NU-Q professors, students awarded UREP grant

February 23, 2017

A grant to research migrant workers’ health and sports activities has been awarded to Northwestern University in Qatar faculty and students. Susan Dun, assistant professor; Amy Sanders, associate professor; and six NU-Q students received the Undergraduate Research Experience Program (UREP) grant from the Qatar National Research Fund (QNRF).

“Northwestern University in Qatar has made research a primary focus of its mission in Doha,” said Everette E. Dennis, dean and CEO. “We are committed to ensuring that our students’ experience at NU-Q includes engagement in scholarly activity to develop their intellectual curiosity. The continued support of QNRF in this endeavor benefits our faculty and students, as well as the wider Qatar community.”

The goal of UREP funding is to foster and develop a culture of research as an important element of undergraduate education. Students – and also their faculty mentors – have the ability to build their research and experience portfolio through such programs.

“The proposal for this grant,” Dun said, “is related to my research on the 2022 World Cup and the effects hosting it is having in Qatar, especially on health, physical activity, and sports participation. The students participating in this research project will learn by doing and this grant will allow them to be involved in all aspects of the project, from drafting the proposal via collecting and analyzing data to extrapolating results.”

The project will address a gap in the literature regarding migrant workers access to health resources in Qatar by investigating the habitual patterns that migrant workers engage in, i.e. how they may attempt to use health resources and what they do during their leisure time.

Working closely with a local company, the second phase of the study will include the design and implementation of a messaging campaign, which will be developed based on the interview outcomes.
“I think this project is important to investigate because it helps us find ways to explain how migrant workers can maximize their access to healthcare. This is especially important at this time because Qatar is under scrutiny for hosting the 2022 World Cup, and the results could mitigate these accusations,” said Amal Ali, one of the student researchers.

Another student researcher, Maha Al-Marzoqi, said that she is looking forward “to creating a well-being campaign to improve the migrant workers’ utilization of health resources. In the past 20 years, Qatar started massive development plans, requiring hundreds of thousands of migrant workers. Labor is a critical part of Qatar’s population and, until recently, their health conditions were an oversight. I look forward to playing a role in helping them utilize the health information and resources to improve their well-being.”

In the past 20 cycles of the UREP program, NU-Q has received 10 grants, offering NU-Q students and faculty the opportunity to immerse in innovative pedagogical methods and produce widely published journal articles and reports. The grants have been used to investigate ways of cultivating a science-based community in Qatar, Qatari women majlis, driving behaviors in Qatar, Qatar’s foreign aid strategy, as well as the development of the Qatar national identity.