Research Spotlight: Dr. Donna Sears

Research Spotlight aims to shed light on the diverse research culture of Acadia University by celebrating the work and interests of our researchers. Each profile features six questions: five about research, one just for fun. Learn about what’s happening across campus and get to know the faces you see every day.

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Dr. Donna Sears

F.C. Manning School of Business

Faculty of Professional Studies

In terms of research, what are you working on right now?

I am in the midst of several projects that are all tied, in some way, to wine tourism and wine consumer behaviour. For instance, I have an on-going project with the Wolfville Magic Winery Bus that provides practical guidance to the overall initiative and to participating wineries as they craft engaging visitor experiences. In the last year, this same data set provided the basis for two conference presentations – Academy of Wine Business Research (Sonoma) and Wine and Culinary Tourism Futures Conference (Okanagan) – as well as a chapter in an edited collection (forthcoming in 2018).

How does that fit with your broader research interests?

In broad terms, my research relates to hedonic consumption, most often with a wine consumer/wine tourism lens. This research area touches on consumer psychology, sensory science, marketing, and other business functions.

What most motivates you to do research?

I am motivated by curiosity and the pleasure of working on interesting projects with interesting people. Thus, my research tends to be collaborative and interdisciplinary, both within – and outside – traditional domains of business/management scholarship.

I am currently working with fellow F.C. Manning School of Business faculty members, Terrance Weatherbee and Ryan MacNeil; and colleagues from the School of Nutrition and Dietetics, Matthew McSweeney and Cathy Morley. Most of my research has practical applications that can be used to leverage business success and sustainability, particularly in rural Nova Scotia.

What tips do you give your students when they embark on a new research project?

I frequently interact with students regarding research projects in a couple of ways. The first is students in the Marketing Research class; the second is Honours students. In the beginning, I find all researchers tend to be challenged to develop a research question with the fine-resolution required for an executable project, so I help them to scope a research question that specifies an achievable project. With a specific research question defined, the next usual hurdle is instrument design for primary data collection. In the Marketing Research course, I spend a lot of time on questionnaire design, since that is a skill many marketing students will need in their future careers. I also do a lot of coaching on this topic with the Honours students I supervise.

Do you have any forthcoming publications, events, or talks we should look out for?

With my collaborators, I am working on several conference papers that have been/will be submitted this year. Consequently, I hope to present this work at the American Association of Wine Economists (AAWE) Conference (June 2018 at Cornell University); Atlantic Schools of Business Conference (September 2018 at Université de Moncton); and Academy of Wine Business Research (AWBR) Conference (January 2019 in Stellenbosch, South Africa).

I frequently do presentations in the community, most often on topics related to Nova Scotia wine and wine tourism. Recently, I did a presentation for the Wolfville Newcomers’ Club at the Wolfville Farmers’ Market.

Later in 2018, a chapter and case (with co-author Terrance Weatherbee) will be published in the edited collection: Managing and Marketing Wine Tourism Destinations: Theory and Cases.

You can look for information about research projects and ideas/upcoming projects on our website:

Tell me, what are you reading, watching, or listening to for fun these days?

For fun, I’m reading Why You Like the Wines You Like: Changing the Way the World Thinks About Wine by Tim Hanni, MW. I’m also reading Dressage Today (equestrian sports are a long-time hobby) and occasionally binge-watching nostalgic – usually bad – TV series on Netflix.

Contact Dr. Sears:

Research Spotlight is an initiative of the Research & Graduate Studies office. If you would like to suggest someone to be featured in this series, or if you would like to be featured yourself, please contact Deborah Hemming, Research & Innovation Coordinator:

You can also download the form below, fill in your responses, and return it to Deborah by email.


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