Canada’s next thought leaders showcase their work at York U’s fourth annual Undergraduate Research Fair

Lu Li (right), Maze EECS4700
Lu Li (right) presents Maze EECS4700

York’s fourth annual multidisciplinary Undergraduate Research Fair, organized by a team of faculty, librarians and students, took place in the Scott Library Collaboratory on Feb. 24.  More than 500 University community members braved the snowy weather to celebrate the work of 69 students, who presented their research projects in the form of poster sessions, animated with enthusiasm and commitment.

Presenter Alexander Gordon with his poster exploring bullying
Presenter Alexander Gordon with his poster on  bullying

The presenters were drawn from all Faculties and both campuses, and the 56 posters covered a wide range of topics. Some of the presentations were: Dance the private tango; Safe Space at York University; Hearing the forest through the trees;  Let’s talk about sex: Black women authoring their own sexuality; No one is illegal: Is this grassroots migrant justice group effective?; and Can you afford opportunity? Documenting the cost of subsidized housing – to name but a few of the many topics covered.

AMPD musicians entertained University community members at the Undergraduate Research Fair
AMPD musicians entertained University community members at the Undergraduate Research Fair

A trio of musicians from the Department of Music – Paul Ross (bass), Taylor Douma (alto sax), and Geoff MacFarlane (guitar) provided a klezmer music interlude, while two student photographers (Ashley Elliott, John Jacques) from the School of Arts, Media, Performance & Design (AMPD) recorded the event, attended by friends and families, students, faculty, staff and York administrators including York University President and Vice-Chancellor Mamdouh Shoukri and Vice-President Academic and Provost Rhonda Lenton.

University Librarian Joy Kirchner welcomed students and congratulated them on being selected to participate in this juried event. She noted that, by attending an intensive fair preparation workshop and gaining experience designing and presenting a scholarly poster session, the students were building skills in the academic literacies and participating in the cycle of knowledge production and dissemination. She noted that the York Libraries staff and faculty were thrilled to offer this opportunity for students to share their research outside the classroom in a cross-curricular environment.

President Shoukri chats with student presenters

York University’s Vice-President Research and Innovation Robert Haché and co-sponsor of the fair, congratulated all of the students who participated and said he was delighted to see the depth of research undertaken. The projects on display showcased a wide spectrum of innovative and engaging work. Haché underlined the University’s commitment to ensuring that undergraduates have opportunities to engage in cutting edge and interdisciplinary research.  “It is events like this one,” he said, “that help to showcase the vibrant, dynamic and collaborative research community at York.”

Students themselves commented enthusiastically on the Undergraduate Research Fair experience, noting that it was “an invigorating experience to talk to faculty, parents and local community members about research.”  Others called the experience “fantastic” and “one-of-a-kind,” and wished they had a chance to do it all again. Several remarked that they appreciated learning about other people’s work and seeing the research that happened in other disciplines, and found presenting at the fair both rewarding and fun.

Juliana Giancola, <em>Feathers</em>, (acrylic gouache painting)
Juliana Giancola, Feathers, (acrylic gouache painting)

New at this year’s Undergraduate Research Fair was an opportunity to submit artwork created for any 2015 credit course. Submissions are currently on exhibit in the Scott Library’s Art Walk (second floor). Two pieces were selected for the front cover of upcoming issues of the new refereed e-journal Revue YOUR Review (York Online Undergraduate Research) associated with the  Undergraduate Research Fair.

All presenters will receive an invitation to attend a Writing for Publication workshop organized for them by Writing Department Chair Ron Sheese. Interested students can rework their Undergraduate Research Fair project for consideration for publication in Revue YOUR Review. The abstracts and posters of participants will be published in a separate section of the journal (

Si Qi Zhu, Venus in Chrome, (spray paint on canvas)

The numerous, high-calibre presentations made it very difficult for adjudication teams to select the first and second prizewinners of the following eight awards, presented at the Undergraduate Research Fair:

Best lower-year projects – Dr. James Wu Prize 

  • First prize: Laura Galin-Corini & Ana Janic, The Multilingual Brain: How Much Power Does It Hold? (GL/PSYC 2520)
  • Second prize: Lindsey Swartzman. From Eritrea to the EU: Driven to Security. (AP/GEOG 2310)

Best upper-year projects – Dr. James Wu Prize

  • First prize: Marissa Chase, In the Aftermath: Detecting Change from Natural Disasters Using Satellite Imagery. (AP/GEOG 4440)
  • Second prize: Michelle Short & Kari Martin. Do I Belong? Power, Inclusion, Representation and Activism in an LGBTQ Spiritual Community. (AP/SOWK 3070)

Best honours thesis/MRP projects – Dr. James Wu Prize

  • First prize: Maansi Malhotra, The Effect of Statins on Mitochondrial Respiration in Pancreatic Insulin Secreting MIN6 Clonal Cells. (SC/BIOL 4000)
  • Second prize: Christine Paputsis,  Cell-Specific Localization of CAPA mRNA in the Central Nervous System and Midgut of the Mosquito, Aedes Aegypti. (SC/BIOL 4000)

Best group projects

  • First prize: Shulamit Diena, Stephanie Bergman, Carla FIorella Perez, Talia Silver, Muscular Dystrophy on the Fly: A Proposed Role for Drosophila Gene CG7845. I (SC/BIOL 4410)
  • Second prize: Melvin Lui & Jamesan Poothapillai, Branch-Chained Amino Acids: Is Your Recovery Missing These Essentials? (HH/KINE 4120)

Best posters & presentations

  • First prize:  Alexander Gordon, What Does a Bully Think? Motives, Conceptions, and Managerial Strategies in TDSB’s Anti-Bullying Policy. (AP/EN 4000)           
  • Second prize:  Michelle Binczyk, What Is the Effect of Herbivore Saliva on the Toxicity of Fungal Endophytes? (SC/BIOL 4000)

Information Literacy awards 

  • First prize:  Khalidha Nasiri,  Not Nature Nor Nurture: Doing Good Is in Your Genes, Environment, and Personality. (HH/PSYC 4000)
  • Second prize:  Nick Zabara. Parent Anxiety: Implications for Child Pain. (HH/PSYC 4000)

People’s Choice award

  • Lu Li, Maze: User Interface for Role Playing Game in Virtual Environment. (LE/EECS 4700)

Artwork awards

  • Juliana Giancola, Feathers (FA/VISA 3024)
  • Si Qi Zhou, Venus in Chrome (FA/VISA 2024)
The award winners, 2016 Undergraduate Research Fair, were celebrated at the University's Research Leaders Celebration on Feb. 24
The award winners of the 2016 Undergraduate Research Fair were celebrated at the University’s Research Leaders Celebration on Feb. 24

Awards were presented by York University’s Associate Vice-President Research Celia Haig-Brown, Faculty of Health Dean Harvey Skinner, Faculty of Liberal Arts and Professional Studies Associate Dean Naomi Adelson, Theatre Professor Ian Garrett (AMPD), Associate University Librarian Mark Robertson, Librarian Norda Majekodunmi, and students Emylee Kahr and Nicole Yanqui. Bronfman Librarian Sophie Bury presented the Information Literacy award and those who attended the Undergraduate Research Fair selected a People’s Choice winner.

The award winners show off their prizes at the 2016 Undergraduate Research Fair
The award winners show off their prizes at the 2016 Undergraduate Research Fair

Fair organizers agree that all presenters at the 2016 Undergraduate Research Fair were winners.