Current Students Info

Private aid and sanitation research projects awarded major grants

Friday, July 26, 2013 - 10:38am
Susan Down

How does private funding influence development work in countries such as Tanzania? How can attitudes and practices about sanitation be improved in Nigeria? Those are the questions that two students in the Doctor of Social Sciences program at Royal Roads University seek to answer through their research projects. The students, Carla Funk and Nancy Gilbert, were recently each awarded $90,000 Mitacs-Accelerate grants. The grants were part of a BC pilot program for three-year PhD students. Part of the funding comes from partner companies that can apply the research.

Carla Funk is a second-year doctoral student who has worked with some of the world’s wealthiest people on behalf of some of the world’s most impoverished individuals. Her focus is on private giving and the impact that wealthy philanthropic leaders have on development aid.  She previously managed food programs in Ethiopia and Zimbabwe in the 1980s. Her partner organization is Development Action Canada, based in Victoria.

Nancy Gilbert is a first-year doctoral student whose research will address how to upgrade sanitation and develop better tools and approaches. Her focus is the Niger Delta in southern Nigeria with a population of more than 30 million people, over half of whom live under the poverty level. Her partner organization is Fantan Group, based in Victoria.

“It’s a remarkably good fit for Royal Roads because Mitacs and RRU are both interested in applied research, community engagement, and research partnerships,” said Leslie King, doctoral supervisor for the students. “Carla’s work is extremely innovative. No academic investigation of philanthropy has been done from the point of view of the recipients. Nancy is a courageous and intrepid researcher as she looks at cultural attitudes and acceptance of change in the Niger Delta of Nigeria. Both research projects will have significant societal benefits - in Africa and beyond.”


About Mitacs

Mitacs is a national, private not-for-profit organization that develops the next generation of innovators with vital scientific and business skills through a suite of unique research and training programs, such as Mitacs-Accelerate, Elevate, Step, Enterprise and Globalink. In partnership with companies, government and universities, Mitacs is supporting a new economy using Canada’s most valuable resource – its people. For more information on Mitacs, visit