The UA Blog

Where Are They Now Wednesday: Robin Trenbath

Robin Trenbath, from the University of Manchester, was Highly Commended in 2016 for his paper “Bordering and Ordering: A Discursive Analysis of Power in Public Space”.

After submitting to The Undergraduate Awards, Robin Trenbath graduated with a 1st Class Honours Degree in Politics and Modern History from the University of Manchester, where he was awarded the Edwards & Hooson Prize for outstanding dissertation in social responsibility. His research was also published in an international peer-reviewed journal, Political Perspectives, and he was shortlisted Best Speaker at the British Conference of Undergraduate Research. One of his most memorable experiences at undergraduate level was contributing to the Manchester Refugee Support Network heritage project, for which he collected oral histories of Bosnian refugees who fled violence caused by the disintegration of Yugoslavia in the 1990’s.

Following this, Robin completed an MSc in Comparative Social Policy at the University of Oxford and moved to Bogotá, Colombia, where in the midst of the country’s transition from conflict he has been brushing up on his Spanish and working as an independent International Consultant for various United Nations System agencies and INGOs in topics such as gender equality and business development. He hopes to build on this experience through a practical and evidence-based application of value chain development to post-conflict contexts, thereby achieving the interconnected and mutually dependent goals of peacebuilding and inclusive economic growth. In time, he would like to complete a PhD in this topic, but isn’t in a rush!

Since arriving in Latin America, he has been fortunate to travel to Panamá, Peru, Brazil, Argentina and Paraguay for both business and pleasure, and has plans to explore many countries besides. He also enjoys playing football, often finding that his Welsh style of play is no match for the much more skilful Colombians around him, and learning about the music and culture of his adopted home.

To get to this point, Robin took an unusual path. Having left school early and worked for several years in the healthcare sector supporting adults and children with disabilities, before teaching himself high school qualifications in his mid-20’s, he appreciates the kind of trajectory-changing experience that education can be. He also understands profoundly the kinds of opportunities that The Undergraduate Awards can bring. Robin recounts his experience with fond memories and gives his advice to undergraduates in the position to submit their work this year;

It might be daunting to share your ideas and writing, especially on a global scale, but submitting an essay to The Undergraduate Awards pushed me to have confidence in my ideas. Doing so – and being recognised for doing so – is an exercise that is very much worth the pain!

If you would like to find out how to submit to this year’s Undergraduate Awards click here.

 

Category Spotlight: Computer Sciences

The Computer Sciences category has been in The Undergraduate Awards since its inaugural year.

Students of all Computer Sciences disciplines, including Computer Systems, Coding Languages, Information Technology, Artificial Intelligence and more are eligible to submit works to the category.

Entries for the category must be within the 12,000-word limit and have received at least a 2.1/A- grade.


In 2016, the category was won by Tomas Higgins from the Dublin Institute of Technology. His paper, titled “Identifying Mood by Analysing Keystroke Dynamics”, highly impressed the Judging Panel, who commented:

This paper paves the way for novel societal contribution in the field of Computer Sciences by analysing how IT systems might be able to recognise human moods. It provides an excellent and accessible discourse on the author’s research motivation, hypothesis and evaluation. The judging panel chose this excellent paper, not simply for its own merit, but also because it demonstrates a method through which technology could be put to use to achieve individual and societal benefits.

 

Dinh Luan Nguyen from Vietnam National University, Ho Chi Minh, won the award in 2017 for his paper “Deep Convolutional Neural Network In Deformable Part Models For Face Detection”,which is a fascinating read.

We are very excited to receiving submissions for this year’s Computer Sciences category and reading innovative research from undergraduate students around the world.

 

 

If you would like to find out how to submit to The Undergraduate Awards 2018 click here.

If you would like to read any of the Global Winners or Highly Commended papers go to The Undergraduate Awards Library.

Category Spotlight: Architecture & Design

A jewellery design by Chloe Lewis from University of Dundee. Chloe was the Europe Regional Winner of Visual Arts and Design, 2016

The Architecture & Design category was first introduced at The Undergraduate Awards 2017.

Previously, students with work related to design could submit to the Visual Arts & Design category (now Visual Arts) but there was little opportunity for students of Architecture to submit to The Undergraduate Awards. We introduced this category to celebrate the work of students studying courses such as Architecture, Construction, Environmental Design, Interior Architecture, Landscape Architecture, Design, Product Design etc.

Barry Sheehan from Dublin Institute of Technology, Chair of the Visual Arts & Design 2016 has commented that:

Architecture thrives on competitions, it is how most architects establish themselves in the profession. Winning is habit-forming and entering competitions as early as possible is essential.

Architecture & Design is a portfolio-based category. Entrants can submit up to 10 images and an accompanying statement of between 300 and  1,500 words explaining their work. Submissions to this category do not need an abstract.

If you would like to find out how to submit to The Undergraduate Awards 2018 click here.

If you would like to read any of the Global Winners or Highly Commended papers go to The Undergraduate Awards Library.

Judging Chair Spotlight: Danné Ojeda (Visual Arts Category)

This year we are welcoming back Danné Ojeda as Judging Chair of the Visual Arts category.

Danné Ojeda is Associate Professor in the School of Art, Design and Media at Nanyang Technological University, Singapore. Danné Ojeda’ s work engages contemporary communication design, art practice and theory. She was a UNESCO research fellow at the Jan van Eyck Academy, Institute for Research and Production in Fine Art, Graphic Design and Theory, Maastricht, NL. In 2003, she founded d-file Graphic Design Studio in Amsterdam, from which she has mainly worked for and collaborated with cultural institutions that include the Singapore Art Museum (SAM), the Centre for Contemporary Art Singapore, the National Institute of Fine Arts, Mexico, among others. Danné has published, lectured on and curated exhibitions related to contemporary art and design. Her design works have been recognised with the Good Design Award (USA), Red Dot Design Award: Communication Design (DE), A’ Design Award (IT), among others. Her complete publications and exhibition design oeuvre commissioned by the Singapore Art Museum (SAM) was awarded with Asia’s Top Designers Award, Singapore Design Award 2014.

Where Are They Now Wednesday: Kyra Reynolds

Kyra Reynolds was the Global Winner of the Agriculture and Environmental Sciences category of  The Undergraduate Awards(UA) 2013 with her paper on the history of ice sheets in Scotland thousands of years ago, “Fact or Fiction?- Debating Ice Sheet Existence in Scotland during the Windermere (Lateglacial) Interstadial”. This paper highlights the potential lessons to be learned in relation to the impacts of climate change now and in the future, through analysing the past.

When Kyra submitted to UA in 2013, she had just completed a BSc. degree in Geography at the School of Geography and Environmental Sciences, based in Ulster University. Given the topic of her winning paper, it might be somewhat surprising to learn that Kyra’s area of specialism is actually in the arena of Human Geography. Since winning her award at UA, Kyra has undertaken a PhD study exploring the conflict in Israel-Palestine, which involved conducting fieldwork in East Jerusalem and the West Bank. She successfully graduated from her PhD in December 2017, having gained valuable insights, experiences and international publications. 

Kyra completed her PhD in the same school and university department at Ulster University where she studied for her undergraduate degree, having fallen in love with the subject and the working environment. She has recently taken up a job in local government, working as part of the three-person management team for implementing the EU funded PEACE IV Project in the Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council in Northern Ireland. The borough-wide programme, which involves funding of approximately £3.5 million, aims to further improve relations between conflicting groups, thus locally progressing the peace process that began in Northern Ireland in 1998. Kyra explains her commitment to occupations with a global responsibility to us;

I’m interested in all things humanitarian and sociological and am always keen to emphasise the importance of doing work that has a real and meaningful positive impact upon people’s lives rather than simply doing things for economic and personal gain.

Kyra hopes to continue to be able to do a diverse array of things in the coming years to make a contribution to our currently troubled world.

If you would like to find out how to submit to this year’s Undergraduate Awards click here.

Is Your Work Eligible for The Undergraduate Awards 2018?

We here at The Undergraduate Awards(UA) recognise that there are distinct lack of awards programmes for undergraduate students. We know how much blood, sweat and tears go into your assignments and we’re here so that you can have the opportunity to earn global recognition for outstanding coursework that would have fallen by the wayside as you progress into postgraduate studies and your respective careers.

If you are in the undergraduate class of 2017, 2018 or 2019 you are off to a good start! We accept work from recent graduates, penultimate and final year students across no less than 25 categories so you are bound to find one that best suits your coursework!

Are you now thinking ‘well I’ve submitted to The Undergraduate Awards before’? Not a problem! As long as you continue to be eligible, you can submit across multiple years. We strongly encourage 2017 graduates to submit again this year, it’s your last opportunity and the process couldn’t be easier. If you’ve entered the competition before, you’ll know that all we ask for is coursework you’ve already completed as part of your degree. You can submit up to three papers or projects into one, two or three of our 25 categories. The only criteria are the word count which can be found for each category here and that the paper received a II.1/A-Grade or higher.

Finally, you need to take several small steps to ensure your work makes it through our screening process so it can be seen by our panel of judges.

  • Write an abstract: Abstracts should be between 100-300 words long and give a brief overview of your work. Check our our UA Library to see examples from past winners.
  • Anonymise your work: Redact all information that reveals your identity (Your Name/Student Number, Your Institution’s Name, Your Lecturer’s Name, Your Module or Course Name, Your Course/Module Code etc).
  • Ensure your work meets the word count requirements: Minimum word count for all categories except Visual Arts and Architecture & Design is 2,500. Maximum word count differs by category with a 10% leeway on the upper limit.

Now all you have to do is submit before our deadline on June 12!

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What are the perks?

As a winner, you are recognised as one of the most impressive students in your field; you become part of our alumni network; your winning paper is published in our academic journal; and you receive a ticket to the Global Undergraduate Summit 2018 in Dublin. Shortlisted students who are in the top 10% are also recognised for their excellence. They will receive a certificate for their research and are eligible to purchase a ticket for the summit, along with becoming members of the UA Alumni network.

 

The Benefits of Submitting Your Work to The Undergraduate Awards

Classical Studies and Archaeology Global Winner Melanie Hechenberger of Monash University, recounts her experience at The Undergraduate Awards 2017 and the opportunities the programme has afforded her.

Being an undergraduate student nearing the end of your degree can be an unsettling experience. Doubts haunt the mind… What do good grades really count for? How does my work compare with that of students’ outside my institution who I will be competing with for job opportunities? Am I good enough to do postgraduate studies? Is there any point in continuing due to the restrictive job market? Many students with amazing potential have fallen by the wayside due to these doubts. This is why programs such as the Undergraduate Awards (UA) are so important! They are life changers and I can say that with certainty as UA changed my life.

I, too, was plagued by such doubts, but UA gave me an opportunity to answer some of my questions, the most important being: “how does my work compare with that of other students outside my institution.” Being an UA Highly Commended entrant back in 2015 inspired me to continue on with my studies, and I wouldn’t be doing my research Masters and pushing for a career in academia now without that boost in confidence that UA brought me.

So why should you submit your work to UA?

  • To boost your confidence. You don’t have to be a Global Winner to achieve this outcome. Just knowing that your work is ranked among the top 10% in your area as a Highly Commended entrant is enough. It’s an incredible feeling to have an expert look at your work, without any idea of who you are and where you come from, and deem it to be exceptional. The fact that UA celebrates the achievements of the top 10% of students is one of the aspects I love most about the program and make it stand out from other undergraduate awards that only acknowledge one or two people. That being said, if you don’t make it into the top 10% the first time around don’t lose heart! A good friend of mine didn’t make it through the first time either, but he did the second time and he was a regional winner the third time. Never underestimate the power of the three P’s: Patience, Persistence and Perseverance.
  • To boost your CV and network. Having been successful in an international awards program can certainly make your CV stand out from the crowd. Attending the UA global summit (which everyone in the top 10% are invited to do) and networking with people from across the globe and disciplines is a wonderful second addition to that all-important document. And for those who are not able to attend the summit, you can still connect with other successful entrants—not only from your year, but past and future years—through the UA alumni network, which you automatically become a part of when you make it into the top 10%. Every year more outstanding students join the UA alumni network and it’s exciting to think of what future collaborations may come out of this global network of talented people, which you could be a part of.
  • IT’S SO EASY TO ENTER! You’ve already done the majority of the work. All you need to do is tidy up one of your A-grade (or equivalent) pieces of work, make it anonymous and write an abstract. It is FREE to enter too! What is also fantastic is that you get to do something with that great piece of work that you’ve already spent so much time on. And for those contemplating a career in academia, there is never a better time than the present to start honing your abstract writing skills.

Give yourself a chance. You’ve got to be in it to win it, and in the words of Robert Kiyosaki: “Don’t let the fear of losing be greater than the excitement of winning.”

 

Judging Chair Spotlight: James S. Etim (Education Category)

We are delighted to have Professor James S. Etim as the Judging Chair for the Education category again this year.

 

Dr. James S. Etim is a Professor of Education at Winston-Salem State University in North Carolina, USA.  His research interests are in four broad areas- English Language Arts in the Middle years, gender and education, teaching strategies and education across cultures. He has  authored  one book and  been editor or co-editor of seven books in the fields of education, gender studies and literacy. He has more than 50 journal articles and book chapters in both national and international journals. James is also on the Editorial Board of three journals and a reviewer for several journals.

Professor Etim holds a Ph.D in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Wyoming, Laramie. He  has received two Fulbright Senior Specialist Awards that allowed him to travel and work with colleagues at Obafemi Awolowo University in Nigeria and the Polytechnic of Namibia. In 2017, he received a Carnegie African Diaspora Fellowship Award that allowed him to work with faculty and doctoral students at the University of Jos, Nigeria. He has also been a Co-PI of a National Science Foundation Grant 2013-2016.

Every year UA invites cross-disciplinary and cross- cultural esteemed academics to the world’s largest virtual academic judging process.
 If you are interested in becoming a judge for UA 2018, please email judging@undergraduateawards.com or complete this form.

Category Spotlight: Education

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 implemented, could negatively impact the continued perpetuation of cyberbullying.

The 2014 Global Winner was Megan Turner from St. Mary’s University College Belfast with her paper “”Mind and Memory, Understanding and Delight”. Views of Literature and Memory in Education”. This paper discusses the educational reforms introduced to the UK in 2014 by then Secretary of State for Education, Michael Gove, and how they have polarised educators, particularly in regards to the topic of memorisation. To develop a deeper understanding of the role of memorisation in education in earlier decades, a range of people were surveyed about their own experiences of rote learning in education in the past 40 -50 years. Finally, individual interviews were conducted to gain deeper insight into those experiences to determine the personal experiences of those who were asked to memorise literary passages.

Don’t forget, the deadline for submission this year is June 12th, and we look forward to reading new research in the fields of education from undergraduate students around the world.

If you would like to find out how to submit to The Undergraduate Awards 2018 click here.

If you would like to read any of the Global Winners or Highly Commended papers go to The Undergraduate Awards Library.

Where Are They Now Wednesday: Maija Absetz

Maija Absetz, from the University of Helsinki, was Highly Commended in the History category in2016 for her paper: “Statistics as a rhetorical mode – The Meaning and Use of Statistics in the English 1834 Poor Law Amendment Act”

Maija still lives in Helsinki, Finland and started her Master’s programme in History last year. She will graduate next year but before that she has an adventure before her: she will study Russian linguistics and culture at the Kazan Federal University in Tatarstan, Russia for half a year.

“The best thing you can learn from studying at the university is what to do with all the freedom and responsibility. I love to organise my days, set goals, and pursue them. It takes a lot of self-discipline to study and work but it requires even more to manage your schedules so that you also have time for the other important things in life: seeing friends and dancing to your hearts content. I hope to use these skills after graduation as well.”

Right now she is studying Russian linguistics and writing her Master’s thesis on Finnish unemployment legislation in the 1980’s. They are sort of “modern poor laws”, a theme she already studied in her Bachelor’s thesis. Although the era and country have changed, the topics and themes of interests are the same: how do policymakers justify their decisions concerning the unemployed. Maija is very grateful for the opportunities afforded to her after participating in The Undergraduate Awards.

“Power, moral and fairness are still themes that intrigue me. Writing my dissertation, which I sent to the Undergraduate Awards(UA) 2016, made me realise that I enjoy doing research. Because of the award I received from UA, I was able to publish my text in a Finnish web journal and it has probably helped me get a few study grants.”

After the UA experience she finished her Bachelor’s Degree and worked as a trainee for six months at a Military Museum operated by the Finnish National Defence Forces. By giving daily guided tours about the military history of Finland, both in English and in Finnish, she learned the skill of popularising science. Although she is heading for an academic career, she believes it to be crucial not only to find out complicated interconnections between historical phenomena but also to learn to explain them to whomever –  a professor, a PhD student or a schoolgirl.

If you would like to find out how to submit to this year’s Undergraduate Awards click here.

Category Spotlight: Economics

This category is for students of Economics, including Econometrics, Urban Economics, Labour Economics etc.

Entrants must submit an abstract of between 100-300 words long.

Word Count: 2,500 – 5,000


 

The following papers from the Economics category all exemplify the core message at the heart of The Undergraduate Awards ‘ know your worth, know your responsibility”. All three papers from 2017 highlight how economic innovation can be utilised to solve some of societies greatest problems.

Global Winner of Economics 2017, Daniel Cueva from University of Birmingham submitted a paper called “An Econometric Analysis Of The Fundamental Determinants Of Economic Development In Latin America”. This essay analyses determinants such as Geography, institutions and economic integration  and finds that cross0-country differences in institutional and geographical factors account to a large extent for the differences in economic development observed among Latin American countries. The study concludes that both geography and institutions play a substantial role in the economic development of Latin American countries.

Daniel Cueva at The Undergraduate  Global Summit 2017

According to the judging panel:

This is a truly excellent paper. It shows application and understanding at a level beyond what is normally seen by an undergraduate. It is both topical and insightful.

Daniel Cueva graduated from the University of Birmingham with a First-Class Honours Degree in Economics and is currently an Intern at the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation under the supervision of Dr. Shyam Upadhyaya, the Chief Statistician. Daniel’s research on economic development in Latin America was awarded distinction by the Department of Economics at the University of Birmingham and was among the five finalists at the UK Data Service’s Dissertation Prize 2017. Daniel expects to pursue postgraduate studies and research in Economics in Fall 2018.

2017 had a plethora of high quality papers in the Economics category, American University of Sharjah student  Saif Alhammadi’s  Highly Commended paper ” On the Impact of Oil Prices On the Real Exchange Rate in Oil-Exporting Countries” was one such example. The paper explores the relationship between the real oil price and the real exchange rate in predominantly oil-exporting countries (including Saudi Arabia, Mexico, Indonesia, And Venezuela) from 1995 to 2014. The paper controls for the effects of GDP growth, inflation, government spending growth and trade balance ratio and finds that real oil prices a notable amount.

 

The paper focuses on oil-dependent emerging economics that are more susceptible to exchange rate volatility than advanced economies. The exchange rate volatility risk comes in the form of higher costs of maintaining a fixed exchange rate regime (such as with Saudi Arabia) and prohibitively high prices of imports (such as with Venezuela).

 

Another Highly Commended paper from 2017 was  ” Do Some Occupations have Different Returns To Human Capital”, submitted by Michael Stanley of The Open University. The project examines whether different occupations have different rates of return to human capital. The paper also examines the economic theory pioneered by Mincer and Becker that suggests investment in human capital through education and experience leads to higher wages. An econometric analysis of labour market data is conducted, examining the extent to which an individuals occupation influences the returns that one can receive to human capital investments and whether the rate of human capital depletion varies between individuals in different occupational categories.

If you would like to find out how to submit to The Undergraduate Awards 2018 click here.

If you would like to read any of the Global Winners or Highly Commended papers go to The Undergraduate Awards Library.

Judging Chair Spotlight: Andrea Nanetti (History category)

The Undergraduate Awards are delighted to have Dr. Andrea Nanetti back as the Judging Chair of the History Category this year.

Dr. Nanetti received his education in Historical Sciences in Italy (Bologna), France (Paris-Sorbonne), Germany (Köln), Greece (National Hellenic Research Foundation), and USA (Brown University), focusing on Medieval and Renaissance Studies, within a wide interdisciplinary approach that combined humanities (history, palaeography, philology, archival and library studies) with physics and computational data science.

Since 1996, he has published 20 multilingual books (13 single authored, present in distinguished libraries around the world), 2 edited journals, and over 70 essays in scientific journals and books in English, Italian, Chinese, Spanish and Modern Greek on intercontinental trade-conflict-diplomacy relationships (Afro-Eurasia ca. 1100-1500), national art-heritage-politics relationships (Italy, Greece, and China 19th-20th centuries), territorial man-heritage-landscape systems (Imola 403-1789, and Venetian Messenia 1209-1500 & 1684-1718), and, more recently, cultural and biological heritage systems in human interpretation of the external world (seen as artificial intelligence amplification ante litteram). Dr. Nanetti is currently playing multiple editorial roles including the ‘Committee for the Publication of the Sources for the History of Venice’ since 2000. He was the Founding Co-Chair of the Singapore Heritage Science Conference series (2014-) and a member of numerous Conference Committees including the ‘International Conference on Culture and Computing’, VSMM, SOTICS, and CCS.

Since 2013, he serves Nanyang Technological University Singapore as Associate Professor and Associate Chair (Research) at the School of Art, Design and Media with a courtesy appointment in the School of Humanities (History Programme), Senior Research Team Member of the Complexity Institute, and Faculty Member of the University Scholarly Program. He also serves as Vice-Director of the International Research Centre for Architectural Heritage Conservation at Shanghai JiaoTong University, member of the College of Professors of the graduate School of Architecture at the University of Florence, and in the Board of Directors of the Maniatakeion Foundation.

Every year UA invites cross-disciplinary and cross- cultural esteemed academics to the world’s largest virtual academic judging process.
 If you are interested in becoming a judge for UA 2018, please email judging@undergraduateawards.com or complete this form.
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