Fellows Feature: Shayla Batty, Trinity Lakin & Saman Rais-Ghasem

Featured image: Fellows Shayla Batty (left), Trinity Lakin (middle), and Saman Rais-Ghasem (right)

With only one training session left before we break for the holidays, the first quarter of the CAnD3 program year is close to a wrap. Our Fellows have been busy reflecting on data ethics, constructing directed acyclic graphs, and learning python. We caught up with three of our Fellows to ask about their experiences. Read on to learn about their research and what they hope to achieve in the remainder of the program.

Saman Rais-Ghasem

Saman wants to understand the growing levels of income inequality in Canada, but she’s approaching it from a unique angle: innovation. She’s interested in the possible correlation between the two, particularly how a pro-innovation approach to economic development may contribute to unequal economic growth. “My interest in this field comes from observing firsthand the inequality crisis (e.g., the housing crisis, stagnant wages, and the skyrocketing cost of living) and its consequences,” Saman explains.

To understand the nexus of innovation and inequality, Saman is pursuing a Master’s in Geography at McGill University to inform policymaking for inclusive economic growth. Her approach is to employ a place-based framework and geospatial analysis using microdata from the Canadian Census. Saman says that this approach brought her to CAnD3.

“Since my research is heavily quantitative, I joined CAnD3 to improve my data analysis skills and learn to translate my results from an academic context to a policy one,” says Saman. While aging populations were not an initial consideration in Saman’s research, she is considering expanding the scope of her work to incorporate how income inequality is experienced differently across age groups.

Shayla on a hike and with her dogs

Saman enjoys spending time outdoors: running, cycling, skiing, and taking soccer breaks with her co-workers. She has also been making more time for creative outlets like painting and playing the piano.

“My experience with the program has been overwhelmingly positive. I am so grateful for the welcoming environment and diversity of training topics we are exposed to.”

Learn more about Saman and connect with her.

Shayla Batty

Shayla underscores that while rural families significantly shape Canadian society, they have been largely overlooked in research. Growing up in a rural farm family and community, Shayla’s research explores the gendered division of unpaid household labor in rural and urban Canada from the lens of family demography. She is also interested in family formation, partnership trajectories, identity formation, and social inequality.

Shayla is currently a Master’s candidate in the Department of Sociology at the University of Saskatchewan, where she previously completed her undergraduate degree researching police body-worn camera policies and outcomes.

In her spare time, Shayla likes to play The Sims, bake (as seen in the photo in her favorite apron), read non-fiction books, and watch documentaries.

“I chose to train with CAnD3 because I have always hoped that my research could have practical applications, and I knew that CAnD3 could provide me with the tools and skills to do just that. I have really enjoyed my time in CAnD3. I am learning so much that I would never have otherwise,” explains Shayla. She recently received an internship with Statistics Canada through CAnD3’s experiential learning program and is looking forward to connecting and learning from other academics, professionals, and scholars who are a part of CAnD3.

Learn more about Shayla and connect with her.

Trinity Lakin

Trinity’s research centers on racial and socioeconomic inequalities in higher education. For her master’s paper, she employed the Effectively Maintained Inequality (EMI) framework to assess race- and class-based disparities in the utilization and payoff of college admissions-enhancing strategies. Building on this, Trinity is a PhD candidate in the Department of Sociology at Florida State University specializing in inequalities and social justice.

“For my dissertation, I am applying the Interest Convergence tenet of Critical Race Theory to conduct a case study of anti-racist campus activism and the resulting institutional responses at one predominantly-white university in the Southeastern US,” Trinity explains.

What drew her to CAnD3 was the program’s focus on the application of research to real-world decision-making, data analytics training, and possibilities of collaborations with other Fellows and partners. “The program has so far exceeded my expectations! I feel fortunate to be in a fellowship with such supportive staff and such kind, talented cohort mates. I’m excited to see how much I have learned by the end of the program!”

Outside of academia, Trinity’s passion is painting. She was raised by her grandmother, who passed her love of art down to her. Trinity’s work features portraits and landscapes in the realism style, but she hopes to try abstract and surrealist pieces!

“As a first-generation college student, it’s essential to me to use the knowledge and networks I’ve acquired to support marginalized communities and work towards creating positive, sustainable social change.”

Learn more about Trinity and connect with her.

About the training program

The Population Analytics in an Aging Society Training Program is a rigorous one-year fellowship hosted by the Consortium on Analytics for Data-Driven Decision-Making (CAnD3), funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council and based at McGill University. The program upskills rising researchers in Master's, PhD, and postdoctoral programs in the areas of population data science and computational population social science from a multidisciplinary lens. It also connects Fellows to experiential learning opportunities, which include hands-on research projects and internships with government, not-for-profit, and private sector CAnD3 partners. Since the first year of the program in 2020, CAnD3 has trained 32 Fellows and welcomes 20 new Fellows for the 2022-23 Academic Year.

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