SSAS Program

  • Congratulations to the Spring Class of 2023!

    Top row L-R: Kamran Abbasov, Kelly Bute-Seaton, Alexandra Cotrufo, Tasha Gunasinghe Middle row L-R: Kristin Palilionis, Lauren Patterson, Shannon Ruzgys, Tannaz Sattar Bottom row L-R: Savannah Stuart, Tyler Thomson

    On June 12, 2023, 10 students will officially graduate from the Master of Sustainability program at Brock University! Each of these students joined the program at various points throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and have shown incredible resilience and tenacity throughout their studies. On behalf of the ESRC, we are thrilled to have been a part of each of their academic journeys and cannot wait to see all that these students accomplish in their careers!

    Kamran Abbasov joined the SSAS program, virtually, from Ganja, Azerbaijan in Fall 2020. He later relocated to St. Catharines in Winter 2021 to continue his thesis research under the supervision of Dr. David Fennell. Kamran’s research was titled Income “Inequality, Distributive Justice, and Sustainable Development: Implications for Niagara Peninsula Aspiring Global Geopark”. He successfully defended his research on January 24, 2023, and later presented his findings alongside Niagara Aspiring Geopark Founder Darren Platakis at the Government of Canada’s International Development Week in February.

    Kelly Bute-Seaton joined the program from Trinidad & Tobago in 2021. Prior to joining the program, Kelly received degrees in Biological Sciences and Business Administration, both of which informed her Master’s research. Kelly’s major research paper was supervised by Dr. Todd Green and was titled “An Assessment of Best Practices of Corporate Sustainability Strategies in Canadian SMEs [Small Medium Enterprises]”.

    Alexandra Cotrufo joined the program in 2021 and worked as a research assistant with the Charter with Facilities Management partnership. During her time as an RA, Alexandra was the successful co-recipient of a WWF Go Wild Grant with fellow SSAS student Madison Lepp. Alexandra and Madison used these funds to start the Brock University Seed Library, which was an incredibly successful initiative for the university. Alexandra’s research was also supervised by Dr. Todd Green and was titled “The Risk of Greenwashing in Corporate Social Responsibility Communications”.

    Tasha Gunasinghe joined the program in 2021 with a background in Biology. Her knowledge in the field served her well as she completed her major research paper under the supervision of Dr. Liette Vasseur. Tasha’s MRP was titled “Exploring Collaborative Frameworks to Assess and Monitor Conservation Outcomes of Indigenous Protected and Conserved Areas”. During her time in the program, Tasha also completed a co-op placement as a research assistant with Plenty Canada, and now works for Plenty full-time as a Conservation Governance Researcher.

    Kristin Palilionis joined the program in 2021 and worked as an RA with Dr. Julia Baird on a project about Niagara Irrigation Governance. Dr. Baird supervised Kristin’s major research paper, which was titled “Assessment of Water Resilience Principles in Water Policies and Plans: Niagara Region”. During her time in the program, Kristin worked for the Regional Municipality of Halton as a Summer Sustainability Student and was named a co-recipient of the Geoffrey F. Bruce Fellowship in Canadian Freshwater Policy from Ryerson University. The fellowship is designed to support the next generation of freshwater leaders, policy researchers and practitioners to ensure the sustainability of Canada’s freshwater resources.

    Lauren Patterson joined the program in 2021 with a background in Anthropology and Environmental Studies. This knowledge was helpful during her time as a research assistant for the Excellence in Environmental Stewardship Initiative. Lauren’s research was supervised by Dr. Jessica Blythe and was titled “Evaluating Public Participation in Canadian Municipal Climate Change Adaptation Plans”. Lauren’s research informed her co-op position as a Sustainability Student with the Town of Lincoln, and later her full-time position with the Halton Region as the Climate Change Response and Sustainability Intern.

    Shannon Ruzgys joined the program in 2020 after completing her undergraduate degree in Psychology at Brock. Dr. Gary Pickering supervised Shannon’s undergraduate thesis and continued to supervise her at the master’s level. Her thesis was titled “Gen Z and Sustainable Diets: A Holistic Perspective. Understanding Perceptions of and Engagement with the Social, Economic and Environmental Dimensions of a Sustainable Diet”. In 2022, Shannon was the recipient of the Best Poster award at the New Zealand and Australian Sensory & Consumer Science Symposium for a poster based on her thesis research, which was later successfully defended by Shannon on October 24, 2022.

    Tannaz Sattar joined the program in 2021 from Esfahan, Iran with a BSc. and an MSc. In Architecture. Her academic background was helpful in securing a co-op position with Agile Construction Inc. as a Drafter/Designer, and informed her major research paper, which was titled “Examining Types and Performance of Urban Green Space: Case Studies of Toronto, Milan, and Isfahan” and supervised by Dr. Ryan Plummer. In 2022, Tannaz was named a recipient of the Faculty of Social Sciences Student Research Award and presented her MRP at the annual FOSS Research Colloquium in December 2022.

    Savannah Stuart joined the program in 2020 with a background in Environmental Science and Ecology. Like fellow graduate Lauren Patterson, Savannah worked as a Research Assistant with the Excellence in Environmental Stewardship Initiative and this partnership became the basis of her thesis research. Savannah’s thesis was supervised by Dr. Ryan Plummer and was titled “Exploring people-place relationships through place attachment and wellbeing in the context of the abrupt social and ecological change associated with the COVID-19 pandemic”. She successfully defended this research on August 31, 2022 and has since began her PhD studies at the University of Waterloo.

    Tyler Thomson joined the program in 2021 from Western University with a background in Business Management. He worked as a research assistant for the ESRC’s partnership with the Town of Lincoln, the Brock-Lincoln Living Lab and later took on a co-op position with the Regional Municipality of Niagara. Tyler’s MRP research was supervised by Dr. Marilyne Carrey and was titled “Urban forest management planning: A case study of municipalities in Southern Ontario”.

    In addition to our 10 SSAS graduates, we’d also like to offer our sincere congratulations to the 10 undergraduate students who will be graduating with a Minor in Environmental Sustainability: Jared Boles, Allegra Caballero, Olivia Davies, Joseph Evans, Lily Piccolo, Meghan Rados, Emma Smith, Claire Taller, Easton Thibeault, and Holly Warren.

    Congratulations to all of these students, and best wishes to all of you in your future academic endeavours!

    Categories: Blog, Minor in Sustainability, SSAS Program

  • Reflecting on my First Year Experience

    Blog Contributor: Natalie Seniuk

    In the fall of 2022, I stepped away from my career as an environmental planner and project manager to pursue a graduate degree. When I found the Master’s of Sustainability Science and Society program at Brock, I knew it was the fit I had been looking for: a program focused on sustainability and climate change but through a social sciences lens. Beyond the academic fit, Brock is also my hometown university, and I am the second generation in my family to attend, following in the footsteps of the women in my family.

    Coming into the program as a mature student with a background in the environmental field, I didn’t know what exactly I would be adding to my knowledge bank. To say I have learned new things during this past year would be an understatement. Beyond acquiring new knowledge, I have been challenged to think in a new way: to dig deeper and question the potential impacts of sustainability and climate actions when value isn’t placed on the interconnectedness of the social and natural systems we live within. Having access to research, knowledge, and perspectives that are generally inaccessible outside of academic environments has reminded me of all that is happening, not just in industry, but in knowledge development and research. Working to further connect these two worlds is where I see myself applying my education when I complete my thesis next year.

    As a mature student and parent to a tiny person, it was a challenging first year. Needing to juggle academic and parental responsibilities felt overwhelming at times and making choices to step back from participating in things at school and home often felt like a sacrifice. Looking back, I recognize the benefits of having a full academic and personal life at the same time, it just looks a little different than it did when it was only me. With the support of my family, and faculty and staff at the university I have been able to achieve so much…and with my second year approaching, I am looking forward to new opportunities that I’m sure will continue to challenge me both academically and personally.

    This coming year, I am hoping to make a trip out of province to support my thesis project, and will be participating a graduate student experiential learning program through the university of Guelph.

    Categories: Blog, Program Reflections, SSAS Program, SSAS Student Contributor

  • Seen & Heard at the ESRC: Presentations for the End of the Term!

    It seems like just yesterday that the ESRC welcomed two new cohorts of graduate students to Brock – our ninth group of Master’s students and our first-ever group of PhD students!

    Both of these groups have now successfully completed their first years in their respective programs, and we could not be prouder of all they’ve achieved. We thought the best way to celebrate was with final class presentations, a social gathering for students and faculty, and a field trip!

    On Friday, March 31st, the SSAS students presented their MRP and Thesis research proposals to their peers. They have been working towards these presentations since September, and all did a wonderful job outlining their research topics.

    Back Row L-R: Kassie Burns, Zeal Pandya, Sanjida Amin, Sydney McIntyre, Evan Rodenburg, Erin Isaac, Dr. Jessica Blythe, Natalie Seniuk. Front Row L-R: Anmol Burmy, Zaara Momin.

    Back Row L-R: Dr. Todd Green, Sydney McIntyre, Evan Rodenburg, Erin Isaac, Dr. Jessica Blythe, Natalie Seniuk, Dr. Ryan Plummer, Dr. Xavier Fazio. Front Row L-R: Zeal Pandya, Kassie Burns, Sanjida Amin, Anmol Burmy, Zaara Momin, Dr. Marilyne Carrey, Amanda Smits

    With their research proposal presentations behind them, our SSAS students were then joined by their peers in the PhD program for a field trip to the Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority (NPCA) in Welland on April 4th, 2023. Since January, both cohorts have been working closely with Kerry Royer and Natalie Green to develop sustainability assessment frameworks and implementation tools for the NPCA as part of their course work in SSAS 5P03 and SSCI 7P02. The purpose of this field trip was for both groups to present their findings and recommendations to the staff at the NPCA. The presentations were a great success, and we received wonderful feedback from our partners at the NPCA!

    We are very proud of these graduate students for all they have achieved this year, and wish them all the best as they head into the Spring and Summer terms to begin co-op placements and research projects!

    Categories: Blog, Co-Op, Collaborations, Event, Experiential Education, SSAS Program

  • Seen & Heard at the ESRC: FOSS Research Colloquium

    On December 7th, the Faculty of Social Sciences hosted their annual Research Colloquium. This event is an opportunity to hear from the faculty recipients of two awards presented each year by the Faculty of Social Sciences: Distinguished Researcher and Early Career Researcher. Typically, the Colloquium features presentations by faculty awardees from the previous year. In addition to faculty award winners, the Research Colloquium features presenters selected from among recent recipients of the FOSS Student Research Award.

    As one of the recipients of this year’s FOSS Student Research Award, Master of Sustainability student Tannaz Sattar presented her research titled “Urban Green Space Typology and the Main Indicators for Maximizing their Performance; Case Studies of Isfahan, Milan, and Toronto”. This research was supervised by Dr. Ryan Plummer, and investigates the presence or absence of some urban green space categories in the three case studies, which are city of Isfahan in Iran, city of Milan in Italy, and city of Toronto in Canada.

    Congratulations, Tannaz!

    Categories: Blog, Conferences, Event, SSAS Program

  • Seen & Heard at the ESRC: 3 Minute Thesis Presentations

    On Friday, November 18th, 2022, second-year students in the Master of Sustainability program presented their thesis and MRP research to their peers in their Transdisciplinary Seminar course (SSAS 5P04). Course instructor Dr. Jessica Blythe challenged the students to present their research in the 3 Minute Thesis format, which allows presenters one PowerPoint slide and three minutes to explain their research.

    This group of students did a great job with their presentations, and we enjoyed learning about each of their chosen topics! Learn more about each student and their presentation in the photos below!


    Categories: Blog, SSAS Program

  • Congratulations, Lyndsay Bott!


    On October 14th, 2022, Lyndsay Bott will be the latest student to graduate from the Master of Sustainability program at Brock University. Lyndsay joined the program in 2021 and began working under the supervision of Dr. Julia Baird as part of the Water Resilience Lab. Lyndsay’s Major Research Paper looked at the relationships between peer-reviewed literature and Ontario best practice guides to aid the understanding of control methods for invasive Phragmites.

    We caught up with Lyndsay and asked her some questions about her time in the SSAS program, and her plans for her career.

    Q: Describe the research project you completed during your time in the SSAS program.

    Lyndsay Bott: My MRP focused on identifying best management practices for the control of invasive Phragmites to produce recommendations for private landowners in the Niagara region. I compared invasive Phragmites control methods from both peer-reviewed literature and Ontario Best Practice Guides to identify the overall risks associated for private landowners. These control methods were compared with the goal to bridge the gap between published and practical literature to finally produce an infographic to potentially be distributed to private landowners in the Niagara region.

    Q: How has your time in the program shaped your future career goals?

    LB: The SSAS program has immensely shaped my career goals. I believe what you do in this program subjects you to interests you may not have previously known existed. For example, during my time as a student in the SSAS program I was exposed to new interests through my personal completion of an MRP, the work I completed as a Research Assistant, and by participating in class projects or activities. I believe the interdisciplinary nature of the SSAS program allowed me to broaden my career interests and made me qualified for a vast number of roles right out of university. Overall, the SSAS program broadened my future career goals, as I am aware of new interests and potential opportunities.

    Q: What are some of your favourite memories from your time in the SSAS program?

    LB: One of my favorite memories of the SSAS program was the field trip we took to present our project to the Niagara Parks Commission at the Power Station in Niagara Falls. This trip came at the end of the semester after my peers spent a couple of months completing a Communication Strategy and Interpretive Plan for the Niagara Parks Commission with the goal to help them become a leader in environmental sustainability within the Niagara region. Being able to present completed work to a community partner was a great learning and professional experience but participating in the tour of the Power Station and other Niagara Parks landmarks was amazing. Overall, it is a really wonderful memory I hold of being able to spend time with my peers outside of the classroom while presenting really meaningful work that everyone put great effort into.

    Q: What are your plans now that you’ve completed your master’s degree? 

    LB: Following the completion of my master’s, I very quickly landed a job in northern British Columbia working with an Indigenous group as an environmental referral’s coordinator. The SSAS program really set me up to be qualified for such an important role advocating for the sustainability of this Indigenous group’s territory in British Columbia. I do have the long-term goal to go back to school to complete further education, as finishing this master’s degree also opened my eyes to the rewarding nature of completing individual research.

     We offer our sincere congratulations to Lyndsay, and to all Brock students graduating this week!

    Categories: Blog, SSAS Program

  • 2022 Summer Research Assistantship – All Things Trees

    Blog Contributor: Baharak Razaghirad

    The Brock-Lincoln living lab (BL-LL) partnership assists the Town of Lincoln in better managing urban forests and improving the services provided by the urban tree canopy. Trees are natural assets that provide us with many different socio-environmental benefits and services. They also serve as green infrastructure with low to zero-impact, affordable, sustainable solutions that are valuable to many small communities with limited financial resources. Increasing resilience to climate change using urban forests (e.g., in better controlling water runoff, increasing air quality, and preventing erosion) has become critical as small communities face unprecedented challenges related to climate change.

    Protecting the urban tree canopy for its intrinsic value or using them to achieve sustainability in urban areas requires knowledge of the location and distribution of the urban tree canopy. Over the summer, I worked as a research assistant (RA) with Dr. Marilyne Jollineau, faculty lead for the Brock-Lincoln Living Lab partnership to examine the urban tree canopy in the Town of Lincoln, Ontario, and help the Town in achieving its goal of a sustainable urban tree canopy.

    This RA opportunity was well timed as I had just completed my thesis research on urban tree canopy (UTC) assessment using geospatial technologies for the Town of Lincoln, which had been conducted under Dr. Jollineau’s supervision in 2021. UTC assessment is essential for managing urban trees, especially in the context of climate change. The canopy, as well as its composition and distribution across different geographical boundaries reveals information about the condition and gaps in the canopy. It can also be used to assess the equity of access to this natural asset across different urban communities within the Town.  Assessing the canopy is also the first step in defining a canopy goal for municipalities.

    The primary work undertaken for this RA position included:

    1. Evaluation of the ecosystem services and benefits of urban forests, especially regarding mitigation of negative impacts of climate change. Familiarity with the monetary value of these services encourages the preservation of the current canopy and its development in the community. The monetary evaluation of services and benefits was based on the canopy coverage for any specific area and the dollar value of providing each service per square meter of the canopy. The evaluation of the monetary benefits of the trees of Rotary Park in Beamsville can be found here as an example.
    2. Preparation of a field and laboratory guide to urban tree inventory. A comprehensive guide was developed in this RA to assist the Town in inventorying its trees. To correctly manage the urban tree canopy, tree inventories are essential. All of the steps involved in collecting spatial and non-spatial tree-related data, managing data and making them compatible with other geospatial software types were provided in this guide.
    3. While providing the Town’s staff with a practical field and lab training guide on conducting a tree inventory was provided, this RA position included collecting vital information about 270 trees in Rotary Park, Beamsville, as a test site. An essential deliverable from this work is that the Town is now able to collect and manage its own tree canopy data.
    4. Determining the canopy goal is a very important next step after completing a UTC assessment. This goal is calculated for each community based on its environmental and geographical limitations, needs, and suitability analysis. The canopy goal is a canopy to achieve that sustains urban forests and enhances environmental equity. During this RA, we prepared an evidence-based report on the next steps for the Town to determine its urban tree canopy goal.
    5. Lastly, municipalities across Canada are increasingly interested in communicating with the community. Municipal websites are powerful tools for providing information to local residents and other stakeholders. It can also provide opportunities for community members to express opinions and gain knowledge. To increase awareness, promote conservation, and efficiently communicate information about the services provided by the Town, BL-LL assisted the Town in making decisions about their website content regarding urban trees. Suggestions for content included information on the current state of the Towns urban forests, guidelines on how to plant and preserve trees, as well as by-laws and permits related to public and private trees.

    In the Master of Sustainability program, the courses and extra curriculum training opened doors to understanding the area of urban forestry that I hope to pursue and develop in future. During my study, in addition to lessons on sustainability science, I had the opportunity to be directly trained in the remote sensing field by Dr. Jollineau, which was necessary for my thesis project. I also had access to numerous virtual training provided by Brocks’ Map, Data & GIS Library.

    Throughout this summer research assistantship with the Town of Lincoln, I witnessed the necessity of effective communication with the community and giving constructive suggestions that benefit both the environment and the communities. Considering social needs, environmental conditions, and economic possibilities in a community in a holistic manner is one of the cornerstones of sustainable planning.

    Categories: Blog, Brock Lincoln Living Lab, SSAS Alumna Contributor, SSAS Program, Town of Lincoln

  • Seen & Heard at the ESRC: Convocation Day!

    We were so thrilled to be able to celebrate convocation in person after two years of virtual celebrations, and we were even more excited to meet several of our students in person for the first time!

    Congratulations again to the Spring Class of 2022, we can’t wait to hear more about your future successes!

    Categories: Blog, SSAS Program

  • Congratulations to the Spring Class of 2022!

    Top Row (L-R): Edward Anyan, Jillian Booth, Gavin Esdale Middle Row (L-R): Brooke Kapeller, Bridget McGlynn, Mikellena Nettos Bottom Row: Baharak Razaghirad

    On June 14th, seven of our students will receive their Master of Sustainability (MS) degrees and move on to the next phase of their careers, whether it be the pursuit of another degree, or beginning a new job in the field. For the first time in two years, we will be celebrating our graduates in-person – for many of our graduates who entered the program in 2020, this will be their first time meeting our faculty, staff, and fellow cohort members!

    We are incredibly proud of these students, and it’s been an honour to be a part of their academic journeys!

    Edward Anyan joined the program in 2020. His previous degree in Geography and Resource Development from the University of Ghana and a Certificate in GIS geospatial management from Niagara College provided a solid foundation for his MRP research, titled “More Than a Green Roof: An Analysis of Low Impact Development Policies and Practices” and supervised by Dr. Marilyne Jollineau. During his time in the program, Edward secured a two-term co-op position in the Community, Recreation and Culture Services department of the City of St. Catharines. Edward recently secured a full-time position in the Office of the Auditor General.

    Jillian Booth joined the program in 2020. She has a degree in Environmental Geoscience from Brock University and used the skills from this degree to inform her MRP, titled “A Holistic Approach to Mapping Priority Sites for Low-Impact Development”. Jillian’s research was supervised by Dr. Julia Baird, and she was a member of Dr. Baird’s Water Resilience Lab throughout her time in the program and worked as a Research Assistant for the Partnership for Freshwater Resilience. Jillian was a recipient of the FOSS Student Research Award in 2021 and presented her MRP research at the FOSS Research Colloquium in December 2021. She also completed her co-op work term as a Research Assistant at the Vineland Research and Innovation Centre and has now secured full-time employment with Vineland as a Research Associate.

    Gavin Esdale joined the program in 2020 and will be visiting the Brock campus for the first time at the Spring convocation ceremony, as he joined the program from Vancouver, BC! Gavin has a degree in General Science from Thompson Rivers University. His knowledge was further developed in his MRP, titled “The Forest and its Trees: A Critical Inquiry into the Use of Nature-based Solutions in Canada’s A Healthy Environment and A Healthy Economy Plan” and supervised by Dr. Liette Vasseur.

    Brooke Kapeller joined the program in 2017 from Medicine Hat, Alberta. Brooke’s thesis research was supervised by Dr. Ryan Plummer and was titled “Exploring Environmental Stewardship in the Niagara Region of Canada: How Do Elements of Environmental Stewardship Relate to Success?”. Brooke successfully defended her thesis on October 1, 2021 and received numerous awards throughout her time in the program, including the FOSS Student Research Award (2019), Toromont CAT Scholarship (2018), and the Graduate Student Research Excellence Award (2020). Brooke is now working as a program coordinator at the Bow River Basin council.

    Bridget McGlynn joined the program in 2019 and began research under the supervision of Dr. Ryan Plummer. Like fellow graduate Jillian Booth, Bridget was a member of Dr. Julia Baird’s Water Resilience Lab throughout her time in the program. She also worked as a Research Assistant with a number of partnerships within the ESRC, including the Excellence in Environmental Stewardship Initiative, the Partnership for Freshwater Resilience, and the partnership with the Government of the Northwest Territories. Bridget’s thesis research was titled “An Examination of Collaborative Governance for Complex Adaptive Systems in the St. John River Basin” and was successfully defended on October 15, 2021.

    Mikellena Nettos joined the program in 2020 after completing a degree in Medical Science with a Minor in Environmental Sustainability and Dramatic Arts at Brock University. In her first year of the program, she worked as a Research Assistant with the Charter for Facilities Management and later secured a co-op position with the Canada Post corporation as a Summer Student in the Real Estate, Environment and Sustainability department. Mikellena’s MRP research was supervised by Dr. Jessica Blythe and titled “Environmental racism: proximity of environmental hazards and benefits to visible minority communities in Ontario, Canada”. Since completing the program, Mikellena has begun working as a Youth Engagement Coordinator at Climate Reality Canada.

    Baharak Razaghirad joined the program in 2019 and travelled from Tehran, Iran, to study at Brock. Baharak has previous degrees in Natural Resources and Environmental Engineering from Azad University, and brought this knowledge to her thesis research, supervised by Dr. Marilyne Jollineau. Baharak’s thesis was titled “Urban Tree Canopy Assessment Using Geospatial Technologies: A Case Study of the Town of Lincoln, Ontario”, and was successfully defended by Baharak on November 30, 2021. Baharak is currently employed full-time as a Research Assistant working within the Brock-Lincoln Living Lab partnership with the Town of Lincoln. Her work on urban tree canopy initiatives within the Town is directly related to her thesis work.

    Congratulations to all of these students – we can’t wait to learn more about your future successes!


    Categories: Blog, Event, SSAS Program

  • My First Year Reflection

    Blog Contributor: Madison Lepp

    Madison Lepp presenting her research at the Mapping New Knowledges Conference. Photo credit: Alexandra Cotrufo

    Imagine this: standing in a room full of academics waiting for you to give a presentation on your research. Apprehensively awaiting the commentary that will follow. Unsure of whether those listening will find your research topic intriguing. Now imagine the opposite, and that is what presenting at the Brock Mapping New Knowledge (MNK) Graduate Research Conference was like. Presenting one’s ideas can be a daunting task at any stage in their academic career, especially at the beginning of one’s academic journey. In April I decided to participate in Brock’s 17thannual MNK Graduate Research Conference. The conference is aimed at showcasing the different research happening on the Brock campus. The space was inclusive, welcoming, and ultimately allowed me to improve my skillset and thesis.

    A bit of a background: I just completed my second semester of the Masters of Sustainability Science and Society (SSAS) program at Brock. I am currently researching my thesis titled building climate resilience and climate equity in Canadian municipalities. For me, presenting at this conference was the first big step in my graduate degree where I would put my ideas on the line. Through the experience of both finishing my first two semesters of the program and presenting at my first conference I learned a few things…

    A level of uncertainty is okay.

    It can be easy to compare yourself to others, doubt your abilities, and feel like you are not good enough to be where you are – hello imposters syndrome. I would be lying if I said I didn’t have this feeling in the past year but, one thing that drew me to the SSAS program was the level of openness the program offers. Through countless discussions on the topic, I have concluded that feeling uncertain should not make you an imposter and is completely normal. The supportive culture of the program has helped me channel this self-doubt into positive motivation. When presenting at the MNK conference I used this positive outlook, knowing that many other students presenting at the conference were in the same place as I.

    Only practice makes perfect.

    Odds are the first time you present something it will not be perfect, but that’s okay. Preparing to defend my research by presenting at this conference was a great way for me to prepare. After two years of presenting online, the MNK conference provided opportunity to brush up on my in-person presentation skills. I can only hope that the next time I present it will go even better than the first. Being comfortable with being uncomfortable is important in improving performance. I am glad that my first experience of being uncomfortable in my masters was in such an inclusive space.

    Avoiding (constructive) criticism gets you nowhere.

    Let’s be honest, no one truly likes receiving criticism and although being confident in your work is important, accepting criticism is an opportunity to improve your work. Through multiple applications and presentations of my ideas to colleagues, the first draft of my thesis proposal has changed a great deal – and for the better. The MNK conference was yet another opportunity to get feedback on my thesis. Through the engagement of the audience, I came to improve my thesis proposal once again. Using critiques of your work can be an important step to improve ideas.

    Although daunting, the experience of presenting at the MNK conference was highly beneficial and gave me a chance to elaborate on my thesis research proposal while providing me with the space to enhance skills I will use in the future. I am excited to see how my work will evolve over the next year and am eager to participate in next year’s MNK conference.

    Categories: Blog, Conferences, Event, Program Reflections, SSAS Program, SSAS Student Contributor