BU awarded record number of federal Insight Grants

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Brandon University (BU) researchers are studying the opioid crisis, online pricing, and Indigenous traditional knowledge with support from federal Insight Grants announced on Tuesday.

The project leads, Drs. Ariane Hanemaayer, Patricia Harms and Hejun Zhuang will receive a total of more than $275,000 in funding from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) over the next three years. The three funded projects mark the most Insight Grants awarded to BU researchers in a single competition year.

Head and shoulders photo
Hejun Zhuang is looking at price dispersion and consumer behaviour in online vs. in-store shopping.

“I am elated to see this outstanding level of SSHRC support for our researchers,” said Dr. Heather Duncan, Associate Vice-President (Research) BU. “We’ve always been proud of the work done by our researchers, and this level of success in attracting funding shows that our faculty are answering questions that are of great importance to Canadians.”

Dr. Hanemaayer, of BU’s Department of Sociology, will receive $166,586 for her project, “Opioid Crisis: History, Science, Regulation.” She notes that countries regulate pain management in different ways despite basing their policies on the same research. By studying the relationships between pain science and policy management in Canada, the United Kingdom and the United States, she will illustrate how their differing approaches shape their effectiveness and failures in opioid use and treatment.

Dr. Zhuang has been granted $59,951 to conduct her research project, “Online Versus Offline Price Dispersion: Do Store Familiarity and Consumer Search Cost Matter?” A member of the Department of Business Administration, Dr. Zhuang is examining why prices for the same or similar products can vary greatly online, in some cases more than it varies between stores. She notes that the competition of online shopping was expected to result in less price dispersion. Dr. Zhuang is analyzing how consumers’ familiarity with a store may make them more likely to shop at online retailers that they know and trust, as well as how the time they might spend comparing, or the consumer search cost, could prevent them from looking for lower prices.

“Recovering the Past, Creating the Future,” is a collaboration between Garden Hill Elder Norman Wood and BU scholars Drs. Harms (History) and Serena Petrella (Sociology). Supported by a grant of $49,154, this initiative will work to preserve community oral histories. Mino Bimaadiziwin (or living a good life) prioritizes cultural elements such as language, Indigenous knowledge and inter-generational connections. As Treaty people, this collaboration between Elders and academics addresses several critical elements of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s calls to action in the pursuit of self-determination and decolonization.

A woman stands in the doorway of a brick building with a dog sitting beside her
Ariane Hanemaayer is studying the different ways that countries use and regulate opioids in medical treatment.

“These projects are indicative of the tremendous range of work in the humanities at BU,” said Dr. Reinhold Kramer, Acting Dean of Arts at BU.

“Each takes a unique look at important issues of the day, in health, business and reconciliation, and will provide us with valuable insight that will help to show us the way to move forward.”

The Insight Grants were part of a larger announcement by the Honourable François-Philippe Champagne, Canada’s Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry, with the theme of “Supporting BIG Ideas.”

“We’re very proud of the big ideas that are born right here at Brandon University,” said Dr. Steve Robinson, Vice-President (Academic & Provost) at BU. “We have an outstanding faculty that are doing work that ranks with the best research across Canada and globally. I commend our Insight Grant recipients on this success, and I’m excited to see the outcome of their research.”


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