Naomi Zakimi explores extremes with the School of Criminology

January 24, 2020

By Poonam Kant

Wading through the flood of vitriolic political opinions online can be an exhausting task for anyone. Fortunately, International master’s student Naomi Zakimi is doing it at the School of Criminology.

Zakimi braves the 24-hour news cycle to examine how political extremism begins online and spreads throughout Canada. So far, her research has revealed an excess in right-wing extremist messages on Canadian social media platforms, recognizing the easy access to large audiences that the Internet offers.

“I was always interested in extremism and terrorism, but I didn’t consider studying them until I took an advanced cybercrime course with professor Richard Frank where we created a counter-narrative campaign to combat extremism online,” she says.

Realizing how much she loved research and writing in her last year as an undergraduate, she enrolled in the criminology honours program as a ‘test’ to see if she should apply for grad school. After completing her BA in criminology at Simon Fraser University (SFU), Zakimi decided to dive deeper into the subject.

Her future path became clearer after attending the Summer Academy of the Canadian Network for Research on Terrorism, Security and Society, and presenting her research at the American Society of Criminology Conference.

“I honestly never thought I would end up doing this,” she says. “I know it’s a very competitive field, but I’m hoping to do a PhD and hopefully stay in academia teaching and doing research on the right-wing extremist movement in Canada.”

“I think SFU was a great fit for me; we are lucky having professors that are highly respected in the field I’m interested in,” she says. “I would not be where I am today without their guidance.”

Working alongside her peers, Zakimi has established a strong foundation for her research through an array of different perspectives.

“I think seeing other people’s work and how knowledgeable they are has also pushed me to be a better student,” she says.

Despite the strong commitment to her research, Zakimi still makes time to enjoy her friends and family.

“I talk to my sisters pretty much every day—I think it helps keep me sane,” she says. “I also feel happy about all the friendships I have made with other students. I’m proud to be part of a group of people who are supportive of each other and always excited to talk about our research and find ways to collaborate.”


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