Student Research Opportunities

Undergraduate Summer Research Awards 2024

Saint Mary's University is sponsoring several full-time summer research positions for Saint Mary's undergraduate students. The following programs are available to students, along with the potential for other programs that we may find aimed to support specialized areas or specific groups of students:

  • SSHRC Explore Undergraduate Research Awards
  • First-Year Undergraduate Research Awards Program
  • NSERC Undergraduate Student Research Awards (USRA)
  • Dean of Science Research Awards

Summer research students will work with a Saint Mary's professor to gain skills and knowledge related to research.  Students who receive an award, will be employed as a summer research assistant.

For inquires about the Undergraduate Summer Research Awards, please contact 

How to apply

** Please note, the 2024 Undergraduate Summer Research Awards competition is now closed. **

Please ensure that you have read the instructions below and have compiled all of the required documents before you submit your application.


  1. Saint Mary's University undergraduate students in any academic discipline may applyNote: students from outside of Saint Mary’s University in Science/NSERC disciplines may apply for the NSERC USRA program.  A limited number of NSERC USRAs may be provided to students from outside of Saint Mary’s.
  1. Normally, an overall GPA (“CGPA”) of at least 3.80 is required
  1. The First Year Undergraduate Research Awards is for students who started their studies at Saint Mary’s in January 2023 or September 2023, or in between those dates (and had 15 credit hours or less of transfer credits if coming to Saint Mary’s from another post-secondary institution).

Application Deadline:

To be considered for a summer research position, you will need to apply online by February 20, 2024 and have the following items ready to provide via the online application.

  • the research areas you would like to work in (see below for researcher list)
  • a short (up to one page) description/essay describing why you would like to be considered for this research position, including the following: 
    • why you have chosen the research areas you did
    • why you feel your courses (and/or your other experience) give you some background to work in the area(s) you've selected
  • your resume
  • your unofficial transcript from Self Service Banner (PDF format)

Note: Position selection will involve a review of your discussion/essay, your background and resume, and your academic record at Saint Mary's University. Our goal is to select students in as many different research areas as possible from across all University Faculties: Arts, Business, and Science.

Note: if a special Canadian Forest Sector Workforce Diversity Undergraduate Supplement is provided by NSERC to an NSERC USRA recipient, SMU policy is that 50% of the awarded supplement will be provided to the student awardee as an additional employment payment, and 50% will be used to refund the research grant fund which provided the necessary salary top-up as part of the initial USRA award.

Successful applicants will be contacted after the application deadline about the next steps.


If there is a professor you are interested in working with who doesn’t appear on the list below, you are encouraged to contact that professor, and have the professor contact if they want to be added to the list.

Although not required, students are encouraged to contact the professor(s) they are considering as a potential supervisor from the list below.  When completing the application you may select up to two potential supervisors.


Blake Brown
Medical Malpractice Law 
- The student will conduct research on the history of medical malpractice law, as well as prepare research memos and input research information into databases.

Diane Crocker
- The project will involve work on a survey of Nova Scotia students about campus sexual violence.

Alexandra Dobrowolsky     
Political Science
- Research will be conducted on two projects: one involves detailing and explaining the differences in feminist governance in Canada and Mexico; and the second entails an exploration of the reasons for an apparent  “gender gap”  when it comes to securing interviews with political representatives and their staff. 

Kirrily Freeman
Digital Humanities and Community Outreach
- The student will work on a range of projects that involve the digitization of historical assets and information for presentation to the public in online formats. This position will involve working closely with community organizations such as archives, museums, and historical/cultural associations.

Heather Green
Canadian Environmental History
- The project a student would likely work on is a history of black lung disease among coal mine workers in Nova Scotia.

Luke Hathaway
English Language and Literature
- Dr. Luke Hathaway is a poet, librettist, and theatre-maker whose scholarship takes the form of research-creation. Students would be involved in arts-admin. and production tasks

Karen Harper
Plant Ecology / Biogeography
- Field work studying vegetation in NS forests, or data and remote sensing projects.

Val Johnson
Social Justice & Community Studies
- (1) Racism & segregation impacting migrant workers. (2) Research & activism around racism & segregation impacting migrant workers in the Canadian & Southern European contexts.

Sara Malton
Nineteenth-Century English Literature and Culture/Charles Dickens
- The student will provide research support that will include bibliographic research and the provision of overviews of the critical literature on a range of topics such as Dickens & Race; Dickens & Religion; Dickens & the Industrial City; and others, and assist with project management. 

Myles McCallum
Ancient Studies
- Assisting with archaeological fieldwork at the Roman sites of the Villa of Titus and the Baths of Vespasian in Italy, including excavation, data recording and entry, artifact processing, archaeological recovery, and data analysis. Research to be done in Italy and in Halifax.

Elisabeth Rondinelli
- The project will involve research on emerging cultures of failure in contemporary life. 

Sveva Savelli 
Languages and Cultures / Mediterranean Archaeology
- Assisting in processing artifacts, editing and organizing documentation from the archaeological excavation at the Oenotrian-Greek site of Incoronata "greca" (Italy) (8-6 c. BCE).

Evangelia Tastsoglou
International migration and immigration, Gender, Citizenship, and Violence           
- The project the student will be working on involves immigrant and refugee representations in Canadian news media through historical newspaper data (Globe and Mail) on a variety of immigrant and refugee themes, such as labour market issues, diversity, integration, human rights, and selection policies. The data has been collected through visual analytics and machine learning methods and we are currently working on the analysis. For more detail on the project check: 
Danika van Proosdij
Coastal Geomorphology / Nature-Based Solutions
- Real world applications of nature-based climate adaptation techniques and habitat restoration in sandy systems (beneficial re-use of dredge material) and the Bay of Fundy (Managed dyke realignment).


Colleen Barber
Biology / Behavioural Ecology of Birds                   
- Students on this research team conduct field and lab work on mate choice and parental investment in an urban songbird, the European Starling. 

Christa Brosseau
- Dr. Brosseau's research interests are focused on the development of nanoscale sensors for medical diagnostics and environmental monitoring. 

Erin Cameron
Global Change Ecology
- Students can assist with research on: (1) Earthworm invasions in forests in Alberta or NS, (2) Effects of agricultural land management on soil invertebrates in NS, or (3) Data syntheses on soil biodiversity. Website:

Jim Cameron
Social Psychology
- An exploration of the psychology of astronomy (e.g., effects of awe, identity, and attitudes toward the environment). 

Linda Campbell
Environmental Science
- Ongoing research programs which BIOL, ENVS, GEOL and GEOG students can get involved with: (1) 150-year old historical gold mine tailing ecotoxicology and environmental impacts. (2)  Invasive freshwater crayfish in Nova Scotia.  Information:   

David Chiasson
Molecular Biology        
- Identification of genes required for symbiotic nitrogen fixation. 

Greg Christian
Nuclear Physics/Nuclear Astrophysics
- The likely project will consist of analysis of recoil singles data from an experiment measuring the 22Ne(alpha, n)25Mg reaction. This reaction is important as a neutron source for the slow neutron capture process, which creates around half of the elements heavier than hydrogen.

Jason Clyburne
Chemistry/Preparation, Characterization, and Reactivity of Small Electrophilic Cations
- Assisting with three projects:  (1) Preparation and reactivity of derivatives of the propargyl cations, (2) Examination of the reactivity of the first halopropyne iminium cation [Me2-N-C≡C-C(I)-NMe2] and its reaction with bases, including mono- and poly-dentate phosphines, (3) Complete a systematic study on a material recently identified as a decomposition product of a halopropyne iminium salt. 

Nicole Conrad
Cognitive & Developmental Psychology
- Research projects related to literacy development and how children learn to read.

Anne Dalziel    
Evolutionary Physiology / Fish Physiology
- Students will help to test how freshwater tolerance evolves in stickleback or study the factors influencing hybridization rate and direction in killifishes. This work will involve collecting fish from the field, caring for fish at SMU, studying fish metabolic rates and salinity preferences and potentially conducting molecular and biochemical analyses in the lab.

Ivana Damjanov
Astrophysics, The Evolution of Galaxies and Their Surroundings
- Be among the first to work on the datasets from Euclid, the most recently launched space telescope, and investigate how the changes that galaxies undergo over billions of years of cosmic time depend on the density of their cosmic neighbourhood.

Jane Ferguson
Physical Chemistry
- Students will develop and use innovative methods to measure key properties of molten salt mixtures for the development of clean energy sources. 

Luigi Gallo        
Astronomy and Physics / High-Energy Astrophysics 
- Black holes, active galaxies: analyzing data of supermassive black holes collected with space-based X-ray telescopes.

Ellie Goud
Plant Ecology
- Ecology and evolution of plant diversity. How plants respond to environmental challenges, such as water limitation, salinity, acidity, climate change. Opportunities for field, lab, and greenhouse studies. Lab website:

Karen Harper
Plant Ecology / Biogeography
- Field work studying vegetation in NS forests, or data and remote sensing projects.

Vincent Hénault-Brunet
Astronomy and Physics / Stellar Dynamics
- The student will compare computer simulations of dense star clusters (modelling dynamical interactions between stars, binary star systems, and black holes) with observations from various telescopes to understand the formation and evolution of these clusters.

Mengjun Hu
Three-way Data Analytics, Granular Computing, Explainable Artificial Intelligence
- The student will assist in research on explainable approaches to imbalanced data analysis.

Somayeh Kafaie
Complex Networks, Knowledge Graphs, and Bioinformatics
- Assisting research on constructing knowledge graphs and applying explainable AI techniques for addressing health related issues. 

Stavros Konstantinidis
Mathematics & Computing Science /Theory and Implementation of Regular Expressions
- Possible topics: (i) Add more capabilities to existing server (ILaSer at SMU) that receives user questions about regular languages and returns the answer. (ii) Implementation of multi-dimensional regular expressions.

Rituparna Kanungo

Astronomy and Physics/Experimental Nuclear Physics and Nuclear Astrophysics 
- Students in our research team work on making exciting new fundamental discoveries with rare isotopes in the universe. Work involves data analysis and simulation programming, working in accelerator facilities with radiation detectors and electronics.

Mitja Mastnak
Mathematics and Computing Science/Linear Algebra and Abstract Algebra         
- The student will assist in research in the area of simultaneous triangularization of collections of matrices or in the research in the area of Hopf algebras.  Both projects can be combined by writing code in the computer algebra package Sage.

Jason Masuda
Chemistry / Chemical Synthesis 
- Pushing Nature’s limits to make new chemical bonds – using state-of-the-art methods and analysis techniques, students will make exciting, new molecules to explore the limits of what Nature will allow.  
Paul Muir         
Computational Applied Mathematics/Scientific Computing                    
- Investigation of mathematical models in the sciences and social sciences and the application of numerical methods for the solution of these models.

Jiju Poovancheri           
3D Computer Vision    
- Assist in the design and development of a deep learning model for point cloud segmentation.

Nicolas Roulin
New Technology & Talent Acquisition
- Examine the benefits/risks of using AI-generated avatars in automated video interviews to select talents

Marcin Sawicki
Astronomy & Physics/Formation and Evolution of Galaxies     
- Work with data from JWST and other state-of-the-art telescopes to uncover how galaxies formed in the distant Universe and evolved over cosmic time. 

Robert Singer
Organic Synthesis and Green Chemistry
- The student will be responsible for the some design and execution of experiments, collection of data and interpretation of data. The student will be trained and become adept at using high tech. pieces of instrumentation common to the discipline. These include NMR, GC-MS, LC-MS, FT-IR, and XRD.

Clarissa Sit
Chemical Biology
- Students will characterize compounds from microbes found in seaweed that could be used to battle fish pathogens.

Steven Smith
Social, Health, and Forensic Psychology
- There are three projects we will be working on. 1) How a mobile app can be used to support student success; 2) how gender, race, and criminality impact hiring biases; and 3) how we can create more inclusive environments in organizations.

Skye Stephens
Clinical Forensic Psychology
- Students will work on research on a child sexual abuse perpetration prevention project, assist on new research on child sexual abuse tourism, and work on related lab projects that focus on paraphilias and/or sexual offending.

Veronica Stinson          
Forensic Psychology     
- Examination of public views of fairness of in-person, virtual and hybrid courts and other forensic psychology research projects.

Genlou Sun
Molecular Biology
- Molecular mechanisms underlying stress response between diploid and polyploid species.

Meg Ternes     
Forensic Psychology     
- Students will work on projects related to deception and deception detection, correctional psychology, and gender-based violence. 

Danielle Tokarz
Chemistry, Biophysics, Optics
- Investigating ultrastructure of nanostructures (e.g. cancer collagen or semiconductor nanowires) using nonlinear laser microscopy

Danika van Proosdij
Coastal Geomorphology / Nature-Based Solutions
- Real world applications of nature-based climate adaptation techniques and habitat restoration in sandy systems (beneficial re-use of dredge material) and the Bay of Fundy (Managed dyke realignment).

Laura Weir
Evolutionary and Behavioural Ecology
- Conducting laboratory and field research on mating behaviour, sperm competition and reproductive success of fishes.

Sobey School of Business

Vasiliki Athanasakou
Corporate Reporting and Sustainability              
- The student will engage analysis of corporate reports for assessing evidence of organizational learning (e.g. employee engagement, operational changes, bottom-up approach to strategy implementation). The student will assist with drafting a brief literature review on organizational learning and assist the research team in developing a measure (using automated textual analysis) of the construct based on annual or other corporate reports.  

Matthew Boland
Textual Analysis of Government Bills      
- Collection, organization, and textual analysis of bills using, among other tools, ChatGPT

Karen Grandy
Business Communications
- Compile and analyze media interviews given by business executives on the topic of remote work. 

Xiaoyu (Kellie) Liu
The relationship between corporate reputation, corporate social responsibility and corporate performance facing negative events
- Assisting in the development and coding of negative events using data from RepRisks, and coding corporate reputation using data from Fortune ranking

Hao Lu
Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), Corporate Sustainability, and Business Ethics
- Project on investigating the relationship between CSR and underwriting efficiency in the North American insurance industry. Students will learn to read companies’ annual financial and sustainability reports, collect social and financial indicators from them, and use the information to conduct statistical analysis.

Ethan Pancer

Marketing, Consumer Psychology of Technology Usage, Responses to Generative AI
- Students will help develop / assist in a research project in one of two domains for this summer: (a) Applications of generative AI (e.g., ChatGPT; DALL-E) and understanding the impacts on trust & credibility; or (b) The impact of pairing automation / robotics with generative AI in a food manufacturing & preparation context (e.g., consumer responses to AI developing its own recipe and gets a robot to cook a novel food product)

Mohammad Rahaman
Artificial Intelligence (AI), Productivity Paradox, and Zombie Firms
- (a) Students will assist in applying natural language processing (NLP) from computational linguistics to unstructured textual data to develop innovative measures of company AI exposure. (b) Students will help performing descriptive, diagnostic, predictive, and prescriptive analytics to better understand the relationship between firm-level AI exposure and productivity. (c) Students will engage in extensive literature review to better understand the global landscape of zombie firms, struggling companies that continue to operate despite their underlying financial and economics distress,  and how AI can help improve conventional credit-risk models to better allocate credit to thriving firms instead of zombie firms.

Marie-Claire Robitaille
- Assisting with a literature review, data cleaning, and data analysis on a project on the impact of school building on child marriage in India.

Tiffany Vu
Marketing (Consumer Behaviour)
- Assisting in the development and testing of theories (grounded in marketing, psychology, and behavioural economics) pertaining to charitable giving, sustainability, and consumer well-being. 

Saint Mary’s offers a vibrant and stimulating intellectual community, with an emphasis on student research. Our compact campus and small class sizes provide unprecedented access to professors, complemented by lab spaces and research facilities that are state-of-the-art. This combination leads to exceptional learning and growth opportunities.

Undergrad students may find themselves working as a paid research assistant, travelling the world for a study abroad program, taking part in field trips, presenting at a conference or even pursuing their original research — all during their undergrad years.

Saint Mary’s is also an excellent place to pursue graduate study, with 29 diverse PhD and Masters programs to choose from. Our grad students benefit from close collaboration with award-winning faculty members who are renowned experts and prolific researchers.


Find out more about student research opportunities:

Contact us

Faculty of Graduate Studies and Research
Suite 210, Atrium Building
Mailing address:
923 Robie Street
Atrium Building, Suite 210
Halifax, NS, Canada
B3H 3C3

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June - August
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