Students gain valuable experience partnering with professors in undergraduate research
Food security, senior fall prevention and online consumer behaviour are among areas of research being investigated through the summer by seven undergraduates from UBC Okanagan’s Faculty of Management.
The recipients, who range from first- to fourth-year students, are receiving supports through one of four Management Undergraduate Research Awards (MURA), two International Undergraduate Research Awards (IURA) and a Regional Socio-Economic Development Institute of Canada (RSEDIC) award. The awards support undergraduate students in gaining exceptional learning experiences in hands-on research with faculty supervisors. The awards are also providing financial and academic security to the recipients at a time when COVID-19 has affected the ability of many students to find in summer jobs.
“We are proud to be able to offer our undergraduate students these opportunities to engage more deeply with their studies and gain valuable new research skills,” says Roger Sugden, dean of the Faculty of Management. “The experiences these students will gain over the coming months will serve them well in their future, in their academic studies and beyond.”
Shree Nithi Santhagunam, student in the Faculty of Management, says her MURA meant she could remain in the Okanagan and continue her learning through the summer. “Lots of my friends couldn’t find jobs over the summer,” she says. “I feel very fortunate to be involved in this project.”
Santhagunam is working with Jennifer Davis, assistant professor in the Faculty of Management, on research into how to better prevent falls among seniors and increase adherence to prevention protocols. In addition, she is also assisting Davis on research into the social and economic impact of COVID-19 on tenured and tenure-track research faculty across Canada.
“Every time I work with students, I learn so much from all of the skill and talent that they bring to the table, and from their life perspectives as well,” says Davis. “It’s been very enriching for me to work with Nithi and to learn from her viewpoints and the experience she’s had in her life and her studies. It’s exciting to see students who are working to develop some interests and passions in areas that, maybe, they hadn’t anticipated.”
While all award recipients are conducting research virtually, the students and researchers remain connected through video conferences, email, and phone calls. The students also take part in weekly workshops, team meetings and peer discussions.
“It feels like I’m getting paid to learn,” says Mohana Rambe, whose RSEDIC award is supporting her research into inventory management systems for the Central Okanagan Food Bank and Helen’s Acres Community Farm, supervised by Eric Li, associate professor in the Faculty of Management. “I’m getting back much more than what I’m giving.”
Faculty of Management undergraduate research projects taking place this summer
Patrick Feng is working with Assistant Professor Ying Zhu to analyze how touchscreens affect consumers’ purchasing decisions. His project is supported by an IURA.
Shiven Vinod Khera is working with Associate Professor Eric Li on analyzing how non-metropolitan and rural regions can have greater health equity and food security during disruptive events, such as COVID-19, wildfires and flooding. This project is being supported by a MURA.
Mohana Rambe is working with Associate Professor Eric Li and Assistant Professor Amir Ardestani-Jaafari on implementing and assessing a new inventory management system with the Central Okanagan Food Bank and Helen’s Acres Community Farm. This project is supported by the RSEDIC.
Shree Nithi Santhagunam is working with Assistant Professor Jennifer Davis on a comprehensive literature review on fall prevention among seniors to increase adherence to prevention protocols. This project is supported by a MURA.
Vinil Sood is working with Assistant Professor Amir Ardestani-Jaafari and Associate Professor Eric Li to systematically review food bank operations to explore food inventory management methodologies and food waste management. This project is supported by a MURA.
Gabriel Tan is working with Assistant Professor David Walker to investigate whether the audio characteristics of customer voices in service interactions predict that the customer will mistreat the employee later in the interaction. This project is supported by an IURA.
Beyond Zhao is working with Assistant Professor Ying Zhu to investigate how using touchscreen devices versus non-touchscreen devices influences consumers’ judgment and decision making. This project is supported by a MURA.