The UA Blog

Western Researchers Discover Humans Are Seen As ‘Super Predators’

A new study by Western researchers has shown that smaller carnivores perceive humans to be far more frightening than larger animals like bears and wolves. Liana Zanette and Michael Clinchy from Western’s Faculty of Science worked in collaboration with British biologist David Macdonald from University of Oxford’s Wildlife Conservation Research Unit and others. In the course of their research, they confirmed that smaller carnivores have learned to fear humans as a ‘super predator’ far more than their traditional enemies.

Zanette observes that the fear large carnivores inspire can shape ecosystems, meaning this learned fear of humans have important implications for conservation, wildlife management and public policy. Large carnivores help maintain healthy ecosystems by frightening prey and preventing their smaller counterparts eating everything in sight. Thus, the shrinking of this ‘landscape of fear’ adds to conservation concerns about the loss of large carnivores.


The team conducted the study on European badgers in Wytham Woods, just outside of Oxford. They played badgers the sounds of bears, wolves, dogs and humans in their natural habitat and filmed their responses using hidden cameras and speakers. Hearing the bears and dogs had some effect but simply hearing the sounds of humans speaking in conversation prevented most badgers from feeding entirely and dramatically reduced the feeding times of the few others who did emerge.

Where Are They Now Wednesday: Bruna Pearson

Meet Bruna Pearson who was Highly Commended in the 2015 Computer Sciences category with the paper ‘Real-time Computer Vision – Using Visual Saliency for Monocular Guidance in Mobile Robots’:

“I just completed my masters in computer science where I had the opportunity to investigate “3D Scene Mapping and Navigation Using Multi Collaborative Robots”. Since I really enjoy doing my degree at Durham, I have decided to read a PhD here as well, where I have been successfully funded by the EPSRC (Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council). I will be looking at “3D mapping using UAV imagery and structure from motion photogrammetry”. This project will involve the use of a low-cost Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) to autonomously retrieve imagery data where by Structure from Motion (SfM) will be performed in order to produce a 3D scene mapping of the surveyed area.

Our aim is to address the issues present in traditional geo-technical aerial surveying techniques which are expensive, time-consuming and require significant user expertise in order to rapidly produce an environment mapping of sufficient quality. However, the applications for an autonomous navigation and surveying system for UAV can be extended from rescue mission in areas of difficult access to delivery of goods (see Amazon Prime). Apart from playing with robots and crunching algorithms, I work as a STEM ambassador and also support the #CodeFirstGirls initiative. Computers are my passion but I also love going out hiking, doing a bit of archery or just lying down in the grass to count the stars. Durham is a beautiful city and if one of you are passing by and would like to meet up, feel free to let me know!”

WORK/S: ‘Systematic Intervention’ by Jocelyn Lau

Jocelyn Lau submitted to The Undergraduate Awards from University of Connecticut, School of Fine Arts with her project ‘Systematic Intervention’. Her aim when exploring with her work is to challenge systems. She begins with the concept that society is regulated by guidelines which tell us when something is visually “right”. This idea of correct images includes elements such as straight lines and symmetry. Jocelyn believes that these guides create necessary structure but rules can also be broken and used as a means for expansion.

In order to interrupt systems, boundaries are needed so Jocelyn creates her own methodologies. For her, this can be done in simple ways such as corrupting images, repositioning dots and shifting objects as these acts “transform pieces far beyond their beginnings, yet leave marks of a former identity”. The principle behind this is that systematic intervention is a mode of meaningful creation.

jocelyn 2

Jocelyn Lau graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Communication Design from the University of Connecticut in 2015. She has a passion for typography and pattern design that revolves around conceptual and innovative thinking. She is currently pursuing a career in graphic design in New York City.

WORK/S: ‘Monument’ by Warren Tey

Warren Tey’s project entitled ‘Monument’ was submitted to The Undergraduate Awards from Nanyang Technological University, School of Art, Design and Media. His work was influenced by the different rituals around funerals depending on religion and beliefs in Singapore due to the multi-ethnic nature of society there. Warren believes that while the design of funerary home differs, generally the image of them has remained stagnant for decades while the number of non-religious people in Singapore is increasing rapidly. As such, the objective of his project was to design a visual identity for a fictional secular parlour to suit the changing needs and traditions of the funerary industry.

The two phrases Warren used in the development of his concept were ‘a beacon of light’ and ‘inspiring others through personal stories’. Inspiring other with storytelling is done through the use of Moment, a photo and memory book along with a thank you card to be shared during the funeral procession. Visitors at the funeral are encouraged to write down their own memories with the deceased in the book. The beacon of light is represented by the silver foil on the pages which allows light to be reflected on the text.

The project is called Monument because of the monumental story everyone leaves behind, and the idea that every life should be celebrated. The logo of Monument “plays with the hierarchy of type elements to create a visual double entendre so that viewers can read it either ‘monument’ or ‘moment’”. This is done in order to convey the idea that every moment shared with the deceased is monumental. The colour palette of dark grey, white and silver were selected to be timeless, and to represent the secular approach of the design. The exterior uses a dark grey stone texture with accents of silver and white on the inside which helps to achieve a transcendental effect for the viewers.

Warren Tey is a Visual Communication graduate from Nanyang Technological University, School of Art, Design and Media. He explores different ways of using graphics, and likes to experiment with materials in order to give his work an extra layer of sensory experience. Warren started designing in 2011 and won his first award, Behance Appreciation Award, in 2013. Motivated by this acheivement, he started designing more and his works have now been featured by IdN, Behance and viction:ary. See his full project images and find out more here

Astronomers Produce Largest Map of the Universe

An international team of astronomers – co-led by Dr. Rita Tojeiro from the University of St Andrews – have produced the largest-ever three-dimensional map of the universe. The creation of the map was done as a collaboration between hundreds of scientists from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey III (SDSS-III). It was then used to make one of the most precise measurements of the dark energy currently driving the accelerated expansion of the Universe.

The study took place over the course of a decade, measuring the positions of 1.2 million galaxies. It resulted in mapping the three-dimensional structure of the universe over a volume of 650 cubic billion light years. The measurements were carried out by the Baryon Oscillation Spectroscopic Survey program of the SDSS-III.

The record-breaking map allows astronomers to measure the expansion rate of the universe, and determine the amount of it made up of matter and dark energy. These measurements are made by determining the size of the baryonic acoustic oscillations (BAO) in the three-dimensional distributions of galaxies. The original BAO size is determined by pressure waves that travelled through the young universe up to when it was only 400,000 years old (the universe is now 13.8 billion years old), at which point they became frozen in the matter distribution of the universe. The end result is that galaxies are preferentially separated by a characteristic distance that astronomers call the acoustic scale. Measuring the distribution of galaxies from the time when pressure waves became frozen allows astronomers to reflect how dark matter and dark energy have competed to govern the rate of expansion of the universe.  

To measure the precise size of ancient waves, BOSS had to create an ambitious galaxy map. The map reveals the coherent movement of galaxies towards regions of the universe with more matter due to gravity. This supports the idea that the acceleration of the expansion rate is driven by a cosmic phenomenon such as dark energy.

WORK/S: ‘Optiprism’ by Sinead Purcell

Sinead Purcell submitted her project entitled ‘Optiprism’ to the Undergraduate Awards from the National College of Art and Design. The aim of this piece is to emphasise the changing nature of art, and how it is subject to fluctuating exterior conditions. As Sinead puts it, “artwork is not closed or static, it is a temporal situation requiring attention to the changeability of our surroundings”.

Her aim was to formalise the relationship between viewer and viewed in order to emphasise “a critical attitude towards normative processes of perception”. Sinead is interested in how people perceive a wide range of colours versus seeing things in monochrome which is unusual for the brain. She plays with the concept of the viewer interacting with colour in a space and how it impacts the perception of the situation. Sinead uses the two main colour systems of daily life – RGB and CMYK – to look at what happens between these colour systems, and the spectrum of colours that occur when the two systems intertwine.

She is also fascinated by how lines are “the epitome of movement and fluidity” with the straight line representing the most concise form of the potential for endless movement. Along with colour, lines make a strong impact on the human eye and her piece brings these two elements together. The project’s main aim is to emphasise that the fleeting moment must be experienced in order to be captured within the eye. The webs of colour combined generate new colours, changing the space and “creating chromatic variations that could endlessly repeat themselves without ever being exactly the same”.

Optiprism, Installation View 2

Optiprism, Installation View 2

Sinead is a Dublin based artist and designer. She graduated with a First Class Honours degree in Fine Art, Sculpture from NCAD in 2015. She is currently working in theatre, having recently completed a nationwide tour as a design assistant, and lighting and sound operator for Zac Entertainment Group. Find out more and see her work here.

WORK/S: ‘Liberetto’ by Emily Copeland

Today’s artist in focus is Emily Copeland, looking at her work entitled ‘Libretto’ for the UA WORK/S Exhibition. Emily submitted to the Undergraduate Awards from Western University where she completed her Honors Specialization in a Bachelors of Fine Arts. As a visual artist from Canada, she focuses on realism and mainly works with charcoal to recreate objects on a larger scale.

Emily used digital photography and Photoshop to generate her images as she says that photos are always her first step for inspiration when creating new work. She then draws the images on a large scale in charcoal. For this piece, the objects used include poker chips, books, wood, clothing, and teacups. Emily cites several influences on her own work from Baroque era artists such as Caravaggio, La Tour, and Velazquez to modern creators like CJ Hendry, DiegoKoi, and Karel Funk.





Emily Copeland is now represented by the prestigious Bernarducci Meisel Gallery in New York City which focuses on contemporary realist art. Find out more about her submission and see her work in detail here.

Western Researchers Examine Unique Needs of Youth in Mental Health Treatment

Researchers from Western University and the Lawson Health Research Institute have been looking into the importance of youth-focused mental health programmes. They have become increasingly aware that adolescents with mental health concerns can often require different forms of treatment to those used with adults.

This has emerged partially after a study examined the experiences of youth at London Health Sciences Centre in Ontario. They were attending London’s First Episode Mood and Anxiety Program (FEMAP), an innovative program with an open door model for young people affected by mood and anxiety concerns. It’s set up in such a way that they can get the right care without a doctor referral.

The team of researchers at Western were led by Dr. Elizabeth Osuch, Associate Professor in the department of Psychiatry at the Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry. They looked at the needs of young adults in treatment, and what is difficult or challenging for them with the view to tailoring the FEMAP program. The basic principle is finding out from the people being treated what they find helpful for their mental health.

The results showed that young adults identified therapy or talking and medication as both the most beneficial and most challenging aspects. Dr. Osuch said that it’s a rich finding to see that the most difficult thing “is also where your power is”. The team also discovered that females and males discussed the treatment process differently. Females identified “talking” as most helpful while males referred to “therapy” as the most beneficial contributor towards recovery. The feedback from the researchers is that the language used could be tailored towards the needs of the person. “Personal accountability” was consistently identified as one of the most challenging elements. The first author of the study, Carolyn Summerhurst believes this is important as it helps clinicians know that they must prepare young people to “play a big role in their own recovery” rather than taking a more passive approach.

The Undergraduate Awards:

The needs of young people is always important to the team here at UA, and it’s wonderful to see important research like this coming out of Partner universities like Western. We’re looking forward to meeting the 2016 entrants to our awards who are creating interesting research of their own, many of them at a relatively young age in their academic careers. Congratulations to everyone who got their submissions in before the deadline. The judging process is now underway and we look forward to contacting those with successful entries to the competition at the end of the summer!

KAU Students Win International Prizes for Scientific Breakthrough

Students from King Abdulaziz University who made an international scientific breakthrough and won several prizes and medals at the Geneva International Creation Exhibition 2016 visited the Emir of Makkah Region last week. The successful students were accompanied by KAU President, Prof. Abdulrahman Al Youbi. They visited HRH Prince Khalid Al Faysal, the Advisory to the Custodian of two mosques, who gave out certificates to the winning students of the awards.

KAU participated in the Geneva International Creation Exhibition 2016 with five student teams who were all awarded international prizes and medals at the awards ceremony in April 2016. Among the awarded were three gold medals, a silver and a bronze medal, along with two special prizes.

KAU views these scientific breakthroughs as a result of their efforts in focusing on international competition orientation, and the promotion of the creative capabilities of students in scientific research. This has been done through their Dean of Students Affairs along with promotion by individual Faculties.

Prof. Al Youbi expressed his gratitude for the fact that resources are made available to support the talents of young students nationwide, along with thanking HRH Prince Khalid Al Faysal for his support for KAU educational programs and initiatives. In return, he praised the breakthrough achieved by KAU students and their excellence in research.

The Undergraduate Awards

It’s always terrific to see groundbreaking research being completed and recognised at our Partner and Affiliate universities. We know that many students have their own papers or projects which deserves to be rewarded. If you have coursework from your undergraduate degree, submit today! The deadline closes at 11.59pm tonight so it’s your final chance to award your work in the 2016 programme.


UA for Penultimate & Final Year Students and 2015 Graduates

Most of you are likely aware by now that The Undergraduate Awards initiative is open to penultimate and final year students. We recognise that while there are many awards competitions for students who are further along in their academic careers, very few consider the achievements that are taking place in undergraduate degree programme across the world.

We have encountered many graduates who are proud of work they did over the course of their undergraduate degree. Whether it be final year projects or a particularly compelling research paper, some have expressed regret at not having entered The Undergraduate Awards when they had the opportunity.

Due to this, we would like to remind all students and academics that UA is also open to 2015 graduates. We know the pressure of final year can lead to complete focus on getting good grades. That is why we like to give graduate students an extra year to reflect on what they’re proud of from their time as an undergrad. So if you finished up in 2015, there’s still time for you to submit your coursework and potentially win an academic award for it!

Koh Chee Siang and Xin Ouyang (HC, NTU)

Past Entrants

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 2015 graduates to submit again this year, it’s your last opportunity and the process is fairly simple. 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.


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 UA Global Summit 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.

You might be working now and feel like your academic career is behind you or maybe you’ve moved on to a new academic programme. Nevertheless, you have nothing to lose by entering your work to UA and it could open up new postgraduate opportunities you were never aware of. You put in a lot of work during all those years of your degree, now why not potentially have that effort recognised by academics in your field? There’s two weeks left before the June 14th deadline so get those submissions ready!


DIT & Purdue sign new Memorandum of Understanding

Dublin Institute of Technology’s President, Professor Brian Norton, visited Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana along with a DIT delegation and signed an agreement with Purdue President Mitch Daniels. This agreement will expand on collaborative efforts between Purdue and DIT for more than ten years.

The memorandum of understanding (MOU) has begun the process of setting up many new benefits of the ongoing relationship between the two institutions. These include the exchange of students, staff and faculty; collaborative research projects between Purdue and DIT; the exchange of publications, reports and other academic information; collaborative personal development; and a system where DIT and Purdue entrepreneurs would switch desks for a set period of time.

Professor Norton was invited to speak on two different topics over the course of the visit. Firstly, he talked about the transformation of higher education in Europe to faculty and associate deans for academic affairs. He went on to give a research presentation on “Optimized Harnessing of Heat, Clearness and Spectrum in Solar Energy Devices”.

Professor Norton also announced that the Marriott Foundation has decided to fund five DIT Hospitality students every four years for a semester-long exchange at Purdue’s School of Hospitality and Tourism Management. Through Study Abroad scholarships, undergraduate students at Purdue who participate in semester-long programs qualify for up to $3000 towards travel and living expenses.

Following the visit to Purdue University, Professor Norton will attend a reception for DIT graduates in the IDA offices in Chicago. Over seventy graduates will attend the event where Irish Consul General, Orla McBreen, will be guest of honour.

Deadline Extended to June 14th!

We know it’s a busy time of year for many of you. With exams and assignments all due at once, it might be hard to consider doing anything else right now. That’s why we’re announcing that the Deadline for The Undergraduate Awards 2016 programme has been extended to Tuesday 14th of June 2016. You have four weeks remaining to submit your best coursework to the UA programme. Submit work you have already done and make your coursework go further.

WHY Should I submit?

As a winner, you are recognised as one of the most impressive students in your field; you become part of a network of outstanding Winners of The Undergraduate Award from around the world; your winning paper is published in our academic journal, and you receive a ticket to the exclusive UA Global Summit in Dublin. Shortlisted students who are in the top 10% of all submissions are also recognised for their excellence, which can be a significant catalyst when pursuing further studies or your chosen career.

HOW do I apply?

If you would like to submit your work to The Undergraduate Awards you can do so here on the UA Form. If you are not ready to submit your work just yet, you can simply register your details on the UA Form and upload your paper at a later date. Once registered, your place will be saved until June 14th 2016.


WHO is UA for?

UA is open to all  graduates of 2015, 2016 and 2017 – that is all penultimate and final year students, as well as 2015 graduates, of all disciplines.

WHAT do I apply with?

Individual undergraduate coursework which received a II.1 or higher (A-grade).

You have a little more time but since you’ll be entering coursework you’ve already completed, why not submit it now? If you have up to three papers ready to go, submit today to create some new opportunities for yourself!

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