Granting agencies such as the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) and the Fonds de recherche du Québec – Société et culture (FRQSC) offer undergraduate students the opportunity to gain research experience during the summer semester by working as research assistants for faculty members. Several Bishop’s University students benefit from this invaluable opportunity every year.
This past year, four undergraduate Physics students, recipients of an NSERC Undergraduate Student Research Award (USRA) spent the 2015 summer semester working for Drs. Nelson and Faraoni, undertaking tasks ranging from running simulations of interacting binary systems on a supercomputer to studying the theory of general relativity and its potential applications to black holes. In Environmental Studies and Geography, a USRA holder documented occurrences of poor air quality by examining air pollution data gathered by the ministère de l’Environnement du Québec, whereas a student from the Sports Studies Department examined motor skill acquisition and the interference that occurs when two motors skills are practiced in alternation. Finally, in the Department of Mathematics, a student computed several examples of bound quiver algebras to locate modules of finite projective dimension in the Auslander Reiten quiver of their algebras.
Students from the Social Sciences and Humanities also benefit from these opportunities thanks to the FRQSC’s Undergraduate Introduction to Research Award (Bourse d’initiation à la recherche au premier cycle). Thomas Minguy (Department of Philosophy) spent the summer doing a thorough literature review of philosophical texts pertaining to the notion of private property in a liberal and capitalist system, on fundamental human rights, and on the fraught relationship that sometimes exists between the two. Ryan Lundell-Creagh (Department of Psychology) won the same award which allowed him to take part in research on emotional contagion among Facebook users. When asked to discuss his experience as a research assistant, Lundell-Creagh is both enthusiastic and grateful:
Conducting research at Bishop’s University has been one of the most enriching parts of my university experience. It has allowed me to gain new knowledge and insights to supplement what I’ve learned in the classroom. Research has become an integral part of my growth as an academic, and has truly changed me for the better. I have been working as a research assistant for almost three years now, and love every minute of it. There’s something extremely thrilling about being able to discover new relationships between things and contributing to the growth of the scientific community in a meaningful way. Having this opportunity has shown me that a career in research is something which I wish to pursue in the future, and has allowed me to build the tools necessary to be able to achieve this goal. I am grateful for the opportunity that the university and the professors have given me, and would strongly recommend it to anyone!