The UA Blog

Where Are They Now Wednesday: Niamh McShane

Niamh McShane was an Irish Regional winner in the Languages & Linguistics category in 2015 with her essay entitled “Moral Law in the works of Anselm Kiefer | What moral questions does Anselm Kiefer raise in his work and how does he explore the function and reasoning of human morality in relation to the holocaust?”

Niamh is a first class honours Germanic Studies graduate of Trinity College Dublin whose dissertation research explored the role of gender in German vampire narratives. She is currently living in Berlin, and has just started a masters in European literature at Humboldt University. During her time in Berlin she was the winner of an EU scholarship for young entrepreneurs and since taking part in the Undergraduate Awards, she has been keeping herself busy writing content for software startups, organising Women in Tech talks, and discovering the city through taking part in every run she can – from half-marathons around suburban lakes to most recently completing 42 kilometres through the heart of the city in the Berlin Marathon. Her interests include life-drawing, analogue photography, feminist literature, blogging and most recently, volunteering with Pass the Crayon, an organisation providing art classes in refugee centers in the city. Check out Niamh’s blog where she describes her experience volunteering with Pass the Crayon.

Niamh’s experience of her academic work being recognised by The Undergraduate Awards confirmed her interest in academia and cultural research and allowed her to indulge in many wonderful and wacky conversations with a diverse and international crowd of people with research interests in a range of inspiring fields.

Where Are They Now Wednesday: Abu Anas Ibn Samad

Abu Anas Ibn Samad from Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology was recognised as a Highly Commended entrant in the Engineering and Built Environment category in 2015. His paper was titled “Development and analysis of adaptive neural network control for a Cybernetic intelligent ‘iGDI’ engine”

Abu Anas Ibn Samad is currently living in Dhaka, Bangladesh. He was on the Engineering Judging Panel for UA 2016 and reviewed scholarly papers from potential Undergraduates submitted by meritorious students around the world.

“The experience was very enchanting for me to learn and share new approaches to solve a wide variety of problems on Engineering sector.”

Abu Anas Ibn Samad founded a Startup based on Dhaka, Bangladesh on February 2016 addressing the problem of road accidents which takes thousands of lives each year. The startup company is dedicated to developing both active and passive safety device for ground vehicles which could alert drivers in case of potential collision and could also apply brake when necessary. The startup has been selected as one of the TOP 50 startups in the very first Connecting StartUps Bangladesh platform initiated by the Government of Bangladesh.

“Since my research on UA was primarily focused on Machine Learning application to solve a complex challenge in Automotive Industry, my interested has been boosted in the field since then by the global recognition. My startup SIGMIND is the very first Artificial Intelligence based startup in Bangladesh which is also a member on NVIDIA Inception Program that recognises top A.I. startups around the world. Thus, my entrepreneurial life gives me the opportunity to both study and conducting research on my self-pace as well as developing business skills to deliver my enthusiasm for the world market.”

Last year in December, the company has launched a product Advanced Driver Assistance and Monitoring System (ADAMS) for pre-order which is receiving tremendous responses so they are working vigorously to deliver fully finished products within this year. Very recently, the company has also been awarded as one of the TOP 20 startups on the Startup Bangladesh platform created under the Innovation, Design and Entrepreneurship Academy (iDEA) by the ICT Division, Peoples Republic of Bangladesh.

“I have been always enthusiastic to solve some of the greatest challenges for humanity and UA has provided me the spirit to do so. Now with my Artificial Intelligence startup, I am blessed to get the right tools at the right time for pushing the limits to solve some of the most demanding problems for mankind. Our motto is “Advancing A.I. for Humanity” and we are moving forward enthusiastically with it.”

His company SIGMIND has been awarded as the second runner-up on the National ICT Awards 2017, Bangladesh in Startup category which recognises top IT companies in the country and enables participating in the APICTA AWARD 2017, the most prestigious ICT event in the south-Asian region for ICT innovators and entrepreneurs.

Where Are They Now Wednesday: Peter Jianrui Liu

Peter Liu a University of Calgary graduate was highly commended in the Medical Sciences category in 2015 for his paper, “Augmentation of Oncolytic Viral Therapy by Immune Checkpoint Blockade and Reversal of Tumor Microenvironment Immunosuppression in Breast Cancer”.

Peter was an exchange scholar at Harbin Medical University the summer when he was ranked in highly commended in the medical science category, and his research done in China has since resulted in a second author publication in the Journal of Ovarian Research. The thesis submitted to the UA has also contributed to another scientific article that has been submitted for publication.

He has since completed two years of Doctor of Medicine (MD) education at the University of Toronto and currently studying for a DPhil in Clinical Medicine at the University of Oxford with Profs. Jane McKeating and Sir Peter Ratcliffe on how hepatitis viruses are able to exploit the oxygen-sensing pathway (hypoxia pathway) to induce liver cancer. Peter will complete the final two years of the MD Program thereafter as a part of his training as a physician-scientist.

He has also been involved with founding a Think Tank called BRIGHT International ( to help more effectively and rapidly translate scientific innovation into practical applications in healthcare and medicine.

“So overall, I have been continuing to pursue cancer research as a career and hoping to contribute my part to bring the most innovative scientific discoveries to patients as a physician-scientist in the future.”



Where Are They Now Wednesday: Hannah McCartney

Hannah McCartney was Highly Commended in the Economics category of the Undergraduate Awards in 2015 for her paper on the case for abolishing Intellectual Property Rights entitled.

“Since the development of intellectual property rights in 17th century England, economists have argued whether patents encourage the pursuit of entrepreneurship or hinder creativity and development.”

Hannah is currently living in London after graduating from the University of East Anglia with a first in Economics and recently completed the graduate scheme at L’Oreal UK & Ireland, working in different teams across the business. She now has a permanent role in the Business Development Team there, specialising in skincare.


 “A job that allows me to combine the analytical part of my studies that I always enjoyed with my passion for health and beauty. “


One of the most important things she learnt from the Undergraduate Awards was the value of multi-disciplinary learning, and she feels very lucky to be in a job that encourages her to explore this every day. Although Hannah didn’t pursue academia past her undergraduate degree, she hopes one day to complete an MBA, and see herself pursuing a career in Business Strategy – perhaps working with start ups to grow their brands into established businesses, as this is where her interest lies.

One of the reasons Hannah chose to work for L’Oreal is the fact that it is a company grounded in gender equality and empowering women. This was also something Hannah really valued about the Undergraduate Awards.


 “The Global Summit I attended in Dublin was so diverse, yet so inclusive, and I met some truly inspirational women there. Young women feeling empowered to go into the world of business is something that is incredibly important to me and schemes such as the Undergraduate Awards provide an excellent platform for them to do so. I can certainly say, speaking from personal experience, that I would not have had the opportunities I have had without the backing of the scheme and my dream is to become a role model for the next generation of female business people.”





Where Are They Now Wednesday: Kelsey Perreault

Kelsey Perreault a 2015 Highly Commended Entrant for her paper “Hidden Histories and Collections: Discovering the Underbelly Project” in the category of Music, Film, Theatre & Art History.

Kelsey recently completed her Masters in Art History at Western University in London, Canada and just moved to Ottawa where she is in her first year of her PhD in Cultural Mediations at Carleton University.

Since UA she has curated three small art exhibitions and held several positions at galleries and museums in London. The picture here is from the Georgia O’Keefe show that was on at the Art Gallery of Ontario in Toronto this summer. She has been traveling a lot for her research with trips to Poland, Germany, Czech Republic, Hungary, Croatia, and across Canada and the US. Kelsey is planning an upcoming trip to the UK for research at the Imperial War Museum.

“My research right now broadly explores topics of human rights and difficult knowledge in museums, but I also wrote about Holocaust museums and the European memorial landscape in my MA thesis.”

Outside of school, she loves staying active and has set herself a goal to complete her first half marathon and full marathon in the next calendar year.

“I’ve remained in touch with many of the friends I made at UA and would love to connect with any fellow alumni if they ever find themselves in Ottawa.”



Chris Lubbe – The UA Global Summit 2017 Keynote Speaker

Chris Lubbe grew up in a rural part of Port St. John, in the Eastern Cape of South Africa. From a young age, he had an interest in public speaking and politics. This was the beginning of his path that would lead him into becoming an activist and go up against the apartheid regime in South Africa. His determination and devotion in his vision for South Africa always motivated him to continue his work in the face of an ever-present threat of violence.

Chris Lubbe spends his life fighting discrimination and teaching people about the consequences of discrimination. He does this through traveling as a public speaker, spreading his peaceful message around the world. He believes that everyone is equal and should be treated that way, so he uses his influence and vast experience to inspire change. He encourages everyone to use their own ability to create change in the world around them.


“The key themes of my message are determination, courage, perseverance and the power of forgiveness in the face of blatant racial discrimination or opposition”


After Nelson Mandela’s release in 1990 and the fall of apartheid, Chris worked with Nelson Mandela until his retirement as a bodyguard. Chris first met Mandela in 1990, while organising a concert for the African National Congress (ANC). While protecting the first black president of South Africa, he also had the life changing opportunity to meet the international dignitaries such as The Queen. He also got involved in the delicate negotiations with the apartheid regime resulting in subsequent agreement and the drafting of the new constitution. The years by Nelson Mandela side Chris got to learn from him, having first hand experience the work Mandela did towards a vision of South Africa where everyone was free.



“Hope, forgiveness, reconciliation and freedom are the lasting memories I have of Nelson Mandela,”


Chris Lubbe an ambassador for Unicef, now inspires younger generations to speak out and determine their own future regardless of race, gender or disability. Encouraging them to become global citizens.


The Winning UA Campus Ambassador 2017: Hajera Thakur

Hajera Thakur From Qatar University who was the UA Campus Ambassador 2017! Sharing her experience on being a UA Campus Ambassador.

Few weeks prior to my finals of the Fall 2016 semester, I received an email from my university’s Center of Volunteering & Community Service inviting students to volunteer for the Undergraduate Awards. Doing some research about it, I ended up on the UA’s webpage for the Campus Ambassadors. The words “Ambassador” and “based in Ireland” had me hooked right away. Come next semester of Spring 2017, I was encouraged to register by two of my friends, both of whom had been part of the UA experience in the past years. Soon enough, “welcome to the UA team” email had popped in my inbox and I was all-set to begin.

Since the filling out the application, I was filled with several ideas on how to feasibly pull this off. I began with getting in touch with Qatar University’s UA Faculty Contact and the Events Coordinator to better facilitate the promotion. Being a senior student, balancing my studies and graduation research project, I enlisted few friends and acquaintances to act as volunteers and assist me with my role. Qatar University’s undergraduate students and faculty were informed via emails, face-to-face talks, UA promo materials, and info booths were open for a week on both the male and female campuses. Social media posts were designed and contact cards prepared with both UA and the Campus Ambassador’s details on them.

What I enjoyed most was being able to organize and delegate tasks to volunteers, meeting new faces interested in contributing their works to the global academic community, and receiving helpful tips and suggestions from the UA staff.

Fast forward 3 months later, I’m eagerly awaiting the final verdict on who will be the Winning Campus Ambassador. I was already in high spirits by the time the email arrived, and thrilled for those who would be nominated, even if it wouldn’t be me. Scrolling at a slow pace, my eyes finally landed on the line that mentioned my name in bold. Unbelieving but beyond ecstatic, I kept refreshing and rereading the email several times to make sure I was reading it right. I was nominated as the Winning UA Campus Ambassador 2017!!! Visiting Ireland was going to mark my first international travel. My dream to step foot on European lands seemed to be coming true and my prayers finally answered. After I had calmed down albeit still excited, I surfed through Pinterest looking for anything and everything about Dublin- what is the weather like, what clothes to wear, what places to see, and the sorts.

A week later at my Clinical Practices training orientation as I’m still an undergraduate student, I received the most unfortunate news. The attendance policy states that all days of training are mandatory and compensation of missed days would be quite difficult. This meant I couldn’t attend the UA Global Summit, meet and network with new people, and experience new ideas and opinions. Not being able to see Ireland/Dublin in all its glory. Slowly but gradually, I did accept the fact, hoping one day I’ll be able to visit Ireland and the Undergraduate Awards.

Where Are They Now Wednesday: Kamarul Bin Mohamed Sapiee

Kamarul Bin Mohamed Sapiee from Nanyang Technological University who was a Highly Commended Entrant in the Visual Arts and Design Category in 2016 for his Paper titled “Hardhat”

Right after the UA Global Summit in November 2016 he had a video work commissioned by Google, the work was on display on a digital wall in their Asia-Pacific HQ office in Singapore. The work was titled “From 1 Billion To 1”.

“The Future is Already here..” article published on LinkedIn by Tolla Sloane Associate Art Consultant at Contemporary Art Society, discussing the detail, structure and experience of his work.


He graduated back in May, where he also created an artwork for the graduation show, titled “The Hue Space” which he was also Highly Commended for this year! He gave us a summary off what it was about.


‘The Hue Space is an interactive audiovisual installation that explores light in relation to human emotions. Presented in a full-dome projection space, this enclosed and immersive room invites visitors to experience unfamiliar and singular visual conditions. Through multiple combinations of sound and subtle gradual transition of colours, the work engenders unique and constantly evolving lighting tableaux. Inspired by the psychological influence of colours on human perception, visitors may find themselves constructing emotional responses and narratives during their experience.’

Here is a video documenting his work.


Where Are They Now Wednesday: Rewina Sahle Bedemariam

Rewina Sahle Bedemariam from Addis Ababa University was a Regional Winner for Africa and the Middle East in the Psychology category in 2016 for her paper “Sexual Identity Development and Faith Maturity of Ethiopian Homosexuals: Implications on Psychological Wellbeing.” She is currently working as a consumer psychologist and researcher at Cactus Communications. 

After winning in the Psychology category of The Undergraduate Awards in 2016 as the Regional Winner for Africa and the Middle East, Rewina has been a part-time lecturer of social psychology and health psychology at Addis Ababa University. In her spare time, she writes poetry and articles for “What’s Out” magazine. Rewina also had the opportunity to deliver a TEDx talk on issues of personality, self-labelling and the many dimensions of the self. Rewina writes,

My enduring romance with psychology and behavioural sciences began at an early age. I grew up with a curiosity to know about what motivates us, what makes us feel and act a certain way, how we make sense of reality, how we form concepts and how we create sense of self. 

Rewina is currently undertaking research on the traditional healers of Ethiopia and their perceptions of psychological disorders, and will soon be commencing her Master’s degree in Industrial/Organisational Psychology at the University of Valencia and the University of Coimbra as part of the EU’s Erasmus programme. Rewina chose this particular Master’s because:

The study of power dynamics in organisations, leadership and enhancing the lives of both the employee and the employer have been interesting to me since reading Baldassare Castiglione’s book of the courtier, a book which gave insight on work dynamics and behaviour of Renaissance court life. As such, applying principles of psychology to the corporate world in its modern form fascinates me.

Rewina describes her experience of The Undergraduate Awards as a Highly Commended Entrant and Regional Winner as “phenomenal” and emphasises that all of her hard work on her research paper was worth it for the prize of an Undergraduate Award. Best of luck in your Master’s Rewina, we can’t wait to see what you do next!

Where Are They Now Wednesday: Ilpo Hirvonen

Ilpo Hirvonen from the University of Helsinki was a Global Winner in 2016 in the Philosophy category for his paper “On the Interrelation between Phenomenology and Externalism.” He is currently studying for his master’s degree, also at the University of Helsinki. 

After winning in the Philosophy category of The Undergraduate Awards in 2016 with an essay based on his undergraduate thesis, Ilpo’s award was featured extensively in the Finnish press. These articles also gave him an opportunity to further discuss his dedication to the study of philosophy. Speaking to Helsingin Sanomat about how a better understanding of philosophy might improve public discourse, Ilpo, citing the recent US presidential election as an example, said:

Logic, which is one of the fields of philosophy, would be useful for the rationality and argumentation of public rhetoric. For example, often in the social debate, conclusions are drawn without premises.

Ilpo is currently working on his postgraduate thesis at the University of Helsinki. This thesis builds upon ideas explored in his undergraduate work. Ilpo tells us,

I am trying to understand the complex connections between Husserlian phenomenology (a philosophical method and school of thought founded by Edmund Husserl in the early 20th century) and realism (the idea that there is a mind-independent reality), which is something I am most directly addressing in my master’s thesis. I am hoping to broaden my research and eventually take it to the post-graduate level in a PhD program.

In his spare time, Ilpo – a self-described avid film enthusiast – is working to grasp “the essence of the seventh art” in his blog, essence of film, which offers fascinating discussions on cinema from a philosophical approach. We would highly recommend this excellent blog to anyone interested in cinema. Best of luck with your master’s thesis, Ilpo!

Hello From UA: Announcing the 2017 Global Winners, 2018 Programme dates, and more!

As the Judging Process enters its final stage, our 2017 Global Winners will be announced next Tuesday, 19th September on our website and social media, so remember to watch this space!

We would also like to take this opportunity and congratulate all of the brilliant 2017 Highly Commended Entrants once again. As a Highly Commended Entrant of The Undergraduate Awards, your work has now been identified as among the best undergraduate coursework globally, and we hope that this achievement will give you the confidence to realise your abilities and pursue your goals.

Furthermore, you are also now part of the UA Alumni Network, an international network of scholars and industry leaders which is designed to foster international collaboration between alumni and the sharing of ideas. Your works will also be featured on The Undergraduate Library, a new UA project which will offer students the chance to gain a wider audience for their work, and also browse a directory of other exceptional coursework.

You can find out more about what it means to be Highly Commended by The Undergraduate Awards here.

This year, The Undergraduate Awards has received a record number of 6,432 submissions from 299 institutions in 47 countries62% of submissions came from students who identify as female, 35% from students who identify as male and 3% prefer not to disclose. In 20 of the 25 categories, there were more submissions from female students.

In 2017, the top 5 largest categories in The Undergraduate Awards are Literature (724), Psychology (573), Politics & International Relations (441), History (425), and Social Sciences: Anthropology & Cultural Studies (381)Literature was also our most diverse category with submissions from 92 different institutions from all 7 regions.

With such a large submission pool, our Judging Panels have hard at work all summer to assess all the papers, and we would like to thank them for their time and efforts. It has been a long journey, and we are very excited to share the news with everyone!

You can find out more about the 2017 Programme here.

And don’t forget, the 2018 Undergraduate Awards Programme is now open for submissions! If you have graduated in 2017 or are graduating in 2018 & 2019, you are eligible to submit! So why not step into the spotlight and earn international recognition for all the hard works you have done?

Read more about our Submission Guidelines or submit/register here.

Where Are They Now Wednesday: Samantha Gordine

Samantha Grodine from the University of St Andrews was a 2013 Highly Commended Entrant in the Life Sciences category with her paper ‘Extracting drift rates from compressed dive profiles by using a step-wise filtering method’.

Since attending the 2013 UA Global Summit (which she described as “one of the best experiences in my life”), Samantha has been keeping busy. A revised version of her Highly Commended paper was published in the Journal of the Experimental Biology in 2015. The paper also formed the basis of Samantha’s first PhD research chapter. Earlier this year, she defended her thesis, and after some very hard work in the past three and half year, Samantha can now proudly call her self a Doctor!

Talking about the time working on her PhD, Samantha said:

Whilst working on my PhD I have been fortunate in having been supported by so many friends, many of whom I first met at the Global Summit in 2013. Whether it was for conference purposes or pure leisure, I tried to meet up with my UA alumni friends whenever I could. From visiting Anneloes Hoff at her alma mater in Middelburg or at her new home institution in Oxford; introducing Anshuman Pal to carnival in Cologne and hiking with him through Maiella National Park this summer, or flying all the way to Canada to master the art of wearing a saree for Thineshan Kathirchelvan’s glorious wedding in 2016. I could not have made it without you!

This year has been a new beginning for Samantha. In March, she underwent a medical procedure called Collagen Crosslinking to halt the further progression of her corneal degenerative disease Keratoconus. “This treatment needs repeating every 7-10 years, and I underwent Crosslinking before I started my undergrad in 2009. So I quite literarily started the first half of my year with a fresh new outlook on life”, Samantha commented.

It has been almost four years since she first came to Dublin, and now Samantha is here again, in “lovely Dublin” working for The Undergraduate Awards. We are absolutely over the moon to have her with us!

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