The sounds of success

PhD Student Hannah Hunter standing against a wall.

Two Queen’s University students earned a top five finish at the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) 2023 Storytellers Challenge. 

Faculty of Arts and Science Geography and Planning PhD student Hannah Hunter earned a top five finish at the annual event. Her winning presentation focused on what historical bird sound recordings tell us about human-nature relationships of the past, present and future. The project is being funded by a Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarship.

Also finishing in the top five was Faculty of Health Sciences PhD student Madison Robertson. 

SSHRC’s annual Storytellers Challenge calls on postsecondary students to demonstrate—in up to three minutes or 300 words—how SSHRC-funded research is making a difference in the lives of Canadians. Students entering submit stories about Canadian social sciences and humanities research and how it helps improve our society and the world.

“In the first stage we were tasked with creating a three minute video or audio piece (or a 300 word text) about our or a supervisor's SSHRC funded research,” Hunter explains. “My video submission was an overview of my PhD project as a whole - the motivation, method, and an illustrative story.”

The top 25 submissions were invited to a live event where the students were asked to translate the three minute audio or video piece into a three minute talk.

“The event worked similar to the 3 Minute Thesis challenge, but this competition had much more of an emphasis on storytelling in creative and accessible ways,” she explains. “In my talk, I had audio playing behind me (of car horns, birds, footsteps - all kind of things) to help to sonically illustrate my research story. I was the only person at the in-person event to use sound as a storytelling device.”

Hunter says the competition gave her the opportunity to hone her skills in research communications, which is of critical importance in today's noisy world.

“Being named in the top five is a huge honour and gives me a lot of motivation to continue finding creative ways to share my research beyond traditional academic outputs. One of my career aspirations is to apply my research skills to the field of audio storytelling (e.g., radio/ podcasts). I hope this award will help to showcase what I could bring to this field and connect me with others doing this type of work.”