Department of History’s Ariana Ellis named finalist in SSHRC Storytellers Challenge

April 6, 2022 by Josslyn Johnstone - A&S News

This story was originally published on May 6, 2021 and updated on May 16, 2022.

Congratulations Ariana Ellis for making it to the Final Five of the 2022 Storytellers competition with her story about digitally reconstructing the sights and sounds of medieval Florence.

The five winners were selected from the 25 finalists in SSHRC's Storytellers Challenge, which calls on postsecondary students to show Canadians — in up to three minutes or 300 words — how their social sciences and humanities research is making a difference in our lives.

The Top 25 stories were chosen from a highly competitive field of about 230 submissions by students from across the country.

The ultimate Final Five stood out in the Storytellers Challenge’s second round, in which finalists relied on public speaking to convey the power of their story to a distinguished panel of judges in a live, virtual presentation. Each of the 25 finalists received $3,000, and the Final Five received an additional $1,000 each in recognition of their outstanding achievements.

Congratulations to the Department of History’s Ariana Ellis on being named one of 25 finalists in the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) 2022 Storytellers Challenge.

In this annual research competition, postsecondary students have three minutes or 300 words to share how their research is making a difference in the lives of Canadians.

Ellis is part of the Digitally Encoded Census Information & Mapping Archive (DECIMA) team, led by Nicholas Terpstra, a professor in the Department of History and Brock University’s Colin Rose. DECIMA is a powerful mapping tool that integrates census data with a 1584 hand-drawn map, allowing researchers to uncover details about the inhabitants of 16th century Florence, social and economic trends, and the sensory life of this thriving early modern city.

“Technology has the unique ability to let us exist in the past and present at the same time,” says Ellis. “DECIMA harnesses this power to allow anyone to foster and grow their love for history. By allowing the past to embrace the present, we can use it to mold our futures.”

“Ariana, congratulations on this incredible achievement. You put your time, creative brainpower and heart into this challenge, and we’re thrilled to cheer you on to the next level,” says Nakanyike Musisi, acting chair and professor in the Department of History.

Ellis will next compete before a jury for a spot in the final five. The public livestreamed event takes place on Monday, May 16, 2022, at 2 pm ET at the Congress for the Humanities and Social Sciences.

Watch Ariana Ellis' three-minute video: