendous impact to the community and would make southern Alberta a centrepiece of IFPS food production, demonstrating that rural communities can maintain a competitive advantage through economic diversification.

Development of highly productive zero-waste food production platform based on microfiltration and nutrient recycling

  • Funding for project: NSERC Engage Grant and Alberta Innovates Campus Alberta Small Business Engagement (CASBA)
  • Project duration: 2015-present

Lethbridge College has partnered with 1722497 Alberta Ltd. to develop a zero-waste food production platform based on microfiltration and nutrient recycling designed to provide a highest yield output in the greenhouse space. The partnership would enable the removal of suspended smaller micro- and nanoparticles that can create problems in the drainage system of the vertical farms developed by the company. This project will utilize the uniquely designed microfiltration process using biochar's micro- and nanopore network that can efficiently trap these particles. Besides solving this problem, it will also minimize the need for aquaponics growers to add plant nutritional supplements to their systems, thus mitigating the ongoing industry problem of nutrient mismanagement in Canadian aquaponics production. In addition, the platform will create a niche value added product – highly concentrated nutrient solution active biochar, which has the potential to significantly reduce the operational costs of the aquaponics industry.

The Emergence of the Transgender Child: Parent Policies and Social Change

  • Funding for the project: SSHRC Insight Grant
  • Project duration: 2017-2021
  • Co-investigator: Jennifer Davis (instructor, General Studies)

A study of parental advocacy for transgendered youth.

VRI Potatoes

A section center pivot near Chin, AB, has been instrumented with Trimble Irrigate IQ technology, which allows control over each nozzle on the pivot. The field is subdivided in four quarter sections, one of which is always in potatoes. In this project we evaluate the performance of the technology and most importantly, the effect of precision irrigation on the field water balance and crop performance. We instrumented the field with soil moisture sensors based on maps of topography & soil EC, and point soil samples. The producers increased the complexity of the irrigation rate prescription map throughout the season based on information from these sensors and field scouting. After the growing season, hydrological modeling will be performed to provide possible driving mechanisms for some of the in-season observations and to improve irrigation mapping for future years. Partners in this project are GrowTEC, Sunrise Ag, and the Potato Growers of Alberta.

Polycropping for water use efficiency

This plot size study examines if the mixing of wheat cultivars can compensate for yield losses under water stress conditions. Replicating biodiversity in agricultural ecosystems is relevant from a perspective of disease and pest susceptibility, but also from a perspective of optimizing the efficiency of inputs such as nutrient and water. We mixed two varieties of wheat in various proportions and exposed them to different irrigation schedules (the dry, hot weather this summer greatly helped the study). We will evaluate plant traits (maturity dynamics, height, above-ground and below-ground biomass) as well as yield. Partner in this project is Alberta Agriculture and Forestry.

UAV technology in irrigated agriculture

We purchased a fixed-wing UAV in spring 2017 with three sensors for visual, multispectral, and thermal infrared imaging. The UAV is being used to obtain imagery at the polycropping and VRI field sites. We hope to use the images for spatial detection of plant (water) stress after validation to measurements on the ground.