"She is a self-starter, first-rate collaborator, and a highly skilled and generous teacher."

Dr. Peter Chow-White, Professor in the School of Communication

Dr. Margaret MacAulay receives Dean of Graduate Studies Convocation Medal

As one of SFU's most outstanding graduate students from the Faculty of Communication, Art and Technology, Dr. MacAulay is being recognized with the Dean of Graduate Studies Convocation Medal. On behalf of SFU, we congratulate Dr. MacAulay as well as all Convocation Medal recipients on their outstanding achievements.

June 18, 2018

For her doctoral research, Virtual Friction: Networking Sexuality and HIV Prevention in the Digital Age, Margaret MacAulay examined the challenges and opportunities that new technologies bring for gay men’s communities and their HIV prevention needs.

Focusing specifically on the experiences of gay men, public health actors and tech entrepreneurs in Vancouver and San Francisco, her research examined the ‘virtual friction’ that accompanied digital and biomedical changes in the dynamic world of HIV prevention. Arguing that virtual friction requires us to look beyond the seductive promise of a quick technological fix, her doctoral research was primarily supported by a SSHRC Joseph Bombardier Canada Graduate Scholarship.

MacAulay’s supervisor, Dr. Peter Chow-White, notes how the simple, yet complex the idea of ‘virtual friction’ has important ramifications. “MacAulay’s central concept, virtual friction, is evocative and imaginatively elaborated, and does the important work of enabling the author to acknowledge the complexity of recent developments without having to assume some reductive normative stance on what any one actor/participant in them should be doing. This simple phrase captures the complex and often conflictual nature of tech companies’ attempts to incorporate the concerns and interests of a wide range of external actors into their practices of product development and design.”

Chow-White envisions a strong future for MacAulay. “While Dr. MacAulay enters the early stages of her career, she shows the kind of intellectual ability and creativity that will undoubtedly make an immediate and sustained impact on the field. She is a self-starter, first-rate collaborator, and a highly skilled and generous teacher. Most importantly, she is a hard worker and is able to sustain a high level of productivity over an extended period of time.”

Margaret is currently a term lecturer at SFU and a postdoctoral research fellow at the Stigma and Resilience Among Vulnerable Youth Centre (SARAVYC) in UBC’s School of Nursing. There, she will be conducting research on the unique experiences of gender and sexual minority youth with the hopes of improving their health equity. In the future, Margaret would like to pursue a career in health and technology research.

Dr. MacAulay would like to thank her supervisor, Dr. Peter-Chow White, for his constant support, openness and guidance throughout the weird and wonderful world of doctoral studies. She would also like to thank her committee members Dr. Kitty CorbettDr. Andrew FeenbergDr. Anne-Marie Nicol, and Dr. Kane Race for their wisdom and kind feedback. Finally, she would like to thank Dr. Olivier Ferlatte and the members of Vancouver’s gay men’s health community who helped her make all of this possible.

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