The UA Blog

Category Spotlight: Life Sciences

This category is for students of the Biological Sciences, including Biochemistry, Biotechnology, Virology, etc.

Entrants must submit an abstract of between 100-300 words long, and the submission word count is between 2,500 and 12,000 words.

In 2016 the category was won by Sadaf Sohrabi from the University of Edinburgh for their paper, “Are Amyloid-Beta Mediated Degenerative Changes Dependent Upon Tau In A Novel Mouse Model Of Alzheimer’s Disease?”.

Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is a devastating neurodegenerative condition affecting 46 million people worldwide. Two pathological proteins, amyloid-beta (Aβ) and tau, are heavily implicated in AD progression, however their exact roles remain elusive. Critically, the bulk of AD research thus far has focused on the pathogenic roles of amyloid, so this new model provided invaluable insight into the relatively ambiguous functions of tau.

In 2015, Dylan Ryan from University College Dublin won the category with his paper “A Biochemical Investigation into the Neuropathology of Cystinosis“. The aim of the project was to investigate the molecular mechanisms underpinning neuropathology in cystinosis, using C6 glioma and bone-marrow derived macrophage (BMDM) cell lines as a model of brain glial cells.

If you are a Life Science student and would like to follow in the footsteps of these wonderful students, then submit your work to The Undergraduate Awards.

Institution Spotlight: University College Dublin

If you would like to follow in the footsteps of these wonderful academics, submit up to three papers to The Undergraduate Awards!

Where Are They Now Wednesday: Wyatt James Merkley

Wyatt James Merkley, from Western University, was Highly Commended in the Literature category for his paper: “Literary Amplification: Jon Krakauer’s Use of Intertextual References in Into the Wild and Their Role in The McCandless Phenomenon

Wyatt is currently living in his hometown of London, Ontario, Canada.

He was thrilled to take a job upon graduating as an academic writing tutor for “The Write Place” at King’s University College, an affiliate college of Western University.

After graduating, Wyatt took a well-deserved year off school for the first time, devoting his time to traveling, reading, and relaxing with family and friends. He hiked and backpacked around Ireland, Wales, and England, visiting sites he’d read about in famous English Literature, from the house in James Joyce’s “The Dead” to the Tennyson Down on The Isle of Wight, to Tolkien’s favourite Pub, the Eagle and Child, in Oxford. He was happy to finish seeing the Dublin sites he’d started seeing while at The Undergraduate Awards and delighted to continue literature conversations with fellow Highly Commended award winner Joe McCarthy, who hosted him in Cork.

Overall, the break from academic deadlines was nice, but Wyatt is quite happy to announce that he will be pursuing his Master’s of English Literature this coming fall, again at Western University, with the aim to eventually complete a PhD so that he can sew patches onto the elbows of his tweed jacket. Big summer plans include traveling in Canada’s north, being outside lots, and starting Joyce’s Ulysses this upcoming “Bloomsday”, June 16th.

If you would like to submit your work to The Undergraduate Awards and be in with the chance to join us for our Global Undergraduate Summit 2018, click here.

For more information about The Undergraduate Awards, visit our website, our Twitter page, or our Facebook page.


Category Spotlight: Earth and Environmental Sciences

This category is for students of the natural environment and ecosystems, including students of Earth Science, Agriculture, Geography, Geology, etc.

Students of Human Geography should submit their work to Social Sciences: Anthropology & Cultural Studies.

Entrants must submit an abstract of between 100-300 words long, and the word count is  2,500 – 12,000 words.


In 2017 the category was won by Bridget Murphy from Western University. Her paper, “Future Climate Conditions Alter Leaf Thermotolerance In Canadian Boreal Trees“, highly impressed the judges.

Bridget sampled seedlings grown under varying CO2 concentrations combined with ambient, ambient +4 C and ambient +8 C growth temperatures and exposed needles to temperatures between 25 C and 60 C from 3 to 30 minutes. She found that elevated temperature increased the needle thermotolerance of both black spruce and tamarack to brief, extreme heat exposure. Her work indicated a potential for species-specific resilience to predicted severe heat waves.




The judges were very impressed with Bridget’s research, with one stating

I thought this paper shows how a student engaged in the scientific process, from a study design through to undertaking laboratory experiments, analysing results, and eventually making a contribution to our understanding of likely plant responses to a changing climate. What set it apart from the other papers in my top three or four was the fact that the student collected the data him/herself, which provided an added dimension not in the others.

In 2016, the category was won by Wayne Egan from the Institute of Technology, 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“.

In his project the Bellawaddy River was assessed to see if it is a source of Short Term Pollution at Enniscrone’s bathing waters. Discharge of the river was measured using an automatic water level data logger in conjunction with an ascertained rating curve. Indicator bacteria levels were measured in the river and the bathing area. Daily rainfall data was obtained from a local rainfall station. The river was seen to produce hydrograph responses to heavy intense rainfall events. Very large concentrations of indicator bacteria were measured in the river after these hydro-meteorological events. These results showed strong correlation to highly elevated levels of bacteria (STP) in the bathing water. It is concluded that the Bellawaddy River is a primary source of bacteria for the STP events.

If you would like to follow in the footsteps of these wonderful academics, submit your work to The Undergraduate awards before June 12th!


Category Spotlight: History

This category is for students of History, including International, Modern and Contemporary History. Papers on Ancient History should be submitted to Classical Studies & Archeology and papers on Art History should be submitted to Art History & Theory.

Entrants must submit an abstract of between 100-300 words long and the paper must be between 2,500 – 5,000 words.

In 2016, Emilia Antiglio from University of Warwick won this category with her paper, “The Diffusion of ‘Porcelaine des Indes’ in Eighteenth-Century France: from Lorient to Paris and beyond, 1720-1775″.

Her paper set out to retrace the diffusion of Chinese porcelain from the port of Lorient to the commercial scene of Eighteenth-Century Paris, in order to identify patterns of trade, circulation and consumption. Her work revealed that the diffusion of a global commodity such as porcelain relied on a complex ensemble of intertwined commercial networks; in parallel, they also underline the fact that little evidence remains to sustain the assumption that porcelain had already penetrated the lower classes of Eighteenth-Century Paris. Unlike in Britain or in the Dutch Republic, porcelain in France remained a luxurious commodity enjoyed exclusively by the wealthy well into the Nineteenth Century.

This years History Chair is Andrea Nanetti from Nanyang Technological University Singapore,  where he currently resides 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.

Andrea has been continuously impressed with the standard of academic essays that we have received. Speaking on last years’ winning History submission by Stanford University, Andrea stated:

This is an outstanding study of health and medicine which speaks to a range of historiographies, and uses a novel social and cultural history approach to exploring the development of medical ideas with a clear grasp of contextualised details. Applying data mapping and cartography as complementary methodologies, it presents an illuminating discussion of nineteenth century spatial analysis and the origins of modern-day visual methods in science and humanities.

If you are a History student and would like to follow in the footsteps of students such as Emilia, then submit up to three assignments to The Undergraduate Awards before June 12th! Click here to submit!

Institution Spotlight: National University of Ireland Galway

The National University of Ireland Galway (NUIG) is located in Ireland’s most westerly city of Galway. A tertiary-level teaching and research institution, it is ranked among the top 1% of universities in the world.’

Students from NUIG have had much success with The Undergraduate Awards.

In 2017, Psychology student Eimear Bane was Highly Commended in this category with her paper, “An Investigation into the Effects of Negative Mood Congruency on Eyewitness Accuracy“.

The paper explored the impact of negative mood congruency on eyewitness accuracy. She found that some of the research that has been done has found that being in a negative mood state at retrieval impairs recall, while negative mood congruency (i.e. being in a negative mood at both encoding and retrieval) increases recall.

Her experiment asked a group of students to watch a crime event and then they were asked to freely recall the crime in either a congruent or incongruent mood. Analysis found that negative mood at encoding, negative mood at retrieval and negative mood at both stages had no significant effect on eyewitness accuracy.


Also in the 2017 Psychology category was Judith Burke, who submitted her paper on “Investigating the effects of performance evaluation on levels of state anxiety and self esteem in perfectionists literature review”

The paper examined changes in state anxiety and self esteem scores following administration of feedback for 122 university students. Specifically, this study sought to determine if performance feedback valence (positive, negative, or none) and method of delivery (social, computerised, none) would impact levels of state anxiety and self esteem in perfectionist orientations (self oriented, socially prescribed, other oriented).

Her findings provided further evidence for the link between perfectionism and constructs of maladjustment, particularly anxiety, and how failure situations may influence changes in these measures in perfectionists. Suggestions for future research are subsequently discussed.

If you would like to follow in the footsteps of Judith and Eimear, then submit up to three papers to The Undergraduate Awards before June 12th!

Where Are They Now Wednesday: Dawid Sawicki

Dawid Sawicki studied Economics at the University of St Andrews. He was a Highly Commended Entrant in 2016 for his paper “European Integration And Income Inequality: A Panel Data Study

Dawid currently lives in London, United Kingdom. He is an Executive at an international advisory and accounting firm, Moore Stephens LLP. He works with a portfolio of real estate and construction clients, providing assurance services on their business practices.

One of the key aspects of the job that I really enjoy is that I get to see the new snazzy-looking buildings before the people who will actually use it – my recent visit to Google’s new offices was particularly exciting!

Dawid has also worked with large international donors, including the funding agencies of the United Nations and the World Bank. In 2017, he worked with ten NGOs in Central Asia, helping them strengthen their core management functions. Notably, in September 2017, he worked with a small NGO in Dushanbe, Tajikistan, whose objective was to help girls aged 6-14 complete primary school education. The work required analyzing all of the organization’s processes, including programme implementation, hiring of new staff, financing, accounting and procurement, as well as providing recommendations regarding improvements to these.

It is so important to every once in a while do something without looking at the bottom line. My work in Dushanbe was one of the best experiences I’ve had thus far – not only did I manage to visit a fantastic country, but also put my accounting and finance skills into practice to (hopefully) make somebody’s life better.

His work involves a lot of traveling both locally in the UK and overseas. Apart from Tajikistan, he led projects in Ireland, Greece, Turkey and Kazakhstan.

After The Undergraduate Awards, he has not given up writing on issues that interest him. He published his paper on income inequality in an American journal Issues in Political Economy. In 2018, he also published a business piece on revenue recognition practices in a leading accountancy journal, Accounting Today.

Dawid is also currently studying towards an ACA qualification. He has currently completed twelve out of fifteen exams and is due to fully qualify in September 2018.

If you are interested in submitting your work to The Undergraduate Awards as Dawid did, please follow the link here.


UA Submission Criteria: Anonymity

For your work to qualify for The Undergraduate Awards, it needs to be completely anonymous in order to limit bias from the UA judging process.

It is very important that your submission does not include any personal details or details of your Institution. Failure to remove these personal details from your submission will result in disqualification.
Before you submit, please make sure to remove the following details from your submission:

  • Your name
  • Your photograph
  • Your supervisor’ s name – including where it is mentioned in citations.
  • Your university’s name, nickname, initial, photo and logo
  • Your student number
  • Your module or course name and code

You should either delete this information or replace it with an X or a short note such as “this citation has been redacted for anonymity.”

It is recommended that you do not drag black boxes over the details, as sometimes the black boxes
disappear if you highlight them, revealing the information.

Please take particular care with the following:

  • When referencing online articles via your institution library or website, please redact the name or initial of your institution i.e.
  • Acknowledgements – Exclude entirely or redact names, running headers or footers, ethic statements & declarations
  • Remove Institution Name
  • File name- when attaching your paper to the submission form, please use a generic file title. Do not include your own name or module code/name as the title of the .pdf or .doc
  • Interviews- When citing interviews you carried out ensure you write conducted by the author or similar. If referencing your supervisor, remember to redact the Institutionand your supervisor’s name

We understand that these redactions may make your work seem improperly cited, however our judges will understand that this has been done for the purposes of anonymity and will not penalise you.

We do not require entrants to redact: names of cities, countries, areas, geographical features, hospitals, schools etc.

Once your assignments are fully anonymous, and fulfill all the requirements, you can submit them by clicking the link here!

Category Spotlight: Psychology

The Psychology category has existed since the founding of The Undergraduate Awards in 2012.

This category is for students of Psychology, including Forensic Psychology, Health Psychology, Neuroscience, etc.

Entrants must submit an abstract of between 100-300 words long and the word count must be between 2,500 and 5,000 words.

In 2017, the category was won by Jordan Skrynka from the University of Dundee with her paper, “Hungry and Impulsive: Does blood glucose predict impulsivity for future rewards in a fasted state?”.

The judges were extremely impressed with Jordan’s essay, stating that her assignment:

Tackles an issue of recent theoretical importance with a nice design and sophisticated analysis. Certainly seems worthy of publishing in a top journal in the field.

In 2016 the category was won by Tan Jun Liang Jonathan from Nanyang Technological University with their essay, “Effects of Sleep on Health-Related Quality of Life in Patients With Coronary Heart Disease” which gives a interesting examination on the factor structure of the PSQI in Coronary Heart Disease patients.

If you are an undergraduate Psychology student we would highly encourage you to submit your best assignments to The Undergraduate Awards before June 12th, which you can do by clicking the link here.

Article in The Harvard Crimson About The Undergraduate Awards Programme 2018

We are delighted to have an article about The Undergraduate Awards and the Global Undergraduate Summit 2018 in Harvard’s long-running newspaper The Harvard Crimson this week. The Harvard Crimson, the United States’ oldest continuously published daily college newspaper, is run entirely by undergraduate students. Over 25 Crimson alumni have won the Pulitzer Prize; many of their portraits line the walls of The Crimson.

Over the years we have had a wealth of innovative and outstanding papers from Harvard University students across all 25 categories.

In 2015, Donguen Seo penned a paper titled “A New Kid on the Block: How Food Trucks Evolved from Roach Coaches to Cultural Phenomena” which was Highly Commended in the Social Sciences category. The paper offers an interesting insight into the evolution of food trucks into a prominent source of street revenue in the United States  and the relationship between customers’ social class and the food they choose to consume.

Marissa Suchyta, was Highly Commended in 2015, for her Life Sciences paper ” Finding Factors that Initiate Limb Regeneration”. The research identifies the initiating factors of axolotl limb regeneration.

The Award Winner in the Politics & International Relations category 2013 was Joshua Zoffer with his paper “The Currency of Coercion: The Effect of Currency Pegs on the Success of Economic Sanctions”.

You can read the article on The Crimson here.

To read papers from Harvard students and other past Global Winners and Highly Commended entrants, check out The Undergraduate Awards Library.

Judging Chair Spotlight: Robert M. Mauro, PhD (Politics and International Relations category)

The Undergraduate Awards are pleased to welcome back Robert M.Mauro, PhD. as Judging Chair of Politics and International Relations 2018.

Robert M. Mauro, PhD., is Executive Director of the Irish Institute and founding Director of the Global Leadership Institute at Boston College.

Before coming to Boston College he undertook a post-doctoral research fellowship in the Institute for British-Irish Studies (IBIS) at University College Dublin (UCD). While there he worked on a project, titled Breaking the Patterns of Conflict: The Irish State, the British Dimension, and the Northern Ireland Conflict, a comprehensive oral history of policy makers involved with Northern Ireland peace process from the Sunningdale Agreement to the St. Andrews Agreement.

He completed his PhD (The Practice of Ideology, 2009) in Political Science at the Rockefeller College of Public Affairs and Policy at the State University of New York. He is an expert in business and political practices, including leadership and strategy, global engagement and business development, conflict resolution, and Irish and American politics.

Mauro was the Judging Process Chair for the Politics and International Relations category in 2017 and he found the process very enjoyable. In 2017, Tushar Bhargava from Brown Univeristy was the overall winner in this category with his paper titled, “Partners in Crime: Telecommunication Companies and Intelligence Agencies” and commented on the winning assignment“. Tushar’s paper highly impressed Mauro, who stated:

This is a skillfully written essay about the formation of relationships between intelligence agencies in the United States and telecommunication corporations. The author displayed both rigor in their historical research and the reconstruction of the founding relationships between telecommunications companies and intelligence agencies. This allowed the author to generate findings that were more than historical in nature, and, instead, point forward to possible future developments and policy actions. Ultimately, this is the point of good political science writing and is something for which the author thoroughly deserves recognition with this award.

Mauro is past-President of Irish Network Boston, a Director of the Wild Geese Network of Irish Scientists, a board advisor to both The Frederick Douglass- Daniel O’Connell Project the Gaelic Players Association New England. Dr. Mauro received a “Top 40 Under 40” in Irish-America award in 2013.

Category Spotlight: Medical Sciences

We developed our Medical Sciences Category to incorporate other health disciplines, such as dentistry and veterinary science, alongside Medicine and Medical Science. Pre- Med students can also submit to this category. The category was first introduced in 2012.

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

In 2016 the Global Winner in this category  was Maniragav Manimaran from University College London. His paper, “Developing an Ultrasound Phantom Using 3D Printing for Practicing Minimally Invasive Intracardiac Procedures”, impressed the Judging Panel with its “novelty and flair”. It received particular praise for;

“The ingenuity of the idea, the process that had been applied to realise that idea and then the efforts to validate it”.

Other successful papers in this category have confirmed the validity of MRI as a surveillance tool for renal disease (Conor MacDonald, St Andrews; 2015 Global Winner), and investigated oncolytic virotherapy treatments for ovarian cancer (Milani Sivapragasam, Western University; 2014 Global Winner).

We are looking forward to receiving submissions to this year’s Medical Sciences category and seeing the cutting-edge research that is being conducted around the world by undergraduate students from classes of 2017, 20018 and 2019.

If you would like to submit to this category, or any other, please click here.

By visiting this site, you consent to our use of cookies.