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UWTSD welcomes MITACS Research students

The University of Wales Trinity Saint David (UWTSD) has welcomed students from Thompson Rivers University in Canada to its Swansea campus to participate in a Mitacs Globalink Research Award (GRA).

Katrina Janzen and Nya Derkach will be working alongside Dr Paul Hutchings, Associate Professor of Psychology, and colleagues on a follow-up study to the global Gender Harmony Project, analysing contemporary understandings of masculinity and femininity in Wales using quantitative and qualitative methods. The original research project was conducted in 62 countries on all continents – the first such extensive and wide-ranging study on this topic in the history of the social sciences.

As members of the Towards Gender Harmony project team, Dr Hutchings and Dr Katie E. Sullivan have expanded upon their work to examine in greater depth issues of gender equality in a Welsh context and a new research project continuing this line of research will be designed and carried out in Wales during 2024.

Dr Hutchings said: “The proposed project will be an outstanding opportunity for the students to develop and hone their research skills in an area that will be significant for Canada. The project will build upon the findings from previous research about traits and attitudes related to gender and gender equality. Gender equality is a significant social issue globally, including in Canada.

“Social psychological research has an important role to play in enhancing our understanding of beliefs, attitudes, and behaviours around gender, and ultimately for developing tools to facilitate social change. The interns will deepen their understanding of topics including zero-sum beliefs, cultural behaviours, and gender equality, particularly in the Welsh context. Gaining this knowledge will expand the interns’ understanding of the issues around gender equality and inform how they approach their future academic and career endeavours upon their return to Canada.”

The Psychology Department at UWTSD has a dedicated laboratory environment comprising of eleven lab spaces, equipped with experimental psychology computers and programmes (SuperLab, Inquisit, NVivo, Virtual Reality (VR) headsets and testing materials. The department also has access to an immersive VR suite within the university that allows us staff and students to create augmented reality (AR) environments.

The research interns will work directly with the lead researchers in designing the work packages and work as part of the team, engaging in data collection and analysis, meeting with other researchers within the department, and engaging with the wider faculty.

GRA is a competitive initiative for undergraduates to participate in a 12-week research internship under the supervision of Canadian university faculty members in a variety of academic disciplines, from science, engineering, and mathematics to the humanities and social sciences.

Katrina and Nya are the first students to be hosted by UWTSD and are being supported by Kath Griffiths, UWTSD’s Mitacs research ambassador and International Regional Manager.

Kath Griffiths said: “We are delighted to welcome our first Mitacs research assistants to UWTSD. The programme, primarily known for fostering research collaborations and internships in Canada, extends significant benefits to incoming researchers, including those coming to the UK. While Mitacs itself is a Canadian initiative, researchers from various countries often participate in exchanges that involve collaborations with institutions worldwide, including the UK.”

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Katrina Janzen said: “The Gender Harmony Project is very large-scale and has collected data from a multitude of countries, participating in this project provides the opportunity to be a part of something unique, meaningful, and progressive.”

Nya Derkach said: “This potential experience of working alongside internationally renowned experts promises to enhance my research skills and broaden my perspectives. My goal is to become a registered clinical psychologist, and I see this program as a formative experience leading to my future career.”