Planes, perfectionism, and prostitution laws

Lakehead graduate students present research-in-progress

Erin Collins and Caroline Cox
News Editor and Copy Editor

The Graduate Student Conference, part of Research and Innovation Week, gave Masters’ students and PhD candidates the opportunity to showcase their work while gaining professional experience for careers in academics.

The conference took place on Feb. 13 and 14. All participants presented their papers on the first day; their research was judged by a member of their faculty and a winner was chosen from each program.

The winners presented the second day in a Best of the Best competition.

One of the first up was Greg Togtema , MSc Engineering student. Interested in radar systems and the ability of military aircrafts to evade them, Togtema aspired to model the reflectivity of airplanes to better understand their interactions with radar radio waves.

Later, MA Sociology Vanessa Lucky presented on Canada’s prostitution laws, titled, “In for a Penny, in for a Pound.”

“Prostitution is not illegal in Canada,” started Lucky, “rather, virtually all activities surrounding prostitution are prohibited by various sections of the criminal code.”

Lucky’s project addressed how these prohibitions were being questioned, and made reference to a past case within which three sex trade workers had challenged their constitutionality. She is particularly interested in the role of expert witnesses and the role of religious intervention.

Afterwards, Megan Short talked about perfectionism, her research topic of choice within the MA Clinical Psychology program. Short began by acknowledging the current debate of whether or not perfectionism was an adaptive and positive trait.

“Some people think [perfectionism] can be related to positive striving, therefore being healthy,” explained Short. “Others say all perfectionism is unhealthy because people’s standards that they set for themselves are impossible to achieve.”

Presenting at conferences plays a major role in a job as a professor, and students were able to gain professional experience while also maintaining the comfort of presenting in front of their peers.

Holly Morgan, a Master’s student in Women’s Studies and English, presented her work on queer South Asian diasporic literature both at SALA, the South Asian Literary Association, and at the conference. She enjoyed presenting in front of her peers.

“There is a lot more pressure at external conferences, whereas I found the grad conference to be more about sharing and growing our potential together — this, I think, is its greatest merit,” said Morgan.

The event gave many graduate students, including English MA student Alanna Gasser, the opportunity to present at a conference for the first time.

“It was a little bit nerve-wracking presenting my work…  I didn’t think I would be nervous because I knew almost everyone that was there for it, but I was anyway,” Gasser said. “You go up there to present some work that you’ve spent time perfecting, and you just hope that people are as please with it as you are.”

The two-day format meant students were evaluated both by professors in their department and by the overall judges: Dr. Jason Blahuta from Philosophy and Dr. Apichart Linhananta from Physics.

Taslim Alani won the Women’s Studies portion of the conference and went on to present on the second day.

“There were fewer people on the second day, and I felt a bit more pressure to do well, simply because I was now the one representing my department,” Alani said. “However, it was a friendly audience, so once I began my presentation, the anxiety melted away.”

William Dew from Biotechonology won the overall competition.