Alumni News

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.

Category Spotlight: Philosophy

This category is for students of Philosophy and Theology, including Ethics, Metaphysics, etc. Students of Religious Studies may also submit to Social Sciences: Anthropology & Cultural Studies, depending on the focus of their work.

Entrants must submit an abstract of between 100-300 words long. The word count is 2,500-5,000 words and the assignment must have received at least a 2.1/A- grade.

In 2015, the category was won by Weng Kin San from Australian National University. His paper, titled “Public Reason, Coercion, and Harm” , highly impressed the Judging Panel, who commented:

The use of concrete examples of apparently non-coercive actions which nevertheless inflict harm is all to the good.One critical comment advanced by the judges is that the complexity of the ongoing discussion seems to be due to the fact that fundamental values are involved. The matter is not just a matter of rationality. The author will no doubt enlarge the discussion into questions of value in further papers. The author has an obvious talent for balanced discussion, which will give good results within a philosophical career.

In 2017, Tadgh Healy from Trinity College, University of Dublin won this category with his paper, titled “A Place For Forgiveness In Reconciliation“. The paper offers an insight around the idea of forgiveness, and is an extremely thoughtful and insightful work.


We are very excited to receiving submissions for this year’s Computer Sciences category and reading insightful 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.

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.


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.

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.”


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