Thompson Rivers University

Meeting their match: event links researchers and students

February 26, 2024

It’s like speed dating or speed friending, but for research. More than 70 Thompson Rivers University (TRU) students discovered research opportunities and connected with faculty members at the inaugural research mentor matchmaking event, Strike The Match.

About 20 faculty members from five disciplines (science, arts, education and social work, nursing and business) participated in the event, held in late January, that saw students placed in small groups with professors, rotating every few minutes to ensure introductions were possible among all participants.

The goal of the event is to give students a chance to meet research supervisors and make new connections. Before the event, faculty members shared details about the student research positions for which they are hiring, along with their research interests. Students received a guide to navigate the tables of faculty members.

Sukh Matonovich, director of Student Research and Graduate Studies, and student research ambassadors Manuel Centeno Duque and Natalie Pietramala keep students and mentors moving at TRU’s first mentor matching event.

“It is great to see students and faculty participating in events like this. Mentorship is an important aspect of research at Thompson Rivers University,” said Shannon Wagner, vice-president Research.

Students with diverse academic programs from the Undergraduate Research Ambassador Program collaborated with the Office of Vice-President Research to help with the event planning and execution.

Student research ambassador and one of the event planners, Manuel Centeno Duque, wished this type of event existed when he was a first-year student. “I knew that I was interested in conducting my own scientific research. However, I had absolutely zero idea of how to involve myself in what seemed like a hidden field,” he said.

Learning to overcome those obstacles motivated him to create an event that could break down barriers and get a good look into the research world.

“This is incredibly impactful since the ambassadors are all students, and the ideas we form and the roles we play are shaped by the common goal of creating a benefit for students like us,” said Centeno Duque.

“The collaborative and exciting atmosphere of an event like this seemed was the perfect way to offer this opportunity to students. This event allowed many students who did not know what research was about to explore and create a deep understanding that could transform into a project with a new supervisor.”

Making connections

Since taking a gap year in London, England, Bachelor of Science Student Olivia Simms has wanted to study abroad. While studying economics and mathematics at TRU and interested in international development, she set her sights on combining the two passions.

“A big part of the reason I came to TRU is our wealth of international opportunities available to students,” said Simms.

With the encouragement from her professor, Dr. Peter Tsigaris, Simms was excited to connect with faculty members who could support her study abroad endeavours.

“This opportunity taught me that students have the chance not just to study but to conduct research abroad,” said Simms. “It allowed me to meet many inspiring, research-oriented people at TRU by connecting students and faculty with shared research interests.”

With the support of Dr. Bala Nikku and Study Abroad Manager Thomas Johansen, who attended the event, Simms applied for a research internship with the organization Canada and Latin America Research and Exchange Opportunities.

Co-chair of the Department of Biological Sciences and Dr. Matt Reudink described TRU as “an absolutely stellar place for undergraduate research, and one of our great strengths is our ability to collaborate across disciplines.”

“During the gathering, I met students from arts to business to science and had great conversations and even created a new collaboration with a computer science student who is now taking part in a larger project on bird migration,” said Reudink. “The best part of the event is that it was student-led and student-focused.” He is looking forward to participating in the event next year.

Download the event Faculty Guide Strike The Match – Faculty Guide (8.5 x 11 in)-7

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