About the Award

The Undergraduate Student Research Awards (USRA) are meant to stimulate a student’s interest in research in the natural sciences and engineering. Students work closely together with eligible FASS faculty that can supervise their research. The awards are also meant to encourage students to undertake graduate studies and pursue a research career in these fields.

USRAs:
Duration: A full 16-week period, full-time
Value: $4,500 from NSERC, plus a minimum of $1,800 from the supervisor.

Recipients

Cody

Cody Cane

Conquering the mysteries of the mind and opening the black box that is the brain, have been the driving forces in my academic career so far. To finally get involved in real cognitive science research and to see the actual workings in a lab environment, especially one as cutting edge as the ACE lab, is going to be incredibly exciting and valuable. I can’t wait for the new skills and lessons I will learn during my time with Dr. Herdman, Dr. Van Benthem and the rest of the ACE lab.

Supervisor: Professor Herdman

The project is using EEG to look for a neural indicator of pilot vigilance states. Pilots are constantly required to maintain an optimal level of attention and working memory during flight. If pilots begin to lose vigilance, they will suffer in their task performance. It is our hope to find a clear neural indicator of when a pilot is overloaded or underloaded and then use this indicator to provide preemptive interventions before their task performance is impacted. – Professor Herdman

Himani Deshpande

Project: Towards site-specific testing of the Canadian Land Surface Scheme with permafrost field data

My interest in environmental risks and hazards has led me to explore the changes ongoing in permafrost regions. Climate models are one of  the researchers’ primary tools in understanding the future of our natural systems and the skills gained in modelling and programming during this award will assist me in pursuing further research in this field.

Supervisor: Stephan Gruber

Our objective is to evaluate the skill of the Canadian Land Surface Scheme (CLASS) to simulate permafrost. For this, we perform detailed site-specific simulations at locations for which ground data exists. These simulations are driven by global meteorological re-analyses. This summer project works towards making the first simulations and involves collaboration with scientists at Environment and Climate Change Canada and the Northwest Territories Geological Survey. – Professor Gruber

Himani
Yulia Antropova

Yulia Antropova

This summer I will work on characterizing the bed of the Milne Glacier at Canada’s most northerly coastline. I am excited to go to this remote area and learn new techniques to discover how climate change is impacting the Arctic. This opportunity will allow me to pursue my passion for physical geography and geomatics the last year of my BSc and I hope to use this experience to frame an MSc project that I will start in September.

Supervisor: Derek Mueller

Yulia will be examining the topography, thickness and bed characteristics of the Milne Glacier in Nunavut. This relatively large glacier (55 km long and 4-5 km wide) is one outlet of an ice cap that covers much of northern Ellesmere Island. Yulia will map the glacier elevation, the ice thickness and the bed topography of the glacier terminus using an ice penetrating radar and GPS. Milne Glacier is poised to undergo a rapid retreat in the coming years due to climate and oceanographic change. Yulia’s research will help elucidate the underlying processes related to marine-terminating glacier changes at their beds. – Professor Mueller

Jill Turner

The influence of language on math proficiency is a very intriguing topic to me because math is one of my strengths. This summer I look forward to participating in each component of a research project to better understand the connection between math and language.

Supervisor: Jo-Anne LeFevre

Our lab is involved in several exciting projects in which we are trying to understand individual differences in the math skills of children and adults. Jill is involved two projects which explore how language influence mathematical learning and reasoning. In one project, she is working with a Ph.D. student to understand how the complexity of language used in math word problems influences problem solving for individuals who struggle with attentional limitations. In another project, we are studying the mathematical development of children whose first language is different from the language used at school. These experiences involve Jill in authentic research activities where she has the opportunity to contribute to all elements of the process, from designing the hypotheses and the materials to data analysis, writing, and sharing the results with diverse audiences. – Professor LeFevre

Sofia Herczegh

Sofia Herczegh

I am conducting research this summer on the plant species and water quality of the Rideau Canal and lakes of the Gatineau Region. I have always been passionate about the safety, integrity and preservation of Canada’s freshwater and this study allows me to combine chemistry and biology with environmental science. Through my NSERC USRA award I will be provided the opportunity to gain excellent hands-on research experience, pursue a thesis project in an area that interests me greatly, and present the findings to the greater community.

Supervisor: Jesse Vermaire

Sofia is working in collaboration with the National Capital Commission to investigate how an invasive aquatic plant (Eurasian watermilfoil; scientific name: Myriophyllum spicatum) is altering the ecology of Lac Phillipe, an important recreational lake in Gatineau Park. Sofia’s research will help park managers mitigate the ecological and social impacts of this aquatic invasive species. – Professor Vermaire

Patrick Jardine

I was lucky enough to grow up with many lake and river systems around me and have always been passionate about them. This research award gives me the opportunity to learn more about these systems, and use that knowledge to help protect them in the future so others can experience them the same way I have.

Supervisor: Jesse Vermaire

Patrick will be working in collaboration with Parks Canada to investigate the triggers of nuisance algae blooms in the Rideau Canal system. Patrick’s research will help in managing water quality in the Rideau Canal to ensure that this National Historic Site continues to provide valuable ecosystem services that are important to the economy of many communities along its route. – Professor Vermaire

Patrick Jardine

Kyle Sale

I am interested in investigating the role of individual differences, such as personality traits in academic contexts. My research prior to this current USRA post involved the implementation of an algebra computer tutor and its evaluation to test the interaction between personality traits (e.g., conscientiousness) and levels of assistance during problem solving activities. During this USRA post, I expect to refine my thesis contributions (through the collection and analysis of additional data), as well as to generalize and extend my findings (through the development of a computer tutor in a new domain, programming).

Supervisor: Kasia Muldner

Kyle Sale is working on developing and evaluating a series of educational technologies using the CTAT platform, which provides tools for building cognitive tutors (technologies that use Artificial Intelligence techniques). The tutors serve both a pedagogical function and a research function: they help students learn (e.g., about programming), and they allow us to test various instructional interventions in experimental studies to identify ones most effective for learning. – Professor Muldner