Congratulations to Professor Monica Alexander on receiving the Connaught New Researcher Award

Congratulations to Professor Monica Alexander, whose work has been recognized with the Connaught New Researcher Award. Professor Alexander is one of six sociology faculty members to receive this award in 2019. The annual award provides up to $20,000 to new tenure-stream faculty members, and is intended to help them establish a strong research program, and subsequently increase their competitiveness for external funding. “These researchers are doing exciting, innovative work across many different disciplines. It’s the University of Toronto’s hope that this funding will help set the stage for world-leading scholarship and important new discoveries,” stated Vivek Goel, Vice-President, Research and Innovation, and Strategic Initiatives.

Professor Alexander’s project is entitled, “Using Facebook data to measure and understand migration patterns in Canada”, and proposes the use of Facebook data to produce estimates and short-term projections of migration in Canada. 

Canada’s population has one of the largest migrant shares in the world. Our ability to build policy and provide services to benefit the migrant population is, however, hampered by imprecise knowledge of the patterns of migration. The data that is publicly available on key indicators of migration in Canada are limited. For example, detailed information from the Census is only available every five years, and the migration data published on an annual basis do not offer the granularity or detail required to adequately study localized and short-term changes in migration patterns.

Professor Alexander’s aim is to collect large scale data from the Facebook Advertising Platform and to develop statistical methods to adjust for imperfections in the data. This project will produce timely estimates of certain socioeconomic variables that will provide much needed information on Canadian migrants.

As a result, this project will have a direct impact on improving migration research and working towards understanding the implications and challenges of future population change in Canada.