Semra Sevi honoured with SSHRC Talent Award

July 26, 2023 by Cynthia Macdonald - A&S News

Semra Sevi, a new assistant professor in the Department of Political Science, has received the prestigious Talent Award from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC).

Awarded annually among the council’s annual Impact Awards, the prize recognizes the highest achievements in SSHRC-funded research, knowledge mobilization and scholarship, as well as the highest achievements resulting from a SSHRC fellowship. In particular, the Talent Award recognizes outstanding research achievement and career potential from a SSHRC doctoral or postdoctoral fellowship or scholarship holder.

“Despite having only just received her doctorate in political science (with distinction) from Université de Montréal in 2021, Semra Sevi has already demonstrated she is an outstanding and prolific researcher with impact as a public scholar,” noted SSHRC in its award citation.

Sevi has earned global recognition for creating and making public datasets of all candidates for office in Canadian federal elections since 1867. This achievement was central to her doctoral dissertation, entitled What Voters Want: Identifying Voter Preferences for Candidates. The datasets were first published on the Harvard University Dataverse in 2019 and have since been downloaded thousands of times. They have also formed the basis of eight of nearly 20 peer-reviewed articles that Sevi has written.

The datasets include candidates’ information such as unique identifiers, names, ridings, age, gender, occupation, party, vote share, Indigenous origins, and identification with the LGBTQ2S+ community. As the SSHRC citation notes, “They are an unprecedented resource for students and researchers and will facilitate an array of new research projects — including longitudinal research that was not possible before.”

Prior to her appointment at the University of Toronto, Sevi was a Banting postdoctoral researcher in the Department of Political Science at Columbia University. She was also Visiting Scholar at the Institute for the Study of Canada at McGill University and a Fellow in Residence at the Policy, Elections & Representation Lab at the University of Toronto’s Munk School of Global Affairs & Public Policy.