Assistant Prof. Quinlan, Prof. Ilcan and Assistant Prof. Molnar Awarded SSHRC Insight Grants

Tuesday, July 6, 2021

Assistant Prof. Andrea Quinlan, Prof. Suzan Ilcan and Assistant Prof. Adam Molnar have each been awarded Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) Insight Grants for their respective research projects.

Assistant Professor Andrea Quinlan has received a three-year SSHRC Insight grant award ($98,869) for her research project “Do-it-Yourself Forensics: The Rise of at-home Sexual Assaults Kits during the COVID-19 Pandemic.” When at-home forensic SAKs were first introduced to the American market in 2019, they were marketed as accessible and empowering alternatives to hospital-based forensic exams. However, criticism was swift, as many advocates, nurses, and prosecutors challenged their legal credibility to identify sexual offenders and questioned survivors’ lack of expertise to use them. The pandemic has introduced a new urgency to these debates amidst growing recognition of the barriers COVID-19 is creating for survivors seeking sexual assault services. The project investigates pandemic-related barriers to sexual assault services and ongoing medicolegal and sociotechnical controversies about at-home forensic technologies in sexual assault cases.

Professor Suzan Ilcan has received a four-year SSHRC Insight grant award ($150,369) for her research project “Border Frictions: Shaping Transnational Relations via Migrant Journeys, Resettlement, and Community Building in the Context of Syrian Displacement”, with Co-investigator Dr. Secil Dagtas (Associate Professor, Anthropology, University of Waterloo). The project focuses on the complexities of border frictions in the transnational context of Syrian displacement. It investigates how and the extent to which border frictions influence the social lives of Syrian refugees spanning three national contexts, namely, Hatay, Turkey, the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, and the Greek-administered Republic of Cyprus. The project develops a multi-sited qualitative methodology approach that brings together ethnographic and critical migration and border perspectives offered by the disciplines of sociology, anthropology, and political science. This methodology consists of multiscalar analysis, discourse analysis, semi-structured interviews, and will provide an in-depth analysis of how border frictions shape transnational relations in the interlinking context of migrant journeys, resettlement, and community-building across national differences. The study aims to offer more durable explanations of Syrian displacement than can be permitted by nationally framed border and migration approaches. The project team will produce a project website, organize a stakeholder workshop, write conference papers and policy briefs, publish scholarly work, and disseminate research through academic and public fora. 

Assistant Professor Adam Molnar has received a five-year Insight Grant award ($287,141) for his research project “Understanding the Risks and Regulation of Workplace Surveillance in Canada’s Digital Economy,” with Co-investigator Dr. Urs Hengartner (Associate Professor, David R. Cheriton School of Computer Science, University of Waterloo). Employee monitoring apps are increasingly affordable and accessible, providing a powerful degree of surveillance about workers: keystroke logging, location monitoring, browser monitoring, and even webcam usage. However, as homes have become offices, and laptops and smartphones are used for business, school, and entertainment, the increasing surveillance of 'remote workplaces,' complicates boundaries between work and personal spaces.

In spite of claims to maintain productivity and cybersecurity, employment monitoring software introduces acute risks to privacy, and it jeopardizes cybersecurity for businesses and employees. This coalescence of new technologies and shifting labour raises a vital question: do Canada's traditional legal and regulatory approaches adequately protect individuals' privacy, security, and the separation of their personal and professional lives from employer surveillance?

This study will address this question with an innovative interdisciplinary team of academics across Sociology, Law, Computer Science, and Surveillance Studies. The project will also advance partnerships with practitioners in employment and human rights law, the British Columbia Government and Services Employees Union, and the Canadian Civil Liberties Association.