Celebrating undergraduate research

Celebrating undergraduate research

The Undergraduate Student Summer Research Fellowships see participants advancing unique research projects across the social sciences, humanities, and creative arts.  

By Teagan Sliz, Research Promotion and Communications Assistant

January 27, 2022


During the academic year, students engage in research as part of their course curricula. In the summer months, however, free from the typical structure of university classes, a handful of ambitious students take it upon themselves to pursue independent research projects outside their typical area of study, providing them the opportunity to engage in discovery-based learning and develop critical thinking and research skills.

Unique undergraduate research experience

Each year, the Undergraduate Student Summer Research Fellowships (USSRF), an annual program sponsored by the Vice-Principal (Research) portfolio, provides students pursuing a bachelor’s degree a chance to conduct social sciences, humanities, and/or creative arts research under the guidance of a Queen’s faculty member. This year, 21 fellowships were awarded to Queen’s students.

Following the completion of their fellowships, students presented their projects and posters at a virtual celebration with faculty supervisors, peers, and family hosted by Patrick Deane, Principal and Vice-Chancellor, and Nancy Ross, Vice-Principal (Research). Recipients created three-minute videos to share their findings, then gathered virtually in small groups with Principal Deane and Dr. Ross to discuss their research interests and project insights and share their overall experiences with the program.

“The Vice-Principal (Research) portfolio is proud to have sponsored the USSRF program for more than 10 years,” says Vice-Principal (Research) Ross. “Integrating research opportunities in the undergraduate experience at Queen’s provides students with a strong foundation in discovery-based learning and critical thinking skills that will benefit them in their further studies and throughout their careers.”

2021 project highlights

Aidan Gurung worked on her project with Beverly Mullings (Gender Studies) to understand Nepali migrant workers and the impact of their remittances through the lens of social reproduction theory (the theory that society cannot function without the unpaid household labour traditionally performed by women). Gurung found that remittances were not substantial enough to relieve Nepali women of their social reproduction work and instead, 79 per cent of remittances were used to cover basic necessities such as food and housing. Gurung’s next steps are to review a complete data set and to synthesize her findings in an op-ed article.  

Lisa Sanchez, under the supervision of Jeffrey Masuda (Kinesiology and Health Studies) and Sanjana Ramesh (support staff member at The Right to Remain project), conducted a proof of concept study exploring police presence in Single Room Occupancy (SRO) Hotels in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside which has occurred under The Right to Remain project (a research project which seeks to document and support tenant-led advocacy efforts on housing and human rights in the area). Through analysis of archival documents and interviewing of SRO tenants, Sanchez collected insights and made preliminary observations on the relationship between police and the SRO tenant community.

Omar Baboolal conducted his project with Lisa Guenther (Philosophy). Baboolal’s research focused on punitive common sense, social debt, and social change, examining how these concepts have become engendered in our society, which he argued is not for the best. Baboolal concluded that it is necessary to dispel these conceptions and instead adopt ‘Non-Reformist-Reform’ which is reform that does not make it harder to dismantle the oppressive system itself.

Zoe Mack, under the supervision of Ishita Pande (History), explored why lesbianism was largely ignored by English criminal law in the 20th century and how it was framed in the rare instances it did enter into the legal archive. Mack analysed primary source documents from two specific events in the legal record to investigate her research question. Mack concluded that the lack of regulation on lesbianism may have been a means of purposeful suppression through denial of its existence on an institutional level.

How to participate

Are you an undergrad interested in research? Applications are open for the 2022 USSRF program until March 1. Nineteen fellowships of $6,000 each are available on campus for four months (May-August). Two fellowships of $5,000 are available at the Bader International Study Centre (BISC) at Herstmonceux Castle, England for the duration of three months (May-July).

Note: Due to current pandemic-related restrictions, the 2022 USSRF program may be conducted remotely. A decision regarding this will be made in early 2022, and posted on the Vice-Principal (Research) Portfolio website.

For more information and to watch this year’s presentations, visit the Vice-Principal (Research) portfolio website.

Arts and Science