Research conference inspires and motivates grad students
Research conference experience helps combat imposter syndrome and validates research, participants say
The Faculty of Graduate Studies and the Athabasca University Graduate Students’ Association (AUGSA) held the 11th annual Athabasca University (AU) Graduate Student Research Conference virtually on Oct. 14 and 15.
The theme of the 2022 conference, “Better together,” reflects the contributions graduate students make to research at AU.
“Our students are the lifeblood of a vibrant and productive research university,” said Dr. Shawn Fraser, dean of the Faculty of Graduate Studies.
“As professors, we are challenged by students. We learn from them, and they help us grow. And frankly, our vibrant and dedicated students increase the productivity of professors and the institution.”
The top 3 abstract winners were announced at the conference. They were chosen based on approach, methodology, research findings, and importance.
First-place winner: Joanie Maynard (Master of Nursing)
Master of Nursing student Joanie Maynard’s topic, Anticipatory grief in parents of children who have a non-malignant life-limiting condition, wowed the abstract reviewers and earned her first place.
Maynard explained that her passion for the topic stems from her own personal and professional experiences with grief. For the last 6 years, she has worked as a registered nurse specializing in pediatric critical care and pediatric palliative care. She has also worked as a research assistant in pediatric palliative care.
“It came as a total surprise,” she said of the win. “It is quite validating. I can have the worst case of imposter syndrome at times, so it made me think, ‘Hey, I can do this!’ It also validated the importance of my topic.”
For her master’s thesis, Maynard is studying anticipatory grief so health-care providers can be better equipped to care for families experiencing loss. She hopes to defend her thesis at the end of this year.
Second-place winner: Danica Nolette (Master of Nursing)
Master of Nursing student Danica Nolette earned second place for her research, Transition shock and self-efficacy for newly graduated nurses amidst a global pandemic – A literature review.
Nolette explained that her passion for this topic has grown due to her work with newly graduated nurses as a nursing student advisor with the Univeristé de Saint Boniface. She is also a new graduate mentor within her own hospital unit. Seeking to find ways to retain new nurses, she explained that her goal is to find ways to optimize a positive and successful transition to practice.
“Self-doubt has at times clouded my confidence during my academic journey, thinking this project would not be of value within the nursing literature,” she said. “However, this award has helped scatter those clouds and shine a light on my positive thoughts that indeed, I will have something valuable to contribute.”
Nolette hopes to defend her master’s thesis proposal by the end of 2022.
Third-place winner: Lindsay Macdonald (Master of Health Studies)
Recent Master of Health Studies grad Lindsay Macdonald earned third place for her research, “We talk teeth”: Constructing a new narrative of EDIA (Equity, Diversity, Inclusivity and Access) capacity in dental education using hermeneutic inquiry.
Macdonald’s interest in the topic stems from her personal experiences as a faculty member in dental education, which she held while also pursuing her master’s.
“In my professional experiences, I witnessed firsthand some of the challenges to creating equitable and inclusive learning environments for students, particularly those from underrepresented populations.”
She explained that a personal desire to grow her own knowledge of equity, diversity, inclusion, and access and improve her capacity to better support students led her to this research. This was her second time presenting at the research conference.
Macdonald recently completed her degree after switching to the thesis-based stream from the course-based route halfway through her degree.
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Visit the Graduate Student Research Conference website for more details.