Participant Profiles (2017-2018)

Madhur Anand
Environmental Sciences, University of Guelph
Host: Eberhard Karls Universität Tübingen

Coupled Human-Vegetation Dynamics: A Comparison of Modelling Approaches

Fostering sustainability requires understanding the complex, nonlinear, two-way feedback loops between human systems (e.g., individuals, societies, businesses, and governments) and environment systems (e.g., ecological systems such as forests, grasslands, and savannahs). However, most research to date has been conducted from the perspective of a single discipline, and thus has typically focused either on human systems or environment systems in isolation from one another. As a result, this work has ignored the two-way coupling between human and environment systems: changes in environment systems can influence human behaviour and vice versa. Because of this knowledge gap, a valuable role is emerging for mathematical and computational models of coupled human-environment systems. We will examine several of the vegetation dynamics systems under study in both my lab and the Tielbörger lab and develop coupled human-environment models that reflect how humans and both positively and negatively affect ecosystem dynamics. Results will lead to better management of these systems.


Sebastian Ferrando
Mathematics, Ryerson University
Host: Universität Konstanz

Construction of Trajectorial Market Models

The canonical way of looking at future events is through the lens of probability and, therefore, using the language of expected values. In particular, this point of view is used in modern financial mathematics for model construction. A novel alternative to model such markets is through a worst case point of view, an approach that, contrary to false preconceptions, has proven to capture key basic concepts required for modeling financial markets such as no-arbitrage and pricing. Significantly, this point of view is also capable of reconstructing market prices accurately. One way to render practical such point of view is through the construction of trajectory based models. We propose to construct such models by means of observable and relevant market features to be used to constraint, and thus also to define, a set of possible future trajectories, or event scenarios. Conclusions based on such approach are robust, i.e. independent on probabilistic assumptions, and empirically relevant as they reflect prices that result from investors’ behaviors and exhaustive historical conditions. The fitting of such models to market data will be empirically studied, positive results of the investigation will provide the risk-reward profile of such robust models.


Stanimir Metchev
Physics and Astronomy, University of Western Ontario
Host: Ruprecht-Karls-Universität Heidelberg

Architectures and Weather in Exoplanetary Systems

A collaboration between Dr. Metchev from the Centre for Planetary Science and Exploration at the University of Western Ontario and Dr. Quirrenbach from the Centre for Astronomy at Heidelberg University will pursue a two-pronged approach to solving outstanding problems in extrasolar planetary astronomy. On one hand, the teams of the two university professors will join efforts in a combined survey of extrasolar planetary systems, and will focus on tracing the evolution of planetary system architectures. The results from this project will create a detailed context for the evolutionary state of the present-day Solar System. In particular, the findings will elucidate whether the present-day dynamical stability of the Solar System is a rare phenomenon, and so potentially uniquely enabling the long-term survival of life. On the other hand, the two teams will use the joint capabilities of the cutting-edge telescope facilities available separately to Canadian and German astronomers to conduct an unprecedentedly detailed investigation of extrasolar weather phenomena. The results from this study will be highly relevant to the future assessment of potentially habitable environments on extrasolar planets.


Liam O'Brien
Civil and Environmental Engineering, Carleton University
Host: Karlsruher Institut für Technologie

Exploration of Context Dependence on Building Occupant Behaviour

Occupant behaviour is one of the most influential aspects of building energy performance. However, occupant behaviour is poorly understood by both researchers and practitioners (e.g., architects, engineers, building operators, etc.). Several dozen researchers worldwide, including Dr. O’Brien, Dr. Wagner, and Dr. Schweiker, are focused on developing statistically representative models to predict how building occupants interact with building systems. But the data for doing so is scarce and relatively expensive and time-consuming to collect. The proposed research shall compare two methods for occupant data collection: in an office-like laboratory environment (at KIT) and in a real office environment (at Carleton). The hypothesis is that occupants will behave significantly differently in a laboratory because they: 1) are not accustomed to the environment, 2) are aware of the experiment, and 3) they do not face as many work-related stressors. Using facilities at each university, an experiment will be developed and conducted to test this hypothesis. The workflow to convert measured occupant behaviour into models will also be explored. Moreover, the opportunities to improve laboratory research methods to better resemble real buildings will be explored. The models from each data source (i.e., lab and in situ offices) will be simulated in a research-grade simulation tool.


Carole Orchard
Nursing, University of Western Ontario
Host: Ruprecht-Karls-Universität Heidelberg

Measuring Interprofessional Socializaton, Valuing and Teamwork across Borders

The purpose of this faculty bilateral exchange between the University of Western Ontario and the University of Heidelberg is to study two promising interprofessional education and collaboration instruments developed in Ontario, Canada and translated into German for use in the Baden-Wurttemberg region of Germany. And furthermore to work collaboratively to explore strategies to study subsequently in shifting the predominant health care delivery to interprofessional collaborative client-centred practice. The newly translated version of the “Interprofessional Socialization and Valuing Scale” (ISVS-21 German) and data gathered using the existing “Assessment of Interprofessional Team Collaboration Scale” (AITCS-II German) will be assessed for their psychometric properties, allowing cross cultural and international comparison in their ongoing use. Thirdly, this research visit and exchange will support the overarching goal of gaining insight in interprofessional activities in education and practice settings in both university locations to enable sharing of key knowledge and findings. The exchange will further support the IP research field at both the University of Western Ontario and the University Heidelberg and help expand existing IP initiatives for faculty and staff in both sites. A long-term aim of this partnership is also to facilitate interprofessional student exchange opportunities.


Elke Winter
Sociology and Anthropology, University of Ottawa / Université d'Ottawa
Host: Ruprecht-Karls-Universität Heidelberg

The Importance of Civil Society Actors for (Syrian) Refugee Settlement in Comparative Perspective: Motivations, Structures, and Consequences

In light of the arrival of Syrian refugees, local structures in Germany and Canada are adapting to meet the challenge of integrating the newcomers. In both countries, civil society actors are becoming more and more important. Taking stock of the changes in the non-government sector in two mid-size cities, Ottawa and Heidelberg, this project examines 1) the reasons that motivate private citizens to become engaged as volunteers, 2) the ways in which these motivations are channeled into specific social activities and how this changes the landscape of civic society structures, and 3) the impacts/consequences that these new forms of volunteering and civil engagement have upon the integration of refugee populations on both sides of the Atlantic. Proposing a cross-national approach, the project pays particular attention to the ways in which national identities/founding myths and historically grown institutions shape the ways in which individuals and community associations become engaged/(self-)organize assistance for refugees.