Student Research Opportunities

Undergraduate Summer Research Awards 2023

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 Summer 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 that applications for the 2023 competition have now been closed **


  • Saint Mary's University undergraduate students in any academic discipline may apply

    Note: 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.
  • Normally, an overall GPA (“CGPA”) of at least 3.80 is required
  • The First Year Undergraduate Research Awards is for students who started their studies at Saint Mary’s in January 2022 or September 2022, 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, 2023 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.

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.


Ali Bhagat
Global Displacement
- Student will conduct a literature review and potential interviews/fieldwork with various organizations in the European Union or South Africa. The context of research is migration, detention, and other forms of displacement.

Blake Brown
History/Canadian legal history 
- The history of law in Canada from the First World War to the introduction of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms in 1982.

Todd Calder
- Conducting research on the concepts of evil, wrongdoing, vice, and complicity.

Diane Crocker
Criminology/Gender-Based Violence
- Assisting with two projects: one related to campus sexual violence prevention and policy and the other related to policies to facilitate domestic violence prevention.

Leslie Digdon
- Student will be researching the history and legacies of eugenics in Canada and working with other scholars to develop ways to make this history publicly accessible.

Alexandra Dobrowolsky     
Political Science
- Assistance with a research project that explores the theory and practices of "governance feminism" in relation to recent feminist and Indigenous governance developments in Canada and Mexico. Key areas of study will include internal state practices (e.g., a comparison and contrast of the machinery of feminist governance within the two states) and an examination of external governance mechanisms (e.g., attempts to "feminize" the recent Canada-US-Mexico free trade deal). 

Jonathan Fowler
Archaeology / History / Geography
- Conducting research on the history and archaeology of Halifax. Occasional field research elsewhere in the province associated with the archaeology of the early colonial period.

Teresa Heffernan
Where Artificial Intelligence Meets Fiction
- Duties may include archival research, annotated bibliographies, blog writing, and the development of resources for the website for social robot futures ( The student needs to be a good writer, an avid reader, and capable of independent research.

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.

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
Sociology / Global Development Studies           
- Gender Based Violence in Migration (GBV-MIG Canada).  The project focuses on violence in the migration / forced migration process and aims to identify causes and effective policy responses.  Please check this website for more detail: GBV-MIG Canada Research Program.           
Danika van Proosdij
Coastal Geomorphology / Nature-Based Climate Change Adaptation
- 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 / Avian Behavioural Ecology          
- Students on this research team conduct field work on mate choice and parental investment in an urban passerine, the European Starling.

Susan Bjornson
Entomology / Insect pathology
- Studying the factors and effects of pathogens that cause chronic diseases in beneficial insects.       

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
- (1) Conducting field research on earthworm invasions in the Yukon and Alberta or NS/NB,  (2) Assisting with data syntheses on global soil biodiversity/human impacts, or (3) Assisting with research on Indigenous knowledge of berry crops (NWT or NS).

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

Linda Campbell
Environmental Science
- Ongoing research programs which students can get involved with: (1) 150-year old historical gold mine tailing ecotoxicology and environmental impacts. (2) New! Research on invasive freshwater crayfish in Nova Scotia.  Information:  

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

Greg Christian
Nuclear Physics: Nuclear reaction rates for stellar nucleosynthesis and the structure of exotic nuclei
- Beam current determination for an experiment measuring the 23Mg(p,gamma)24Al reaction rate, which is important for nucleosynthesis in novae. Opportunities to travel to the TRIUMF accelerator facility to participate in the experiment may be available.

Richard Cisek
Astronomy and Physics / Chemistry
- Three Interdisciplinary science topics: (1) Characterizing Novel Semiconductor Nanowires, (2) Laser Scanning Microscopy Development and Upgrades (3) Development of Tunable Laser Sources.

Nicole Conrad
Psychology / Reading Research  
- Assisting with data collection with children & data scoring/analyses for longitudinal research studies on the development of spelling and reading comprehension.

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.

Maryanne Fisher
Evolutionary Psychology
- Assisting with a cross-cultural study on mating competition among diverse groups, using both quantitative and qualitative method. Upper year student preferred. 

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.

Manuela Girotti
Integrable systems and Random Matrices (Mathematics)
- Theoretical and numerical analysis of dispersive PDEs (Korteweg-de Vries equation, nonlinear Schrödinger equation, etc.), in particular solitons, breathers and gasses. Use of simulations and random matrix theory to analyse halting times of algorithms. 

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
- Field work studying vegetation across NS forested landscapes, online data analysis projects also possible.

Sean Haughian
Plant Ecology (with a focus on how we can better conserve biodiversity and species at risk in managed landscapes). 
- The student would likely be involved in two research projects: assisting my MSc student with surveying lichens in forest canopies, and assisting me with surveys of soil crust plants in farms to promote soil carbon sequestration. 

Vincent Hénault-Brunet
Astronomy and Physics / Stellar Dynamics
- The student will compare computer simulations and observations of dense star clusters to model and understand the dynamical interactions between stars, binary star systems, and black holes inside globular star clusters.

Somayeh Kafaie
Complex Networks and Bioinformatics
- Assisting research on addressing health related issues by applying network science and graph theories. 

Rituparna Kanungo

Astronomy and Physics Department, Experimental Nuclear Physics and Nuclear Astrophysics
- Students in our research team work on discoveries with rare isotopes. Work involves data analysis programming, radiation detectors and electronics.

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.  

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.

Adel Merabet
- Conducting research on renewable energy/electric systems.
Paul Muir         
Computational Mathematics/Scientific Computing          
- Investigation of numerical methods and application of numerical software for the solution of mathematical models in the sciences and social sciences in areas such as epidemiology, criminology, and information networks.

Jiju Poovancheri           
Deep Learning and Computer Vision    
- Assist in the design and development of a deep learning model for 3D dense captioning of point clouds (a vision-language problem).

Marcin Sawicki
- Uncovering how the first galaxies formed and then grew over cosmic time using data from JWST and other state-of-the-art telescopes.

Robert Singer
Organic Synthesis and Green Chemistry
- The student will be responsible for 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 a child sexual abuse perpetration prevention project, a study on sex work, as well as various lab-related projects led by Dr. Stephens and her grad students.

Veronica Stinson          
Forensic Psychology     
- Access to justice in sexual assault cases and judicial decision-making.

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

Meg Ternes     
Forensic Psychology     
- Assisting with a projects exploring deception in high stakes situations. Assist with other projects within the area of psychology and law.

Danielle Tokarz
Chemistry and Biophysics
- Investigating the structure of various biological tissues (e.g. human cancer tissue) using an ultrafast laser microscope.

Danika van Proosdij
Coastal Geomorphology / Nature-Based Climate Change Adaptation
- 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 and reproductive success of fishes.

Shawna White
Structural Geology and Tectonics
- The student will act as a research assistant, aiding in field preparation, geologic field work (e.g., collection of samples and structural measurements), sample preparation, and geochronological data interpretation.

Aldona Wiacek
Environmental Science / Atmospheric Physics     
- (1) Assisting with operation of SMU Atmospheric Observatory & field work. (2) Analysing of satellite and ground-based atmospheric composition data. (3) Overall research goals: air pollution and climate change process understanding.

Sobey School of Business

Vasiliki Athanasakou
Corporate reporting and corporate governance      
- Textual analysis of annual reports content and the information conveyed about the interaction between key members of the top management team (i.e. CEO-CFO). Analysis of the dynamics of the top management team.

Matthew Boland
Data Analytics in Nova Scotia       
- This project is intended to engage undergraduate students in the entire research process, culminating in a “white paper”. Unlike a traditional academic paper, this white paper will focus less on theory-motivated research questions and more on questions of interest to stakeholders in NS including businesses, policy makers, and the general public. This project is partially motivated by NS data availability through and, perhaps limited, analysis of these data. 

Xiaoyu (Kellie) Liu
- Assisting in a literature review, data collection, and analysis on corporate reputation and corporate social responsibility.

Joniada Milla
Policy and Program Evaluation/Education and Development Economics
- Student would assist in a literature review, data cleaning and data analysis for a research project on exploring the impact of cash benefits in Canada.

Ethan Pancer

Marketing, Consumer Behavior, and Behavioral Economics
- 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)

Megan Walsh
- Assisting with research in the areas of leadership, well-being and gender issues in organizations. 

Hai Wang         
Machine Learning, Data Mining, Business Intelligence, and Knowledge Management  
- The student will participate in a research project involving analyzing data using machine learning software.

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:

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

Office Hours

Monday - Friday

September - May
8:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.

June - August
8:30 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.