Research teams land grants for three projects

Three research teams of which University of Northern British Columbia faculty are members have each secured $40,000 grants to pursue projects aimed at improving life in communities outside B.C.'s major centres.

UNBC environmental engineering professor Dr. Jianbing Li is leading an effort to develop a household water-treatment system for remote and rural communities.

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Along with Dr. Rehan Sadiq and Dr. Kasun Hewage of University of British Columbia-Okanagan, they aim to have a prototype that would remove common contaminants from rural water sources by the project's end.

UNBC geography professor Dr. Sarah De Leeuw, Thompson Rivers University social work professor Dr. Wendy Huklo and Dr. Kathy Rush, a professor in the UBCO's nursing program are assessing the impact wellness centres in Kelowna and Kamloops have had on older adults.

The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic will play a role in the study, said Hulko.

"One of the goals of these wellness centres was to get people connected to care, but we will have to find out how those services have been impacted by the pandemic and how the pandemic is impacting the ability of older adults to age in place," she said.

Dr. Davina Banner, a professor in UNBC's School of Nursing will collaborate in a project aimed at

developing a greater understanding of the mental-health impacts of climate-change events.

UBCO School of Nursing professor Dr. Nelly Oelke leads the project.

"Climate-change events can result in extreme physical and psychological trauma for vulnerable populations living in rural and remote communities," said Oelke. "PTSD, depression, anxiety, increased substance use and suicidality are all found to increase during and after problematic flooding, wildfires and drought, which are becoming more and more common in B.C. and around the world."

She said many of the approaches used to address mental health relating to natural disasters are also used in pandemics and the evidence-based solutions they develop will provide increased support to Indigenous peoples, people living in poverty, children and first responders.

The Interior University Research Coalition provided the grants, announced Monday.

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