Though, Sadika quickly found her honours project was unique from the average class. “While studying for a course, we are generally required to follow the instructor’s guidelines and the course outline. Conversely, during my honours project, I was individually responsible for making certain decisions and my supervisors would only mentor me through my ideas. Essentially, I oversaw my honours research project, as opposed to listening to my instructors like in other courses. While it was gratifying to have such independence, this freedom came with its own struggles,” Sadika says.
The first struggle became apparent for Sadika when it came time to choose a research question, “I had become used to following guidelines from instructors during the first three years of my university career. So, when I was expected to think of a research topic and work on it alone for my honours project, I was clueless for some time. At first, I would think of a topic but then switch to another one because I wasn’t sure about the social issue that I was interested in exploring. I was able to overcome this and think of a research topic from one of my 300-level psychology courses. Once I had a vague idea, my supervisors, Dr. Todd Morrison and Dr. Melanie Morrison, guided me through the process and helped refine my ideas. They immensely supported me during my research journey and helped me become involved.”
In her research, Sadika examined people’s sensitivity to disgust and how it links to their homonegativity towards gay men and lesbian women. “The best part of my project was the feeling of worthiness and achievement after successfully completing my own research. I was very happy when two of my hypotheses were supported, and I presented findings that were not explored in past literature. For example, I found correlations between disgust and discriminatory intentions or behaviours towards sexual minorities, and this is something that has not been done in previous research.”
Practice Makes Perfect
Sadika went on to present her findings several times: “First I was a guest speaker in [Dr. Sarah Knudson’s] sociology research methods class where I talked about my research and explained the research methodologies that I used. Next, I presented the preliminary findings of my research at the [University of Saskatchewan Students’ Union 2018] Undergraduate Project Symposium.* Being able to explain my research to psychology experts and the public was a great experience, in which I also gained more confidence. At the USSU Symposium I also won third prize [and] that really motivated me to work harder.”
Not stopping there, Sadika went on to present her research at two conferences, making sure to further refine her presentation first. “I practiced my presentation for the Psychology Undergraduate Research Conference (PURC) in front of more than a hundred students in Dr. Todd Morrison’s second year psychology course. This was completely unexpected because I was actually supposed to practice with him in the lab. But later, when the students expressed that they liked my presentation and appreciated me for it, I felt amazing. Soon afterwards, I presented my honours thesis at the PURC in April of 2018. I was a co-coordinator of this conference, so having to organize the conference as well as present my research in the event really boosted my confidence even more."
Last, but not least, Sadika shared her results at the Connecting Minds conference in Richmond, British Columbia, “[This conference] really helped me get out of my comfort zone. My university is my own zone, and I am not scared here, but in the conference in Richmond, I was surrounded by strangers. So, I really felt appreciated when I presented my research among unknown people and they enjoyed it. Personally, I suffered from social anxiety, low confidence, and self-esteem, so all these experiences really made me feel a sense of accomplishment and helped me overcome my fear of public speaking.”
Magic Happens Outside the Comfort Zone
For students looking to get involved in research on campus, Sadika suggests to seek out the opportunities that are available to you and provides motivation for others, “Email your professors about your research interests and the topics you want to explore. Choose the community-learning option if any of your courses offer it. Don’t shy away from talking to others about your interests. Always keep an eye on the PAWs bulletin and see if there are opportunities. Talk to your professors in class and make close contacts with them so that they remember you if they need research assistance. Get out of your comfort zone. It’s okay to push yourself to participate in situations that you feel awkward in, because you always learn something from it. Participate in as many competitions as possible as this really helps in making connections. Involvement in the research community begins with informing people about you, your interests, and your work!”
Bidushy Sadika is currently employed as a Research Assistant in Dr. Melanie Morrison’s Lab,** wherein she is involved in Dr. Morrison’s Insight Grant Project investigating macro- and micro-aggressions towards sexual and gender minorities. She will be convocating in fall 2018 and plans to pursue graduate studies in Psychology.
*Head here to learn more about the annual USSU Project Symposium
**Head here to learn more about the Saskatchewan Equity, Equality, and Diversity (SEED) Laboratory operated by Dr. Melanie Morrison and Dr. Todd Morrison.