Marianela Ramos Capelo Undergraduate Fellowship Award Profile

A Communication student, Marianela is one of our 2014 Undergraduate Fellowship Award Recipients who will be conducting research on the practices in cultural production.

Working with Professor Frederik Lesage and research peer Sergio, Marianela will be exploring the vast array of online forms where creative practitioners hold dialogues about their use of creative software, namely Adobe Photoshop. 

Area of study: Communication

Faculty supervisor: Frédérik Lesage

How have your academic endeavours prepared you for this experience?

Every research project is different and requires different skills. In my case there are a few different academic components that have allowed me to feel more comfortable about taking up this research endeavour. First, you have the very practical aspects of academia: the research and writing skills that are developed through the infamous endless paper-writing in CMNS; the ability to meet deadlines; the ability to complete what at first seem to be daunting projects; team work, etc. - all of which sound pretty obvious when put that way. 

Then there are the more abstract components. Previous to coming to SFU I was trained as a graphic designer, which was a very specialized and technical type of education – yet, one that at its core is all about conveying information and creating cultural texts. The School of Communication complemented this education by providing me with a critical framework to approach culture, culture creation, media, and our society‘s relation to information –more specifically, the links between culture creation and its impacts in the economic, social, and political aspects of our lives. 

So when my graphic design background was met with these new ways to see/question the world, my curiosity was sparked.

Give us a description of the research project and your role during your working semester.

As Prof. Lesage succinctly puts it, this is “a qualitative research project investigating how creative practitioners are engaging in mediating practices related to digital media for the production of culture.” Details are being finalized, but so far my role involves assisting with what could be described as an online ethnography of particular Photoshop forums where creative practitioners gather to discuss all things related to the software.

What do you look forward to the most? 

I am looking forward to get my feet wet in ‘formal’ academic research, and work closely with a really awesome prof in a very exciting project. That in itself is a fantastic learning opportunity. Another great thing is that this year the award was split between two students, so I’ll be working with a research peer, Sergio Prin. I think the chance to collaborate with a peer adds magnitudes to the level of learning that one can get from an opportunity like this –basically, you have a peer that is just as focused as you are and as excited as you are about the project. 

What do you hope to gain through this opportunity? How do you envision this experience contributing to your future academic and professional career?

Like I mentioned before, I think it is a fantastic learning opportunity. I am really looking forward to experience a bit of what academic research is like. Furthermore, if life falls into place and I am able to pursue the dream of graduate studies, I hope this opportunity will serve as a stepping stone towards those goals.  

What would you tell a student that is thinking of applying for the Fellowship Award next year?

The biggest suggestion is to talk to your professors. Find out what their research focus is, and see if it is something you are passionate about. If you demonstrate you might be a good fit for the research projects that are going on, you might have a good chance.