The College

Research at JAC

John Abbott College encourages collaborative research: we welcome efforts from external researchers to foster relationships with our research community.

For further inquiries, please contact:

The Research Support Fund is an initiative from the Tri-agency Institutional Programs Secretariat: Canadian Institutes of Health Research,  Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council,   Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada, Canada Foundation for Innovation, Health Canada, and Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada.

The Research Support Fund aims to help off-set the financial  burden of the indirect costs of research supported by the Tri-Agencies (CIHR, SSHRC, and NSERC) that is placed on Canadian postsecondary institutions.
Indirect costs of research are the less obvious costs that an institution must incur when active in research. Examples of these costs would include the upgrade and maintenance of research equipment, salaries of personnel required to financially administer a research grant, support of a research ethics board, and the professional development of research-dedicated personnel.

For a complete list of eligible expenses allowed with the Research Support Fund, please follow this link:
John Abbott College will use its portion of the Research Support Fund ($27,532) solely for the support of Management and Administration; which includes the salaries and benefits of employees who support research at John Abbott College.



Research Ethics Board (REB)

Research Ethics Board Committee
Application Deadlines for Winter 2023

John Abbott College’s Research Ethics Board is scheduled to meet three times in the Winter semester 2023. For your research project to be reviewed by the REB this semester, your full application package must be received by email at by the deadlines outlined below.

Application Deadline

  • Thursday, January 19, 2023
  • Thursday, March 9, 2023
  • Thursday, April 13, 2023
  • Thursday, May 4, 2023

For Review by the REB

  • Friday, February 3, 2023
  • Friday, March 24, 2023
  • Friday, April 28, 2023
  • Friday, May 19, 2023

A full application package includes several different components. Only complete application packages will be considered. For more information and to receive forms, please contact

Research News

Congratulations to JAC Honours Science student Sabrina Du!

Sabrina was awarded a $1500 scholarship from OBVIA (L’Observatoire international sur les impacts sociétaux de l’IA et du numérique) for her project entitled “From Researcher to Consumer: Communicating Knowledge about AI to the Youth (CKAIY)”.

MITACS/FRQNT College-Level Research Internship Award

The John Abbott community is happy to announce that four students were awarded an incredible $ 5,000 scholarship for a summer internship in a research laboratory located in a college or university. This funding is supported by the Fonds de recherche du Québec – Nature et technologies (FRQNT) and Mitacs through the College-level Research Internship Award.

Lori Desnoyers-Garneau (Arts & Sciences) supervised by Dr. Donald Smith, McGill University
Sofia McVetty (Honours Science) supervised by Dr. Ashraf Ismail, McGill University
Julia Morzycki (Honours Science) supervised by Christophe Brun-Baronnat, CERASP
Annika Singh (Science) supervised by Dr. Younes Zerouali, JACOBB

Congratulations Lori, Sofia, Julia and Annika!

Improving Success of CEGEP Nursing Students with Simulation

Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue, Québec – January, 28, 2021. Announced by the Ministère de l’Enseignement supérieur at the end of 2020, researchers from Cégep Heritage College and John Abbott College were awarded a grant as part of the 2020-2021 call for projects within the Canada-Québec Agreement on Higher Education.

This project: Modifying Clinical to Simulation Ratio: The Impact on Québec Nursing Students’ Success, Cognitive Load and Mental Wellness is the hypothesis of Denyse April, RN, BScN, M.Ed and Nursing teacher of Cégep Heritage College along with Ute Beffert, RN BScN MEd. and Nursing Co-Chairperson and Jane Pearsall RN, BNSc., M.Ed and Nursing Instructor both of John Abbott College, all of whom will share in the execution of the project.

This 1-year grant of $182,430 has been extended due to the limitations imposed by COVID-19.

Project summary:
Diminishing numbers and availability of appropriate clinical placements has been a perennial challenge for nurse educators. As such, the use of high-fidelity simulation has been used to replace some in-hospital clinical experience hours over the past decade.
Recent research has shown that simulation appears to be a more concentrated and efficient teaching methodology compared to traditional hospital learning suggesting a 2:1 clinical to simulation ratio. Researchers April, Beffert and Pearsall plan to investigate how 8 hours of simulation (equivalent to one traditional clinical day) versus 4 hours of simulation will impact student success, while maintaining the connection to the multicultural aspects of the obstetrical clinical experience.
Additionally, insight into whether decreasing student workload through reduced simulation hours will have a positive effect on students’ mental health will be of major interest.



The John Abbott community came together on November 21 to celebrate research at the College.

For the 2016-2017 academic year, members of the College community have been awarded grants for research under the auspices of Entente Canada-Québec, FRQNT (Fonds de recherche du Québec – Nature et technologies), FRQSC (Fonds de recherche du Québec – Société et culture) and Indigenous Northern Affairs Canada for a total of $1,534,088 not including other grants for which we were not the principal applicant.

Seen on photo: faculty members who received grants and students who were involved in the projects.

Entente Canada-Québec (ECQ)

2017-2018 Entente Canada-Québec (ECQ) Awards

Chris Larnder

Project titleCollege physics labs using accelerometers
Description of project:
Currently in its 2nd year of funding through the ECQ, Chris has been developing a new set of laboratory activities in which students learn about physics and digital technology by working with accelerometers. These devices have recently become a standard element within our society’s rapidly-evolving digital communications ecosystem, supporting a wide variety of new features and technologies that affect the lives of our students on a daily basis. Some of the labs include spinning students’ cell phones on a turntable!


Liliya Nikolova, PhD

Project titleExploring active pedagogy and encouraging student engagement using tablets equipped with projectors
Description of project:
The ideal active leaning format of our engineering classes would be when students work in teams of 4; each teams drawing schematics, making calculations, and using diverse information (graphs, data sheets, etc.). Such a format works well in a specialized active learning room where students have access to SMART Boards- John Abbott College has only one such a classroom. We suggest an alternative to a achieving an active learning environment. An alternative, that would allow our students to benefit from an active leaning environment, is to provide each team of students with a tablet equipped with an integrated projector, such as a LEVENO Yoga Tab 3 Pro. This tablet/projector would allow each team of students to enter data, analyze results, and have rapid access to supporting documents; but more importantly it would project the students’ work on a surface such a wall; enabling teams to instantaneously and visually share their work with other student teams and the teacher. Our aim is that by offering our students this integrated device, we would improve students’ classroom experience, promote deeper learning, boost students’ critical thinking, provide faster feedback from teacher, and increase academic success. We propose to test these integrated devices in the classroom with our student teams and to choose, test, and develop the best on-line platform(s) that would provide the best vehicle for a re-design of the in-class learning activities.


Tara Walker and Mary Rupnik

Project titleSandbox Innovation and Social Entrepreneurship Centre
Description of project:
The Sandbox is a student-centric extra-curricular project focused on developing innovation and social entrepreneurship at John Abbott College. The mission is to engage students from all disciplines in a problem-solving process for real-world problems where students participate in non-credit activities, develop projects and gain experience. Through the Sandbox students develop many skills including leadership, problem-solving, entrepreneurship, project management, peer coaching, public speaking while fostering innovation, growing creativity and building engagement with our school, the community and the world. The Sandbox enriches students’ college experience and provides an opportunity for advanced, independent and non-traditional learners alike to directly apply classroom learning to projects that the students themselves create and develop. The Sandbox is a space to work together, be creative and play with ideas while benefiting from tech and knowledge resources, mentorship, showcasing opportunities and relationships with the external community.
In line with the Ministry objectives, the Sandbox connects learning opportunities with cross-disciplinary collaborations to develop student skills in this era of fast and profound change.

Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC)

Two Grants Awarded to JAC Biology Teacher

Simon Daoust, JAC Biology teacher, has been awarded two grants for the promotion of science by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC).

The PromoScience grant supports organizations working with young Canadians to promote an understanding of science and engineering. Hands-on learning for students and teachers alike is the focus of this grant.

The second grant from NSERC is a PromoScience Supplement for Science Literacy Week.

Science Literacy Week, held from September 17 to 23, 2018, is a week-long celebration of science and space throughout Canada presented in partnership with the Canadian Space Agency.

The Fonds de recherche du Québec - Nature et technologies (FRQNT)


The Fonds de recherche du Québec – Nature et technologies (FRQNT) Awarded to 2 John Abbott College students

The John Abbott community is happy to announce that Mathieu De Bellefeuille (Double DEC : Science and Social Science) and Daniel Palladino (Science) who were both awarded an incredible $ 5,000 scholarship for a summer internship in a research laboratory located in a college or university by the Fonds de recherche du Québec – Nature et technologies (FRQNT).

The purpose of the summer college internship program is to encourage college, government and technology transfer centre (CCTT) students to learn about the world of research in one of the areas covered by the FRQNT.


Research Grant Awarded to JAC Physics Teacher


Congratulations to Chris Larnder of the John Abbott College Physics department.

He was awarded a research grant from FRQNT’s Programme de recherche pour les chercheurs de collège for his project entitled “Accelerometer-based inference of constrained motions”.


“Accelerometer sensors, originally developed in the 1960’s to provide inertial-navigation capabilities for aircraft, ships and spacecraft, have now, with the advent of micro-electromechanical (MEMS) technology, become ubiquitous low-cost components providing motion-sensing capability in a wide variety of areas. In the field of biomedical applications alone, a partial list includes behavioural biometrics; gesture recognition; surgical skills; detection of gait disorders; iOT-enabled systems for rehabilitation, assisted living and elderly care; and physiological monitoring.

The challenge for researchers lies no longer in the collection of the data but in its interpretation. One fundamental difficulty is the separation of the gravitational contribution to the accelerometer signal. This is often alleviated by the addition of a gyroscope to the system. Typically, the gyroscope is used to detect changes in orientation and the accelerometer is relegated to the detection of changes in linear velocity. The analysis is still vulnerable to another widely-recognized problem, viz. the drift error that accumulates when the orientation or position of an object is reconstructed through single or double- integration techniques.

For completely arbitrary unconstrained motions, such as in the free motion of an aircraft, there is no means of overcoming these limitations. However, when there are known constraints imposed on the motion paths, they can be exploited in the reconstruction of the remaining degrees of freedom. Although this can reduce error and problem complexity, there does not appear to be a systematic study of such strategies. A simple starting point is a circular-motion investigation that demonstrates, without the use of gyroscopes, the ability to recover both the radial and angular position of accelerometers with respect to the axis of rotation. This contrasts with gyroscope-free techniques for unconstrained motions which requires anywhere from 12 to 18 accelerometers for a single body.

In the proposed project, we will identify and explore simple low-degree-of-freedom systems that are sufficiently constrained so as to allow the motion to be fully and reliably inferred using only a single 3-axis accelerometer. The development of such techniques also promises broad applicability as a low-level classification layer in machine-learning (ML) architectures for motion in complex systems such as the human body. Recognizing that traditional ML systems suffer from inflexibility and poor transfer to related domains, there is increasing interest in hybrid systems that incorporate domain-specific knowledge. Automated detection or ruling-out of simple low-level constraints in a motion signal can serve as a universal feature extractor converting a complex time series into a low-dimensional feature vector, into a single classification or some type of interval-dependent qualifier. Different deep networks specialized for distinct application domains can re-use the same early stage, thus decreasing development time, increasing learning transfer opportunities and comprehensibility of the internal representations.


Research Grant Awarded to JAC Math Teacher


Congratulations to Ferenc Balogh of the John Abbott College Mathematics department. He was awarded a research grant from the Fonds de recherche du Québec – Nature et technologies (FRQNT).

Ferenc’s research project: “Asymptotiques des statistiques des valeurs propres dans les matrices aléatoires planaires“, proposes to include two JAC students to help in this research project.


“A random matrix is an array of random numbers drawn from a prescribed probability distribution. The classical models of Hermitian random matrices are defined by densities on the space of Hermitian matrices that are invariant under the action of the unitary group.

The statistics of Hermitian matrices are well understood: the correlation functions of their eigenvalues are expressible in terms of orthogonal polynomials, and their asymptotic expansion in the large matrix size limit is governed by the equilibrium measure that minimizes the energy in an electrostatic variational problem. The supports of the orthogonality measure and the equilibrium measure are both real when the model is Hermitian. The eigenvalues behave like electrically charged particles on the real line, and by this analogy one can use them to model various systems with a built-in repulsion between its components, like the distribution of cars parked on a street, perched birds on a wire, the departure times of autobuses in a self-managing transport network, or the boarding times of passengers of an aircraft.

Thanks to the Riemann-Hilbert method, developed by Deift and Zhou, it is possible to find the asymptotic expansions of the orthogonal polynomials which may be used to obtain universal limits of the correlation functions in different scaling limits, which only depend on the underlying symmetries of the model. My research work focuses on the relation between the asymptotics of orthogonal polynomials and the equilibrium measures for planar random matrix models for which the eigenvalues are not confined to the real axis. These models are motivated by their potential applications to phenomena on land or sea where a repulsive force is present between the components of a system.

The Riemann-Hilbert approach for Hermitian matrices is not directly applicable to planar matrix models, a general method to get the asymptotic expansions of the correlation functions is yet to be found. To date, this problem is solved only in a handful of very special examples.

With my previous work on the subject as starting point, I propose the present project using various techniques from potential theory, conformal mappings, orthogonal polynomials, quadrature domains, and Fredholm determinants to find new universal statistical laws for planar random matrices.


The Fonds de recherche du Québec – Nature et technologies (FRQNT) Award – 2 Winners from John Abbott College

First year students Zoë Deskin and David Toharia have each been selected to receive a $5000 summer internship award from the Fonds de recherche du Québec – Nature et technologies (FRQNT).

Zoë is an Arts and Sciences student with an interest in conservation ecology and environmental science. This award will allow her to work in Professor Jacqueline Bede’s laboratory at McGill University (Macdonald Campus) for 10 weeks this summer on: Plant-Insect Interactions: The impact of herbivory on the expression of plant defensive compounds.

David is an Honours Science student and will be working in Professor Peter Grutter’s Physics lab at McGill (downtown campus) on: The development of machine learning approaches to find and determine the position and radius of rings in images. This opportunity will allow him to pursue his passion for Physics.

Dr. Roberta Šilerová and Dr. Simon Daoust were instrumental in finding the stage locations and participated in the selection process along with Teresa Hackett (JAC Research Officer) and Joanne Ross (Program Deans’ Office). Forty- four JAC students responded to the call for this award. Congratulations to Zoë and David. They will be back at JAC in the fall – ask them about their experience!



Liliya Nikolova, PhD

Project TitleUse of touchscreen computers for in-class active learning activities
Description of project:
The project will explore the use of touch screen computers as an alternative to smart boards for students during in-class active learning activities. Two core courses in the Engineering Technologies program, Applied Physics and Thermodynamics, will be involved. These classes are primarily theoretical. Using touch screen computers will allow students to refine their problem skills and develop their critical thinking ability.

Caroline Viger
Project titleTeam teaching winter semester Physics NYA to improve student success
Description of project: The project aims to develop a learning resource program that provides in-class tutoring support for struggling students, which, in turn, supports the implementation of active learning activities and universal design strategies in a Physics NYA course.

Research Data Management (RDM)

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