Lani Krantz

On January 15, University of Toronto Libraries presented Centre for European, Russian, and Eurasian Studies alum Alina Bykova with a $1,000 Graduate Student Exhibition Competition Award for showcasing her research at Robarts Library. Bykova is one of three winners for the 2019 competition.

Her display, entitled The Changing Nature of Russia’s Arctic Presence: A Case Study of Pyramiden, explores the changing nature of Russia’s Arctic presence.

“Research like this is really the heart of the university,” explained U of T Vice-President and Provost Cheryl Regehr to a group gathered for the award ceremony at the Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library.

“As one of the last great frontiers, the Arctic has become a contentious region for the international community. I learned so much about this historical town in the North Pole and what it meant to Russia to have a settlement in this part of the world.”

Now working for Human Rights Watch in New York City, Bykova was unable to travel for the ceremony but shared her remarks through her colleague, Elizabeth Haig, who assembled the visual display of Bykova’s research.

Not only did Bykova offer gratitude to Haig but praised all of the support and guidance she received while studying at CERES, in particular, Professor Lynne Viola.

“When I first started my master’s degree at the University of Toronto, I felt really out of place. I came from a background in journalism and I wasn’t convinced that I’d be able to fit in at a high-level scholarly institution like the University of Toronto. It was Professor Viola who reassured me that my input was valid and my ideas were sound.”

Bykova’s master’s thesis examined the development and future of Russian settlements on the Norwegian Arctic archipelago of Svalbard. Her research interests include Russian Arctic policy, Russian environmental history, and deindustrialization.

Said Bykova, “I’m so grateful to have been recognized by the University of Toronto Libraries. The people and services at the library are fantastic, from the availability of thousands of books and online documents, to opportunities to work with librarians at the Petro Jacyk Center, who gave me many excellent project ideas. My master’s thesis would simply have been lacklustre without these things.”

All winning exhibits will continue on display through February 2020 in the ground floor cases in the exhibition area of Robarts Library.

January 23, 2020