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Celebrating undergraduate research in the time of COVID-19

The Undergraduate Student Summer Research Fellowships allow students to collaborate with a faculty expert to explore a research topic of personal interest in the social sciences, humanities, or creative arts.

Undergraduate students often count down to the first day of summer when they are finally free from early morning lectures, daily study sessions, and the stress of midterm and final exams. For a select few, however, summer, and the free time associated with it, represents a golden opportunity to engage in discovery-based learning and develop critical thinking and research skills.

The Undergraduate Student Summer Research Fellowships (USSRF), an annual program sponsored by the Vice-Principal (Research) portfolio, give 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.

Typically, upon conclusion of student projects at summer’s end, Principal Patrick Deane and Kimberly Woodhouse, Interim Vice-Principal (Research), host a USSRF celebration, where fellows have an opportunity to present their research projects and posters. Because an in-person reception was not possible this year, each participant created a short, three-minute video presentation of their project. Fellowship researchers then gathered virtually in small groups with Principal Deane and Dr. Woodhouse to share their research interests, video projects, and overall experiences with the program.

  • [Presentation by Aisha Nathoo]
    Aisha Nathoo, "Improving Emergency Care for Equity-Seeking Groups" - Supervisor: Dr. Susan Bartels
  • [Presentation by Taylor Tye]
    Taylor Tye, "Indigenous Histories of Kingston: An Updated Resource for stoneskingston.ca" - Supervisor: Dr. Laura Murray
  • [Presentation by Reem Atallah]
    Reem Atallah, "Virtual Reality Cyberball As A New Means of Assessing Defending Behaviour in the Laboratory" - Supervisor: Dr. Wendy Craig
  • [Presentation by Owen Wong]
    Owen Wong, “Irish Control and Nationalism: A Comparative Study” - Supervisor: Dr. John McGarry

Highlights from this year’s recipients and projects, include:

Aisha Nathoo conducted her project with Susan Bartels (Emergency Medicine). Nathoo completed a literature review exploring care experiences of sexually diverse groups who had accessed emergency departments in Canada and the United States. She found deficiencies in care on both a systemic and interpersonal level. Nathoo then conducted a mixed methods survey to determine the needs of the community.

Owen Wong, under the supervision of John McGarry (Political Studies), conducted a comparison study looking at why Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland were impacted differently during a 30-year-long ethno-nationalist conflict known as “The Troubles.” Wong concluded that differing treatment of the minority group in each region led to violence in Northern Ireland and peace in the Republic of Ireland.

Reem Atallah worked with Wendy Craig (Psychology) to develop a new virtual reality platform to study bullying and peer defending. When she compared her 3D paradigm with Cyberball, the standard 2D computer game currently used to study social isolation, she noted that more participants engaged in peer defending behaviour when assigned to the virtual reality platform. Moving forward, Atallah plans to explore how her research findings can be used to reduce incidences of cyberbullying.

Taylor Tye’s research project was an extension of work she had completed in Laura Murray’s (English) class in Fall 2019. Her class project revealed a lack of Indigenous representation featured on Kingston’s historical plaques. As part of USSRF, Tye conducted interviews with diverse community stakeholders to accomplish the shared goal of updating the Indigenous community page on the Stones Kingston website. Tye plans on continuing this work next summer.   

“Each year, I look forward to hearing the rewarding research experiences our students have with the USSRF, and this year was no different,” says Dr. Woodhouse. “The research, analytical, and presentation skills they garner during the program will help prepare them for future studies or careers.”

Since 2011, the Vice-Principal (Research) portfolio has offered the USSRF and they are currently recruiting for the 2021 program. The application deadline is March 2, 2021 at 9 am EST.

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