Mount Allison students, professor conducting research in China

09 Aug 2016

Four Mount Allison University students are enjoying the research opportunity of a lifetime this summer.

Cassidy_Phillips_summer_research_ChinaWorking with Religious Studies professor Dr. Susie Andrews, students Brynn Aucoin (Biochemistry major), Megan Moffat (Chemistry), Emma Bass (International Relations and Religious Studies), and Cassidy Phillips (Sociology) are spending sixteen weeks in China completing independent research projects that explore contemporary China’s religious landscape. The group received over $35,000 in internal and external funding for their research projects this summer.

“This is a wonderful opportunity for our students to study abroad and to conduct truly interdisciplinary work,” says Andrews. “I’m so pleased to have them participate in this project. This type of experiential learning will help them build research and interpersonal skills that will serve them well in any personal and professional endeavours they pursue.”

Andrews says she was inspired to include students in her international research program following her own experience as an undergraduate at Mount Allison.

“I was fortunate to study in China with my professor Marilyn McCullough as an undergraduate student,” says Andrews. “That experience helped shape my professional path and who I am today.”

Megan_Moffatt_Summer_Research_ChinaAll four students have received Mitacs GlobaLink Research Award funding, which strives to help scholars in Canada build research ties internationally. All Mount Allison students are carrying out their research under the direction of celebrated scholars at three of China’s top universities: Peking, Fudan, and Tsinghua.

“I am looking at traditional Chinese medicine and its role in religion,” says Aucoin. “I will be working with specialist in traditional Chinese medicine, Dr. Zhao Fuxue, and will also be volunteering in the New Hope Foundation orphanage.”

Aucoin was also awarded a Marjorie Young Bell Internship from Mount Allison to assist with research costs.

Phillips will be examining intersections of gender and religion in both formal and informal settings. Phillips was awarded the J.Armand Bombardier International Travel Grant from Mount Allison.

“My work will include several on-site observations at medical clinics and religious sites, including three sacred centers in Beijing: Saint Joseph’s Cathedral, the Baiyun guan (a Daoist temple), and the Yonghe gong (Buddhist temple),” says Phillips. “It’s interesting because I will be conducting my research in a lot of the same locations as Brynn, but through a very different lens.”

Bass is continuing studies she began earlier in her degree, looking at Chinese Buddhist material culture. Last year, Bass began to explore how paintings, relics, and other objects imbued with religious significance figure in Buddhist practice as an intern for The Pluralism Project at Harvard. This work in California’s Bay area was funded in part with generous support from the Buddha Dharma Kyokai Foundation of Canada.

“I am very grateful to have been given so many wonderful opportunities for experiential learning during my time at Mount Allison and I am excited to spend the summer in China continuing my research on material culture,” says Bass. In September 2016 she will continue her studies as a Master’s student at Queen’s University.

Emma_Brynn_Megan_StudentSummerResearchinChinaMoffatt will be examining the relationship between Buddhist monastics and their families. She’s especially interested in how technology influences this dimension of religious life.

“This is such an exciting opportunity,” says Moffatt, a second-year Chemistry major. “To be able to complete this kind of international research in the field is a totally unique learning experience.”

During their time in East Asia, the students have already been met with several Mount Allison alumni including Dr. Michael Wu (Class of ’61) in Hong Kong. Alumna Doris Tam (Class of ’02) also met up with the students during this trip and Christopher Day (Class of ’06) shared a meal with the students to Shanghai. Maggie Lee (Class of ’11) and Rachel Jin (Class of ’06) welcomed them to Beijing, strengthening Mount Allison connections across the world.

Photo captions: Mount Allison students engage in summer research endeavours in China.
Cassidy Phillips at The Baiyunguan Daoist Temple
Megan Moffatt at The Bell Tower
Emma Bass, Brynn Aucoin, and Megan Moffatt making Chinese dumplings with their hosts


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