Antigonish, Nova Scotia, Canada

Power of undergraduate research showcased at StFX during Student Research Day

March 29th, 2016

Visitors to the Keating Centre Conference Rooms on March 24 had a unique opportunity to glimpse into the fascinating research under way by StFX students. 

From topics ranging from missing and murdered Aboriginal women to insider training, StFX’s 14th Annual Student Research Day showcased the wide diversity of student scholarship happening on campus. 
“This year, we had 70 poster presentations and 14 oral presentations, an amazing number of students from a variety of disciplines,” says human kinetics professor Dr. Angie Kolen, who conceived of the idea and has been facilitating Student Research Day since its start in March 2003 then with 29 students participating.
Since then, the day that gives students the opportunity to showcase their research or advanced studies has grown in popularity and recognition such that it is now listed as an academic calendar event. 
Each year, an afternoon is dedicated to displaying the students’ work in a poster format with the presenting students available to provide other students, faculty, staff, and interested community members with the opportunity to discuss the research. A limited number of oral presentations are also included
“I’m excited for the day, and I’m excited to talk with the students as their titles of presentations are intriguing,” Dr. Kolen said. 
“Regardless of where you go, to grad school, or industry, this is going to help you in life,” StFX President Dr. Kent MacDonald told students in opening remarks.
Dr. MacDonald told the students of a meeting he had just that morning with alumnus David Palmer ’91 where the geology graduate named Canadian Prospector of the Year in 2015, spoke about how that honour came about and how his career has been positively shaped by the level of inquiry and the power of research he experienced as an undergraduate on the StFX campus.
“This really differentiates StFX and the learning experience,” Dr. MacDonald said.
“Congratulations to you all,” added Academic Vice-President & Provost Dr. Kevin Wamsley who noted how the original, undergraduate research that happens on campus does helps distinguish a StFX education. He spoke of how professors with PhDs bring leading knowledge into classrooms and help push the frontiers of knowledge with the coming generation.
Also bringing greetings were Dean of Science Dr. Petra Hauf, Dean of Business Dr. Tim Hynes, Dean of Arts Dr. Karen Brebner, and Dr. Richard Isnor, Associate Vice-President Research. 
For students, the day provided many benefits.
“It’s a really important day. It’s a way to share the hard work we’re doing, and to share the important work we’re doing,” says fourth year psychology student Bridget Houston who presented her research on interventions to reduce binge drinking in university populations.
“It brings my research to light more as I explain it and am able to share insights and what I’ve learned.”
It’s also a great way to bring students from all disciplines together to learn from their peers, she says.
“I’m very interested in doing research in the future. I’m interested in doing a masters and PhD and continuing my research. An event like this highlights the importance of research.
“StFX really does encourage research,” she says. “There is so much support along the way. My supervisor, Dr. Erin Austen, and faculty members put a lot of time and energy into helping us become good researchers.” 
“It’s awesome,” agrees fifth year aquatic resources and political science student James Crosby whose research topic focused on the “Tourist Gaze – Whale watching and its effect on the sustainability of ecotourism.”
“I’ve been working on this for a year. It’s really cool to be able to talk about it.”
He says StFX provides much support to encourage research. Advisors are always there to help students and talk through the process. “There’s so much availability here.”
Chantaya Bragg, a fourth year aquatic resources and biology student, says the Student Research Day marks the first time she’s presented in such a venue. And it’s been a great experience, boosting her confidence.
“It opens you up more. When it’s your own work, it’s a lot easier to talk about,” says Ms. Bragg who showcased her research on the social responses and conservation challenges associated with the protection of piping plovers. She worked with Bird Studies Canada over the summer.
“It’s awesome, and it’s a different experience to get it out there and show the work I did,” she says. “It’s a great opportunity to talk about what I’m doing and to educate people.”
Dr. Kolen gave special thanks to poster presentation adjudicators Richard Isnor, Moira Galway, Megan MacGillivray, James Cormier, Peter Clancy, Mel Lam, Santo Dodaro, Norine Verberg, Jacques Boucher, David Garbary, Erika Koch, Matt Palmer, Petra Hauf, Dan Kane, Karen Blair, Kim MacLean, Brad Long, Lindsay Berrigan, Jen Jamieson, Nancy Peters, Russell Wyeth, Yvon Grenier, Evelise Bourlon, Donna Trembinski, Marcia English, Lisa Pasolli, Carrie-Ellen Gabriel, Chris Gilham, Rita Campbell, Opal Leung, and Will Sweet; to Charlene Weaving for coordinating the award process for the poster presentations; and to Steve Baldner, Sunny Wang, and Jean Guy Lalande for moderating and adjudicating the oral presentations. 
She also thanked sponsors, Angus L. Macdonald Library, Dr. Richard Isnor, Associate Vice-President Research, John Blackwell, Director Research Grants Office, Andrew Kendall, Industry Liaison Office, St. Francis Xavier University Bookstore, and St. Francis Xavier University Service Learning.
Prize winners from the day included:
StFX Bookstore Awards*:
12 – 1:30
Gold: Aryn Benoit, Psychology, Supervisor = Petra Hauf
Silver: Janet Tait, Biology, Supervisor = Bill Marshall
Bronze: Nathan Chiarlitti, Human Kinetics, Supervisor = Angie Kolen
1:30 – 3 p.m.
Gold: Tara Myden, Economics, Supervisor = Patrick Withey
Silver: Emma Aucoin, Human Kinetics, Supervisor = Dan Kane and Jen Jamieson 
Silver: Ashley MacDonald, Modern Languages, Supervisor = Rejeanne Leblanc
3 – 4:30 p.m.
Gold: Morgan Riley, Human Nutrition, Supervisor = Laura Gougeon
Bronze: Matthew Cormier, Economics, Supervisor = Greg Tkacz
Bronze: Neil MacInnis, Human Kinetics, Supervisor = Sasho MacKenzie
Bronze: Olivia Clancy, Human Nutrition, Supervisor = Marcia English
Oral Presentations:
Gold: David Feehan, Biology, Supervisor = Lori Graham
Silver:  Jennifer Poirier, Biology, Supervisor = David Garbary and Nick Hill
Bronze: Sarah Beattie, Philosophy, Supervisor = Steve Baldner
Outstanding Community Engaged Research Project**
Natalie Lesco, Anthropology, Poster Presentation, Supervisors: L. Jane MacMillan and Charlene Weaving
Maggie Edwards, Development Studies and Anthropology, Oral Presentation, Supervisors = Clare Fawcett and Susan Vincent
Angus L. Macdonald Research Award***
Chris Greencorn, History, Oral Presentation, Supervisor = Laurie Stanley-Blackwell
*StFX Bookstore Awards:
Poster Presentations: 
Award Criteria:* student-presenters were evaluated based upon their ability to succinctly describe their research project and respond to questions about it.
Oral Presentations:
Award Criteria: student-presenters were evaluated based upon their ability to describe their honours (or other) research project within the 15-minute time frame as well as to respond to questions effectively and efficiently within the 5-minute allotted question period.
**Outstanding Community Engaged Research Project, Sponsored by StFX Service Learning Program
Award Criteria: only students involved in community-based research – that involves the community will be considered for this award. Student-presenters will be evaluated on their ability to describe their research project, including the community’s involvement as well as to how the results of the project will be used to benefit the community.
***Angus L. Macdonald Research Award, Sponsored by the Angus L Macdonald Library (new this year)
Award Criteria: Students will be evaluated on the bibliography created to go along with their honours/research presentation. This bibliography can be created in an established format of the students’ preference. 

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