Antigonish, Nova Scotia, Canada

StFX psychology students receive prestigious undergraduate research awards, major opportunity

March 30th, 2015
L-r, Bridget Houston, Brooke Taylor, Shannon Taylor, and Aryn Benoit

Four third year StFX psychology students, representing a diverse range of research areas, can celebrate an impressive achievement. Each student has received a prestigious undergraduate research award to carry out their thesis work.

Brooke Taylor and Bridget Houston have each received a $5,000 eight-month Nova Scotia Health Research Foundation (NSHRF) Scotia Scholars Award; Shannon Taylor receives a $6,000 12-week Irving Research Mentorship Award; and Aryn Benoit is the recipient of a $4,500 16-week Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) USRA award.
“It means everything. It’s amazing. It just opens so many doors,” says Shannon Taylor of Pickering, ON, on the research grant that will allow her to conduct research on equity and fairness norms in developing children across cultures with her psychology professor Dr. Tara Callaghan. Ms. Taylor is also one of this year’s recipients of StFX’s MacBain Riley Global Engagement Award, which will allow her to continue her research with Dr. Callaghan in India for the month of July. 
“Having done something like this will open so many doors in the future,” she says. “To be so young and to be able to delve into cross-cultural research, I’m still in my undergraduate. It’s incredible.”
“It’s an amazing feeling, and an amazing opportunity. It allows me to conduct research that I’m passionate about,” says Brooke Taylor of Brockville, ON, who will work for eight months with Dr. Lindsay Berrigan, completing her thesis on cognitive impairment in individuals with Multiple Sclerosis, looking specifically at attention related difficulties.
“It’s a really big honour,” echoes Ms. Benoit of Antigonish, NS, who will work for 16 weeks over the summer with thesis advisor Dr. Petra Hauf researching the effects of singing on language development in pre-school children.
“I’m a singer-songwriter, and it’s a really exciting opportunity to involve that in my research and academics,” she says. Ms. Benoit says she plans to complete her PhD in clinical psychology and the research experience gained will be invaluable, both in helping get into graduate programs as well as helping her feel more prepared for graduate school.
“It’s definitely a huge privilege, and I’m obviously very thankful for it. I can spend more time on my research,” says Ms. Houston of Toronto, ON, who will work on her thesis, binge drinking on university campuses, with her supervisor Dr. Erin Austen. Ms. Houston, who is interested in health psychology and community, will be researching ways to reduce and prevent binge drinking on university campuses and how universities may be able to intervene. She’s really interested to see what results of her research will yield.

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