CFI Invests in U of G Research Leaders

April 14, 2014 - News Release

Two University of Guelph projects aimed at improving health and well-being in the workplace and animal welfare assessment practices received support today from the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI).

The announcement was made by Ed Holder, minister of state (science and technology). U of G will receive more than $240,000 from CFI’s John R. Evans Leaders Fund, intended to help universities attract and retain leading faculty and researchers. In total, CFI will provide more than $30.4 million in funding for research infrastructure at 32 universities across the country.

“The support of CFI truly makes a difference for our research leaders,” said John Livernois, interim vice-president (research).

“It provides them with the vital infrastructure that they need to excel, especially at translating knowledge into practical applications. It also means students will have access to state-of-the-art equipment.”

Livernois said the faculty members who received funding today “are representative of the excellence right across the University. Our colleges and departments are doing a great job of building long-term capacity for innovative research and training in Canada."

Psychology professors Maria Gloria Gonzalez-Morales and Leanne Son Hing, who is also a senior fellow in the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research’s Successful Societies program, received $124,933 to study stress and organizational support and improved health and well-being in the workforce.

Using the CFI funding and matching funds from the Ontario Ministry of Research and Innovation, they will build a Centre for Workers’ Health and Well-Being. Designed to simulate work environments, the centre will allow Gonzalez-Morales and Son Hing to collaborate on qualitative, experimental, longitudinal and interventionist research.

They will study beliefs about inequalities in resources and demands at work and how those beliefs affect group dynamics.

“As organizational psychologists, we are passionate about issues of work stress,” Gonzalez-Morales said. They aim to give organizations practical recommendations to improve workers’ health and well-being.

Prof. Tina Widowski, Animal and Poultry Science, will receive nearly $116,000 to study alternative housing such as free run, aviaries and enriched cages allowing hens to behave more naturally.

"News of this award is fantastic,” Widowski said. “Animal welfare has become an extremely important issue for everyone -- consumers, food retailers, animal producers, agricultural policy-makers.”

Although producers have moved away from battery cages, new poultry housing systems bring welfare problems of their own, such as higher risk of injuries, behavioural issues and poor health. The research team will determine causes and identify solutions.

“The technology and tools for measuring animal behaviour and welfare provided by this grant will enable us to keep up with the demand for science-based answers to some tough questions about the welfare of laying hens. It also ensures that our research output and our graduate training are world-class,” she said.

For media questions, contact Communications and Public Affairs: Lori Bona Hunt, 519-824-4120, Ext. 53338, or; or Kevin Gonsalves, Ext. 56982, or

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