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Talented researchers showcase academic projects

09 October 2014

Rachel Atkinson

UCLan undergraduates enjoy success at research internship poster exhibition. 

Talented undergraduates from the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) have been highly praised for their “academically excellent” research as part of a pioneering internship scheme.

Around 50 students displayed their work at a poster exhibition on the Preston Campus after they took part in the annual UCLan Undergraduate Research Internship Scheme.

This Scheme saw students work with academics in a variety of subject areas including sport, science, law, pharmacy and psychology over 10 weeks of the summer.

The winning poster was created by Iain Hams, a third year history student, whose research looked at the impact of the First World War on education in Preston, with a specific focus on the Harris Institute.

His analysed more than 2,000 handwritten student registration forms from 1914-15 and 1916-17 and found the number of female students increased dramatically during this time. He also discovered traditional courses such as spinning and weaving fell in popularity and courses in new technology such as electrical (up 71.5%), commercial and administrative studies (up 66% overall and the number of women taking these types of courses from 10% to 37%) dramatically increased.

“It was a timely project as this year we celebrate the centenary of the First World War. It was interesting to see how as the War became increasingly technological it had an effect on the education system and the ways people used their qualifications.”

The 28-year-old, from York, said: “It was a timely project as this year we celebrate the centenary of the First World War. It was really interesting to see how as the War became increasingly technological it had an effect on the education system and the ways people used their qualifications.”

“This is the first internship I’ve taken part in so to be selected as the winner is fantastic. I’d certainly recommend the scheme to other students; it’s a great confidence builder and I feel my research skills have improved over the last few months.”

The runner-up was Dimitar Bakalov, who is in his final year of his four year MChemistry degree. His research focussed on creating molecules which could help people suffering from the effects of type two diabetes.

The 22-year-old, from Nottingham, said: “I’m absolutely delighted to have been chosen as the runner-up in this competition as everybody has done such great work. This project has given me a step in the right direction for my dissertation and it’s given me a foothold into a career in research.”

“What this internship does is open doors and opens the minds of our students to see what is possible.”

UCLan Vice-Chancellor Gerry Kelleher addressed the exhibition and presented the students with their certificates and prizes.

He said: “The quality of work which has been produced is uniformly high and academically excellent. This Scheme has not only encouraged our undergraduates to think and take part in high quality research but it has helped them to grow in confidence. I’m very proud to be the Vice-Chancellor of this University as this Scheme offers such a fantastic opportunity for undergraduates and has a real impact on developing their careers.”

The UCLan Undergraduate Research Internship Scheme is co-ordinated by UCLan’s Centre for Research-informed Teaching.

Professor Stuart Hampton-Reeves, Director of the Centre for Research-informed Teaching, added: “Everybody has been saying the quality has been absolutely outstanding this year and that all these posters would be worthy to appear at any academic conference. That is great considering these are undergraduates who have only worked on their projects for 10 weeks.

“What this internship does is open doors and opens the minds of our students to see what is possible.” The students become so positive about research and make original contributions to their research areas. We know employers are delighted when they see our students have been involved in this Scheme and this thirst for research stays with them for the rest of their lives.”

Image, from left to right: Director of the Centre for Research-informed Teaching Professor Stuart Hampton-Reeves, winner Iain Hams, Vice-Chancellor Gerry Kelleher and runner-up Dimitar Bakalov