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Arts & Science Program

Undergraduate Student Research Awards (USRA)

What is an Undergraduate Student Research Award (USRA)?

The Undergraduate Student Research Awards (USRA) are intended to cultivate and support research partnerships between undergraduate students and faculty members. There are 6 awards available to students in the Arts & Science Program, each worth $7,500. This amount is intended to provide for 15 weeks of full-time, research-based activity over the summer term. Student award recipients agree to present their research in a poster session in the following academic year.

Why Consider a USRA?

Through an Undergraduate Student Research Award students can obtain meaningful summer employment; explore career opportunities in the research environment; investigate and learn more about an area of interest; gain valuable skills and experience; develop a positive working relationship with a faculty member.

Role of Faculty

It is the responsibility of the student to secure the agreement of a faculty member to supervise the research project. The faculty member may belong to any Faculty at McMaster. In past competitions, students who worked more closely with their proposed faculty supervisor in developing their research project had an increased likelihood of success in securing the award. Please note that the faculty supervisor must sign the application form before it is submitted.


To apply, students must:

  • Be a full-time undergraduate student currently enrolled in the Arts & Science Program
  • Be eligible to work in Canada
  • Normally have a CGPA and Fall/Winter Average of at least 8.0 to be considered
  • Preference will be given to level 2 and 3 students and students in level 4 of a five-year program.
  • Preference will be given to students who have not previously held a USRA at McMaster.

Evaluation Criteria

Applications will be evaluated according to the following criteria:

  • Clearly articulated student learning objectives
  • Clearly articulated process of how learning objectives will be met
  • “Richness” of research experience and/or “hands on” involvement of student
  • Involvement of faculty supervisor in the proposed research and student learning
  • Articulated connection to the student’s academic studies
  • Evidence of student’s preparation to undertake research
  • Overall quality and feasibility of the proposal
  • Academic record

2021 Virtual USRA Poster Session

All McMaster community members are welcome to attend the annual USRA poster session held virtually on Microsoft Teams from 15-19 November 2021. The Arts & Science USRA recipients are presenting “live” during the following times:

Tuesday 16 November
10-11am, Tessa Bray; 2-3pm, Andrew Dissanayake

Wednesday 17 November
11am-12pm, Ryan Tse

Thursday 18 November
9:30-10:30am, Audrey Wu; 2:30-3:30pm, Evin Huang

Friday 19 November
9-10am, Morghen Jael; 11:30am-12:30pm, Ryan Edwards; 1-2pm, Torin Pracek

2021 Arts & Science Recipients

Tessa Bray

Faculty Supervisor
Dr. Mayu Nishimura

Research Project
Perceiving Music as a Visual Experience

Andrew Dissanayake

Faculty Supervisor
Dr. Noam Soreni

Research Project
Investigating Ethnic Disparities in Child and Adolescent Mental Health within the Greater Toronto Area

Ryan Edwards

Faculty Supervisor
Dr. Jenna Rajchgot

Research Project
Classifying Kazhdan-Lusztig Ideals through the Combinatorics of Simplicial Complexes

Evin Huang

Faculty Supervisor
Dr. Matthew Woolhouse

Research Project
Knowledge of the Twelve Lü on Expectations of Melodic Conformity

Morghen Jael

Faculty Supervisor
Dr. Philip Savage

Research Project
A Content and Discourse Analysis of the CBC’s Audio and Video Storytelling at the Onset of the COVID-19 Pandemic

Torin Pracek

Faculty Supervisor
Dr. Arthur Sweetman

Research Project
Union Status, Labour Market Outcomes, and COVID-19: Are Canadian Unions Good for Workers in Times of Crisis and Recover?

Ryan Tse

Faculty Supervisor
Dr. Beth Marquis

Research Project
Social Media in a Physically Distant Time: The Relationship between Youth, Social Media, and Society during the COVID-19 Pandemic

Audrey Wu

Faculty Supervisor
Dr. Daniel Coren

Research Project
Evaluating Individual Ethical Obligations in the COVID-19 Pandemic

Previous Arts & Science USRA Recipients

Meghan Bird Dr. Mat Savelli Narratives of Mental Illness in Contemporary Young Adult Fiction
Luke Brenton Dr. Paul Andrews Exemplar Priming and Lifetime Depressive Symptomology
Mateusz Faltyn Dr. Ryan Van Lieshout Machine Learning to Predict Psychiatric Diagnoses
Nicole Strader Dr. Robert Henderson Pedagogical Differences in Urban and Rural Integrated Curricular Programs
Yimeng Wang Dr. Yana Stainova Academia, Oppression, and Spaces of Healing: How Community-Building Art Forms Communicate Knowledge
Maanvi Dhillon Dr. Karen Bird Experimentation and Reform in American Local Elections
Hannah Feldman Dr. Mat Savelli Gender and Communication on Online Parenting Forums
Jessica Gut Dr. Nancy Bouchier Narrating the City: An Exploration of Literary Representations of Hamilton
Anna Lindsay-Mosher Dr. Reza Samavi Using Machine Learning to Understand Police Violence in Ontario
Lily Martin Dr. Paul Andrews Testing an Adaptationist Model of Rumination in a Sample of Clinically Depressed Patients
Myfannwy Pope Dr. Vanessa Watts Interest-Based Media Discourse Analysis on Indigenous-Canadian Resource Management Negotiation
John Cyfko Dr. Ranil Sonnadara The Role of Observational Learning in the Acquisition of Complex Motor Skills
Mahmood Haddara Dr. Beth Marquis The Effectiveness of Canadian Soccer Coaching Education in Improving Player Performance and Experience
Marco Handa Dr. Hans Boden Research Project in Knot Homology Theories
Tianqi Lei Dr. David L. Clark  Can the University Stand for Peace?: Freedom of Expression, Protest and Dissent
Sadie Neufeld Dr. Louis Schmidt Temperament and Technology-Based Intervention of Preoperative Anxiety in Children
Avery Qurashi Dr. Susie O’Brien A Taste of Our Own Medicine: Conceptions of “Nature” Within Naturopathy
Hailey Wright Dr. Patrick Bennett Neural Processing of Face Perception


Stephanie Bertolo Dr. Jim Dunn Hamilton Neighbourhoods Study Follow Up
Sutina Chou Dr. Karen Bird Through the Glass Ceiling, Over the Glass Cliff?
Benjamin Feldman Dr. Rob Wilton Geographies of Enounter in Augmented Reality
Rachel Guitman Dr. Amanda Ricci Gendered Bodies in Post-World War Two Canada
Ann Mills Dr. Louis Schmidt An Investigation of ‘Willpower’ and Self-Regulation in Preschool Children
Thipiga Sivayoganathan Prof. Anju Joshi  Social Participation and Resiliency within Hamilton’s Aging Community


Matthew Jordan Dr. McKenzie Wang Maxwell’s Equations and the Eerie One-ness of Math and Physics
Henry Krahn Dr. Travis Kroeker Sojourning the World: Christian Existentialism and a Life Well Lived
Clare MacDonald Dr. Nancy Bouchier A History of Churches Formed by Immigrants to Hamilton
Jonah Nadler Dr. Paul Andrews The Role of Personal Illness Models and Rumination in Treatment Preferences for Depression
Emily Power Dr. Jim Dunn The Effects of Social Mix on Residents’ Experiences of Social Inclusion/Exclusion in Toronto’s Regent Park Public Housing Community
Alex Recio-Greenwell Dr. Eugenia Zuroski Mexican Literature and Identity
Spencer Williams Dr. John Maclachlan Exploring the LEED Certification System in the City of Hamilton
Duncan Chambers Dr. Brian Baetz Permaculture Design in Hamilton’s Commercial Urban Agriculture
Liam Crummey Dr. Dennis Hong First Nations Access to Bariatric Surgery
Varun Puri Dr. Juliana Tobon Developing an e-Mental Health Program for Early Stage Interventions at the Youth Wellness Centre
Joshua Ruf Dr. Beth Marquis The Reevaluation of Self After Romantic Relationship Dissolution
Jennifer Scora Dr. James Wadsley Effects of Turbulence on the Rate of Star Formation in Cold Gas Clouds
Matthew Jordan Dr. Deirdre Haskell Statistical Sampling of VC Density for Definable Sets in the P-Adics
Victoria McKinnon Dr. Ranil Sonnadara The Efficacy of Video-Based Training in Orthopaedic Surgical Residents’ Education
Rabea Parpia Dr. Allison Sekuler The Effect of Aging on Perceptual Learning
Ana-Maria Qarri Dr. Karen Bird Critical Actors in Visible Minority and Immigrant Political Representation
Abraham Redda Dr. Jeffery Donaldson Canadian Literature and the Empathetic Imagination
Saad Syed Dr. Michael Surette The Cystic Fibrosis Airway Microbiome: Exploring Polymicrobial Communities from Double Lung Transplant Patients
Asha Behdinan Dr. William Scarth A Benefit-Cost Analysis of Short-term Medical Trips to the Dominican Republic
Andrew Case Dr. Peter Widdicombe St. Francis of Assisi as alter Christus
Stephen Clare Dr. James King Authors and their Journeys: Biographical Studies
Sean Conley Dr. Matt Valeriote Algebra, Logic, and the Constant Satisfaction Problem
Rachel Eikelboom Dr. Beth Marquis The Art of Hearing: The Place of Music in Medical Education
Stephanie Wan Dr. Laurel Trainor Auditory Processing in Children with Developmental Coordination Disorders
Matthew Howe Dr. Steven Brown The Effects of Music on Empathy with Characters During Film Viewing: A Functional MRI Study
Nolan Matthews Dr. Christine Quail A Hamilton Radio Documentary: Stories from the Community
Sophie Roher Dr. Susan Fast Exploring Feminist Education: Examining the Implications of Changing the Name of a Women’s Studies Program to Gender Studies in Canadian Universities
Cristina Silvestri Dr. Nancy Doubleday Local Knowledge in the Context of Co-Management and Civic Engagement
Kate Sinclair Dr. Karen Balcom Edible Identities: Frozen Foods and the Making of American Modern Culture, 1939-1969
Neila Bazaracai Dr. John Waye A Determination of the Clinical Significance of Sequence Varients of KLF1 gene
Harrison Cruikshank Dr. Michael Egan Nuclear Power in Ontario
Zainab Furqan Dr. Ellen B. Ryan Storytelling and Intergenerational Communication in the South Asian Communities in the GTA
Anna Kulikov Dr. Luc Bernier Meta-Analysis of Surface Mine Rehabilitation Efforts in Northern Ontario
Nigel Pynn-Coates Dr. Deirdre Haskell Exploration of VC Density in the Context of p-adic Numbers
Christopher Hilbrecht Dr. John Varty The History of the Rhinoceros Party of Canada
Sean Lemon Dr. Darren Scott Creation of GIS for Riverwood Conservancy
Jordan Milko Dr. Elisabet Service Phonological Awareness in L1 when Literacy Awareness has acquired exclusively in L2
Shohinee Sarma Dr. Mark Oremus Evaluating the Success of the Integrated Child Development Services in Five Indian States: A Systematic Review