LA&PS celebrates Dean’s Award for Research Excellence winners

The Faculty of Liberal Arts and Professional Studies (LA&PS) 2018 Dean’s Award for Research Excellence (DARE) winners showcased their summer research projects at the DARE Poster Session on Sept. 20 in York University’s Second Student Centre.

Attended by an audience of their peers, parents, faculty members and staff, the undergraduate student awardees delivered short research poster presentations on a range of topics, including: conjugal slavery in war, an ecological study of permafrost, financial inclusion and access to mainstream banking systems, human rights and surveillance, global employment standards and temporary foreign workers in Canada.

Dean Ananya Mukherjee-Reed with the DARE winnersOutgoing LA&PS Dean Ananya Mukherjee-Reed with the DARE winners

LA&PS launched DARE in response to a call from undergraduate students who wanted increased opportunities to participate in research activities in the Faculty. The award provided students with $5,000 and the chance to engage in supervised research with faculty members over the summer term.

“My heartiest congratulations to our students and faculty,” said outgoing LA&PS Dean Ananya Mukherjee-Reed. “I have always believed that research is not just an activity, but a habit of the mind that opens us to new possibilities hitherto unimagined. As I listened to the students describing their work, and read through their responses, I was inspired by the possibilities I saw there. I hope many more of our students are able to participate in DARE in the coming years.”

The students’ reflections on their research experiences reveal the impressive depth and breadth of knowledge they learned this summer.

Camila Acosta, who worked with anthropology Professor Naomi Adelson, wrote: “One of the most valuable lessons that I have taken away from this experience is understanding that being a researcher is an onerous vocation, but ultimately one that is extremely rewarding. Researchers are privy to, and welcomed into, the lives of very interesting and dynamic individuals and communities, which is both a unique privilege and an important responsibility. As a student who plans to continue in academia, I believe that this is an invaluable lesson to learn at an early stage in my academic development.”

Cheery-Maria Attia, who was supervised by social science Professor Ozgun Topak, said: “The most valuable lesson I learned from this experience has to do with approaching differing opinions with an open mind in respectful dialogue. When it comes to research, it is important to explore all viewpoints before forming a conclusion. In examining the strengths and weaknesses of each perspective, I have learned how to form a more effective and persuasive argument. This will be especially important in the future, as I pursue legal advocacy for marginalized groups and make a strong case for equitable living and working conditions.”

Alexandra Isaac, who worked under the direction of humanities Professor Andrea Davis, noted: “As a Black female, I am interested in the experiences of my communities and how our identities impact the ways in which we navigate our society. I plan on going into journalism in order to be able to tell our stories. With the project, I learned the necessary research skills to theorize empirical evidence through academic literature. I have also learned about transcribing texts and finding academic sources to supplement the already credible experiences of these subjects.”

DARE recipient and sociology student Zareef Ahmad was on hand at the celebration to discuss the project he worked on with human resource management Professor Kelly Pike, titled “Work and Gender Dynamics in the Global Garment Industry.” The project looks at women who work in the garment industry and how their lives are affected outside the workplace.

“What excites me about this project is that I’m very passionate about human rights, international trade and sustainable business practices that help me conceptualize what’s wrong and what can be done to improve working conditions, because currently women are being used for their cheap labour,” said Ahmad. “Professor Kelly Pike has definitely been a role model throughout this research and I hope we can cross paths again one day.”

Learn more about the award recipients and view their research posters in the DARE awardees gallery. Read more about DARE in the YFile article “LA&PS announces winners of the Dean’s Award for Research Excellence 2018.”