A new research ambassadors program launched at the University of Northern British Columbia is designed to celebrate the innovative research carried out at the university and enhance research culture on campus.
The program features three undergraduate and three graduate students from various disciplines who will promote and engage with university and high school students through public talks, workshops and orientation activities.
The students will also work closely with UNBC’s Office of Research and Graduate Programs to improve the research experience for students and encourage more undergraduate students to get involved in groundbreaking research.
“Collaborating closely with our faculty, our student researchers are engaged in creating innovative, local solutions that have a global impact,” said UNBC President Dr. Daniel Weeks. “These research ambassadors will create new and exciting connections across our research community, developing new pathways for experiential learning opportunities.”
The ambassadors will mentor fellow students from the sciences, humanities and social sciences degree programs to highlight the work students do to contribute to UNBC’s reputation as a research-intensive university. They also want to dispel the myth that research is an area reserved for faculty, says research ambassador Emilio Caputo, currently an undergraduate student in his fifth year of his Bachelor of Arts degree in honours history with minors in political science and philosophy.
“One of the things that students fail to understand is that through the course of their degree, the original research they produce in their classes often qualifies them as excellent researchers,” he said. “The ability to do research at the undergraduate level prepares you for a future in academia, but really wherever you choose. For me, it allowed me to sharpen my analytical skills as a historian and forced me to hold myself to a higher standard.”
Caputo’s honours thesis focuses on deconstructing ideas of masculinity in the medieval Spanish military orders while also emphasizing the unique importance that Spain plays as part of a continental tradition of crusading.
Kristen Kieta is a PhD student in Natural Resources and Environmental Studies whose research focuses on tracing fine-grained sediment in the Nechako River watershed. She is part of a team investigating what the primary sources of sediment are to the river because sediment can be detrimental to overall river health.
She applied to be a research ambassador because of her positive experience so far at UNBC and she wants to encourage others, particularly those who haven’t considered conducting research, to get involved.
“UNBC has an immense wealth of knowledge across numerous disciplines and a vast amount of opportunities for both undergraduate and graduate students to do research that often has immediate application to the communities in the region,” she said.