Brock students pursue summer research through VPR fund

Madelyne Coote’s summer is turning out to be an eye-opening glimpse into the future.

The third-year Psychology student was volunteering in Brock’s Social Cognitive Development Lab when Lab Director and Associate Professor Angela Evans told Coote about Brock’s Research Training Award program.

Coote applied and received a research grant to examine court transcripts of Canadian trials in which children provided testimony in sexual abuse cases. The undergrad is analyzing how children are being questioned and whether the Canadian court system is using best-practices for child witnesses.

“These findings will hopefully help allow for recommendations to be made to improve questioning techniques lawyers and judges use to get reliable information from child witnesses,” says Evans.

The experience is not only teaching Coote research skills, but is starting to give her ideas of what might come after graduation.

“I’m making relationships with other professionals who are in this field through the Canadian Child Interviewing Research Team (CCIRT) network,” says Coote. “This has opened my eyes to more opportunities within psychology.”

Coote is one of 42 students to have received a Research Training Award (RTA) from Brock University’s Office of the Vice-President, Research this summer.

Valued at $6,000, the award enables undergraduate and graduate students to undergo summer research training internships in all faculties across Brock.

“Students receive an opportunity to enhance their knowledge and skills through interaction with faculty and hands-on research and training experience, in the process increasing their awareness of potential educational and career pathways,” says Vice-President, Research Tim Kenyon.

The Brock RTA was created on short notice when a similar summer internship program from Mitacs, a national non-profit research organization, shifted gears unexpectedly.

“The timing was intended to address the collapse of the summer job market due to COVID-19,” says Kenyon. “We need to support our students in overcoming this challenge as we invest in our collective future through the development of our students’ research expertise.”

Mitacs has since announced a scaled-down version of the original program, with a further eight Brock University students to receive their RTAs.

PhD candidate Jenalyn Yumol is another recipient of Brock’s RTA program.

Under the direction of her supervisor, Professor of Kinesiology and Health Sciences and Canada Research Chair in Bone and Muscle Development Wendy Ward, Yumol is creating a resource to help people support their bone health.

Yumol is using the Eat Well Plate, a diagram produced by Canada’s Food Guide, to illustrate the proportions of nutritious foods people should eat to promote health.

“The goal of my project is to adapt the Eat Well Plate to support bone health, specifically highlighting bone-supporting nutrients including calcium, vitamin D, protein, and other micronutrients,” says Yumol.

Consuming foods rich in these nutrients and staying active are some of the ways that may prevent or slow the onset of osteoporosis, a disease characterized by low bone mass leading to increased risk of fragility fractures.

“These modified plates could be used as tools for clinicians, dieticians, health-care providers, or directly with the community,” says Yumol.

The 42 students’ research projects span many departments in all Faculties. Other examples of research being conducted include:

  • theorizing the influence of thickness of lines drawn in a logo on the perceived sincerity, competence, and ruggedness of the brand
  • migrant workers in the Cannabis industry
  • the importance for local history and heritage practitioners to engage in ‘digital storytelling’
  • how humans exercise and adapt to extreme environments

In consultation with their faculty supervisor, recipients design and lead their research projects, which began earlier this month and run for 12 to 16 weeks.

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