Library Awards for Research Excellence recipients announced

Recognizing outstanding scholarly projects

This year, the sixth-annual Library Awards for Research Excellence recognized seven Mount Royal students for their outstanding scholarly projects. Students entered their projects in three different categories: emerging scholar, senior individual and senior group.

The entries were judged by two separate committees comprising 10 interdisciplinary faculty members, which included four university librarians.

Dr. Glen Ryland, PhD, associate professor in the department of general education, has been involved with the selection committee for four years and was again impressed by the high-quality submissions.

“I enjoy being part of recognizing student work from across the University and the Library is a great hub for such recognition.”

Ryland says the decision process is difficult and involves scoring guidelines and lots of dialogue.

“Most submissions are quite excellent and so the process of choosing the best comes down to taking some time to read over them using a set rubric and then the committee comes together for a discussion to decide on the winners,” Ryland says.

“It is important to recognize the hard work students are doing along the way in their studies, not just at the end of their time at university.”

Senior Individual Award

Mackenzie Carr

Mackenzie Carr, Mount Royal university alumna.

Psychology and sociology honours major and new alumna Mackenzie Carr took home the Senior Individual Award for her project “An Exacerbation of Inequality: Understanding the Risks for Mental Health, Substance Use, and Domestic Violence Issues During COVID-19.”

Carr investigated the underlying impacts that have arisen due to the pandemic, such as the growing mental health crisis, domestic violence and substance abuse.

“The goal of my research was to identify the factors that often predict these issues, such as gender, age and ethnicity,” Carr says, explaining that there have been many consequences from the pandemic that are not discussed as often as they should be.

“I was motivated to learn more about what is happening and to bring light to these issues.”

Carr’s thesis is significant and also earned her a Canadian Sociological Association's Outstanding Graduating Student award. This achievement is presented yearly by the Canadian Sociological Association to one honours student from each sociology program in Canada.

Her work also garnered the Faculty of Arts’ student research award at this year's Research and Scholarship Days.

“Between these three awards, it should be absolutely clear that Mackenzie is the very best representation of what our sociology program and its graduates are capable of, and she is an exemplar of timely, innovative, important research and scholarship” says Dr. Tim Haney, PhD, professor in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology.

Carr goes on to say that the experience and knowledge she gained from this research project is indescribable.

“I would strongly encourage other students to immerse themselves in research and utilize all of the Library services that MRU has to offer.”

Emerging Scholar Award

Jarod Huhtala

Health and physical education student, Jarod Huhtala.

Jarod Huhtala won the Emerging Scholar Award for his topic, “Running Economy and the Foot-Ankle Complex: Is There a Link Between Running Performance and Joint Stability?” His research is focused on muscle mechanics, joint stability and the energy cost required to run.

“What I found was that tendon stiffness was a common factor between both (running performance and joint stability), and potentially increasing the stiffness of some of the tendons in the foot-ankle complex could increase joint stability and could improve running economy by reducing the energy required to run,” Huhtala says.

Huhtala hopes to continue this research over the summer months to potentially identify additional branches of inquiry in this area of the body.

The health and physical education student, who is majoring in athletic therapy, is thankful to have participated in research at Mount Royal and was thrilled to win a Library Award for Research Excellence.

“I haven't won an individual award of this calibre before, so it caught me off guard.”

He also has a great “social good” side hustle. Huhtala and fellow athletic therapy student, Miguel Klassen, have been collaborating on a business venture called Adapted Play Personalized Activity. The duo delivers toys, games, individualized programs and activities to individuals living with cerebral palsy, autism and dementia. They are working to grow this entrepreneurial idea.

Senior Group Award

The Senior Group Award was presented to five students in the Bachelor of Health and Physical Education — Physical Literacy major. Mabel Au, Janaya Callejon, Maddison Drader, Amanda Paterson and Makayla Skrlac collaborated on a topic around sleep titled, “Should I Catch the 10 p.m. Sleep Train? Patterns of Alertness in Early-adulthood Cisgender Female’s Sleep Hygiene Practices.”

When discussing their topic, the group realized that sleep was not something they had had much of over their time at MRU, but they were well aware of how important it is — as well as the need for more information around it.

They decided to research sleep in relation to physical literacy, and then brainstormed factors that contribute to or affect sleep as well as potential limitations to their investigation.

“The goal of our study was to determine if female participants obtained slow-wave-sleep by sleeping between the hours of 10 p.m. and 2 a.m., as this is what male-centred data had told us during our literature review,” they say. defines slow-wave-sleep as the following:

"Slow-wave sleep (SWS) refers to phase 3 sleep, which is the deepest phase of non-rapid eye movement sleep, and is characterized by delta waves (measured by electroencephalogram). Dreaming and sleepwalking can occur during SWS. SWS is thought to be important for memory consolidation."

Source: Nature Portfolio


The project was challenging and forced them to push their limits, but that made the experience all that more valuable. They are particularly appreciative of how the group managed to work together so successfully.

“As a team we feel very proud and fortunate to have been partnered with such an extraordinary group of women for this project.”

They say that winning the Library Award for Research Excellence is “extremely rewarding.

“It is a reflection of our hard work, dedication and passion towards this topic paying off.”

The project also won for the Faculty of Health, Community and Education during the 2021 Research and Scholarship Days.

Honourable mention

An honourable mention designation was added to the 2021 competition. Ryland says the recipients are worthy of recognition for their depth and breadth of study.

Honourable Mention, Senior Individual Award — Audrey Jamieson
“Recognizing the Alien: Science Fiction Storyworlds and the Reader’s Reality”

Honourable Mention, Emerging Scholar Award — Zoe Say
“Addiction and Prohibition: Waging War on the Victims”

Honourable Mention, Senior Group Award — Brooke Carpenter, Morgan Mills and Melissa Witzaney
“A Critical Review of the Physiological Effects of Wearing a Mask During Exercise: A Guide For Athletic Therapists”

Library Awards for Research Excellence: Past winner profiles are available online.

June 28, 2021 — Rob Petrollini

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