The Jamie Cassels Undergraduate Research Awards (JCURA) program was established in 2009-2010 by the Vice-President Academic and Provost.

The goal of this award is to encourage undergraduates to pursue innovative and original research to enhance their learning while at the University of Victoria and to provide a valuable preparatory experience towards graduate studies or a research related career. The Division of Learning and Teaching Support and Innovation (LTSI) administers the award process on behalf of the Provost's Office.

JCURA is directed at undergraduate students from all disciplines and who meet the following eligibility requirements:

  • full-time third or fourth year undergraduate student (normally registered in 12 or more units of study in the winter session)
  • excellent academic standing (normally with a minimum sessional GPA of 7.0)
  • satisfy the general regulations of Student Awards and Financial Aid

This award experience allows students to be mentored by a faculty supervisor. Each academic unit is eligible for one to three student nominations per year, depending on the number of students in the unit.

Successful student applicants will receive $1,500 credited directly to their UVic fee account.

2020-2021 Sociology recipients

Freeman, Cole

Project title: Modernity’s slow decline: Sociological Implications of New Social Movements

Department: Sociology

Faculty supervisor: Dr. Peyman Vahabzadeh

"I use Vahabzadeh’s phenomenology to frame the period of ‘destitution’ we currently find ourselves in. My conclusions on the matter suggests that contemporary social movements signify a shift towards a Foucauldian ‘Epimeleia Heautou’ and a divergence from traditional Western “Gnothi Seauton”."


Poon, Dorothy

Project title: Knowledge Mediation and the Immigrant Experience in Victoria, BC: vulnerability, information accessibility, and junctures for empowerment

Department: Sociology

Faculty supervisor: Dr. Karen Kobayashi

"This research initiative, intended to be undertaken with the Victoria Immigrant & Refugee Society (VIRKS), will interrogate how knowledge is interacted with and accessed by marginalized populations in Victoria, BC. Five core questions will be addressed: To what extent are these populations vulnerable? Is language a salient factor? What role do local services or pre-existing sources of support play in their integration & participation in society? What particular factors render them susceptible to misinformation in particular? Finally, what areas of knowledge are most susceptible to misinformation (and how is this disseminated)? This research will constitute a sociological inquiry into the ways in which access to knowledge and resources are deeply layered depending on one’s positionality in society. Through qualitative analysis built on grounded theory-work, we hope to acquire a more involved understanding of misperception, misinformation, and tiered knowledge access as it exists in both embedded and latent forms. Toward the project’s end, we endeavour to move toward pragmatic forms of research, brainstorming potential resources to serve as junctures for empowerment — enhancing the ability of immigrant and refugee populations to access the information they need to thrive in Canadian society at large."


Yang, Yang

Project title: A Comparative Analysis of Discriminatory Gender Attitudes and Violence against Women across Countries

Department: Sociology

Faculty supervisor: Dr. Min Zhou


"While there is increasing gender equality over the years in many regions of the world, we are also witnessing growing gender inequality elsewhere. Especially, continuing violence against women reminds us of the urgent need for a better understanding of the social forces underlying the violent behaviors. Besides violence against women, an analysis of discriminatory attitudes towards women is also important because behaviors are informed and guided by attitudes. In this research, I intend to use the data on gender attitudes from the World Values Survey and the data from the UN on violence against women to investigate the social factors shaping both attitudinal and behavioral discrimination against women in today’s world. Specifically, I will first use a comparative approach to examine how gender attitudes and violence against women differ across countries, in order to shed light on the global disparity in gender-related attitudes and behaviors. I will then reveal how national cultures, individual socioeconomic background and other socio-demographic factors impact gender-related attitudes and behaviors. Finally, I will examine how attitudes and violent behaviors are intertwined. Through analyzing both gender-related attitudes and behaviors, this research will produce knowledge on how we can further promote gender equality at a global scale."


2019-2020 Sociology recipients

Castro, Melina Emilia Cortina

Project title: Impermanent Workers, Permanent Labour: Policy Analysis of Temporary Foreign Workers Programs in BC

Department: Sociology

Faculty supervisor: Dr. Karen Kobayashi

"The government of Canada, in an agreement with the governments of Mexico, Guatemala, and various Caribbean countries, runs the Temporary Foreign Worker Program and the Seasonal Agricultural Workers Program. These programs allow thousands of people from the aforementioned countries to work in Canada temporarily, mainly on agricultural farms and construction sites. Under the rules of both programs, foreign workers can enter Canada yearly, but only for a specific number of months. Many of these workers have returned annually for decades, but very few have been given the opportunity to obtain residency and even fewer citizenship. Moreover, published and gray literature (from NGOs) indicate poor living and working conditions, including labour exploitation and social marginalization, that characterize the experiences of these workers in Canada. The objectives of my research, therefore, are to explore how these programs, along with migratory and work policies pertaining to temporary foreign workers in British Columbia, are designed and implemented, and how they impact the quality of life and work experiences of foreign workers."   


Lauder, Caroline

Project title: Exploring the Intersection between Sociology and Marketing

Department: Sociology

Faculty supervisor: Dr. Martha McMahon


"My research will explore how the discipline of marketing has borrowed from and been influenced by sociology. Specifically, I am interested in the role of brand activism in promoting engagement around contemporary social issues. Throughout this research, I intend to also work with colleagues from the Gustavson school of Business. This will create an interdisciplinary exchange of knowledge between both disciplines. Further, I intend to engage with businesses and individuals in the community. The goal for this research is to explore the intersection between sociology, marketing and social activism." 


Woodland, Candace

Project title: Bisexual Identity Maintenance: Facing Biphobia and Bi-Erasure in Popular Media

Department: Sociology

Faculty supervisor: Dr. Edwin Hodge


"Bisexual folk face a unique set of challenges which are often overlooked in LGBTQ+ research. This qualitative research project will examine the ways that bisexual folk construct and maintain their queer identities, despite encountering frequent biphobia and bi-erasure in popular media. Special attention will be given to the intersection of bisexuality and gender."



2018-19 Sociology recipients

HAUPT, Alexandra

Project title: Doing "Sociology: Undergraduate Learning through Community Engaged Research"

Department: Sociology

Faculty supervisor: Dr. Bruce Ravelli

"My research will explore the topic of community engaged learning as a method of practicing public sociology. Through my involvement in an intergenerational community applied theatre project that addresses seniors' sexuality and the stigmas that surround it, my research will investigate what the process of community engaged learning can add to sociological education. Using the community theatre project as a case study, I will study the benefits and challenges of using my training as a sociologist to help a community project succeed.  My final project will combine a narrative based approach and personal reflection to explore and analyze the field of community engaged learning at the undergraduate level."



2017-18 Sociology recipients


Project title: Environmental Deregulation and Media Censorship under Trump: Perspectives from White Collar Crime.

Department: Sociology

Faculty supervisor: Dr. Garry Gray

"In the wake of the recently empowered Trump administration, a large-scale process of environmental and other deregulatory politics has begun, with significant implications for state-corporate relations and the field of White Collar Crime. Environmental pollution and destruction is both the most common, and one of the most damaging, forms of corporate violence, yet has received some of the least attention from criminologist in the past. Of particular significance, too, is the application or suppression of the media throughout the electoral campaign and into the Trump presidency, and its impacts on regulation and environment-based decision-making in politics. This research project aims to apply White Collar Crime Perspectives, in particular opportunity-based crime models such as routine activities theory, to the phenomenon of environmental deregulation under the Trump administration, to draw attention to and clarify the far-reaching implications these actions may have within and beyond the United States, now and in an environmentally troubled future."


KNOPFEL, Danielle

Project title: An Exploration of Mental Health OUtcomes Between Children of Married- and Common-Law Headed, Same-Sex Couples

Department: Sociology

Faculty supervisor: Dr. Karen Kobayashi

"Mental health is a growing concern in Canada, specifically within minority groups, such as the LGBTQ community (Mule & Smith, 2014). As a result of the Civil Marriage Act passed in 2005, the number of same-sex couple families in Canada rose 42.4% between 2006 and 2011 (Statistics Canada, 2011). Therefore, this study will seek to address if children of same-sex couples exhibit differences in mental health according to their parents' marital status. To answer the research question, in depth interviews will be conducted with 4 youths betwen the ages of 12-14; 2 whose parents are married same-sex couples, and 2 whose parents are common-law same-sex couples. The proposed exploratory study will use narrative analyses while the coding process will use methods of grounded theory in order to gain a holistic understanding of the lived experiences of the participants. Moreover, the findings will be discussed in the context of their implications on further research as well as program and policy shifts."


Project title: The Effects of Natural Resource Development: A Sociological Perspective

Department: Sociology

Faculty supervisor: Dr. Sean Hier

"This intent of this research is to critically analyze the sociological effects of natural resource development, specifically, the economic, environmental and social impacts of resource extraction on surrounding communities. The sustainable management of natural resources is a highly important issue in British Columbia, yet the majority of existing research pertains to cumulative environmental effects and there is limited research analyzing this issue through a sociological lense. This project thus serves to identify social areas impacted by resources development projects, and explore sustainable solutions. Relevant concepts include sustainable development; urban-rural divides; Indigenous Resurgence and politics of recognition; and the impact of unsettled land claims."


2016-17 Sociology recipients

CHEN, David

Project title: Expansion and Contraction: Political and Economic Rights in the Post-Modern Society

Department: Sociology

Faculty supervisor:  Dr. William Carroll

"Past decades have seen an expansion in people's political rights in the Global North (the developed countries of the world) while there has been a concomitant and rapid decline in their economic rights. This conflicting phenomenon will form the foundation of my honours thesis. Using a Marxist perspective, my thesis will critcally examine how such discrepancy is tightly bound to the rise of postmdern pluralism, which has shifted the main focus of political struggles from economic to cultural issues."

McCARTAN, Delaney

Project title: An insight into online social networking communities and their effects on suicidal behaviour.

Department: Sociology

Faculty supervisor: Dr. Andre Smith

"Sociologist Emile Durkheim's theory of suicide is a framework used to analyze how suicidal behaviour is associated with the level of social integration and moral regulation as individual adheres to within a specific community. As social networking websites such as Facebook, Twitter and online forums continue to foster community relations and comprise the majority of our social interactions, it is important to examine the possible negative effects of these relations. Within this research project I seek to apply Durkheim's theory of suicide as a framework to analyze suicidal behaviour within online communities. In order to effectively research this topic, I will conduct qualitative research in-person, semi-structured interviews and quantitative surveys that will be administered to online communities."



Project title: The relationship between family and substance abuse: Experiences of addiction recovery

Department: Sociology

Faculty supervisor: Dr. Andre Smith

"As a social determinant of health, family is a source of support that has a significant impact on mental health for individuals, particularly those struggling with drug addiction and recovery. Family can offer economic and social resources, and are often the first contact in treatment seeking behaviours. They can assist in social support, acceptance of recovery, and the financial means to seek professional help. Close family members may also normalize drug-related behaviours, or be a source of stress and conflict. Social theorists argue that health habits are learnt in childhood, suggesting that conditions in childhood can negatively impact future drug related behaviours as adults. Family may also reject and label individuals, leaving them without valued social support.

Not only does drug addiction affect users, but it has an impact on the family as well. Anxieties and stress as a result of breakdowns in social connections, loss of trust, and worry of safety can cause strain relatives. Treatment can be a financial burden, and becomes a lifelong process for both family members and individuals suffering from substance use disorders.

Often stigmatization and culturally influenced ideologies make it difficult to receive community-based treatment for substance users. Within the medical community, family roles and involvement in treatment are under-recognized, despite research supporting the significance of social support in recovery. By understanding the experiences individuals face in their recovery, particularly regarding family influence, community health programs can better accommodate structural problems, such as increased family involvement in recovery programs."



Project title: Precarity and Aging: Emerging Challenges of Contemporary Late Life

Department: Interdisciplinary Studies, Social Justice Studies

Faculty supervisor: Dr. Karen Kobayashi

"My proposed research project focuses on precarity in the context of contemporary aging, specifically in regards to the effects of precarious experiences on the life course trajectories of older immigrants. The concept of precarity refers to the disadvantages experienced by certain populations as a result of inadequate social and economic supports. Disadvantages include experiences of injury, violence, and death; individuals who belong to marginalized, excluded, and disadvantaged populations, such as immigrants, are disporportionately exposed to these risks. To explore how precarity can influence and perpetuate inequality in the experiences of aging immigrants, I will conduct a systematic literature review of the research on aging, race, ethnicity, and immigration in multiple domains. The aim of this project is to identify the myriad types of vulnerability and disadvantage that can impact immigrants in later life, and to use this review as a foundation from which to make recommendations for future research policy, and practice for this population. The need for studying precarity among older immigrants is timely as the Canadian population is both rapidly aging and beoming more ethno-culturally diverse. Since there is a paucity of research focusing on this particular social phenomenon, this project will make an important contribution to the literature on inequality as it is experienced by foreign-born older adults."



2015-16 Sociology recipients


Department: Sociology

Faculty supervisor: Dr. Andre Smith

"The research that I am proposing is to look at the local street-involved population’s interaction with Victoria’s healthcare system. Essentially, it will seek to better understand the reasoning behind why or why not this population seeks services from the healthcare system in the city. The research will also look into which services are being accessed and in what capacity. For instance, it will look into hospital use, clinic use, and alternative service use. Potential areas to explore will be services that are accessed, such as sexual health testing or counselling; perceived treatment during these healthcare interactions; and reasons for accessing certain services instead of others. The research will be carried out with the intention of gaining insight into other identity categories, such as age, race, and sexual orientation, in hopes of better understanding the intersections between street-involvement and other social barriers as they relate to healthcare access. By understanding this marginalized population’s interaction with the healthcare system, the research will gain better insight into the barriers to accessing healthcare that certain populations face."


HAUKIOJA, Heather 

Department: Sociology
Faculty supervisor: Dr. Karen Kobayashi

"Through the use of a mixed methods approach (both qualitative and quantitative), this sociological research project seeks to examine the informal and formal healthcare sectors that are currently in place for older adults in North America. This project seeks to analyze the experiences (both positive and negative) that older adults and their family members have had with either or both the informal or formal healthcare sector. Furthermore, this project seeks to identify ways that will reform the current healthcare system in order to maximize the wellbeing and health of aging population."


Department: Sociology
Faculty supervisor: Dr. Zheng Wu

"I propose to study issues related to social inequality in education using Statistics Canada databases. The focus will be on identifying key variables that account unequal access to higher education in a subset of the Canadian population (to be determined in consultation with my supervisor)."


Department: Sociology
Faculty supervisor: Dr. André Smith

"In my proposed research project, I will examine the social factors that inhibit the successful treatment of depression and anxiety disorders and to what extent fictional and non-fictional media contribute to upholding these social barriers."