Two Queen’s students proclaimed finalists of NSERC video contest

Students submitted short videos explaining their research for the chance to win cash prizes

Sterling Mitchell, Sci '18, NSERC video contest finalist.
Credit: 
Supplied by Sterling Mitchell

Two Queen’s students will have the chance to showcase their academic research as they gear up to compete in the finals of the Science, action! video contest hosted by The Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC).

The competition asks students across Canada to make a short video explaining their research, with the opportunity to win one of 15 cash prizes worth up to $3,500. Sterling Mitchell, Sci ’18, and Master’s student Yuliya Nesterova are among 40 other university students whose videos have made it to the final round. 

Nesterova’s video, titled Lives of Shapes in Space, features an animated video and narration that details the nature of the math behind studying datasets. She delves into collections of data along many axes known as shapes, which populate the world of weather maps and test scorecards.

In an email to The Journal on Thursday, Nesterova explained that she spent three months drawing and learning the software to animate the video and explain her Master’s research in algebraic geometry. According to Nesterova, she finds her inspiration for the silly and more serious world of math here at Queen’s.

Nesterova’s interest in math comes from her involvement with Pi Day and MathQuest. She said she combined the spirits of these events which are about people of all ages and genders enjoying math and combined it with her serious graduate work to create the video. 

Nesterova wrote that she wanted to “whittle away years of notation until only the core of the math shines through, and it’s beautiful.” 

Mitchell, a third-year Geological Engineering student, depicts a momentous advancement in the study of world history in his video Mistaken Point. 

According to the UNESCO Heritage Centre, Mistaken Point in Newfoundland is significant because it reveals the presence of large biological life in an otherwise micro-scale world three billion years ago.

In it, Dr. Guy Narbonne, a professor of Mitchell’s who’s featured in the video, talks about the significance of the discoveries that have been made at Mistaken Point and what it means to have it declared a UNESCO world heritage site. 

Mitchell said he wanted to capture the phenomenal discovery of Mistaken Point in his video because “it is the best insight into early life on the world … and what that looked like.” 

Narbonne and his team were at the head of the campaign to declare the site a UNESCO site for its abundance of well-preserved fossils.

Mitchell said he made the video “to show the real meaning of the place” to the public, while also revealing the contribution that his professor has made on the geological field. 

Mitchell says he owes a lot of his abilities to his time working at Studio Q, where he has been able to explore his interest in filmmaking and photography. 

“Next year, I would like to do something better that is geared towards making geology accessible to everybody, every student,” Mitchell said. 

The 15 contest winners will be announced on April 5.

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