Western ranks first in global undergrad competition

Four Western students have been named top scholars – more winners than from any other university – at the 2020 Global Undergraduate Awards.

From discovering the drivers of business sustainability to examining the genetics of ovarian cancer, undergraduate research at Western is making an impact on the world – and gaining global recognition for it.

Four Western scholars have been named global winners in the 2020 Global Undergraduate Awards – more winners than any other university.

The pan-disciplinary competition recognizing excellence in undergraduate coursework received 4,148 submissions from 380 universities in 50 countries.

Western also has four regional winners whose submissions were selected as the best in the US and Canada.

All told, 31 students and 35 submissions from Western ranked ‘highly commended,’ in the top 10 per cent in their fields. The submissions were anonymously assessed in each category by an international panel of academics and industry experts.

“These results are truly outstanding and demonstrate our undergraduate students are deeply engaged in academic research,” said Britta Baron, Western’s vice-provost (international). “Our students have an impressive track record in this competition, with 13 global winners and more than170 highly commended students since 2014.”

Global winners, regional winners and highly commended students will have an opportunity to present their research and connect with other scholars during a virtual summit in November.


Global winners:

Hailey Dall-Proud  | Category: Medical Sciences

BMSc’20, Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry

Hailey Dall-Proud

Undergraduate Awards winner Hailey Dall-Proud

Hailey Dall-Proud’s fourth-year thesis project, Inflammation Mediators in Ovarian Cancer Spheroids, was named best in the world in the medical sciences category

“Ovarian cancer spheroids are clusters of cancer cells in the abdominal cavity. We know they can grow quickly and lead to rapid metastasis. We want to know which genetic factors allow these spheroids to form, and contribute to a worse prognosis.”

She examined possible genetic factors that influence the rapid growth and spread of cancer cell clusters in patients with ovarian cancer.


Ishita Kumar  | Category: Economics

BA’20, Economics and Mathematics, King’s University College

Ishita Kumar

Undergraduate Awards winner Ishita Kumar

Ishita Kumar won in the economics category for her submission, Forecasting Canadian Inflation Using Dynamic Model Averaging.

In crafting her work, Kumar applied Bayesian statistics to improve macroeconomic forecasts. The Bank of Canada, for example, uses inflation forecasts to guide its monetary policy.

Specifically, she used a new statistical technique, “Dynamic Model Averaging”, to produce consumer price index inflation forecasts and compared their accuracy to forecasts produced by various other statistical models that are widely used in economics today.

Kumar is currently studying at the London School of Economics and Political Science.


Catherine Li   |  Category: Psychology

Current Undergraduate Student, Faculty of Social Science

Catherine Li

Undergraduate Awards winner Catherine Li

Catherine Li’s project, Seriousness of Humour: Examining the Relationship and Pathways Between Sexist Humour and Dark Tetrad Traits, surveyed undergraduate students to understand and analyze their reactions to scenarios involving sexist jokes, statements and events, and how they might be linked to personality traits.

“The findings suggest that those higher on psychopathy, Machiavellianism and sadism tend to enjoy sexist humour because they have difficulties relating emotionally to the harm this appreciation may inflict on others, and because they realize that these attitudes can be expressed with minimal social consequences.”

The study was the first of its kind and Li is excited about the potential for building upon the findings for future research.


Shawn Liu   | Category: Business

HBA’20, Ivey Business School

Shawn Liu

Undergraduate Awards winner Shawn Liu.

Shawn Liu’s award-winning paper, Opportunity Recognition Regarding the Circular Economy in the Canadian Food Sector, examined small- and medium-sized businesses in the Quebec food industry to understand how and why entrepreneurs are embracing the circular economy.

“Supply chains make up the bulk of carbon emissions and waste. That’s something that a circular approach might help to solve,” said Liu.

“Broadly speaking, we know the circular economy is important to maintaining society and enhancing sustainability. If we understand how this happens within businesses, there can be key learnings incorporated into business curricula or training.”

Regional winners (Top Submissions in United States and Canada)

Jaquelin Coulson, Social Science, history

Zamir Fakirani, Social Science, politics & international relations

Prisca Hsu, Schulich Medicine & Dentistry, education

Emma Wood, King’s University College, literature

Highly commended (Top 10 per cent in their categories)

  • Christopher Anthony, King’s University College
  • Aram Arutyunyan, Social Science
  • Sophia Belyk, Arts & Humanities
  • Lian Buwadi, Health Sciences
  • Sarah Charette, Arts & Humanities
  • Sherrie Cheng, Social Science
  • Kimberly Cooper, Arts & Humanities
  • Tyler Dalal, Social Science
  • Praneet Gill, Schulich Medicine & Dentistry
  • Nazanin Kafaee Fanaee Pour, Social Science
  • Maya Kelly, Information & Media Studies
  • Sanghun Kim,* Schulich Medicine & Dentistry,
  • Amanat Ludhar, Social Science
  • Michelle (Yuewen) Li, Ivey Business School
  • Lauren Mar, Social Science
  • Zachary Matthews, King’s University College
  • Hanna Mirgorodschi, Social Science
  • Laurel Moyse, Science
  • Selvi Sert,* Schulich Medicine & Dentistry
  • Simon Stan, * King’s University College
  • Michael Wang, Schulich Medicine & Dentistry
  • Steven Zhang, Schulich Medicine & Dentistry
  • Fang Zhou Ge, Schulich Medicine & Dentistry

*Students with more than one paper ranked as highly commended.



Western atop world in Undergraduate Awards, September 2018

Undergrad Awards applaud student scholars, September 2017

Wang named among UA global winners, September 2016