Two U of G Students Reach SSHRC Storyteller Finals

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Two University of Guelph students reached the finals of the annual Storytellers Challenge run by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) last month.

Under this research communications contest run by the federal granting agency, post-secondary students across Canada discuss social science research that is changing lives—all in three minutes or 300 words.

Geography PhD candidate Abhilash Kantamneni and fourth-year English student Megan Wilson were selected as two of the top 25 finalists for 2017. They competed in the finals at Ryerson University May 29.

Kantamneni studies energy transitions, or how to help communities adopt more sustainable energy use and technologies.

Abhilash Kantamneni

He works with people in social housing communities in Guelph and Northern Ontario. Social housing tenants have some of the highest utility bills in the province and would benefit the most from improved energy efficiency, he says.

“So far, we’ve begun retrofits with one social housing provider and are talking to other non-profit communities in Guelph to share our knowledge,” said Kantamneni.

“We are trying to build a knowledge network, so that people can be better prepared to innovate and make changes in their own context.”

Wilson also aims to help vulnerable people, but in a digital context.

Megan Wilson

She facilitates focus groups on individuals’ experiences of Internet privacy violations and digital literacy, and invites participants to make videos on what privacy means to them.

“We’ve found that the best way to get people to care is by showing them stories from other people — their friends, their peers, anyone,” said Wilson.

“It’s all about discourse and making people aware that these things happen every day in such invasive ways.”