Lights, Camera, Oration!
There was a decidedly flashy and festive feeling in the air, complete with a paparazzo, as faculty, students and staff from a broad range of U of T Mississauga departments converged for the first Annual Research Prize Symposium.
On the sunny afternoon of December 6, this celebration in the Instructional Building commemorated the careers of the recipients for the inaugural UTM Annual Research Prizes in Social Sciences, Sciences and Humanities, respectively: Professors Emily Impett from the Department of Psychology, Josh Milstein from the Department of Chemical and Physical Sciences, and Andrew Sepielli from the Department of Philosophy.
“One of the fantastic things about my job as Vice-Principal, Research is that I get to talk to a lot of really smart people about what they do in their research areas and in their scholarship, and I think I have one of the best jobs on campus. There’s so much fantastic work going on here,” said Professor Bryan Stewart, who helped to establish the Research Prizes in 2017.
Each recipient presented an overview of their research, with the opportunity for a Q&A period with the audience, and they received a framed commemorative letter, as well as a monetary prize of $2000 to go towards research activity or professional development.
The talks were an impressive mix of diverse subject areas, which is a true embodiment of UTM’s range of research. The topics included the following: Impett presented a talk on “Keeping the Spark Alive” in romantic relationships, and emphasized how her work demonstrates the importance of healthy social and romantic relationships for our overall wellbeing; Milstein’s talk, “Unpacking the Bacterial Genome One Molecule at a Time,” introduced his lab’s work that is at the “interface of physics and the biological sciences,” and offered a bit of a lesson on the origins and evolution of microscopy; and lastly Sepielli raised the question “Is Morality Objective?”, which covered a broad swath of philosophical considerations on objectivity as it relates to moral questions, along with touching on distorted and undistorted views on ethics. Though the talks ranged in discipline, the researchers had a fun time drawing some parallels most notably in the area of sex and sexuality.
After the talks concluded, the reception was replete with a musician, festive drinks and food, as well as a photographer on hand to snap professional head shots and group photos for anyone wanting an updated picture of themselves or their lab for their website, social media platform, or professional profile.
Stewart was sure to emphasize the importance of this event, and encouraged others to consider nominating an early career researcher for the Research Prize next year since this will be an annual award.
“One of the things that is really important to me is that we celebrate the research accomplishments of our faculty, staff, and students because UTM has a wealth of scholarly excellence that should get the recognition it deserves,” said Stewart.