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UCLan attracts future researchers

17 August 2015

Rachel Atkinson

School and college students use their summer break to take part in academic research projects

Teenagers from across the region have put their summer holiday to good use thanks to an innovative research scheme from the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan).

The Year 12 students played an active role in current UCLan research programmes and worked alongside academics and undergraduates to learn about the exciting world of research.

Designing more effective drugs for type two diabetes; understanding consumer views of organic products; building a physiotherapy app to help arthritic patients manage pain and understanding the influence of the motor system on hallucinations of voices were among the research topics investigated by the pupils.

As part of the Future Researchers event the youngsters also created a poster to highlight the work they had undertaken. They will present these posters to senior research academics at UCLan’s highly prestigious Undergraduate Research Poster Exhibition, in October.

The week-long programme, held on the Preston Campus, attracted 23 students from Preston’s Cardinal Newman College; Lancaster Girls’ Grammar School; Kirkham Grammar School; Carr Hill High School, in Kirkham; Baines School, in Poulton-le-Fylde; St Mary’s Catholic Academy, in Blackpool; Blackpool Sixth Form; St Mary’s College, in Blackburn; Wigan UTC; St John Rigby College, in Wigan; Lancashire UTC, in Burnley; Bolton School; Ormskirk School and Priestley College, in Warrington.

“The scheme is fantastic because it enables the students to develop their skills and it inspires them to become researchers of the future.”

Ruth Swallow, 17, worked on a project to look at new ways of teaching nuclear magnetic resonance. The Lancaster Girls’ Grammar School student said: “I’ve really enjoyed my time at UCLan because the research has been very interesting. I feel it’s given me an advantage for when I study this in chemistry next year at school. It’s also been nice to spend time with other people who share my interest in the subject.”

Sixteen-year-old Adil Lakha, from Cardinal Newman College, spent his week in the laboratory experimenting in organometallic chemistry. He said: “It’s really emphasised to me the importance of academic research and has shown me it’s a lengthy but very worthwhile process. It’s encouraged me to pursue a career in medical chemistry while the non-academic side of the programme has given me a real insight into university life.”

The Future Researchers project is an extension of UCLan’s hugely successful undergraduate research internship programme which was established in 2008.

Professor Stuart Hampton-Reeves, Head of UCLan’s Graduate Research School, said: “The scheme is fantastic because it enables the students to develop their skills and it inspires them to become researchers of the future.

“We have found with our very popular undergraduate research programme how powerful a learning tool this hands on research can be as it promotes originality, creativity and academic rigor. These school and college students are on the cusp of starting their higher education experience and we are delighted to give them the opportunity to go beyond their formal learning to forge new knowledge.”