FutureNow event at the Saskatchewan Legislative Assembly to showcase work by undergraduate students – News

At the Regina Legislative Building, visiting undergraduate students from the University of Saskatchewan (USask), University of Regina (U of R), First Nations University (FNUniv) and the School Saskatchewan Polytechnic (Sask Polytech) will present insights of their research work to sitting Members of the Legislative Assembly (MPs).

“We are thrilled to have such an incredible cross-section of students representing so many areas of inquiry, with excellence in research, scholarly, artistic and applied work,” said Laura Zink, Director of Acceleration at the Research and Strategic Initiatives at the USask Office of the Vice President for Research.

“It was great to work with colleagues from all of Saskatchewan’s post-secondary institutions to organize this prestigious event. We are excited and proud to bring some of Saskatchewan’s future leaders to meet the leaders of today.

Many undergraduates integrate research into their post-secondary studies – through coursework, capstone projects, experiential and applied courses, specialized degrees, and working in faculty-led research teams. The ability to share this work with policymakers and other institutions creates a platform for research findings to have impact in the world outside of post-secondary education.

Examples of the 13 USask student projects that will be featured include an overview of how social media has played a role in providing COVID-19 information to the public and influencing decision-making, and an analysis of companies in the Saskatchewan and their views on how the effects of climate change will impact supply chains.

“It’s one thing for students to present their work to classmates and professors, and even at academic conferences. It’s quite another to pitch to lay audiences – and specifically to Saskatchewan MLAs on both sides of the house,” said Dr. Merle Massie (PhD), Undergraduate Research Coordinator in USask.

“We believe FutureNow will bring a renewed understanding of the incredible work post-secondary students across the province are doing and what it takes to explain that work to the world.

“Sask Polytech is thrilled to have our students part of this provincial undergraduate showcase,” said Dr. Susan Blum, Associate Vice President, Applied Research and Innovation at Saskatchewan Polyethnic. “We have exciting plans to share with Saskatchewan MPs. Sask Polytech students are encouraged to partner with business, industry, or the community on applied research projects that provide real-world solutions. Participating in applied research gives students hands-on experience to make a seamless transition to their chosen career and positions them as an employee of choice in today’s competitive job market.

Sask Polytech will showcase six student projects at FutureNow. Some of Sask Polytech’s projects include DNA sequencing of yeast cultures from local breweries, assessing barriers faced by Black, Indigenous and of Color (BIPOC) patients admitted to acute care, use of a geographic information system (GIS) to find suitable locations for small reactors (SMRs) and the use of machine learning to mitigate misdiagnosis of electrocardiograms.

Joshua Christiansen, an undergraduate student in environmental biology and ecology at the U of R, is excited to be part of the FutureNow event and share his research on bats.

“The research we conduct as undergraduates is important and being part of an event like this gives us the opportunity to talk about our work with those who can directly inform policy and implement changes. My research improves our understanding of the massive economic impact of bats on our agricultural industry. Informing our government of these results, for example, provides information they may not have known, which in turn could lead to important policy changes for our collective health and well-being.

The U of R has 11 students who will present nine different research projects at Tuesday’s event. From how bats save the Canadian agriculture industry $30 million a year in pest control, to how accessible and affordable outdoor wellness programs benefit people with lesions researching ways to reduce Saskatchewan’s carbon footprint by converting gas into methanol, the university’s undergraduate scholars will present work that is as diverse as it is important to Saskatchewan and beyond.

Research presentations will include posters, short videos, audio or physical display formats. Members of Parliament will be able to circulate among the students, ask questions and discuss their work directly with the students. Each MP will receive a brief summary of student projects in advance and will have the opportunity to engage with researchers from their own constituency during the event.

Undergraduates chosen for FutureNow also received additional training and coaching in public speaking and research communication skills, to help them explain their work and its impact during the event.

The event will build relationships between the next generation of researchers and encourage institutions and policy makers to work together to find practical applications of research findings.

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