Antigonish, Nova Scotia, Canada

Student Research, UCR Awards will provide invaluable experience, students say

April 13th, 2016
L-r, Mackenzie Pazos, Noah Ritcey, Patrick O'Brien, Carolyn Taylor, Rowan Murphy and Christina Minions. Missing: Pierre-Michel Jalbert, Nukhalu Callaghan-Patrachar, Emily Drain and Megan Allain

Ten StFX students will have the opportunity to extend their learning, from researching the symbiotic relationship that exists between the yellow spotted salamander and a species of algae to compiling a literature review on literacy use in high school content courses, as recipients of StFX Student Research Awards and University Council for Research (UCR) Awards.

Each student is awarded $4,500 and the opportunity to conduct hands-on research under the supervision of a StFX faculty member.
Recipients include Christina Minions, Pierre-Michel Jalbert, Rowan Murphy, Patrick O’Brien, Nukhalu Callaghan-Patrachar, Noah Ritchey, Mackenzie Pazos, Emily Drain, Carolyn Taylor and Megan Allain. 
“This is my first opportunity to spend an entire summer engaging in research in my field, and I think it will provide me with invaluable experience that will benefit me as I begin my master's degree right after the summer,” says Carolyn Taylor, a senior psychology student from Richmond, BC.
“Having just finished a thesis in psychology it's awesome to be able to jump straight into a research position after graduation to help me further my career in this field.”
She will help build on past research conducted in psychology professor Dr. Ann Bigelow's lab, looking at the effect of maternal responsiveness in facilitating a shift in infants’ preference at around two to three months of age from perfect contingencies, such as looking in a mirror, to high, but imperfect contingencies such as face-to-face interactions.
“This is an amazing opportunity to expand on research skills and writing in the sciences,” says third year environmental science student Christina Minions of Calgary, AB, whose research will be part of a long-term monitoring study on the soil carbon dynamics in high Arctic environments in Svalbard with the Bjerknes Centre for Climate Research (BCCR) in Norway. 
“Part of what makes this project particularly interesting is collaboration with other researchers from different institutions within the scientific community,” she says. “It will be a great opportunity to further my knowledge in an area that excites me, and to delve into the world of scientific research.”   
First year education student Megan Allain of New Glasgow, NS will be helping compile an annotated bibliography and literature review on literacy use in high school content courses, particularly with high populations of Aboriginal students, African-Canadian students, or students living in poverty. 
“I am extremely excited for this opportunity,” she says. “As a future teacher, learning about the educational research process will certainly be an asset. Students come from all different walks of life, and being able to locate and critically analyze bodies of research will help me better understand and accommodate those who may be very different from myself. I consider myself to be very lucky to be working with such wonderful mentors, and I am looking forward to deepening my understanding of the topic in question.”
Noah Ritcey, a third year computer science student from Woodstock, NB, will be working with computer science professor Dr. Iker Gondra creating and refining algorithms for computer vision. Computer vision, he says, has numerous applications in fields such as medical imaging and is currently a huge problem in the development of functioning artificial intelligence systems.
“It's a great opportunity. It feels good to be doing relevant research in my field and furthering the development of computer science. I also want to continue my education specializing in the field of artificial intelligence so this is kind of perfect for me. I'm very grateful to have received the award.”
First year science student Patrick O'Brien of Fort McMurray, AB will focus his research on studying the navigational mechanisms of the nudibranch mollusc Tritonia Diomedea, which is a large sea slug found in the Pacific Ocean. 
“As a person who would like to pursue a career in academia, doing research at such an early stage in my post-secondary career will be greatly advantageous for my future endeavors. It will teach important skills that can't be taught in the classroom, and allow me to become involved within the scientific community,” he says. 
Emily Drain, a third year honours marketing student from Vancouver, BC, says the opportunity to work as a research assistant during her undergraduate degree is a much appreciated and valuable experience, especially when looking towards her future studies. 
Under the guidance of business professor Bobbi Morrison, she will conduct research on the expanded scope of practice in Nova Scotia’s community pharmacists. Specifically, she will look at the impact these expanded pharmacy services have upon patient attitudes and loyalty. 
Rowan Murphy, a third year honours biology student from Halifax, NS, will be studying a symbiotic relationship that exists between the yellow spotted salamander and a species of algae. She will test the capacity of the algae to invade egg masses of the salamander.
“I am grateful to have been given this opportunity and I look forward to learning about the research process this summer. I know that the knowledge I gain from this experience will benefit me in my future endeavours.”

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