Undergraduate excellence on display at eighth annual Research Fair and Art Walk

Undergraduate Research Fair & Art Walk
Undergraduate Research Fair & Art Walk

More than 50 posters and 10 pieces of artwork representing over 70 students took over the Scott Library Collaboratory when York University hosted the eighth annual Undergraduate Research Fair on March 4.

Jessica Godin
Jessica Godin

Sponsored by York University Libraries and the Office of the Vice-President Research & Innovation, the event honoured student researchers and artists and provided them with an opportunity to share their work. Students from both Keele and Glendon campuses and from multiple disciplines – social sciences, fine arts, humanities, health, sciences and environmental studies – were at the fair and eager to demonstrate their findings.

Students submitted projects based on a diverse range of topics and for a variety of reasons. Some projects were focused on designing future research, such as psychology student and hopeful future marriage counselor Jessica Godin’s poster, “Looking on the Bright Side: Comparing Long-Distance Relationships and Geographically Close Relationships,” which proposed surveying long-distance couples about their sexual satisfaction, an area Godin said she learned was a “big question mark” in her course on intimate relationships. Other projects were based on research that students had the opportunity to conduct, such as political science student Adam Garisto’s poster, “Ford Fest: Community BBQ or Ethical Nightmare,” which applied theories of utilitarianism and deontology to explored the ethics around the ways political parties communicate with different audiences.

Adam Garisto
Adam Garisto

Garisto, now in his fourth year, was excited to discuss his topic, having wanted to be involved in the fair throughout his studies. “I think any undergrad who is thinking about the fair should definitely apply,” Garisto said. “It’s been one of the best experiences, and it’s so great to get some exposure for your academic papers.”

Elizaveta Selezneva, a Glendon psychology student who participated in the event for the second time, echoed Garisto’s enthusiasm. “It’s a chance to share the findings you have with the community and educate people, and to meet other people who conducted research and find out something new.” Selezneva, who won the first-place prize for Best Honours Thesis/MRP for her project on susceptibility to fake news, was appreciative of the opportunity for “extra training” for future graduate studies. “We conduct research, we discuss findings,” she explained. “That’s what we do there!”

Elizaveta Selezneva
Elizaveta Selezneva

Many students agreed that the fair provided them with valuable experiential education to support their future endeavours. “I had a lot of experience doing research, both within the laboratory and through literature,” explained first place Library Information Award winner John Nguyen. “I was very happy that I could learn these new skills which could be used either in graduate or professional programs.”

Gloria Park, who won the second-place prize for Best Honours Thesis/MRP for her proposed policy solutions to address the high rate of mental and physical health concerns facing Indigenous inmates, was not alone in thanking her instructor for supporting her participation in the event. “She really encouraged me and provided me the tools I needed,” Park said of Assistant Professor Tuulia Law from York’s criminology program.

Gloria Park
Gloria Park

Interim Vice-President of Research and Innovation and Faculty of Science dean Rui Wang praised the undergraduate researchers and artists in remarks delivered at the fair. “This makes me want to go back to school, and I’m wondering whether you have openings in your research teams,” Wang said. “My CV is coming.”

Wang told attendees that the University is fortunate to benefit from its undergraduate researchers. “You bring the new ideas, new inspiration and new energy into the university research arena,” he said. “You are the future. You are the hope.”

Awards were presented in eight different categories, with students taking home monetary prizes for Best Lower-Year Project, Best Upper-Year Project, Best Thesis/Major Research Paper (MRP) Project, the Library Information Literacy Award, Best Poster, Best Group Project, the People’s Choice Award as well as the first ever Art Walk Exhibit Award.

Bach on Brass
Bach on Brass

All presenters received an invitation to submit an article on their project, to be considered for publication in the refereed e-journal Review YOUR Review (York Online Undergraduate Research Review) published by York University Libraries and associated with the fair. The Art Walk award winning submission will appear on the cover of the e-journal.

Entertainment at the event was provided by Bach on Brass, a group of music students in the School of the Arts, Media, Performance & Design including Giancarlo Binetti (French horn), Maurizio Miserere (tuba), Blair Smith-Herbert (trombone), Brittany Zecha (trumpet) and Joshua Zhang (trumpet).

For more information on the Undergraduate Research Fair, visit the event’s website. A complete list of this year’s award winners can be found below, with photos by Rividu Mendis:

Dr. James Wu Prize for Best Lower-year Project

  • First prize: Anh T. P. Nguyen for “Smart Drugs? Cognitive Enhancing Drugs and the Consequences on Healthy Populations” (HH/PSYC 2010)

  • Second prize: Prakash Thambipillai for “Treating Trauma with MDMA: Legalizing MDMA-Assisted Psychotherapy for Trauma-Related Mental Health Disorders” (HH/PSYC 2010)

Dr. James Wu Prize for Best Upper-year Project

  • First prize: Claudia Dias Martins for “Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) for Depression” (HH/PSYC 4061)

  • Second prize: Tatiana Espinosa-Merlano for “Eat Dementia Away! How does nutrition affect cognition and what are some nutritional practices to adopt or avoid?” (HH/KINE 4140)

Dr. James Wu Prize for Best Honours Thesis/MRP

  • First prize: Elizaveta Selezneva for “The Effect of Priming Caution on the Receptivity to Fake News” (GL/PSYC 4000)

  • Second prize: Gloria Park for “Are Canadian Prisons the New Residential School?” (AP/CRIM 4652)

Library Information Literacy Award

  • First prize: John Nguyen for “Time Flies when You’re Having Fun: A Fruit Fly Study on Aging” (SC/BIOL 4000)

  • Second prize: Susan K. Chen for “The Personality Transformations of a School Shooter” (HH/PSYC 4050)

Best Poster Presentation

  • First prize: Beatrice Sohler for “How Photographic Mediums Shaped and Challenged the Portrayals of Japanese Women in Late 19th and Early 20th Century Japan” (AP/HIST 4765)

  • Second prize: Taheera Sarker for “Constructing Canadian National Identity: Confronting multiculturalism, whiteness and the internal Muslim Other” (AP/POLS 4103)

Best Group Project

  • Alaina Thomas, Stacy Chiu, Christopher Lee and Nicole Maina for “Comparing Psychology and Non-Psychology Students’ Attitude Toward Care Seeking” (GL/PSYC 3525)

Art Walk Exhibit Award

  • Natalia Bonczek for “Misster E” (FA/VISA 3024)

People’s Choice Award

  • Shalini Iyer for “The Role of Lipids in Neuronal Plasticity – Link to Autism Spectrum Disorders” (SC/BIOL 4000)