Research Event Showcases Undergraduate Work

Photo: Evelyn Dom

On January 18, the Arts Internship Office (AIO) hosted an event to present and celebrate the research of several undergraduates who received the Arts Undergraduate Research Award (ARIA) this past summer. Nearly a dozen students gave short presentations on their work. Topics included economics, political science, sociology, art history, linguistics, and English literature. The event was followed by a general showcase that featured the summer research projects of several other undergraduate researchers.

What is ARIA?

ARIA is a program run by the AIO designed to support students interested in advanced research within the academic field of their preference. In order to qualify for the award, students must seek out a professor doing research on a related topic over the summer. If the professor is looking for a partnership, the students and professor jointly apply to ARIA in order to be selected for funding.

The ARIA program is eleven weeks long, and students are expected to put in thirty hours of research work per week. In return, ARIA provides students with grants of $2000, which are matched by the supervising faculty member for a total of $4000.

Presentations of Student Research

Catherine La Rivière (U3 Honours Art History) worked with McGill’s Visual Arts Collection (VAC) as the Goodman Family Foundation Arts Research Intern. La Rivière spent her internship studying the works of the many painters within the VAC, including Montreal painter Mary Dale Scott. La Rivière also surveyed and installed new artworks across campus and conducted tours of the artwork already featured.

“My internship at the Visual Arts Collection allowed me to get even more well-rounded experiences as both a research assistant and a collection assistant,” La Riviére said. “I wanted to learn the ins and outs of running an art collection and learn how to practically apply the art history knowledge I had accumulated in the classroom.”

Madeline Hykes (U3 Honours Urban Studies and Geography) worked with professor Sarah Turner (Geography) on a project that analyzed the experiences of youth in Hanoi, Vietnam. The project sought to gather the perspectives of young people as they experience the effects of private and state-led urbanization.

Hykes spent two months doing preliminary research on her topic, and had to detail how she would be conducting fieldwork while in Vietnam. She explained that a large part of her duties as a researcher involved gathering qualitative data from interviews with Vietnamese youth.

Hykes noted that the skills learned from ARIA can help students grow as researchers, but the motivation and willingness to learn must come from the students themselves. “To the students who are here and wondering what ARIA can do for them, what matters is really what you bring to it,” Hykes said.

Faculty Perspectives

Ian Gold, the Canada Research Chair in Philosophy & Psychiatry at McGill, offered some advice for students unsure about testing the waters of academic research. He explained that research may not have a comfortable place within the realm of “traditional” work, but that it is nonetheless a crucial part of living in a complex world.

“Being a researcher means being committed to certain values. For example, it means being committed to the idea that there is a world out there that really is a certain way. And that sometimes people can find out what the world is like; what way the world is,” Gold said. “It also means a commitment to a community.”

Gold concluded by reflecting on the independent value of research work: “Next time someone says to you ‘what’s the value of what you do in the real world?’ I want you to remember that, as a researcher, you are an intellectual. And you think about things. And that is as important and as real as the ‘real world’ gets,” Gold said.

The deadline to apply for ARIA is March 22, 2018 at noon. Information on the program can be found online at or at the Arts Internship Office in LEA 307.

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