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Faculty of Social Science and Humanities project summaries


Rachel Ariss Lindsay Malloy Matthew Shane
Kimberley Clow Olga Marques James Walsh
Alyson King Karla Dhungana Sainju Arshia U. Zaidi



Supervisor name: Rachel Ariss, PhD

Project title: Symposium: Indigenous Pedagogies, Technology and Creativity: Sharing andLearning for Reconciliatory Education

Summary of research project: This symposium will create a space to bring together Indigenous land-based holistic worldviews with technologically-based education, engaging participants in a dialogue that explores how we navigate multiple sites of tension and creative energies that bridge Indigenous and Western worldviews together, enriching the Ontario Tech University community and strengthening its reconciliatory education pathways. Indigenous and non-Indigenous academics interested in Indigenous pedagogies and reconciliatory education along with Elders, students, artists, curriculum developers, and software designers will be invited to workshop promising practices into proposals.

Student responsibilities/tasks:

Dr. Rachel Ariss and Nancy Stevens (Indigenous Studies Dissertation Completion Fellow) will supervise a student to complete the following tasks:

  • Preparing a literature review on educative technologies and their effects on access to education and/or isolation of students, especially Indigenous students.
  • Indigenous pedagogies, technologies and cultural expression.
  • Updating a literature review on curricular responses to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) at Canadian Universities.
  • Collaborating with researchers on inviting people with interest and relevant expertise from Ontario Tech and elsewhere to engage in the symposium, and symposium programming.

Student qualifications required (e.g. courses completed, minimum grades, skills):

A student interested in this project must have:

  • Third- or fourth-year standing.
  • Knowledge of Indigenous perspectives and histories and/or Final Report of the TRC.
  • Completed at least one course focusing on Indigenous content/perspectives.
  • Completed at least one research methods course that includes qualitative methods.
  • Strong written and oral communication skills.
  • A minimum GPA of 3.0.
  • Experience working with Indigenous cultures and in Indigenous environments would be an asset.

 A student interested in this project must be:

  • Independent and communicative.
  • Well-organized and comfortable managing deadlines.
  • Familiar with research resources at Ontario Tech.
  • Comfortable working with a range of communicative and educative technologies.

Ontario Tech University is an equal opportunity employer and welcomes applications from all qualified candidates, while especially encouraging applications from women, members of visible minorities, Indigenous peoples, persons with disabilities, and persons of any sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression. All qualified candidates are encouraged to apply; however, Canadians and permanent residents will be given priority.


Supervisor name: Kimberley Clow, PhD

Project title: Exploring the stigma of wrongful conviction

Summary of research project: More than 360 innocent individuals have been exonerated by post-conviction DNA testing (Innocence Project, 2019). Recent research conducted in my lab, however, has suggested that exonerees face similar-—or even greater—discrimination than individuals who truly committed the crimes for which they were convicted (Clow, 2017; Zanella et al., 2019). The successful STAR Award recipient will assist me in developing stimuli for additional studies to more fully explore what drives the stigma that targets individuals who have been wrongly convicted. The student will assist with multiple studies, at various points in the research process.

Student responsibilities/tasks:

Tasks may include:

  • Video editing (I have about six hours of video footage discussing issues with a Canadian exoneree).
  • Preparing stimuli and filling out forms for research ethics board proposals.
  • Gathering existing scales and stimuli from the literature.
  • Literature reviews.
  • Setting up studies for data collection using Qualtrics, Media Lab, and/or Direct RT.
  • Assisting with data collection, data coding, and other related tasks as they arise.

Student qualifications required (e.g. courses completed, minimum grades, skills):

  • The ability to work independently, critically problem-solve obstacles, and take a leading role on projects.
  • A grade of 80 per cent or above in a research methods and/or statistics course (in any discipline) is ideal, but not necessary.


Supervisor name: Alyson King, PhD

Project title: Connections & Possibilities: Homelessness, addiction and mental health in rural communities

Summary of research project: This new project is primarily intended to explore the existing research on how rural communities deal with the growing crisis at the intersection between homelessness, addiction and mental health, with the goal of collating and analyzing potential solutions that have been implemented in Canada and internationally. Most programs and service providers focus on one issue (e.g. homelessness, opioid addiction), but most individuals who are homeless are also living with addiction or mental illness, or both.

Student responsibilities/tasks:

The successful student will conduct a literature search and compile an annotated bibliography on existing research. Additional research may involve contacting relevant service providers in Canada to gather detailed information on active programs. The student will also write a literature review identifying and analyzing possible paths forward in dealing with this growing problem in rural communities.

Student qualifications required (e.g. courses completed, minimum grades, skills):

The student must be an independent and well-organized worker who is confident in doing social science research, using library databases, and conducting telephone interviews with key informants. Student must be an excellent writer, with strong analytical capabilities.


Supervisor name: Lindsay Malloy, PhD

Project title: The Immigration Experiences of Children and Teens

Summary of research project: The current research project will shed light on the largely understudied topic concerning how youth (ages 9 to 16) describe immigration.

Specifically, this study seeks to: 

  • Assess what youth remember and report about their immigration experience.
  • Test the effectiveness of a structured interview protocol (Revised NICHD Protocol) for eliciting their narratives.
  • Compare youths’ narratives when interviewed with or without interpreters.

This study will be the first to test what youth remember and report about immigration, including via interpreters and with a structured interview protocol designed to enhance youths’ narratives.

Student responsibilities/tasks:

The candidate will act as a research assistant (RA) who works closely with the Faculty Principal Investigator, postdoctoral researcher, and graduate students to undertake tasks in the current research. The primary role of the student will be to conduct interviews following different protocols with immigrant youth and their families in Spanish-speaking households (in and around the Greater Toronto Area) and administering other psychological measures. The candidate will also be responsible for recruiting and consenting participants, liaising with community organizations, transcribing interviews, coding and entering data, and other analytical/administrative duties.

Student qualifications required (e.g. courses completed, minimum grades, skills):

Student qualifications include:

  • Fully bilingual English-Spanish - reading, speaking, and writing in both languages.

 Student would preferably:

  • Have experience working with children/youth/families.
  • Have experience conducting literature reviews.
  • Have experience working with data (e.g. coding, entering and analyzing data).

Note: This study has already been approved by the Research Ethics Board.


Supervisor name: Olga Marques, PhD

Project title: Beyond Girls (Gender?) and Gangs: Understanding Gangs through the Lens of Relationship

Summary of research project: This project seeks to explore gang membership, lifestyle, and ultimately gang exit, from the framework of 'relationship', not only relationships with others, but also relationship with geography and community. In particular, this project focuses on the role of young women in gangs, not as gang members per se, but as mediators, creators and sustainers of these sorts of 'relationships'. This research seeks to take a more contextualized as well as nuanced approach to the roles that women serve 'to' (not merely 'in') gangs, but in romantic as well as familial relationships.

Student responsibilities/tasks:

The student will engage in several tasks related to various aspects of the research project: 

  • Read existing research on the topic of gangs, gang membership, and gang lifestyle, and write a literature review.
  • Post participant recruitment posters and schedule interview times/locations.
  • Assist the supervisor in conducting some interviews, particularly those with key stakeholders.
  • Transcribe interviews.
  • Assist in data analysis, if time permits.

Student qualifications required (e.g. courses completed, minimum grades, skills): 

Students must have excellent oral and written communication skills, and knowledge of how to search for and properly cite literature. Students should have completed at least one course in research methods. It is desired that the student have completed a course in qualitative research methods. The student should have course-based knowledge of criminology and/or sociology, as well as have an interest in gangs and gender.


Supervisor name: Karla Dhungana Sainju, PhD

Project title: Technology in Corrections: Advancements, Solutions and Cautions

Summary of research project: This project will examine the technological advancements, solutions and cautions within corrections by reviewing the technologies currently being utilized worldwide. The study will identify technological uses for surveillance, efficiency and contraband identification, as well as technologies that directly threaten the safety of correctional staff and inmates. Comparisons between technological uses and challenges in various parts of the world such as North America, Europe, Asia, and the Middle East will be conducted. Questions about whether these technologies alleviate or exacerbate issues within corrections will be examined.

Student responsibilities/tasks:

Students will help with conducting background research and literature reviews for the current study. It will require navigating multiple academic and non-academic databases, executing literature searches, reviewing and screening search results, extracting data from existing literature and compiling existing research on specific research areas. Responsibilities can also include analyzing the data as well as writing up the key results and findings. 

Student qualifications required (e.g. courses completed, minimum grades, skills):

Completion of research methods, data analysis and qualitative analysis courses. Additionally, strong computer skills (Internet and database searching), attention to detail and excellent verbal and written communication skills will also be an asset.


Supervisor name: Matthew Shane, PhD

Project title: The Dark Side of Empathy

Summary of research project:  Empathy—the sharing of another person's emotions—is generally believed to occur for virtuous reasons (i.e. out of compassion, concern, and caring). However, it is actually just as possible that an individual would share in another person's emotions for other less virtuous reasons. For instance, an individual may consider another's emotions in order to get something from them, to trick them, or to manipulate them. The present project is designed to investigate this 'darker side' of empathy, to evaluate how often people choose to use empathy in this way, and to evaluate whether different people use empathy more for virtuous or non-virtuous reasons.

Student responsibilities/tasks:  

  • Create study material.
  • Administer study protocol to participants.
  • Analyze collected data.
  • Write a final report. 

Student qualifications required (e.g. courses completed, minimum grades, skills): 

Students should have completed research methods and statistics, with minimum grade of B+.


Supervisor name: James Walsh, PhD

Project title: Digital Media, Migration, and the Canadian Federal Election

Summary of research project: This project will systematically examine Twitter communications concerning the contentious and multifaceted issue of migration during the 2019 Canadian Federal election cycle. By assessing the themes, participants, and engagement patterns that govern online discussions, it aims to contribute to ongoing debates concerning social media’s effects on democratic arrangements and sensibilities—whether it promotes social connectedness and inclusion or presents a divisive source of tribalism and polarization.

Student responsibilities/tasks:

Students are expected to assist with the data collection and analysis for this project. This will involve recording basic descriptive data on Twitter messages (e.g. geolocation, account type, etc.), conducting thematic coding, compiling results, and identifying key trends. Based on their performance, the student may be given the opportunity to serve as a co-author on a conference paper or journal article.

Student qualifications required (e.g. courses completed, minimum grades, skills):

The ability to work independently, exceptional organization skills, effective written and oral communication skills, and a working familiarity with SPSS and Excel. Students are required to have taken Research Methods and Data Analysis or Qualitative Methods.


Supervisor name: Arshia U. Zaidi, PhD

Project title: Swipe Right: The Social Media 'Hook-Up' Culture for Racialized Women In Post-Secondary Institutions.

Summary of research project: This research makes an attempt to uncover the 'hook-up' culture for racialized women in campus communities:

  • Explore the lives, social realities and experience of technology-facilitated hook-up culture for racialized women on post-secondary campuses in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA).
  • Respond to gaps in the literature by using a critical race lens to understand how—and why—racialized women interact and engage in these 'intimate' social media spaces.
  • Uncover the negative and positive experiences of racialized women as they engage in the technologically-facilitated hookup landscape.

Student responsibilities/tasks:

The successful student will assist in maintaining up-to-date literature review, and assist in the data collection and analysis phases for this project. Specifically, they will work to organize data collection and will be trained to conduct interviews and transcribe data for eventual data analysis and N6 or NVIVO. The professors will train this student and ensure they are able to transcribe and analyze correctly. This student may also aid in recruitment strategies.

Student qualifications required (e.g. courses completed, minimum grades, skills):

The student must be a senior undergraduate student and have A- or higher with an interest in research and data analysis. They must have also taken qualitative basic and advanced courses. Some knowledge of SPSS may be beneficial.