Undergraduate Student Research Day

September 13, 2023 | Hamilton, ON
Contributed by Natalie Plechinger, Communications Assistant
Undergrad research students pose together during the Undergraduate Research Day.
Bottom row (L-R): Maria Alkouni, Stephanie Wilson, Xinyi Chen, Ryan Tratner, Shengxiao (Vincent) Wang. Top row (L-R): Mahdi Abouei, Joe Lawton, Michael Tadrous, Jared Paul

On August 21st, Undergraduate Student Research Award (USRA) recipients came together to share their learning experiences from working closely with DeGroote researchers. The undergraduate students discussed how gaining experience with hands-on research has allowed them to develop theoretical and applicable skills in several facets of research, in addition to the development of strong mentorship connections with their supervisors.

“Mentorship is very important to me,” said research assistant Michael Tadrous who is working on a nuclear energy initiative with his supervisor Goran Calic, associate professor, Strategic Management. “He’s very wise in everything that he does while also being able to show us trust. I don’t think that I could have imagined a better supervisor for me. If I’m ever in a role of leadership or management I know that I will think back to all that he has taught me and will be able to apply it.”


Undergraduate Student Research Projects

Alexa Vrzovski

Supervisor: Gillian Mulvale

Project: “Equity-Based Co-Creation in Research”

Alexa focused on user-centric research and the use of service and systems techniques to address specific problems or challenges in an effective way. Through participating in this research Alexa was able to attend the CoPro2023 three-day International Forum, providing her with the opportunity to develop several global connections with individuals working within the co-creation sector.


Hala Arafeh

Supervisors: Brent McKnight and Paul Snowdon

Project: “Social Impact Hub”

Hala’s research centered on the efforts of DeGroote in establishing connections with non-profit organizations that are located in the local community, with the aim of strengthening the capabilities of the philanthropic and social sector.


Haley Piper

Supervisor: Brent McKnight

Project: “Economic Transactions on Main Street during the COVID-19 Pandemic”

Haley’s research focused on the disruptive impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic on companies that are primarily focused on local markets. Specifically, the study examines the capacity of these businesses to either adjust to the challenges posed by the pandemic or face potential failure.


Jared Paul and Muhammad Jawad

Supervisor: Kai Huang

Project: “The Nurse Scheduling Problem”

Jared and Muhammad’s research focused on examining the complex issue of nurse scheduling in order to achieve smoother health care service operations.


Joe Lawton

Supervisor: Kevin Veenstra

Project: “Effect of employment type”

Joe’s research study examined the impacts of different forms of employment, specifically, the impact of temporary employment on workplace productivity and creativity. The research involved a comparative analysis between contract and permanent employment arrangements.


Michael Tadrous

Supervisor: Goran Calic

Project: “Nuclear Insights: Illuminating the path to a sustainable energy future”

Michael’s research investigated the economic, sustainability, and diversity advantages associated with nuclear energy. This study will work to provide valuable insights and informed knowledge to enhance the understanding of nuclear energy’s advantages.


Ryan Tratner

Supervisor: Teal McAteer

Project: “Students coming of age as digital natives; how can we help close their knowledge gaps?”

The main focus of this study was to examine the effects of fear on self-identity because when people are paralyzed by fear it can impact their development personally and professionally. Ryan’s research involves working together with undergraduate students to develop workshops aimed at reducing their view on fears.


Shengxiao (Vincent) Wang

Supervisor: Ruhai Wu

Project: “Data Collection of TikTok Online Shopping Supply Chain”

Vincent took part in conducting research and establishing connections with relevant companies via the development of strategic surveys and questionnaires, with the aim of expanding his existing dataset.


Stephanie Wilson

Supervisor: Erin Reid

Project: Hockey Canada Case Study

Stephanie conducted a study on the impact of two sexual assault scandals involving Hockey Canada. The research aimed to explore potential strategies for enhancing the organization’s culture, promoting improvement, and facilitating the process of change. Stephanie’s research contributions will be included in Erin Reid’s future MBA Organizational Behaviour courses.


Xinyi Chen

Supervisor: Joseph Tan

Project: “Workplace Wellness: Investigating the Effects of a Gamified Music Therapy (GMT) System on Workplace Productivity and Stress”

Xinyi’s research explored the use of environmental and gamified music therapy within the context of flow theory, and its effect on the individuals’ well-being in the workplace.


Maria Alkouni

Supervisors: Trevor Chamberlain, Anna Danielova, and Hesam Shahriari

Project: “Corporate Scandals and their Consequences”

Maria’s research aimed to examine the impact of numerous forms of workplace scandals such as harassment on different aspects of companies including profitability and governance.


By gaining experience in research, the undergraduate students were able to get involved in experiential academic experiences that complimented both their academic and personal interests while simultaneously providing them with the tools needed to succeed in their future careers and academic ventures.

“I was surprised that there was a role that allowed me to participate in actual research,” said Ryan Tratner, research assistant to human resources and management associate professor Teal McAteer on her project surrounding fear and self-identity. “I’ve never had a role like this, so it was very intimidating thinking about having to analyze complex documents with material that I had never seen before. But something that I’ve learned is that just like any skill, the more you practice and continue to try and don’t give up, you’ll realize that you’re able to do it.”

To conclude the day, Mahdi Abouei, a doctoral candidate in Information Systems, shared his experiences in academic research and provided recommendations and insights in conducting research to the undergraduate researchers.

“It’s important that we have people with research skills who have the knowledge to contribute to a variety of structures, policies, and practices,” says Abouei. “Involving undergraduate students in research projects provides them with the expertise and training needed in both their academic future and industry work in order to expand their knowledge and further contribute to the broader society and community that they live in.”

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