undergraduate award headshot

Madelaine Coelho, of King's University College.

Two Western students were among the four Canadian students selected as contenders for the 2019 Global Undergraduate Awards. 

The awards showcase stellar undergraduate research from around the world at a conference held annually.

Western’s Cynthia Qi received an award in the category of linguistics for her thesis, “Acoustic Characteristics used to Differentiate Speech from Song and Individual Factors that Impact their Effectiveness.

Qi, an honours physiology graduate, was not expecting her research on linguistics to be recognized. Receiving this award “means that someone else who is an expert in the field of linguistics thought that my paper was worth being read”.

Qi’s findings could lead to further research utilizing fMRI and, eventually, to developing therapies for individuals who struggle with speech production.

Madelaine Coelho, a graduate of King's University College, won in the category of sociology and social policy. She submitted her thesis, "Rape Myths in Digital Spaces: An Analysis of High-Profile Sexual Assault Cases on Twitter."

Coelho’s research came from personal experience and knowledge. “Only five per cent of [rape] survivors even report it to police and out of every one-thousand sexual assaults, only three reach conviction,” she expressed.

Coelho was prompted by evidence that suggested rape myths and misconceptions caused survivors to remain silent. This led Coelho to investigate how much rape myth information people are receiving from social media. 

“Twitter can be kind of vile and there is a lot of negativity on it,” said Coelho. “[But there are] people combatting and making assertions that these aren’t true, standing up [for the victims]."

Coelho is planning further research in how we discuss rape myths and what campaigns are effective. She also plans to look at the "framing" of false rape allegations.

The awards gala will be held in November in Dublin, Ireland. Out of 50 countries, only four of the twenty-five winners were from Canada.


The Gazette news section is run by news editors and staff. Reach the news section by emailing news@westerngazette.ca or call 519-661-2111 ext. 81505.

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