Provincial funding boost for UTM research

Psychology Professor Loren Martin, left, and Sociology Professor David Pettinicchio
Tuesday, May 30, 2017 - 10:33am
Carla DeMarco

Professor David Pettinicchio in the Department of Sociology and Professor Loren Martin from the Department of Psychology are among this year’s recipients of Early Researchers Awards (ERAs), two of 15 U of T projects funded by the Ontario Ministry of Research, Innovation and Science.

Pettinicchio’s research, “Employment Discrimination in Hiring People with Disabilities: An Audit Study,” investigates disability-based biases in hiring practices as they relate to Ontarians with disabilities, as well as considering pay discrepancies that occur when compared with their non-disabled counterparts.

“The findings from this study will shed light on labour-market exclusion, which is an especially salient issue given Ontario’s continuing efforts to promote competitiveness in the global knowledge-based economy,” says Pettinicchio. Over the next five year, he will work with two doctoral students and one undergraduate to further study how discrimination in hiring varies by disability and occupational type.

“My research team will gain invaluable experience and insights about how misinformation and negative stereotypes influence hiring decisions, which is highly sought-after knowledge for employers in both the public and private sectors,” says Pettinicchio.

Meanwhile, Martin’s project, “Understanding the Social Communication and Comorbidities of Pain,” will investigate how pain is communicated between individuals and how chronic pain may cause stress and depression.

“Fundamentally understanding the modulation and the underlying causes of chronic pain will lead us closer towards harnessing the best treatments for patients,” says Martin, whose study will run for five years.

“The Early Researcher Award will allow me to advance my research program and to build a productive research team of postdocs, graduate and undergraduate students that will work to break new ground in understanding the complexity of acute and chronic pain.”

The Ontario Ministry’s ERA program provides $140,000 to each recipient.

The funding from the ERA program helps to support employment for trainees, graduate and undergraduate students, as well as targeting youth-outreach initiatives to educate the younger generation about the specific topics and the breadth of research taking place in Ontario. U of T received $2.1 million to fund early researchers in the 2016 competition, and in total the ministry provided $10.78 million in support of 77 researchers at 17 research institutions across the province.

For more information about the latest ERA competition, visit the Ministry of Research, Innovation and Science's website.