Live outside your comfort zone, grad students told

Mapping the New Knowledges

Raymond Akong elaborates on his Chemistry poster presentation at the Mapping the New Knowledges conference.

Brock’s Cheryl McCormick, Psychology professor and Canada Research Chair in Neuroscience, opened the recent Mapping the New Knowledges graduate student research conference by encouraging students to live outside their comfort zone.

For graduate students to accept the responsibility and the privilege of being called researchers, they must have the courage to seek out experiences that will challenge their ideas and research, McCormick said.

“More often than not, when you put yourself out there, it will be a positive experience,” she said during her keynote address at the April 22 event. “Sometimes you may get a little bruised. But if you are not getting beaten up from time to time – and I mean metaphorically beaten up by your advisor, committee members, people at conferences and reviewers — then you may not really be engaging anyone with your efforts and should ask yourself why.

“If you are not getting beaten up from time to time, you certainly aren’t learning anything. You can only measure your progress by the hurdles you overcome. But most of all, have fun. There is much joy in doing research.”

McCormick’s address captured the spirit of the day-long conference, an annual event that showcases the valuable contribution that graduate students make to the University’s thriving research culture.

“That you are here today, sharing your knowledge with your academic peers – graduate students and faculty — demonstrates that you are researchers,” she added.

This year, the diversity and quality of graduate research stood out said Professor John McNamara, chair of the conference organizing committee.

“I was very impressed with the calibre of research presentations and the breadth of topics,” McNamara said. “As well, we had outstanding attendance from faculty and our graduate community. There was a lot of interaction throughout the day between our participants and those who attended the conference. That highlights the success of the conference as an opportunity to share knowledge and to stimulate an exchange of ideas that leads to new and exciting directions for our research.”

In her address, McCormick also talked about how she realized as a university student that she had a passion for research.

“I remember the first time that I experienced that feeling in which you think you are going to burst because you have been so captivated by some finding, some perspective, some understanding,” she said.

It’s that passion for research that McCormick has continued to share as a faculty supervisor.

“Having student researchers work alongside me continues to benefit me as a researcher,” she said. “I have been very fortunate to have many exceptional undergraduate students and graduate students in my lab; as much as I challenge them, they also challenge me, and we learn from each other.”

The Mapping the New Knowledges conference is presented in partnership by the Faculty of Graduate Studies, Brock Research and the Graduate Students’ Association.


Rebecca Starkman, graduate student in Child and Youth Studies, explains her presentation.

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