Current projects and research on COVID-19

Posted on Monday, January 4, 2021

Microscopic view of COVID-19

This page is a collection of current research projects at the Faculty of Social Sciences that relate to the COVID-19 pandemic and its impacts. The information on this page is in English; you will find projects in French on the French version of this page.

If you are currently conducting research and would like your project to appear on this page, please write to Mireille.Brownhill@uOttawa.ca.


Andrea Ashbaugh - Psychology

Led by Professor Ashbaugh, the research team at the Cognition and Anxiety Studies Laboratory at the School of Psychology is conducting a study examining the impact of moral decision making during the COVID-19 pandemic on people’s well-being.


Stephen Baranyi - International Development and Global Studies &
Dominique Masson - Feminist and Gender Studies

Professors Masson and Baranyi will play key roles in the seven year Engendering Disability-Inclusive Development (EDID) project led by Guelph University professor Deborah Stienstra.

Key roles for uOttawa profs in new SSHRC-funded partnership project


Chris Bruckert and Emma McKenna, Criminology

COVID-19, Social Safety Nets, and Sex Work in the Capital Region 

This project investigates the struggles, resilience, and resistance of sex workers in the Ottawa-Gatineau area during the COVID-19 pandemic. In collaboration with POWER, this bilingual research project will assess barriers to sex workers’ ability to access social safety nets. While much has been written about the Criminal Code’s effect on sex workers’ rights, there is an absence of scholarship that focuses on more mundane public policies, for instance tax law and Employment Insurance (EI) regulations. Establishing sex workers’ access to the Canadian Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) and EI in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic will begin to address this gap and inform future policy and activism.


Nathalie Burlone & Eric Champagne - Political Studies & Centre on Governance

Professors Burlone and Champagne, in collaboration with colleagues from the Université de Sherbrooke and McGill University, are participating in a CIHR-funded research project to study the links between communications, public health and psychology during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The study is titled "Adaptive Responses of Public Actors in the Context of the COVID-19 Pandemic Crisis".

Research project on COVID-19 awarded CIHR funding

First Report on the WHO Global Response to COVID-19

The WHO’s risky communication strategy created confusion around COVID-19


Jude Mary Cénat - Psychology


Patrick Fafard - Public and International Affairs

Professor Fafard, who is also Associate Director of the Global Strategy Lab, received funding from the Government of Canada that will enable his team to develop public health intervention strategies to mitigate the spread of infectious diseases in Canada and elsewhere.

Patrick Fafard receives funding from Canada to fight COVID-19

Communication about COVID-19 from Canadian provincial chief medical officers of health: a qualitative study

Public health and political science: challenges and opportunities for a productive partnership


Christopher Fennell - Psychology

Professor Fennell, director of the Language Development Laboratory, is conducting a study in collaboration with an international team to examine the effect of the COVID-19 lockdown on language development in infants and young toddlers. Decades of research have shown that increased exposure to parental speech advances early language development while increased exposure to screens has negative effects. In this unique modern period where parents and young children spending all their time together, will we see a vocabulary surge due to increased parental contact?

Study: Social isolation due to COVID-19 and vocabulary development: Insights from families with varying social backgrounds

COVID-19 first lockdown as a unique window into language acquisition: What you do(with your child) matters


Thomas Juneau - Public and International Affairs

The COVID-19 pandemic and its implications for the Canadian national security and intelligence community

The role of Canada’s intelligence and national security community has been widely debated since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Some describe its emergence as an intelligence failure or a failure of early warning. Others, however, note that the role of intelligence and national security in health matters is and should remain limited. It is also clear that traditional national security threats are evolving rapidly during the pandemic. There are concerns, in particular, about the rise of extremist violence as well as cyber-attacks and disinformation. Our project will study these urgent questions: should Canadian intelligence agencies engage in “health intelligence”? Do they have the tools and mandates to do so, without compromising the law and the privacy of Canadians? How are threats evolving, and what are the challenges in countering them in a pandemic?


Cary Kogan - Psychology

This CIHR-funded study, led by Professor Kogan and his partners at Columbia University (Professor G. Reed) and the Canadian Institute for Health Information (Dr. K. Denny), is a large international collaborative investigation that will assess the longitudinal impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on mental health practitioners and mental health practice. Emerging data document the immediate consequences of confronting the COVID-19 pandemic on health professionals, which may include anxiety, depression, insomnia, and overall distress including fear of contracting COVID-19 and infecting others. A detailed survey will be implemented in six languages through the World Health Organisation's (WHO) Global Clinical Practice Network (GCPN). The GCPN is the largest, most diverse international practice-based research network ever established, comprising over 15,500 clinicians from 159 countries.

Register for GCP.Network


Patrick Leblond - Public and International Affairs

The CN-Paul M. Tellier Chair on Business and Public Policy, with the support of a committee of expert consultants, is investigating how the governments of Canada, Ontario and Quebec cooperated with the business community to manage the COVID-19 crisis. Using media reports, interviews with government officials, and documentary evidence, Canada’s performance will be compared with countries that are deemed to have managed the pandemic relatively well: Australia, New Zealand and Switzerland. Ultimately, a policy brief and video summary will accompany a research report providing recommendations for improving business-government cooperation in preparation for future sanitary or environmental crises.


Alex McClelland - Criminology

Sociolegal researcher and Banting Postdoctoral Fellow Alex McClelland launched the Policing the Pandemic Mapping Project on April 4, 2020 "to track and visualize the massive and extraordinary expansions of police power in response to the COVID-19 Pandemic and the unequal patterns of enforcement that may arise as a result."

Policing the Pandemic


Roland Pongou - Economics

Networks of physical contacts are the primary channel through which COVID-19 spreads. The goal of this SSHRC-PEG project is to study how social network structure affects COVID-19 outcomes. The analysis will document how factors such as gender, socioeconomic status, age, race, and ethnic segregation among others determine the formation of contact networks and affect compliance with social distancing regulations and other preventative measures. Analyzing data from Canada, the USA, and other countries,  the study will provide a better understanding of individual and structural inequality in COVID-19 outcomes and will inspire policy design in addressing the health, social and economic challenges of this global pandemic. Designing policies that target networks and key actors in these networks is essential.


Roland Pongou - Economics, and Sanni Yaya - International Development and Global Studies

This collaboration between professors Pongou and Yaya along with Dr. Stéphanie Maltais, Associate Researcher and Dr. Marie Christelle Mabeu, Postdoctoral researcher at the Department of Economics, aims to collect information on the prevalence of COVID-19 symptoms and social distancing behaviour in Canada in order to learn how education, income, employment, and flu-like symptoms are linked to social distancing. The results of this survey will be used for academic research in order to help public health specialists and policymakers recommend effective measures over the coming days.

COVID-19 Symptoms and Social Distancing Web Survey

This collaboration between professors Pongou and Yaya along with Dr. Stéphanie Maltais, Associate Researcher, Dr. Marie Christelle Mabeu, Postdoctoral researcher at the Department of Economics, Mikaila Boyd, Mitacs Research Award Trainee at the University of Ottawa, Bright Opoku Ahinkorah, PhD Candidate at the University of Technology Sydney and Arunika Agarwal, Research Associate at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health aims to collect information on the second wave of COVID-19  and the prevalence of COVID-19 symptoms and social distancing behaviour in Canada in order to learn how education, income, employment, and flu-like symptoms are linked to social distancing. The results of this survey will be used for academic research in order to help public health specialists and policymakers recommend effective measures over the coming days.

Wave 2 COVID-19 Symptoms & Social Distancing Web Survey


Rébecca Robillard - Psychology

  • On April 3rd 2020, a group of 20 scientists from eight hospitals across Ontario and Quebec, led by Professor Rébecca Robillard, launched an exhaustive longitudinal online survey assessing the financial, social and psychological impacts of COVID-19 at different stages of the outbreak. In addition to monitoring the general population, targeted questions are included for critical populations such as healthcare workers and people with chronic physical or mental illnesses. Participants also have the option of linking their survey information to provincial health administrative data and to social media activity for mood monitoring through artificial intelligence algorithms.

    Study: How are you coping during COVID-19?
  • The Ottawa Aboriginal Coalition is partnering with other scientists, namely uOttawa's Rébecca Robillard, to evaluate longitudinal changes in health outcomes during this pandemic, and investigate how sociocultural factors may modulate the multifaceted impacts of this pandemic on Indigenous health. This pandemic has caused profound societal disruptions with downstream impacts on mental and physical health, and serious concerns have been raised about disproportionate impacts on Indigenous communities. In Canada, rates of COVID-19 infections within Indigenous communities recently underwent sharp increases. How this will continue to evolve, and the collateral effects of the pandemic on other mental and physical health conditions, will undoubtedly be influenced by a range of social, cultural and economic factors.

Krystelle Shaughnessy - Psychology

Professor Shaughnessy and the Individual and Social Influences of Technology (INSITE) Lab at the University of Ottawa are conducting a study to learn how people use new technologies to connect with others during the COVID-19 pandemic. This research will help improve knowledge about technology use and its impact during the pandemic.

Time 4 of the Social Technology & Physical Distancing study


Alexis Hieu Truong - Criminology

This action research project, funded by a Partnership Engage Grant (SSHRC), aims to better define and address the social and organizational factors surrounding the experience of emotional difficulties faced by community service providers working with highly marginalized populations in the context of the social and health crisis related to COVID-19. This project is a partnership between Professor Katharine Larose-Hébert (Université TÉLUQ), Professor Isabelle Le Pain (Université Sherbrooke), Professor Alexis Hieu Truong of uOttawa, the Regroupement pour l’aide aux itinérants et itinerants de Québec (RAIIQ, the Alliance des groupes d’intervention pour le rétablissement en santé mentale (AGIR) and the Regroupement des organismes de personnes handicapées de la région 03 (ROP 03).


Myra Yazbeck - Economics

Health, Wellbeing and household dynamics among Women and Vulnerable Population in the times of COVID-19

COVID-19 has brought the economy of India to a complete standstill and has affected employment, incomes and livelihood of millions of households. The scenario is particularly worse among the most vulnerable part of the population who are of lower income groups and are residing in the slums. These slums experience widespread poverty, inequality, and high risk of transmission of COVID-19 due to high population density,
lack of job opportunities and food insecurity. The objective of this project is to investigate the impact of COVID-19 on wellbeing of vulnerable Indians, particularly the mental health and wellbeing of female members of the households, who are responsible for most of the household chores, elderly and child care and are also most likely victims of domestic violence. Thus, it is crucial that we understand how key members of the vulnerable households are coping to avoid intergeneration perpetuation of vulnerability.

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