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Undergrads showcase top research talent

09 October 2015

Annual poster exhibition allows students to display academic ability

From l-r: Undergraduate Research Poster winner Jessica Oliver with her lecturer Dr Tapas Sen and Stuart Hampton-Reeves, Professor of Research-Informed Teaching. 

Gifted undergraduate research students at the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) have demonstrated their educational abilities at an annual academic exhibition.

Forty undergraduates worked with a range of academics for 10 weeks over the summer break to produce postgraduate level research for UCLan’s Undergraduate Research Internship Scheme.

They investigated a variety of academic subject areas including engineering, pharmacy, medicine, health and psychology and for the second time in three years Jessica Oliver was named as the poster competition winner.

In 2013 she won with her brain cancer research but this year she was recognised for her work on the decontamination of water using various ion exchange systems.

The 21-year-old, who is in the final year of her four year Masters in Chemistry degree, said: “It’s an amazing experience just to have been able to take part in the Undergraduate Research Internship Scheme for the second time during my time at UCLan so to win twice is absolutely phenomenal. I have friends at a lot of other universities and they don’t have anything like this scheme so they’re very jealous of the opportunities which are available at UCLan.”

“The quality of work was so high that I had to remind myself as I walked around that they are undergraduates, not postgraduates or beyond. It was truly special.”

Five other students were given highly commended awards for their work. Anya Snary from the School of Dentistry; Samuel Molony from the School of Engineering; Jasleen Kaur from the School of Humanities & Social Sciences were recognised by the University. They were joined by mature distance learning students David Glass and Richard Rae, from the School of Physical Sciences and Computing, who worked together on their project investigating the presence of dust in galaxies.

Retired dentist Richard and Chemical engineer David used technology to analyse the temperature of light waves emitted from the galaxy, to discover that dust is present in these galaxies.

Having visited the South African Large Telescope on a UCLan funded research trip, David said: “The great thing about being a UCLan distance learner is the community, lots of students make the effort to meet up whenever possible, we even met another student carrying out research in Cape Town.”

Richard, from Windermere, swapped the dentist chair for the sky at night to study for an astronomy degree. He added: “It was something I have always wanted to do. I’ve always loved looking through the telescope and reading books about stars on a long winter’s night.”

The highly commended students receiving their awards from Professor Gai Murphy, Pro Vice-Chancellor (Student Experience) and Stuart Hampton-Reeves, Professor of Research-Informed Teaching. From l-r David Glass, Richard Rae, Professor Murphy, Professor Hampton-Reeves, Anya Snary, Samuel Molony and Jasleen Kaur.

“I have friends at a lot of other universities and they don’t have anything like this scheme so they’re very jealous of the opportunities which are available at UCLan.”

Among the other highlights were Naseerah Akooji’s international study on hypno-therapy as pain management during labour and Rebecca Hulme’s investigation asking do we taste food differently based on how it’s labelled.

The Undergraduate Research Internship Scheme poster exhibition is now in its eighth year. UCLan’s Pro Vice-Chancellor (Student Experience) Professor Gai Murphy addressed the exhibition and presented the students with their certificates and prizes.

She said: “I was so impressed with the breadth and variety of real-world research topics which the undergraduate students tackled. It was fantastic to see their passion and I hope this experience has spurred them on to make research a career path as they have shown all the aptitude required. The quality of work was so high that I had to remind myself as I walked around that they are undergraduates, not postgraduates or beyond. It was truly special.”