Antigonish, Nova Scotia, Canada

When you can’t stay the blazes home to food sustainability, Centre for Employment Innovation Research Mentorship enabling StFX students to conduct summer research  

June 16th, 2021
Centre for Employment Innovation Research Mentorship recipients are, top row from left, Abby Davis-Janes and Aliyah Fraser. Bottom, Meagan Kettley and Sarah MacIsaac.

Four StFX students will gain valuable learning and work experience this summer as recipients of the Centre for Employment Innovation Research Mentorship as they research topics that range from “When You Can’t ‘Stay the Blazes Home’: An Ethnography of Essential Workers and Organizations During the COVID-19 Pandemic” to “How Food Sustainability is Defined in the Area of Dietetics.” 

Abby Davis-Janes, Aliyah Fraser, Meagan Kettley and Sarah MacIsaac are all recipients of the $7,500 award which provides 16 weeks of research employment.  

“Receiving this award will not only give me the opportunity to gain valuable research experience but will allow me to conduct research on a topic that is very important to me as it will shine light on the existing inequity in traditionally male dominated fields such as STEM,” says Abby Davis-Janes of Clarenville, NL, who is going into her fourth year in honours psychology and whose research topic focuses on the experience of women and non-binary students in STEM fields. She is supervised by Dr. Erika Koch. 

More specifically, she says she will examine how out-performance related discomfort (feelings of unease caused by outperforming another person in some domain) predicts changes in belongingness to, interest in, identification with, and intention to persist in STEM over time. This summer, she will complete her literature review in preparation for a longitudinal study starting in September. The study will be among the first to examine the experience of non-binary students in STEM. 

“This opportunity will allow me to conduct research that can hopefully be used to make research-based suggestions to improve the STEM environment for women and non-binary individuals and increase non-male representation in the field. I am also very grateful to have the opportunity to add to the very limited literature surrounding non-binary students in academia. It means a lot to me to be able to contribute, even in a small way, to a more diverse representation of gender in the literature.”

Aliyah Fraser, a third year health sciences student from New Glasgow, NS, supervised by Dr. Ellen Crumley, will conduct research this summer on Black essential workers and their experience with COVID-19. “It is ethnographic research comprised of interviews and observations. I am interested in understanding how Black essential workers have been impacted by COVID-19 and how they have overcome challenges presented by the pandemic,” she says. 

“It’s very important to me to receive an opportunity like this because I am extremely interested in research and love understanding the stories of individuals in the Black community. My goal is to pursue a career in medicine and connecting with minorities is a great way to understand the barriers they face each day, connecting to their health.” 

Meagan Kettley of Guysborough, NS, who is in the Bachelor of Education, Year II (Secondary Stream), is researching the impact of online learning in rural, low-income communities from the perspective of pre-service teachers. “This research will look at how the pandemic exacerbated the challenges faced in these communities in regards to access to adequate internet and technology, home environment, food insecurity, etc. through an in-depth review of literature and qualitative research,” she says. 

“Continuing to research and educate ourselves is an important practice for teachers, and as an emerging educator, this opportunity is giving me the chance to do just so. What this funding means for me is a unique opportunity to conduct research early in my career that is not only relevant to my field but explores a topic that I am deeply passionate about. Thank you to the Centre of Employment Innovation and (Faculty of Education professor and supervisor) Dr. Jennifer Mitton for making this a possibility.”  

Sarah MacIsaac of Antigonish, NS is a fourth year human nutrition student who will be completing a scoping review, supervised by Dr. Tracy Everitt, in hopes to answer her research questions on how dietitians in Canada define sustainability within their practice, what types of activities are dietitians involved in while supporting food system sustainability and what competencies are required to support these roles. 

“I am grateful for having the opportunity to do this research. Sustainability has been recently added to our competencies. Although it may be fairly new concept, it is extremely important for our future food systems. This experience will provide valuable information for others and for myself in my future career.” 

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