In late March Post-Doctoral Fellow Amy Muise was walking through the U of T Mississauga parking garage after a regular weekly lab meeting with her colleagues in the Department of Psychology. However this turned out to be no ordinary afternoon: she discovered that she was a recipient of a prestigious Banting Postdoctoral Fellowship awarded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC).
“I was walking to my car, pulled out my phone, and I was looking at my e-mails, and [SSHRC] just sent an e-mail stating ‘the decisions have been made,’ but then you have to follow a link and login to find the results,” recalls Muise.
A couple of trembling moments and struggling with the login ensued before she found out she was one of 24 recipients to have been awarded a SSHRC Banting, and that her proposal scored in the top ten from the nearly 100 submissions that came in from institutions across Canada. “It was this wonderful, exciting surprise,” says Muise, who immediately phoned her supervisor Professor Emily Impett to share the good news.
Muise, who will spend the fellowship further exploring the factors that promote passion, desire, excitement and satisfaction in long-term relationships, is bolstered by this significant support of her research area. “The fact that they felt this project was relevant is great for relationship research,” says Muise. “I’ve thought for a long time that this is an important issue to study, along with the sexuality piece that is involved with the project, but it’s nice to have other people recognize its value.”
The Banting Postdoctoral Fellowships recognizes scholars who propose research projects of exceptional quality and who have a superior record of research achievement and leadership. Muise’s supervisor, Professor Impett, an Assistant Professor of Psychology at UTM says that “Amy fits the profile of a brilliant scholar: she thinks theoretically, is a talented data analyst, and has already made huge contributions to interesting and hot topics in the field of Psychology. Her record of accomplishments is simply off the charts—I know it and everyone around her knows it; I’m so pleased that SSHRC and Banting recognized it.”
The bottom line for Muise is she is able to continue working in a research field that has long fascinated her. Muise started out on the psychology track thinking she was headed for a career in couple’s counselling. However once she started working with a relationship researcher in the fourth year of her undergraduate degree at the University of Western Ontario, she changed her focus from wanting to counsel couples to wanting to study them with psychological research methods.
“At the time I was somewhat grounded in social psychology, and started liking the idea of applying social psychology to the study of romantic relationships,” explains Muise, who focused on sexuality at the University of Guelph for her Master’s program and then on Applied Social Psychology for her PhD, in order to merge her varied research pursuits.
“I’ve always had this interest in understanding what makes relationships better or worse,” says Muise. “They bring so much joy in life, but they also involve a lot of challenges, and inherently I’ve always wanted to know more about that.”