The UA Blog

University of California, Berkeley ranks among world’s top six universities

We are delighted to hear that our Partner Institution, University of California, Berkeley, has once again joined five other world universities in a cluster known as the “elite six”.

The newly released Times Higher Education World Reputation Rankings 2017 placed Berkeley sixth, after Harvard, MIT, Stanford, Cambridge, and Oxford. The reputation rankings are based on a survey of more than 10,000 academics worldwide and this is the seventh time Berkeley has placed in the “elite six.” The reputation rankings are separate from THE‘s annual World University Rankings, which come out in the fall.

Berkeley became a Partner Institution of The Undergraduate Awards in 2013 and since then they have had an active and enthusiastic involvement with the Programme. In the 2017 Programme, submissions from Berkeley increased by 26% more compared to 2016, placing them fourth on the Partners Leaderboard.

Previous Award Winner and Highly Commended Entrant from Berkeley included Ariel Hsian-Au Hsiung, who won the Human Rights category in 2011; and Matej Silecky, who was Highly Commended in the Gender Studies & Anthropology category in 2014 and recently formed a production company, Kitsune Tale Productions, LLC.

Ariel (Centre) receiving her medal at the 2011 UA Global Summit alongside fellow winners, Richard Sun (L) and David Molloy (R)

Where Are They Now Wednesday: Shelby Challis

Shelby Challis from the University of Toronto was a Highly Commended Entrant in the Social Science category for the 2014 Undergraduate Awards with her paper titled “The Macroeconomic and Socioeconomic Impact of the HIV/AIDS Epidemic in South Africa”.

A recent alumnus of the University of Toronto’s School of Public Policy and Governance where she completed her Master of Public Policy in 2016, Shelby was highly involved with the university’s publication and wrote several articles for them.

Her proudest piece was an article on the intersection between mental health and affordable housing, which you can read here. You can also check out her other articles here.

Outside of the university, Shelby is also busy travelling. She described her latest journey to Machu Picchu as “a trip of a lifetime”!

Since completing her Master, Shelby has worked as a Policy Advisor for Ontario’s Ministry of Municipal Affairs and the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care. Her policy area of interest includes healthcare finance and quality improvement, affordable housing and mental health and addiction.

Where Are They Now Wednesday: Killian Glynn and Where We Are Now Theatre Festival

Killian Glynn from the Institute Technology of Sligo was a Highly Commended Entrant in the Art History, Music, Film & Theatre category in the 2016 Undergraduate Awards, as well as our Campus Ambassador at IT Sligo for the academic year 2016/17.

Since then, Killian has been keeping busy with various projects. He is currently working on the Where Are We Now Theatre Festival which will open this Thursday, 8th June and run until Saturday, 10th June.

Discussing the inspiration behind the Festival, Killian said:

About three years ago, I had an idea to have a theatre event that was inclusive to the queer community within the northwest. It would be a staging of original writing and local directors and celebrate not just LGBT people in rural Ireland but both local and international artists. Where We Are Now is a festival by and about those who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, questioning and everything in between!

But I needed help, so I proposed the idea to The Rabbit’s Riot Theatre Company, a production company based in the north-west of Ireland that aims to create thought-provoking and emotive theatre using both established and new writing.

Where We Are Now is a project that seeks to recognize and give an on-stage voice to members of rural communities in the Irish north-west. It is the first collaboration of its kind between writers from across the globe and Irish directors and actors within Co. Sligo.

This is not just an opportunity to support theatre in Ireland, where funding has been cut drastically over the past few years, but LGBTQ+ theatre in a part of the country where it is sorely needed.

You can check out their full programme on their website here, or keep an eye out for them on Facebook and Twitter for any updates!

And if you are interested in Killian’s writing, you can check out his work in The Rose Magazine here.

We wish Killian all the best with the festival and hopefully, we can catch a show as well!

The Engineering category

Engineering has been a category at The Undergraduate Awards since its inaugural year.

The category is open to all students of Engineering, including those of Computer and Systems Engineering, Chemical Engineering, Electrical Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, Civil Engineering, Structural Engineering, Quantity Surveying, Construction, Built Environment and more.

Entries for this category must be within the 5,000-word limit and have received a 2.1/A grade.

In 2016, Sheng Rong Fang from Nanyang Technological University was the Global Winner of the category. His paper, titled “Development of Shape Memory Zirconia Particles and Powder Compacts“, was unanimously praised by the judges, who said:

It is an excellent and comprehensive piece of work. The submission presents the motivation and context of the work very clearly and the methodological rigour and effort undertaken were well noticed by all judges. The author has made attempts to develop a deep insight into the work and has summarised the findings clearly, while outlinging future works. As a piece of undergraduate research, it will continue to inspired.

Nikhil Jacob, the European Regional Winner of the Engineering category attended the UA Global Summit last November in Dublin, has some inspiring words to say about the experience.

With only 10 days left until the submission deadline for 2017, we look forward to reading all the new research in Engineering from undergraduate students around the globe.

If you are interested in submitting to the category, click here.

If you are interested in judging, click here.

Where Are They Now Wednesday: Padraig Conway

Padraig Conway from the National College of Arts & Design was a Highly Commended Entrant in 2014 in the Visual Arts category with his work titled “Online”. His work was also exhibited at “Aligned” as part of the 2015 Undergraduate Awards, which you can view here.

An established printmaker, Padraig has a passion for cultural heritage and the empowering capabilities of emerging technology and has been working on various projects. In 2016, he was invited to attend the World Archeological Congress 8 in Kyoto, Japan to present his paper, “Contemporary Expressions on the Nature of Megalithic Art”.

Most recently he completed a series of fine print works for the National Monuments Service/OPW which was on display at the Brú na Bóinne interpretive centre, New Grange, Co Meath, a UNESCO World Heritage site. The exhibition ended in February 2017.

The series, a scale edition of 14 unique art prints, was titled the “Cairn T Print Series”, based on the megalithic artworks located within Cairn T at the greater Loughcrew Cairns complex in County Meath. Talking about the inspiration behind his work, Padraig said:

Cairn T is most significant and notable for the fact that its inner chamber and the artwork of its backstone (C8) is illuminated on the Spring and Autumn equinoxes.

Researched by drawing and photography and designed with Adobe suite software including Photoshop and Illustrator. Created with the use of traditional printmaking techniques and the use of templates created with laser cut profile cutters. Crafted on Arches Reves, BFK, 100% cotton paper.

Below is a short animation by Padraig which illustrates the interaction of the equinoctial dawn sunlight with the petroglyphs on the Backstone ‘C8’ at Cairn T.


Padraig is looking to build on his experience with the use of 3D visualisation and spatial technologies in his future works, and we cannot wait to see what he will present next!

The Languages & Linguistics category

Languages & Linguistics was first judged as one category in The Undergraduate Awards in 2010.

The category is designed to incorporate students of all Languages and Linguistics disciplines, including Phonetics, Phonology, Sociolinguistics, Syntax and Pedagogy and more. Entries for this category must be within the 5,000-word limit and have received a 2.1/A grade.

Last year, Mary Wang from Western University was the Global Winner of the category with her paper titled “Does Developmental Social Pragmatic Intervention for Children With Autism Influence Parent Language Use?“. The judges praise the paper as “well written and carefully argued”, further commented that “it had all the elements that are necessary for a successful research article at any level”.

Speaking about her achievement, Mary commented

You can also listen to an interview with Mary on ‘Ontario Morning’, during which she explained the inspiration behind her research paper.

With the submission deadline getting closer, we are very excited to receive all the inventive research in the fields of Languages & Linguistics from undergraduate students from around the globe.

If you are interested in submitting to the category, click here.

If you are interested in judging, click here.

World’s Challenge Challenge Global Final to take place at Western University this May

Western University, a Partner Institution of the Undergraduate Awards, is partnering with some of the world’s best universities for the first international World’s Challenge Challenge in 2016-2017.

Students from participating partner universities will form diverse teams of three to bring ideas forward to address a global issue. Winning teams from each World’s Challenge Challenge partner institutions will present their solution at the Global Final at Western University, in May 2017, for a chance to win $30,000 (CAD). A second prize of $15,000 will also be available.

The World’s Challenge Challenge is an exciting way to engage in discussion and debate about world issues and to bring ideas from many different perspectives to the table. It also presents students with an opportunity to learn more about global issues or problem of interest to them; gain experience preparing and presenting compelling arguments in front of academic and community leaders, and make global connections with others who have a passion for changing the world.

Past winning projects from Western University

Partners institutions of the competition included the University of Alberta, University at Buffalo, Dalhousie University, University of Waterloo, Monash University, University of Otago, Radboud University, the University of Hong Kong and the University of British Columbia.

The finals will be live stream on May 31 from 9 am to 12:30 pm EST from the website here. To find out more about the competition and read more about this year’s Global Final, click here.

The Education category

The Education category has been in The Undergraduate Awards since its first year.

Students of all Education Theory and Practice disciplines, including Early Childhood Education, Adult Education, Philosophy of Education, History of Education and more are eligible to submit to the category.

Entries for this category must be within the 5,000-word limit and have received a 2.1/A grade.

The 2016 Global Winner of the Education category is Angelica Ng from Nanyang Technological University with her paper titled “Comparing Cyberbullying Perpetuation on Social Media Between Primary and Secondary School Students“. The judges commended the paper as “extremely well researched and well written”, saying:

The work was impressively organised, the literature review was both extensive and inclusive of recent studies in the field and the method of investigation was appropriate. The paper explored a major problem in schools – cyberbullying on social media – and reminded us of some strategies that, if implenmented, could negatively impact the continued perpetuation of cyberbullying.

Don’t forget, the deadline for submission this year is June 13th, and we look forward to reading new research in the fields of education from undergraduate students around the world.

If you are interested in submitting to the category, click here.

If you are interested in judging, click here.


Where Are They Now Wednesday: Charlotte Amrouche

Charlotte Amrouche from University College Dublin was a Regional Winner in 2016 in the Politics & International Relations category for her paper titled “Defining Violence Against Women as Terrorism”.

She was also a Highly Commended Entrant in the Gender Studies & Anthropology category in 2015.

Since then, she has been keeping herself busy with various projects. Charlotte is currently carrying out an independent research project on menstruation as part of her MA in Gender Studies at Utrecht University. Her research will focus on how “supportive, creative and empowering spaces can be created to discuss (and smash!) menstrual taboos“.

Charlotte will be putting her research into practice as she is organising an event for Menstrual Hygiene Day 2017 in Utrecht this coming Sunday, May 28th as the day is yet to be celebrated in the Netherlands. Speaking about the inspiration behind the event, Charlotte said:

The aim of the day is to raise awareness about the obstacles menstruators face, whilst also searching for solutions. I am very excited to bring the theoretical research that I collect into practice at the event.

I am passionate about menstrual activism and reusable menstrual products. Last month I organised a workshop at Utrecht University’s Green Office’s event on Sustainability and Activism. For this event I sourced samples of reusable pads, menstrual cups and sea sponges from an array of companies and demonstrated and provided information on this reusable options. It was a great event with a lot of positive feedback!

You can check out the event on Facebook here.

We wish Charlotte all the very best with her event and cannot wait to read her research!

The Economics category

Economics has been judged as a category in The Undergraduate Awards since its inaugural year.

Students of all Economics disciplines, including Econometrics, Urban Economics, Labour Economics and more are eligible to submit to the category. Entries for this category must be within the 5,000-word limit and have received a 2.1/A grade.

The Global Winner of the Economics category in 2016 is Danielle Dobos from Stanford University with her paper titled “Modelling the Impact of the Affordable Care Act on Labour Market Supply in the United States“. The paper receives high praises from the judges, who said:

Great papers in economics tackle important issues using new data and methods to figure out how to help solve these issues. This winning paper is a combination of all those three features… The paper is well written and executed and stood out in a field of very strong submissions.

With only three weeks left until the submission deadline, we look forward to reading all the new research from undergraduate students around the world for this year’s Economics category.

If you are interested in submitting to the category, click here.

If you are interested in judging, click here.

The Earth & Environmental Sciences category

Earth & Environmental Sciences have been judged together as a single category at The Undergraduate Awards since 2014.

The category is open to students of the natural environment and ecosystems disciplines, including students of Earth Science, Agriculture, Geography, Geology and more. Entries for this category must be within the 12,000-word limit and have received a 2.1/A grade.

(Note: students of Human Geography, please submit to Social Sciences: Anthropology & Cultural Studies category).

Last year, the category was won by Wayne Egan from the Institute Technology of Sligo with his paper “To Assess the Impact of the Bellawaddy River on the Microbiological Quality of The Bathing Waters of Enniscrone Beach, Co. Sligo, Ireland“. The judges were particularly impressed by the “balanced criticism and intellectual independence” shown in the paper, who said:

The paper, the clear winner after 3 rounds of judging, is a comprehensive scientific assessment of bathing water quality. In many ways the paper is a reference for how such a study should be conduct.

Speaking about his achievement, Wayne commented

Previous Highly Commended Entrant of the category included Jannelle Lee from the University of Alberta, who is currently pursuing a Masters of Environmental Studies in Planning at the University of Waterloo after completing an eight-month internship with the Aga Khan University in Nairobi, Kenya.

We are very excited to receive all the new innovative research from undergraduate students around the world for this year’s Earth & Environmental Sciences category.

If you are interested in submitting to the category, click here.

If you are interested in judging, click here.

Where Are They Now Wednesday: Janelle Lee

Janelle Lee from the University of Alberta was a Highly Commended Entrant in 2015 in the Social Sciences as well as the Earth & Environmental Sciences categories.

The last few years have been quite an adventure for Janelle! In 2015, she completed an eight-month internship with the Aga Khan University in Nairobi, Kenya, with her work focused on “using interactive theatre as a tool for urban youth engagement in East African cities and incorporating young people’s perspectives into policy development”. She also travelled to Turkana County in northern Kenya to conduct stakeholder interviews on oil development in the region and to investigate challenges and opportunities associated with resource development.

After returning from Kenya, Janelle worked in the Boreal Forest near Peace River (located in northern Alberta) for four months doing field work, learning how to do basic moss identification and worked with a team to collect tree and shrub data to study forest management practices.

At the moment, Janelle is enjoying the freedom of grad school and being able to craft her own research, pursuing a Masters of Environmental Studies in Planning at the University of Waterloo. Outside of school, most of her time is dedicated to rock climbing which she started taking up earlier this year and thoroughly enjoyed the physical and mental challenge of it.

Talking about her future plan, Janelle said:

This summer, I will be traveling to Mexico City for an internship and to conduct my thesis research, both of which will deal with informal transportation systems and transportation planning in developing countries. For anyone in the UA community that is based in or near Mexico City, feel free to get in touch!

We wish Janelle all the best with her research and can’t wait to read more of her works!

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