The UA Blog

Uversity Announce Creative Impact Scholarship for 2015/2016


Undergraduate Awards summit partner Uversity, a new postgraduate institute focused on the Creative Arts has announced details of an exciting scholarship opportunity for creative scholars.

The Creative Impact Scholarship for Uversity’s Master of Arts in Creative Process offers graduates the opportunity to study and live in Ireland for 12 months and soak in the creative culture and atmosphere that Ireland is renowned for all over the world.

Uversity is founded by 24 of Ireland’s leading universities, institutes of technology and independent colleges and puts students in control of their education within a learning framework that promotes individuality and creative difference.

The programme is a world first in which students get to design their own degree from a choice of 100’s of modules in:

  • Art and Design
  • Cinema and Broadcast Arts
  • Creative Cultural Industries
  • Creative Writing
  • Dance
  • Drama and Theatre Studies
  • Literature, Arts and Culture
  • Music

The innovative programme launched in September 2014 and you can read how the first students are getting on so far on the Uversity blog.

Applications are now open, so if living and studying in Ireland for a year at your choice of universities sounds like your thing then get to applying! Full scholarship details are available here.

You can follow Uversity on Twitter and Facebook to keep up with their latest news and announcements.

UA Global Summit 2014

The Undergraduate Awards Summit acknowledges the excellent academic scholarship done in the labs and libraries of universities around the world over the past year by bringing the winners and highly commended students to Dublin for three days to present them with their winners medals. The students have the chance to rub shoulders with their peers from disparate disciplines at the Summit. New and lasting friendships are made as a common strain of ambition and passion for their individual areas of expertise bonds the students: 2014 was no different.



Two weeks ago today the UA Global Summit 2014 kicked off! The excitement in the office was palpable as students started to arrive in the early hours of the morning. Venues were prepped, alarms were set and students had flown in from far flung locations such as Singapore, Nigeria and Canberra for an unforgettable three days.Some spoke of nerves coming to Dublin.  What if no one cares about my essay topic? What if no one knows what I’m talking about? With such varied winning essays such as; ‘Selfies’ vs ‘Sealfies’; Inuit Subsistence Hunting, Food Insecurity, and Animal Rights‘;  ‘ From Poverty to Power: How Knowledge in The Secret Garden and The Hunger Games Prevents the Poor from Subverting the Social Hierarchy‘ and  ‘Carnival Laughter in Victorian Literature‘ … There was lots for the students to discuss over the three days.
The Summit itself is a whirlwind, the three days fly-by for all involved. So here’s a quick reminder of what the students got up to in Dublin and how the group of 2014 left their indelible mark on an event that continues to go from strength to strength.

The Summit started with the Opening Ceremony in City Hall with a call to action from Nobel Peace Prize Winner Mairead Maguire who implored the students before her to use their exceptional talents to do something for the greater good – advance peace rather war and keep those less fortunate at the forefront of your minds as you go about your future careers: a Nobel cause indeed.


On Thursday morning students got their first taste of Dublin’s rush hour traffic as they made their way to Farmleigh House, on a day when mist engulfed the city. The Park was barely visible in a scene reminiscent of a Charlotte Bronte novel.

The UA Colloquium was the order of the day. This unique event plays to the strengths of the UA promoting cross-discipline collaboration and the germination of ideas. Speeches were given by scientists, lawyers, entrepreneurs, dance choreographers and film producers before break-out sessions developed the discussion points emerging from each of these talks.

That sounds simple enough but when those people are Dr. Maggie Aderin Pocock, Patricia O’Brien, Ingrid Vanderveldt, Kyle Abrahams and Lord David Putnam that’s when things get interesting.


The breakout sessions were varied and that’s an understatement. There were debates on the efficacy of UN International policy or what shape the university should take in the 21st century. Groups used teamwork skills to build the highest marshmallow towers while others expressed themselves through off the cuff interpretative dance. Practical advice was given on how to prepare applications for PhD’s while in the conservatory Prof Joe Roche operated at zero gravity fielding all questions about a pending trip to Mars with his comedic flair.

Friday was in the Foundry in Google on Barrow Street, Joe O’Gormon MC’d proceedings with his usual sharp wit as each of the students delivered a three minute presentation on their respective research papers in what was a fascinating day. The rich array of scholarship the UA attracts was on show and the students got to talk with representatives from partner college Trinity College Dublin andWestern University about the possibilities of further study.  Google and Jameson also had stands advertising the opportunities in their graduate programmes – they were keen to chat with some of these UA minds.



There was some down time in the Mespil hotel and some students took the opportunity to stroll around Dublin and visit the Book of Kells before donning their evening gowns and tuxes for the awards ceremony in the majestic Christchurch Cathedral on Friday evening. Patricia O’Brien spoke about the privileged positions that the students occupied and the responsibilities that comes with that, the medals were handed out and photos were snapped. It had been a whirlwind three days, one that the students drove with their own ideas and infectious attitudes. There was time for a banquet and a few drinks with new friends in the Crypts downstairs before they headed home the next day as the UA Alumni of 2014.

I can’t believe it’s all over! The last few days have been some of the most inspirational of my life. I met some of the most incredible people from all over the world and
was exposed to some amazing speakers from a diverse range of backgrounds. Talking to people about their work has been so interesting and even more so considering the obstacles
some had to overcome to get to where they are. Thanks to all the guys from the undergrad awards who tirelessly looked after our every need and wined and dined us for 3 days.
I feel honoured to be able to call myself a winner of such a prestigious award and am so grateful for my experience. ” Dawn Smyth, Winner 2014
Entries can now be submitted for the Undergraduate Awards programme 2015, it’s a fantastic chance for you to get rewarded for the work you do at university. This is an awards programme
determined to recognise the work done by students at undergraduate level, but we can only give you one of the below medals if you submit your course work to us. To do so click here.



Irish Graduate Named on TIME Magazine’s list of Next Generation Leaders

Simple ideas are always simple once somebody else has thought of them.

Food Cloud is a simple app platform that is connecting those wasting good food in Ireland with those charities and community groups trying to feed people around the country. Their idea is one that resonated with us – it’s a start-up that will have a direct impact on the people’s lives. We all know about the vast levels of food wastage in the developed world. In order to realise one only has to look at what you throw out of your own fridge and then do the sums. We also know the amount of people that suffer from malnutrition or hunger in Ireland alone (450,000 suffer from food poverty in Ireland, according to Foodcloud’s website).

An example of their recent success is the partnership Foodcloud announced with Tesco, Ireland’s largest grocery store chain. The food wastage from their stores is now being redirected to charities who are able to distribute it to people in need through the app which alerts each party of what is available for collection at the end of trading.

Earlier this year at the Web Summit Iseult Ward, co-founder of Foodcloud, presented from the Food Summit stage in Herbert Park after it was vacated by ex-Desperate Housewife Eva Longoria. Sharing stages with stars is somewhere Ward is finding herself more and more these days as Time Magazine just named her on their list of ‘Next Generation Leaders’.

TIME’s list includes young leaders from around the world, including scientists, entrepreneurs and journalists from countries like Thailand, South Africa and Brazil. Ward is the only Irish person to feature on this elite list. She graduated from Trinity College Dublin’s BESS program in 2013 with a degree in Business and Economics and since then has developed Food Cloud with co-founder Aoibheann O’Brien, also a recent graduate from Trinity. They participated in the Trinity College Dublin Launchbox accelerator program, designed to help student companies get off the ground.

Since launching the non-profit food sharing service in October 2013, FoodCloud has grown to facilitate distribution of more than a tonne of surplus food everyday, “Foodcloud has discovered that businesses across Ireland have a huge appetite for donation their excess food.”

According to TIME, the seven people chosen as Next Generation Leaders “have not just succeeded in their fields but have also persuaded others to share their vision.”

This is not the only recognition Ward and O’Brien have got since they launched Foodcloud. They also won the Social Entrepreneurs Ireland’s Impact Award, which will help them fund the next phase of development for their organisation.

For more information on FoodCloud, please see

To watch Iseult Ward’s Q&A with TIME:


Foodcloud on TIME





Nature Award for ‘Mentoring in Science’ at Science Foundation Ireland’s Summit 2014

Professor of Comparative Immunology at Trinity College Dublin, Cliona O’Farrelly, has won a 2014 Nature Award for Mentoring in Science at Science Foundation Ireland’s 2014 Summit. The leading international journal Nature hosts these awards on an annual basis to champion the importance of mentoring and inspiring future generations of young researchers.

Professor O’Farrelly’s achievements were to bring together various disciplines across the scientific spectrum in both human and veterinary clinical sciences, to better understand immunology and infectious diseases. Her research group has been successful in describing unique immunological features and functions in the human gut, liver and uterus.

Professor O’Farrelly said: “It’s so humbling that the students who have gone through my lab think I deserve this.  One of life’s great privileges is to be given the opportunity to work with bright, enthusiastic young scientists.”

“It is Professor O’Farrelly’s exceptional ability to teach, mentor and nurture confidence that has impacted a generation of students and researchers,” said Nigel Stevenson, Assistant Professor in Immunology at Trinity.

Meanwhile, Lydia Lynch, Instructor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School, Boston, added: “She encourages young girls in school and young women in college, as well as older mature students returning to the workforce, to realise their dreams. It is because of female leaders in science – like Cliona – that young women feel that being a leader is an achievable goal.”

Editor-in-Chief of Nature, Philip Campbell, said: “In an era when laboratories are under great pressure to be competitive, it is essential that they maintain the technical robustness and ethical integrity of their science, while also empowering creativity. Thus the mentoring of young researchers has never been more important. And good mentoring by laboratory heads is not a skill that can be taken for granted.”

More information about the Nature Awards for Mentoring in Science is available here.  Information on Trinity’s School of Immunology is available here.

The World’s Top Students land in Dublin Today

Over 100 of the world’s top students are landing in Dublin City this morning to attend the UA Global Summit 2014. Represented in Dublin throughout the Summit will be 50 universities across 5 continents. Students from Singapore, Hong Kong, The United States, Nigeria, Canada, Australia and across Europe will join Irish attendees today to launch the Global Summit at the Opening Ceremony in City Hall.

Throughout the 3 days the students will visit various historic venues (schedule here) and meet an array of inspiring thought leaders (list of Speakers) in order to encourage, collaborate and connect with each other during this unique event.

The winning essays this year are as widely diverse as ever and range from essays on David Foster Wallace, Giftedness, Architecture  to Selfies, One Direction, Tinder and The Hunger Games! We are so excited to meet these young talented, bright-sparks.  Let the Summit begin!

Trinity College Dublin News

Our partner university Trinity College Dublin is recognized for academic excellence and innovative approach to research. With a tradition of scholarship for more than four decades Trinity is home to talented and inquiring minds, a liberal education and research conducted at the frontiers of disciplines.  With this in mind, here is some of the latest news in research from the Trinity College campus:


Trinity’s New Undergraduate Scholarship and Online Presence for China

Trinity College Dublin has announced the establishment of the Trinity Global Undergraduate Scholarship for China, a new scholarship which will support a prospective Chinese undergraduate student to study at Trinity College Dublin.

Read more here.

Women Improve Driving More than Men Following ‘Black Box’ Feedback

A cross border road safety study using the latest ‘black box’ telematics technology has found that, after training and when presented with relevant feedback, the driving behaviour of young women motorists improves significantly more than that of young men.

Read more here.


Scientists Discover New Gene involved in Motor Neuron Disease

Irish scientists from Trinity involved in ground breaking international study which may help with the development of new treatments for MND.

Read more here.


Further information on studying at Trinity College Dublin can be found here.

A 1st for Everything… The Countdown!

The UA Global Summit is only a month away.  We are getting very excited/busy here at UA headquarters and we thought a countdown would be in order.

Firstly,  The Undergraduate Awards is incredibly pleased to announce six new Affiliate Universities! We are delighted to welcome to our programme; the Universidade Estadual Paulista, our first Affiliate University on the continent of South America; Qatar University, our first Affiliate University from the League of Islamic Universities and Universidade Panamericana, our first Affiliate University in Mexico. The University of Newcastle Australia, the University of California Riverside, and the University of Calgary accompany them, joining a network of over 100 academic institutions from around the globe in their celebration of undergraduate work.

We will be hosting this year’s Summit across five historical venues around Dublin City; The Rotunda at Dublin’s City Hall;  Iveagh House, the Department of Foreign Affairs; Farmleigh House, originally owned by the famous Guinness Family; Science Gallery, located in Trinity College Dublin, and Christchurch Cathedral.

We are counting down four weeks to go to the UA Global Summit 2014, when we will be meeting our Winners and Highly Commended entrants in Dublin!  Take a look at our schedule here.

The Undergraduate Awards is also delighted to announce three new University Partners; the University of California Berkeley, the University of St. Andrews, and Trinity College Dublin.  By joining the University Partner programme, these prestigious universities benefit from increased participation in the Undergraduate Awards, gaining access to unique opportunities including a presence at the UA Global Summit. More information on our University Partner programme can be found here.

We have two awards programmes in which our winners submit.  The International programme and the Irish programme.  You can see a list of the 25 categories here.

Finally, there’s a 1st for everything: This is the first year in which we have affiliate Universities on the continents of South America, in the League of Islamic Universities and also in Mexico. We are very much looking forward to working with our new affiliate universities over the coming months, and making 2015 our biggest year ever!

Winners 2014

Assessed by panels of international academics, two winners were selected per academic category – an international winner and a winner from the island of Ireland.  The overall winner will be published in The Undergraduate Awards Academic Journal.

If you see your name on the list below, please expect a call from us at some stage today. Congratulations! We look forward to seeing you all in Dublin on the November 19th!


  • Overall Winner: Andrew Jobling, Durham University
  • Winning Paper: BP in Russia: Analysis of the TNK-BP Failure
  • Island of Ireland Winner –  Tadhg Giles, Trinity College Dublin
  • Winning Paper: Capital Flight & the Case of Panama

Chemical & Pharmaceutical Sciences

  • Overall Winner: Helen Farrants, University of Edinburgh
  • Winning Paper: Developing a Mitochondria-Targeting Azide-Based 1,8-Naphthalimide Probe for Hydrogen Sulfide Sensing
  • Island of Ireland Winner – David Jones, University College Cork
  • Winning Paper:  Preliminary Investigation into the Optimization of Sample Systems for the Study of the Vinyl Substitution Reactions of 3(2H)-Furanones

Classical Studies & Archaeology

  • Overall Winner: Joe Thompson, University of Edinburgh
  • Winning Paper: Discuss the Evidence (both direct and inferred) for Clothing in the British Palaeolithic
  • Island of Ireland Winner – Louisa Brophy Browne, National University of Ireland Galway
  • Winning Paper: Discuss and Evaluate the Main Points of the Debate on the Ethics of Archaeological Work in War Zones and Occupied Territories Using Case Studies.

Computer Sciences & Information Technology

  • Overall Winner: Jack Fitzsimons, Trinity College Dublin
  • Winning Paper: Identifying Abandoned, Moved and Removed Objects in Automated Surveillance Systems
  • International Winner – Himel Dev, Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology
  • Winning Paper: User Interaction Based Community Detection in Online Social Networks

Cultural Studies

  • Overall Winner: Carly Welham, University of British Columbia
  • Winning Paper: Selfies’ vs ‘Sealfies’: Inuit Subsistence Hunting, Food Insecurity, and Animal Rights
  • Island of Ireland Winner – Ruth Daly, Maynooth University
  • Winning Paper: Why Restorative Justice is Best Practice: The Simultaneous Pursuit of Justice and Peace in Post-Genocide Rwanda


  • Overall Winner: Sinead Mc Loughlin, Dublin Institute of Technology
  • Winning Piece: Enclosure and Difference. How to Create an Architecture that is under Common Skies and before Divided Horizons
  • International Winner – Andy Lim, Nanyang Technological University
  • Winning Piece: The Mnemonics Kit

Earth & Environmental Sciences

  • Overall Winner: Victoria Ponce Hardy, University of Edinburgh
  • Winning Paper: Investigating Environmental Justice in Glasgow: 1899-2003. A GIS and Statistical Analysis of Air Quality and Social Deprivation in Glasgow
  • Island of Ireland Winner – Susannah Finn, Trinity College Dublin
  • Winning Paper: Meta-Analysis of Grain Yield and N Dynamics of Legumes in Cereal Systems


  • Overall Winner: Pierce Healy, Trinity College Dublin
  • Winning Paper: An Investigation into the Momentum Anomaly in the Market for Bitcoin
  • International Winner – Justin Katiraei, Harvard University
  • Winning Paper: The Suitability of Headline Unemployment (U3) in Federal Reserve Policy


  • Overall Winner: Sarah Martin, McGill University
  • Winning Paper: What is Giftedness?
  • Island of Ireland Winner – Megan Turner, St Mary’s University College
  • Winning Paper: “Mind and Memory, Understanding and Delight” Views of Literature and Memory in Education

Engineering & Mechanical Sciences

  • Overall Winner: Kim Siang Ong, Nanyang Technological University
  • Winning Paper: Aerodynamic Data Generation and Design Support for Solar UAV – Wind Tunnel Testing
  • Island of Ireland Winner – Fiona Malone, University of Limerick
  • Winning Paper: The Automated Decellularisation of Ovine and Porcine Biological Tissues: A Prelimenary Investigation

Historical Studies

  • Overall Winner: Daniel McKay, Australian National University
  • Winning Paper: Dust and Bluster: An Historical Evaluation of the Political Discourse on Drought in Australia
  • Island of Ireland Winner – Ciarán Quinn,  University Belfast
  • Winning Paper: How did the Irish Free State’s Efforts to Regulate Sexuality (And its Motivations for Doing So) Compare with Trends Elsewhere in Interwar Europe?

International Relations & Politics

  • Overall Winner: Anneloes Hoff, Utrecht University
  • Winning Paper: Interest Representation in the IMCO Committee’s Amendments: The Influence of MEPs’ Political Ideology and Role in the Legislative Process
  • Island of Ireland Winner – James Pow, Queen’s University Belfast
  • Winning Paper: Still Rising: The Career Politician in the British House of Commons, the Cabinet and the Shadow Cabinet

Irish Language

  • Overall Winner: John Woods, University College Dublin
  • Winning Paper: “Ba Mar Chaomhnóir Oidhreachta agus Oide Teagaisc a d’Fheidmigh Antoine Raiftearaí”. Léirmheas a Scríobh ar Fhilíocht Raiftearaí agus an Tuairim sin mar Bhunús na Haiste

Languages & Linguistics

  • Overall Winner: Sandra Lukic, University of Edinburgh
  • Winning Paper: A Slovene to Serbians, a Serb to Slovenes. First Language Attrition: Differences Between the First and the Second Generation of Serbian-Slovene Bilinguals
  • Island of Ireland Winner – Tracy O’Connor, Queen’s University Belfast
  • Winning Paper:  To What Extent can the Poetry of Borja da Costa be Seen as Promoting the Idea of a Common National Identity?


  • Overall Winner: Elena Butti, Utrecht University
  • Winning Paper: Children’s Rites: Examining the Role of Local Justice in the Ugandan Transitional Justice Process through a Child Rights Approach
  • Island of Ireland Winner – Kyrsten Baker, Trinity College Dublin
  • Winning Paper: Sexual Offender Notification Schemes: A Product of ‘New Penology’ and Populist Punitiveness and Inadequate to Tackle the Issue of Sexual Offending

Life Sciences

  • Overall Winner: Siddharth Krishnan, University of Manchester
  • Winning Paper: Investigating the Role of LRRTM3 in Alzheimer’s Disease: The Characterisation of an LRRTM3 Knock-Out Mouse Model
  • Island of Ireland Winner – Maran Lowry, Queen’s University Belfast
  • Winning Paper: Assessing the Escapement Success of Migrating European Silver Eel (Anguilla anguilla L.) from Lough Neagh Using Acoustic Telemetry to Corroborate a Traditional Mark/Recapture Method


  • Overall Winner: Colin Groundwater, Yale University
  • Winning Paper: Rhizomatic Mathematics: David Foster Wallace and the Literary Infinite
  • Island of Ireland Winner – Ellen Howley, University College Dublin
  • Winning Paper: Seamus Heaney’s Plateaus: Transitions between Air, Ground and Underground, and the Relationship between the Local and the Imaginative

Mathematics & Physics

  • Overall Winner: Flurin Eisner, University of Bristol
  • Winning Paper: Electron Deep Trap States in Oriented TiO2 Nanotubes Arrays
  • Island of Ireland Winner – Aaron Reid, Queen’s University Belfast
  • Winning Paper: Solar Vortices

Media & The Arts

  • Overall Winner: Dominic O’Key, University of Leeds
  • Winning Paper: Bela Tarr’s The Turin Horse: The (In)Visible Animal
  • Island of Ireland Winner – Stephen Quinn, Trinity College Dublin
  • Winning Paper: Performing Beyond Postmodernity: Taylor Mac and the Queer Metamodern

Medical Sciences

  • Overall Winner: Milani Sivapragasam, Western University
  • Winning Paper: Exploring Myxoma Virus Oncolytic Virotherapy in Combination with Carboplatin for the Treatment of Epithelial Ovarian Cancer
  • International Winner – Grace McKenna, Queen’s University Belfast
  • Winning Paper: Identification of Tumour Suppressor Genes whose Loss Mediates Sensitivity to Conventional Chemotherapy and Targeted Therapeutics

Nursing & Midwifery

  • Overall Winner: Dawn Smyth, Waterford Institute of Technology
  • Winning Paper: Abortion: Exploring the Ethical, Legal and Political Challenges
  • International Winner – Shion Gosrani, University of Edinburgh
  • Winning Paper: A Brief Exploration of the Socialisation of Gender and Emotional Intelligence to Gain an Understanding of Why Nursing Remains a Predominantly Sex Segregated Profession

Philosophical & Theological Studies

  • Overall Winner: Sam Mc Grath, University of Chicago
  • Winning Paper: The Zen of Ludwig Wittgenstein: An Elucidation of the Elusive ‘Ethical Point’ of the Tractatus
  • Island of Ireland Winner – Tadhg O’Laoighaire, University College Cork
  • Winning Paper: Thinking Makes it So; A Defence of Narrative Reflection as the Appropriate Measure of Worthwhile Life


  • Overall Winner: Hause Lin, University of Sussex
  • Winning Paper: Ego Depletion and Self-Control Failures: Resource Depletion or Changes in Motivation?
  • Island of Ireland Winner – Diego Garaialde, Dublin City University
  • Winning Paper: Measuring the Effects of Gaming Principles on the Productivity and Motivation of College Students

Social Sciences

  • Overall Winner: Joshua Oware, University of Oxford
  • Winning Paper: The Presence of Siberia: Power, Pain and Therapy in Solzhenitsyn’s ‘Ivan Denisovich’ and Shalamov’s ‘Kolyma Tales’
  • Island of Ireland Winner – Liath Gleeson, Trinity College Dublin
  • Winning Paper: Explain and Discuss the Significance of Paid Work in Society Today

Visual Arts

  • Overall Winner: Katie Watchorn, National College of Art and Design
  • Winning Paper: A Softness Preserved You
  • International Winner – Wilfred Lim, Nanyang Technological University
  • Winning Paper: New House

Campus Ambassador Wins Ticket to UA Global Summit

Claire Dillon was a Highly Commended entrant in the 2013 Programme for her submission to the Media & the Arts category. Claire was lucky enough to have her university (Northwestern University) sponsor her attendance at the 2013 UA Global Summit. When Claire returned to Northwestern University after the Summit last November, she volunteered to become a Campus Ambassador for The Undergraduate Awards. She summarises her motivations for and experiences of doing just that throughout the 2013-14 academic year. Claire was awarded a free ticket to the 2014 UA Global Summit as an award for her efforts at promoting the 2014 Programme on Northwestern’s campus.

It is hard to believe that nine months have already passed since I attended the 2013 Undergraduate Awards Global Summit. It doesn’t feel nearly so long ago, because the energy surrounding the Summit still lingers and influences my current endeavours and future plans. The Summit brought together a strong community of ambitious students whose ever-growing talents and achievements continue to inspire me. The resultant network of UA Alumni is unique in that it spans disciplines and countries, and it offers undergraduates a great deal of encouragement and resources comparable to those found among scholars with graduate degrees.

In my personal experiences at academic conferences, the platform provided to emerging scholars is often overshadowed by academics who are more established in their fields. The Undergraduate Awards is clearly quite different: their focus is on young researchers. They provide the opportunity for us to develop and share our ideas with one another and with the prominent activists, entrepreneurs, scientists, scholars, and others who attend the Summit as speakers and discussion leaders. As my friends Sam and Yannick explained in earlier blog posts, this is a rare opportunity and it is not to be missed, which is why I applied to serve as a UA Campus Ambassador immediately following the Summit. I was eager to give back to the community that had given me so much.

The Campus Ambassador role is very gratifying because you play an active part in strengthening and broadening UA’s outreach and network. Between 2013 and 2014, submissions from Northwestern University increased 700%. This statistic, along with this year’s overall increase in submissions, reflects the growing awareness of and interest in what UA has to offer young scholars. Working as a Campus Ambassador is not only a good excuse to stay in touch with the wonderful UA staff in Dublin; you also build connections with university administrators and your fellow classmates with similar skills and ambitions. Promoting the Undergraduate Awards enhances the program and its community, the opportunities at your university, and your own connections and relationships: a rewarding experience for all involved.

In August I was pleasantly surprised to receive an invitation to the 2014 Summit in recognition of my work as the UA Ambassador to Northwestern, and I couldn’t be more excited to attend. As my fellow 2013 Summit attendees continue to achieve even greater accomplishments, I cannot wait to meet and engage with another group of inspiring students. When we meet in Dublin, I will tell them — just as I am encouraging you now — to promote UA long after the Summit ends. As an Ambassador, you can help the program evolve for future applicants, attendees, and alumni, thereby upholding the same spirit of collaboration and support that underlies the Undergraduate Awards program.

For more on the Campus Ambassador programme, check out our info page here.

Sam Gordine Reflects on the UA Global Summit

Sam Gordine (University of St. Andrews) was Highly Commended in 2013 for her essay ‘Extracting drift rates from compressed dive profiles by using a step-wise filtering method’ in the Life Sciences category. Below she gives her account of attending the UA Global Summit in Dublin last November.

Attending the UA Global Summit was a fantastic trip to the UA headquarters in Ireland’s capital Dublin, pure luck, and a very rare experience indeed.

‘Pure luck’, you may wonder. And yes, pure luck it was. Not maybe in terms of being chosen as one of the Highly Commended candidates – a lot of work is invested into my coursework and the same is true for all other Highly Commended candidates. I mean pure luck in terms of attending this Summit, but let me explain what exactly I mean by this.

Firstly, let us go back in time. Almost exactly one year ago I submitted three pieces of my most promising academic work to the UA, just like you will have done this year. I was graduating that month too, so over the bustle and hustle that graduation brings with it, I totally forgot about having submitted some of my work to the UA. I also had only a small idea of what The Undergraduate Awards were. ‘An award for undergraduates…’, that is what I thought – and, back then, I could have never guessed the magnitude of an impact the UA would have upon my life. Summer passed and I recall my friend sending me an email congratulating me for being Highly Commended in the UA. Since I had kind of forgotten about it, it came as a great surprise. The following week I repeatedly checked my emails, but I remained a Highly Commended student and the winner of my category was chosen to be someone else. So I forgot about the UA again as the busy life of a new PhD student took hold of me.

At that time I was not really considering attending the UA Global Summit – especially because I was not among the winners. It was two other girls from my university (also Highly Commended) that made me think about attending when they enquired about receiving funding from our university in order to attend. This is when I talked to my PhD supervisor (who was also the lecturer I wrote my Highly Commended piece for). Rather surprisingly he encouraged me to attend the Summit and – here comes the luck part – was also willing to financially support my attendance. So I went.

Once I had confirmed my attendance and the UA Team started sending us some information on the event, my excitement grew gradually. I saw Cindy Gallop’s name on the speaker’s list. Slightly more excited, I heard we would get to experience some Irish culture. Also, that we would go to the Google headquarters and meet the Irish Prime Minister. The excitement continued to grow!

Nevertheless, when I got on that plane to Dublin, I was not at all sure what to expect. I was over-loaded with work the day I left for Dublin and I recall getting on the plane without knowing where to go to on the other end. I will never forget the welcome that awaited me. When I entered the hotel, I recognised two, three people wearing UA t-shirts. Surprisingly they also recognised me – knowing me by name and where I had come from, handing me a personalised goodie-bag and sending me off to my room. ‘Super organised’, I thought, and this impression was reinforced over the next three days – and lasted. To this day I am still very impressed by this genuine welcome.

The three days I shared a room with another Highly Commended candidate. It turned out that she was Dutch and that I had been to her village in Zeeland just two months previous. What a coincidence – we bonded immediately! However, not only did I bond with my roommate. Over the course of the next three days, I met about 65 of the most intelligent young undergraduates the world currently has to offer. Did we bond? Yes, very much so. Why? Well, because we all have certain attributes in common: hard-working, intelligent, interested, young, smart, like-minded, incredible human beings!

What happened at the UA Global Summit was completely unbelievable. To my friends I have described my experience as follows: Imagine a small fire, a light burning within you. Then imagine many people carrying these little fires within them, coming together to light a massive bonfire with their hearts and minds, their own flame growing steadily within their little bonfire hearts.

For this very reason, you, this year’s Highly Commended candidates should attend the Global Summit. You may think, ‘Since I did not win, is attending worth the expense?’. The answer to this is simply ‘yes’; because if there is one thing that I can guarantee you it is that this Summit will change your life. Having your hard work finally recognised by so many other students and people is amazing. This Summit is not about winning a shiny award. Whether you are a Highly Commended candidate or a winner does not matter. Not one single second; because this Summit is about recognising excellence and giving like-minded young individuals a space (temporally and spatially) to meet, to mingle and to mentally challenge their own thoughts, that of others and of paradigms of society.

At the Summit you will sleep too little, but you will not need that lost sleep – for you will be carried on an energy wave that will last days after the Summit has ended. When it ends you will ask yourself, ‘Have I really only been here for three days?’ and ‘Have I really only known these people for 3 days?’. For you will have seen so much of Dublin an average tourist needs a week for; for you will have grown together with this bunch of foreign people as though you had known them forever.

Maybe it was Theo Dorgan reciting one of his poems in the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland. Maybe it was Cindy Gallop inspiring interesting conversations about feminism. Maybe it was the atmosphere at Farmleigh House or receiving the Highly Commended Awards in Trinity’s Long Room. Maybe it was the Guinness, the Irish dancing and folk music, or maybe it was dining and celebrating together in the crypts of Christ Church on our last evening. All put together, this made the UA Global Summit one of the best experiences in my life. I was lucky to be part of this rare experience. I urge you, take this rare chance in your life. You will never regret it!

UA Signs Up First African Affiliate University

The Undergraduate Awards is delighted to announce our first Affiliate University on the continent of Africa. University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa became the first African institution to sign up to the Undergraduate Awards earlier this month.

Wits University will join the 100+ institutions from across the globe who work with UA to promote the awards programme amongst their student bodies. We look forward to working with Wits University over the coming year and to welcoming submissions from students studying there.

To check out our full list of Affiliate Universities click here. If you’re a representative of a third-level institution and would like to learn more about affiliation with UA you can email Sally on

Highly Commended Attendee Reflects on his UA Global Summit Experience

Yannick Weiler was a Highly Commended Entrant in the 2013 UA Programme, having been named as such in the Literature category. Below, he reflects on his experience as an attendee at the 2013 UA Global Summit. Highly Commended Entrants are invited to purchase one of a limited number of tickets to take part in the exclusive three-day event in November, which is open only to Winners and Highly Commended Entrants.

The Highly Commended Entrants for the 2014 Programme will be announced in late August.

Here, right beside my desk, hangs a newspaper article cut from The Irish Times, November 16th 2013. Above five familiar, young faces, the headline reads: “ ‘Davos for students’: the brightest undergrad brains ponder the big questions”. Whenever I happen to look at that snippet on my wall, I am transported back to the chambers of the Royal Society of Antiquaries in Dublin, because that’s where it all began: the UA Global Summit 2013 – one of the most inspiring events I took part in, and one of my most cherished memories.

There, in this venerable library-like room, Irish poet, novelist, and journalist Theo Dorgan delivered a uniquely witty and refreshing introductory address on what’s in there for us – in life. What struck me about this opening was Theo’s unflinchingly positive and constructive approach to the various topics he spoke about, and for me this vibrant positivity continued to run through each single moment of the three-day summit: It was manifest when we all presented our papers to each other – studies ranging from economics to literature, from engineering to history, from biology to philosophy –, it inflected our workshop on the “ideal university” of tomorrow at Google headquarters, it suffused the awards ceremony in Dublin’s City Hall – and this, really, is just a tiny glimpse into the many exceptional events and speakers the UA team provided us with.

The most rewarding thing to emerge for me from the Summit was a strong sense of recognition. It is one thing to receive a good mark on your term paper from your professor at your institution; but it is quite another matter to experience that an international jury, highly talented students from all kinds of disciplines, as well as a body of internationally distinguished social entrepreneurs and academics not only is aware of but strongly values your work, and that they are willing to lend you a hand in order to develop your potential to the full, and to make a contribution to a better future – like many of them have done before.

Yet, the Summit showed me something even more important. With all those exceptional people – several MacArthur fellows, a psychology professor suffering from schizophrenia, the first African-American female to travel into space –, you get the sense that talent and potential bring with them a responsibility to give something back, to make a positive change in some area of society. And while I was aware of that before, those people at the Summit showed me that to fulfill this responsibility can actually be fun, that it can make you into someone you thought you could not reach up to, and that it can become something rewarding in itself.

Before attending, I had been oscillating between plans to embark on a career in academia or to go into secondary education. The UA Global Summit finally showed me that a field full of problems is nothing to shy away from; by contrast, this is where you are most needed, where the most opportunities for positive change arise, and where you can develop yourself by improving the field. This is why I decided to pursue a Master’s of Education-degree, and I am looking forward to making a positive imprint on the schooling system of tomorrow.

Lastly, I am immensely indebted to the UA Summit for having had the chance to meet all those wonderful students from all over the world. The talks, discussions, bus-rides, dinners, concerts, and dances of these three days have made an imprint on me, and many of us are still in contact with each other. For this reason alone – and you have, I hope, seen that there are many more –, I strongly encourage you to attend the Undergraduate Awards Global Summit. After all, it is, I suppose, not every day that you get the chance to talk to the first African-American NASA astronaut over dinner in the crypts of Christ Church Cathedral or to meet the Irish Prime Minister on a Thursday evening!

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