Showcasing graduate student research

The strength of our department is due to our stellar group of graduate students and their active engagement with research.

PhD Student Harrison Oakes awarded prestigious Governor General's Gold Medal

- from Waterloo Stories, June 12, 2020

The University of Waterloo is proud to announce that two of its students will receive one of Canada’s highest honours in academia — the Governor General’s Gold Medal.

For highest standing in a doctoral program, Psychology PhD student Harrison Oakes (MA ’16) with the Faculty of Arts is recognized for his accomplishments in the research on social environments that stigmatize concealable identities.

Harrison Oakes

Harrison OakesRecognized for his interdisciplinary research on identity suspicion, Harrison Oakes highlights that social environments that stigmatize concealable identities (e.g., mental illness, being gay) oppress both people with the stigmatized identity and people with the contrasting non-stigmatized identity. For example, Oakes’ findings have demonstrated that in homophobic environments, people suspect even straight-identifying students with stereotypically straight interests of hiding a stigmatized sexual identity. As a result, students in these environments are expected to conceal behaviours and interests associated with the stigmatized identity to avoid having their identity questioned by their peers.

Oakes has a broad range of research experience, spanning work in identity perception, moral psychology, reasoning about social conflicts and identity expression on dating apps. Much of his research has been published in leading journals, including Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Oakes has also received multiple awards for his scholarly work, including the prestigious Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarship.

Oakes draws inspiration from his own experiences of homophobic bullying to drive his years of work as an advocate for anti-bullying curricula in schools. He uses his strong passion to use research to promote more inclusive communities and inspire social change.

3 Minute Thesis Competition (3MT)

2020 Arts 3 Minute Thesis Competition Participants

On March 6, 2020, four of our graduate Psychology students took part in the annual Arts 3MT competition along with fellow students from the English, Fine Arts, History, Philosophy, Theological Studies and Sociology departments. Audience members enjoyed the opportunity to hear about some of the fascinating research our graduates are doing. Psychology did particularly well, with Martin Turpin taking first place and Serena Daljeet second. Well done all! Take a look at Martin's presentation.

Student research in the media

Read about the work of our graduate students whose research has been recently featured in the media.