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UCLan students showcase research excellence at US conference

06 May 2015

Lyndsey Boardman

Young researchers take part in prestigious international gathering

Students from the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) have joined more than 3,000 others at a prestigious academic conference in the USA which showcases excellent undergraduate research from around the world.

The 10 UCLan students from a variety of courses attended the 29th annual National Conference of Undergraduate Research (NCUR), which was this year hosted by Eastern Washington University.

The mission of the conference is to promote undergraduate research scholarship and creative activity. It is the sixth time the University has attended the annual event and UCLan is the only UK university to regularly take part. It allows the Preston visitors to share their research findings with students and academics from around the globe including Canada, India, Mexico, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates as well as the USA.

Josh Corkhill, a 21-year-old third year biomedical sciences student, commented: “When you are actually there presenting you appreciate how fantastic an opportunity it is to improve your communication skills and confidence while talking to people that have a real interest in your subject. It benefitted my studies as it broadened my knowledge of the subject area and gave me ideas that could use in my dissertation that I am in the process of writing. There were also several graduate schools at the conference and it has opened my eyes to potentially undertaking further study there.”

Fellow student 21-year-old Matthew Plummer, who is in the final year of a neuroscience degree and researched how sports psychology theory can improve the motor performance of professional dentists, added: “The NCUR experience was about applying the critical thinking and communication skills I've acquired whilst at UCLan. Presenting at the conference allowed me to put my presentation skills to practise to share my research to an international audience.”

"Research conferences such as the National Conference of Undergraduate Research and the British Conference of Undergraduate Research open up the students’ minds to the many possibilities available to them."

Although popular in the USA for the last 25 years, undergraduate research conferences in the UK were unheard of until UCLan lead the way in 2010 by establishing the annual British Conference of Undergraduate Research (BCUR). Since its conception the Conference has more than doubled in size and is hosted by a different UK university each year. It attracts students from universities all over the country who submit papers, posters, workshops and performances.

This sits alongside UCLan’s annual Undergraduate Research Internship Scheme which allows around 50 students to work with academics in a variety of subject areas including sport, science, law, pharmacy and psychology over 10 weeks of the summer before presenting their findings at a poster exhibition attended by staff and students.

Professor Stuart Hampton-Reeves, Director of the Centre for Research-informed Teaching which established the British conference five years ago, organises the annual NCUR trip.

He said: “We place a great emphasis on engaging students through research from the very beginning of their studies. Research conferences such as the National Conference of Undergraduate Research and the British Conference of Undergraduate Research open up the students’ minds to the many possibilities available to them and hopefully encourages them to further explore their own original research areas.”