The Hub Athabasca University takes on global challenges through open, digital research

Research challenges—and solutions—aren’t constrained by borders, says Dr. Andrew Perrin, in a new video series called Research with Reach.

Athabasca University (AU) is open and digital-first in everything we do. For research, that means tackling some of the biggest challenges in our world, from climate change to how technology is changing how we learn, live, and work.

Dr. Andrew Perrin, associate vice-president of research, said the university’s unique position as an open, online institution with researchers spread across Alberta and Canada helps build strong connections to communities locally, nationally, and beyond.

“We want to be part of solutions for a healthier future,” says Perrin. “The research challenges we’re facing today aren’t constrained by borders. That means our solutions can’t be either.”

“The research challenges we’re facing today aren’t constrained by borders. That means our solutions can’t be either.”

– Dr. Andrew Perrin, associate vice-president of research

Discover Research with Reach

Research with Reach is a video series that showcases the work of AU researchers and graduate students who are tackling some of the world’s biggest problems.

They are pushing the boundaries of knowledge and discovery—and transforming lives and communities.

How microbes can help us protect the environment

Microbes are powerful but unappreciated allies in our efforts to clean up the environment and fight disease, says Dr. Srijak Bhatnagar, a researcher and assistant professor of computational biology in the Faculty of Science and Technology.

Read more about microbe research

Technology enables education for all

A quote from Nelson Mandela that he saw early in his career had a profound effect on the research of AU professor Dr. Mohamed Ally.

“‘Education is the only weapon to change the world.’ That changed my research,” he says of the billboard he saw on a trip to a conference in South Africa. “Whatever I do, I try to do it globally.”

Read more about education technology research

Is climate change hurting teen mental health?

A new national study will explore the impact of climate change on the mental health of Canadian teens.

As the climate changes, there will be widespread environmental, social and economic impacts from rising temperatures to extreme weather events. AU researcher Dr. Gina Martin said teens are one of the groups most  vulnerable to these effects.

Read more about climate change research

How archaeology can reveal missing voices in Alberta’s history

History is selective in what is passed down orally or through documentary evidence. Even the relatively recent history of Prairie settlements from the past century is often dominated by white settler men.

AU researcher Dr. Meaghan Peuramaki-Brown says archaeology plays an important role filling in historical gaps. That means including the voices of women, but also of Indigenous People and children.

Read more about archaeology research

Designing smart cities

A “smart city” is less about technology than it is about improving people’s lives, says an AU researcher.

Digital technologies are the “core carrier” of a smart city, says Dr. Anshuman Khare, a professor of operations management in the Faculty of Business.

Read more about smart cities research

IDEA Lab redefines research through cloud technology

IDEA Lab isn’t a traditional university research lab because it isn’t a physical space. It represents a new way of doing research virtually using cloud computing and a first-in-Canada partnership between Athabasca University, Amazon Web Services, and RONIN. With IDEA Lab, AU researchers can investigate big problems with even bigger datasets to propel discovery and deliver results.

Read more about IDEA Lab

Harnessing technology to advance and enhance learning

Video games, AI, and phone apps are all great tools to help people learn, and to make learning accessible to more people. At AU, Canada’s open university, expert researchers are exploring how to use technology to enhance and encourage learning, how humans interact with technology, and the limits and ethical considerations that come into play. 

Read more about education and technology research

Protecting food, water, and ecosystems through research and technology

Sustainability is about finding ways to meet our needs for today and for the the future. For Indigenous communities in northern Alberta, it’s about protecting water and food sources that are under threat from industry so that future generations can practice traditional ways of living. It’s about understanding how environments and systems work, interact, and respond to emerging threats such as climate change. It’s about developing new technologies that can solve environmental problems at the local, regional, and global scale.

Read more about environmental research

Designing sustainable businesses and cities through research

Sustainability is also about ensuring that businesses look beyond profit and consider their role and obligations to the communities in which they operate and serve. It’s about designing communities and gathering spaces that serve the needs of today and tomorrow.

Read more about sustainability research

Discovering a flexible graduate experience

What does graduate student research look like at an online university? Like a rich and rewarding experience, say graduate researchers at AU, Canada’s open university. They work in the field and online, seeking answers to important questions in nursing, teaching, business, science and more.

Read more about grad student research