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UWindsor Professor Charlene Senn is the new Canada Research Chair in Sexual Violence, the Government of Canada announced.UWindsor Professor Charlene Senn is the new Canada Research Chair in Sexual Violence, the Government of Canada announced.

Work against sexual violence earns Canada Research Chair for UWindsor professor

Charlene Senn’s goal is to empower women.

The University of Windsor professor has devoted her professional life to arming women with the knowledge and tools they need to better protect themselves against sexual violence without limiting their freedom.

And it’s that work that has led to her appointment as the Canada Research Chair in this field of study.

“During my undergraduate degree I really didn’t know what I was going to do and had always thought about careers like medicine or dentistry,” Dr. Senn said.

“But as I took more courses, and experienced things in my own life, I became more politically and socially interested in working on issues related to violence against woman.”

Senn’s first job after her Bachelor of Science degree at the University of Calgary was at the Calgary Women’s Emergency Shelter. There she worked on the frontline of crisis counselling for women escaping violence.

“When talking to these women, sexual abuse or sexual assault usually came up much later in the process,” Senn said.

“In some ways, it’s easier to talk about physical assaults when you can point to a bruise, but the other stuff takes longer to be comfortable talking about.”

Senn’s first foray into research was through studying the impact of pornography on women’s lives.

She said a lot of the existing research had focused on pornography’s effect on men and their callousness towards women.

“A lot of the women I talked to were talking about something much more immediate,” Senn said.

“They were being forced to watch it and their sexual abuse was being turned into pornography.

“I realized that this is research that didn’t exist and was something that needed to be done.”

Senn started her master’s degree in experimental psychology at the University of Calgary where she conducted a study that identified that there were negative effects of viewing pornography for women due to the dehumanizing and violent content of the images.

After pursuing this research during her doctorate at York University, Senn said many presumed she was pro-censorship or opposed to sexual imagery because she was anti-pornography, neither of which was the case.

“And so, I started to do research on sexual assault more generally,” Senn said.

“At first it was on predictors of men’s sexual coercion and then eventually that grew into what my current research is.”

Senn said she became interested in going beyond identifying problems and describing them, but instead actively working to develop solutions.

“I was looking at research on prevention programs for men but basically the effectiveness seemed far away,” Senn said.

“And so, it made sense to me that if we don’t have a solution yet for how to stop men from perpetrating, we could educate women with information that could help them in those situations.”

Dr. Charlene Senn is now looking to expand the Enhanced Assess, Acknowledge, Act program on campuses across North America and around the world.

Dr. Charlene Senn is now looking to expand the Enhanced Assess, Acknowledge, Act program on campuses across North America and around the world.

Using theories and evidence synthesized by other prominent sexual violence researchers Patricia Rozee and Mary Koss, Senn developed a sexual assault resistance education program for women in the first year of university when their risk is the highest.

Senn’s Enhanced Assess, Acknowledge, Act (EAAA) program affirms men’s responsibility to stop rape while empowering female students with knowledge and skills to fight back against men’s sexualized violence.

She said the goal was to empower women to trust themselves and their sense that something was going wrong in an interaction and take action to defend their sexual rights. In new or established sexual relationships, the program had a second goal, to empower women to be an equal sexual partner whose desires matter so that they are knowledgeable about their own relationship and sexual values and are able to initiate sex if they want. Senn said this also has benefits for resisting sexual coercion. 

“The surer you are of your own sexual desires and values, the quicker you will be able to identify when someone is pressuring you to do something you’re not comfortable with.”

The effectiveness of this program was demonstrated in a Canadian Institutes of Health Research-funded randomized controlled trial in which the one-year incidence of attempted and completed rape was reduced by 50 per cent in women who took the intervention compared to the control group.

Senn’s research now focuses on studying and enhancing the effectiveness and implementation of the EAAA as it is rolled out on campuses across North America and around the world.

A post-doctoral fellow will be joining Senn’s team to fully adapt the EAAA program for younger girls in high school and in the community.

“We are already working in collaboration with scholars in the U.S. and New Zealand,” Senn said.

“We’re now changing some of the scenarios in the program to cater them specifically for these groups.”

And while the results from the program demonstrate its effectiveness, Senn said hearing from participants emphasizes its importance.

“A young woman who identified as a rape survivor in Calgary wrote to me to say this program had given her freedom back,” Senn said.

“It’s about looking forward, not looking back, and moving onwards with confidence.”

Senn hopes that her research, in combination with efforts of other researchers, activists, and educators, will contribute to the goal of ending violence against women and girls.​

By Dylan Kristy

literal soapboxSoapbox Science will see 12 women scientists describe their research, Saturday, May 12, on the UWindsor campus.

Women to step on soapbox to promote science

Twelve female scientists will get a chance to command Windsor audiences this weekend, as they stand atop soapboxes and describe their research in a fun, public, and interactive way during Soapbox Science Windsor.

The event is part of an international project to bring science to the people and challenge gender stereotypes in science careers. It will transform a public area into an arena for public learning and scientific debate as women scientists share their research in medicine, physics, biology, computer science, psychology, and artificial intelligence.

The three-hour event on Saturday, May 12, will see four scientists speaking concurrently for one hour on their individual soapboxes. Each hour, four new researchers take their turn in a rotation.

Windsor’s organizer Rosa-Maria Ferraiuolo, biology research associate, participated in Soapbox Science Toronto 2017, the first-ever Canadian event.

“It was one of the best experiences I had speaking about my research,” says Dr. Ferraiuolo. “With such fantastic research going on in Windsor, it’s important to showcase the talent and the research we have right here at home and now we’ll get to hear from 12 spectacular women from the University of Windsor and Windsor Regional Hospital, who are doing fantastic work and are changing lives daily.”

The speakers and their discussion topics are:

  • Kalyani Selvarajah – Artificial intelligence in social network analysis for knowledge extraction
  • Ikjot Saini – Smart connected vehicles
  • Bre-Anne Fifield – When good cells go bad
  • Julia Borsatto – Breaking Barriers: Communication without words
  • Megan Mickle – Noise pollution impacts on Laurentian Great Lakes fish species
  • Chitra Rangan – Illuminating the Nanoworld: Light in nanotechnology and medicine
  • Dan Xiao – Women in hard-core science
  • Dorota Lubanska – Brain cancer therapy in the works: The third dimension
  • Barbara Zielinski – This vampire needs a nose
  • Ingrid Qemo – Reverting cells to stem cells
  • Sindu Kanjeekal – Genetic signatures and cancer
  • Caroline Hamm – progress in cancer research

UWindsor’s Soapbox Science event will be held from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, May 12, outdoors between Essex Hall and the CAW Student Centre. It is supported by the University of Windsor Alumni Association. Follow Soapbox Science Windsor on Twitter.

Sara Elliott

“A Moral History of Objects”Philosophy professor Jeff Noonan and photographer Douglas MacLellan will launch their collaborative work “A Moral History of Objects” on Tuesday.

Reading to launch poetry-photo collaboration

UWindsor philosophy professor Jeff Noonan will read from and discuss his four-part poem, coupled with images by photographer Douglas MacLellan in “A Moral History of Objects,” Tuesday, May 8, at One Ten Park.

MacLellan contributed a series of photographs of broken things — artifacts that began as parts of automobiles and machines, manufactured to serve definite purposes.

“Left exposed in ways never intended, the surfaces are unintentionally sculpted by corrosive forces,” Dr. Noonan says. “Their raw materiality is beautiful: a joint work of the labourers who created the original thing, the physical force of the accidents that destroyed those things, and natural forces operating without consciousness.”

Both members of the collaborative team will be on hand at Tuesday’s launch; copies of the work will be available for purchase. The event, 7 p.m. in the working space located at 110 Park Street West, is part of the MayWorks labour arts festival. Among its sponsors are the Windsor University Faculty Association and Local 1393 of the Canadian Union of Public Employees.

robot hand holding lightbulbThe Innovative Design for Accessibility student competition aims to create communities that are more accessible for persons with disabilities.

Competition invites ideas for accessibility

Submissions are now open in the Innovative Design for Accessibility (IDeA) student competition, which aims to inspire students to use their creativity to develop innovative, cost-effective, and practical solutions to accessibility-related issues.

Students must present a solution to address one of the following accessibility barriers: attitudinal, organizational and systemic, architectural and physical, information and communication, or technological. The program offers prizes of up to $2,000 in each category.

Find more information on the Universities Canada website.

The deadline to enter is May 31 and the first step in the process is to have a University representative nominate a student submission. Denice Shuker, accessibility and human tights manager in the Office of Human Rights and Equity and Accessibility, is co-ordinating UWindsor nominations.

To indicate interest in participating, contact her at or 519-253-3000, ext. 2046.

driverless vehicleThe University of Windsor is a partner in Ontario’s Autonomous Vehicle Innovation Network.

Windsor takes steering wheel to drive vehicle innovation

The University of Windsor is a partner in one of six Regional Technology Development Sites across Ontario as part of the Autonomous Vehicle Innovation Network (AVIN) project, building on the province’s position as a globally-leading automotive manufacturing jurisdiction to reinforce its role as a leader in transformative automotive technologies, as well as transportation systems and supporting infrastructure.

Ontario Centres of Excellence announced Tuesday that the Southwestern Ontario Region, focusing on vehicle cybersecurity and cross-border technologies, will receive up to $5 million over the next five years to support small and medium sized enterprises in developing and validating new technologies, accessing specialized equipment, and obtaining technical and business advice.

“Long-term success in the global economy requires leading in the disruptive technologies that are revolutionizing the way we live, work and travel,” said Steven Del Duca, minister of economic development and growth. “That’s what the Autonomous Vehicle Innovation Network does — it weaves together Ontario’s unique talents in automotive, high-tech and advanced manufacturing.”

The University is proud to partner with the Windsor Essex Economic Development Corporation and others in the region to fuel the evolution of smart mobility solutions, said Heather Pratt, executive director for research and development in the Office of Research and Innovation Services.

“This is a way to leverage expertise in a number of fields to advance efficiencies in transportation and related infrastructure,” she said. “It will help to secure our place in the emerging industries of the future.”

Read the full announcement.

Current carries news of aquatic collaboration

A collaborative research project at the University of Windsor is starting to make waves.

The Council of the Great Lakes Region featured the Real-time Aquatic Ecosystem Observation Network (RAEON) in its semi-annual magazine The Current.

RAEON is led by University of Windsor professor and Tier 1 Canada Research Chair in Changing Great Lakes Ecosystems Aaron Fisk.

“RAEON will support comprehensive and multidisciplinary research to understand and manage the Great Lakes and will be a reference for researchers worldwide who are investigating freshwater ecosystems,” Dr. Fisk said.

The Current tells stories about the Great Lakes' ongoing transformation into a global destination for discovery, investment and trade.

Click here for more information about the RAEON and to read the article in The Current.

Josh Allen, Mary BrownlieSelf-defence instructor Mary Brownlie (right) demonstrates a release technique using a kubaton keychain weapon on Sandwich Secondary student Josh Allen during the zombie survival field trip to the UWindsor campus Friday.

University disciplines demonstrate anti-apocalypse utility

The University of Windsor offers a lot of valuable skills to survive a zombie attack, students from local high schools learned during a field trip to campus Friday.

About 70 Grade 11 and 12 students attended workshops highlighting various academic disciplines, explains organizer Lydia Miljan, professor of political science and chair of the interdisciplinary arts and science program.

“We introduce them as survivors of a zombie apocalypse, touring the campus to learn how to: source food, live without communication technology, diagnose the zombie bug, engage in self-defence training, blend in as a zombie, create civil society, and even understand why popular culture is so interested in zombies,” she says.

UWindsor students took on zombie personae to shuffle after the visitors, adding a mock-spooky note to the scenario.

Emma Gregoire, a Grade 11 student at École secondaire E.J. Lajeunesse, said the theme made for an exciting experience.

“The whole aspect of a zombie survival day sounded interesting,” she said as she practised self-defence techniques in the Education Gym. “A lot of the information presented today has been really useful.”

person typingThe public is invited to attend the launch Wednesday of the Community Labour Market Plan.

Pitt-Ferry Building to host launch of Community Labour Market Plan

Workforce WindsorEssex will unveil its 2018 Community Labour Market Plan at 10:30 a.m. on Wednesday, May 9, in room 306, Pitt-Ferry Building.

The document provides an update on the local labour market, demographics, and industry. As a local employment planning council, Workforce WindsorEssex is responsible for the development, retention, and recruitment of a wide range of skilled workers to meet the region’s current and future economic and social development needs.

Jennie Atkins, acting director of the Centre for Executive and Professional Education, says she looks forward to welcoming leaders from the City of Windsor, County of Essex, and WindsorEssex Economic Development Corporation.

“We are thrilled to provide the venue for this launch event. Workforce WindsorEssex is a very important community partner, as we work closely with them to develop programming to address the skills needs of employers and the labour market,” she says. “The Community Labour Market Plan, in particular, guides us to identify potential programs and collaborative opportunities.”

The public is invited to attend the launch; following a media presentation, research staff will be providing a detailed walk through of the document.