UA News

The Nursing, Midwifery & Allied Healthcare Category

The Nursing & Midwifery category has been with us since 2010, and has received nearly 650 entries since The Undergraduate Awards was launched globally in 2012. This year, however, we have broadened it to include the disciplines of Occupational Therapy, Physiotherapy, and other disciplines focussing on applied care.


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


Last year, this category was won by Shauna Callaghan, a Midwifery student at University College Dublin, with her paper,

‘Does the Utilisation and Knowledge of Foetal Movement Counting Interventions and ‘Kick Charts’ Enhance Maternal Awareness of Foetal Movement Patterns and Reduce Stillbirths in Pregnancies ≥28 Weeks’ Gestation?’.

Shauna is beginning her clinical career as a Staff Midwife at the National Maternity Hospital, Dublin, and hopes to continue her research interest in antenatal education.


Other winning papers have examined the impact of information interventions on women’s choice of delivery methods (Marianne White, University of Dundee; 2015 Global Winner), and assessed the ethical, legal and political issues raised by abortion (Dawn Smyth, Waterford Institute of Technology; 2014 Global Winner).

We are looking forward to seeing the incoming submissions to the Nursing, Midwifery and Allied Healthcare category, and are particularly looking forward to seeing the new perspectives introduced by the inclusion of additional health care professions.



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

If you would like to be a Judge for this category or any other please click here.





The Classical Studies & Archaeology Category

Classical Studies & Archaeology covers a broad range of subjects – from the history, thought and culture of ancient societies, to the material culture of societies into the modern period. Entries for this category must be within the 5,000 word limit, and have received a 2.1/A grade.

Last year’s Global Winner, Alicia Núñez García from the University of Edinburgh, examined the enduring fascination of modern societies with the ancient past in her winning paper, “Modern Appropriation of Past Material Culture: Fostering ‘Soft’ Nationalisms in Mediterranean Europe Through Meaning, Memory, and Identity”.

This paper was praised by the judging panel for its originality, noting that

“The subtle way in which [Alicia] entangles the essay topic with current concerns about political processes in Europe and notions of archaeological activism, set this essay apart from other submissions”.

Alicia is now extending her research interests in outreach and public archaeology with an MA in Experimental Archaeology at the University of Exeter.


Other successful entries have studied the significance of the terebinth plant in Bronze Age society (Sharon Staub, University of Melbourne; 2016 Regional Winner: Oceania), and analysed the painting of Neo-Assyrian reliefs (Li Sou, Durham University; 2015 Global Winner).


We are really looking forward to reading the submissions to this year’s Classical Studies & Archaeology category, and seeing the amazing research being conducted in these fields by undergraduate students.


If you would like to find out how to submit click here.

If you would like to find out how to get involved as a member of one of our academic judging panels, you can find out more here.

Where Are They Now Wednesday: Trevor Clohessy presents NoiseyGen.XYZ – Entrepreneurial Ezine

Trevor Clohessy from NUI Galway was Highly Commended in 2013 in the Computer Sciences category for his paper:
Cloud Computing: A Catalyst for Innovation? A Review of the Literature

Dr. Clohessy is now a post-doctoral researcher and lecturer in Business Information Systems at his alma mater in NUI Galway. His research interests are digital transformation, cloud technologies, organizational ambidexterity, gamification and entrepreneurship. Trevor is on the judging panel of The Undergraduate Awards’ Computer Science category, an editorial advisory member of both the Irish Business Journal (IBJ) and IGI’s “Handbook of Research on Architectural Trends in Service-Driven Computing”, and a director with Youth Work Ireland. Trevor has also founded an award nominated entrepreneurial ezine resource called NoiseyGen.XYZ

NoiseyGen.XYZ: Entrepreneurial Ezine

The aim of the Ezine is to foster entrepreneurial spirit and promote awareness of how extraordinary people with extraordinary ideas are impacting on and shaping the future entrepreneurial landscape. NoiseyGen.XYZ was recently shortlisted for the best innovative blog of the year by the Littlewoods Ireland Blog Awards 2016. The Ezine serves as an online educational resource for students and the general public whereby monthly interviews and podcasts, from new and established entrepreneurs across diverse industries, provide insights into the salient characteristics which embody entrepreneurship spirit.

Make sure to check it out!

Trevor can be reached on or

The NEW Art History & Theory Category

Art History & Theory is a new category, introduced for the 2017 Programme of The Undergraduate Awards.

Previously, students of Art History could submit their work to the Art History, Music, Film &  Theatre category. In 2017, it was decided that Art History & Theory should constitute a category in its own right, because of the number and quality of papers submitted on the subject. 

From medieval manuscripts to modern sculptures, this category covers all academic writing on the subject of Art.



One example of an Art History paper that was previously successful on the Programme is:

Empty Space and Identity Politics in the Work of Felix Gonzalez-Torres: Negation, Creative Reinterpretation, and Visual Rhyme

“Untitled” by Felix Gonzalez-Torres

This paper was submitted by Claire Dillon of Northwestern University and was the Global Winner of the Music, Film, Theatre & Art History category in 2015. Claire is currently studying for a M.Phil in Medieval Language, Literature and Culture at Trinity College Dublin. She will be progressing to pursue a PhD in Medieval Art at Columbia University.

Other Highly Commended entries in the subject of Art History have covered Michelangelo’s Battle of the Lapiths and Centaurs, biotechnology and contemporary art, civil war photography, gothic cathedrals and artistic depictions of the final frontier.

We are looking forward to seeing how this category flourishes in the years to come, and are particularly excited to see the incoming submissions to the 2017 Programme because of the top quality research being completed by undergraduate students in this field.

New categories often have less submissions than more established subjects, so if you know any Art History students (or are one!) remember to submit your best work!

If you would like to find out how to submit click here


Reflections on Architecture & Design – Barry Sheehan, DIT

We are delighted to introduce Architecture & Design as a brand new category to The Undergraduate Awards 2017!
To provide some context for this discipline, Barry Sheehan from DIT gives us an insight into the history of the subject in Ireland and the work of architects today.

Architecture is by nature cyclical. Thankfully in Ireland at present we are in an upcycle with increasing levels of activity in the construction industry. It is very disheartening to educate students who graduate with no possibility of employment in the country in which they studied. This is not the case now and architects are beginning to return to opportunities in Ireland.

Irish architects are recognised as being amongst the best in the world. Yvonne Farrell and Shelley McNamara of Grafton Architects recently won the Royal Institute of British Architects International Prize for their Engineering University building in Lima, Peru and previously won World Building of the Year for the Bocconi University in Milan. Sheila O’Donnell and John Tuomey of O’Donnell + Tuomey won the Royal Institute of British Architects Annual Gold Medal in 2015 for their body of work. Both practices work extensively in the education sector and I am delighted that both practices are working on new projects on the campus in Grangegorman, where DIT are based.

Bocconi University

In the Irish architecture practices that are renowned worldwide, women play significant roles. In the case of the practices mentioned above, three of the four principals are women, as is the Dublin City architect, Ali Grehan. We have some way to go before there is gender balance throughout the profession but at least in the design led practices gender equality appears evident.

Sinéad McLoghlin at the UA Global Summit 2014


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. Most architecture students in Ireland enter the annual travelling scholarship competition which has been in existence since I was first in college. The number of competitions and awards has increased and I believe The Undergraduate Awards have become an essential competitive first step for students of all disciplines. Sinead McLoughlin won the design category in 2014. Sinead entered the Department of Education Graduate Training and Skills programme, which is another excellent way of starting a career. I am in no doubt that her success in The Undergraduate Awards would have helped in her application.

I was fortunate to read Sinead’s dissertation and was much struck by it. Her subject was complex but the writing was easily understandable. All professions have unique words that they use when talking amongst themselves as a kind of shorthand. What many architects fail to do is to stop using these coded words when talking to someone who is not immersed in the nuances of their profession. I sometimes wonder if they do this because they are unconfident in their arguments and hide behind obtuse language. The best architects are confident and can robustly discuss and debate their ideas. They do it naturally using simple language and the debate is all the better for it.

Barry Sheehan
Head of Design, Dublin School of Creative Arts, DIT


The Chemical & Pharmaceutical Sciences Category

This category was established in 2014 to celebrate the excellent undergraduate research being carried out in these fields.

In the three since then years more than 350 research papers and peer reviews have been submitted to this category.

Spanning from quantum chemistry to drug development this category covers all aspect of physical, organic, and inorganic chemistry as well pharmaceutical sciences.

In 2016 the Global Winner in this category was David Evans from University of Southampton with his paper entitled Exploring organoboron catalysis in the N-formylation of amines and development of a one-pot pathway to access isonitriles”.

David is now undertaking a PhD in chemistry.

Previous winning papers have included research exploring carbine – carbene synergistic systems as carried out by Ying Kai Loh of Nanyang Technological University in Singapore, and the development of a Probe for Hydrogen Sulfide Sensing by Helen Farrants of University of Edinburgh.

David Evans, Global Winner 2016

Owen Priest facilitating a breakout session at the UA Global Summit 2016

We are looking forward to seeing the incoming submissions to the Chemical & Pharmaceutical Sciences category and seeing the cutting edge research that is done at the undergraduate level.

We are delighted to have Prof Owen Priest from Northwestern University as the Judging Chairperson of this category.

If you would like to find out how to submit click here.

DCU Hosts New Event to Celebrate Undergraduate Research

On the 2nd of February 2017, students and recent graduates from all over the Island of Ireland gathered in The Helix in DCU for the inaugural UPresent: Island of Ireland.

At this event, all Highly Commended Entrants and Winners in the 2016 Programme from the Island of Ireland, were invited to present their papers and to officially receive their certificates.

Susanne Wawra presents her project “Memento” – A Series of Mixed Media Paintings

Each of these attendees placed in the top 10% of their field globally in 2016 and The Undergraduate Awards wanted to provide an opportunity for them to share their research and celebrate this achievement with their friends and family.

Over the course of the day, the audience were treated to presentations on a diverse array of subjects and fields. Mahmoud Abukhadir from National University of Ireland Galway put forth a passionate case for the establishment of a international patent law, while Sayed Saeed from Dublin Institute of Technology walked us through his ingenious plan for reconstructing the Walkinstown Roundabout.

Shane Fagan from Crawford College of Art & Design presented his work The New 
, in which antlers, a symbol for masculinity, were shown to be changing and taking new forms. Another artist, Susanne Wawra from the National College of Art & Design, explained how her work was influenced by the desire to hold on to memories from her childhood in East Berlin. Cathal McDaid from Ulster University capped off the presentations with his fascinating discussion on Percy Shelley’s poetic attack on the hypocrisy and authoritarianism of the time.

Rachel Hanley from DCU, Highly Commended in Medical Sciences

Two Highly Commended Entrants from the host institution, DCU, also presented their work. Rachel Hanley, from the category of Medical Sciences, explained her thesis project on Cancer cell staining, which helps to detect cancer cells from healthy cells in the body.

Columb Doherty, whose paper was ranked the highest from the Island of Ireland in the Mathematics & Physics category, gave an accessible explanation of his complex work on the Kinetic Energy Ion Distribution of a Laser Generated Plasma. Columb even managed to teach us that the Statue of Liberty was not always green! Denah Fitzharris from DCU, who was Highly Commended in the History category, also attended the ceremony to receive her certificate

Panel on UA Adjudication

Following the presentations, four UA judges Dr. David Irwin (Institute of Technology, Tallaght), Prof. Mary Mc Colgan (Ulster University), Dr. Mary Kelly (DCU) & Dr. Kenneth McDonagh (DCU)  participated in a panel discussion to give the attendees an insight into the adjudication process through which they were selected.

Dr. Ken McDonagh Department of Law & Government, DCU

Each of the judges mentioned the high-quality of the submissions they received.

Dr. McDonagh remarked that “I was very impressed by the standard of submissions the first year that I participated, and so I was eager to do it again the next year.”

Dr. Irwin told the audience that “One thing that struck me about the essays was the breath of knowledge and the discipline of structure…I don’t like to use the word brilliant, but they truly were brilliant. Once we were down to the last ten we were wondering how we could separate perfection from perfection”

The final speech of the day was given over to Prof. Ellen Hazelkorn, an Advisor to the Higher Education Authority (HEA) and a Director of the Higher Education Policy Research Unit (HEPRU). Prof. Hazelkorn spoke on the topic of The Role of Higher Education in the Age of Populism. Prof. Hazelkorn discussed the challenges facing Global Higher Education in the current political climate. She explained that “Colleges that have prided themselves on working across borders and between cultures now find themselves dealing with governments which have campaigned to keep out foreigners.” She concluded her speech, and the day as a whole, with the argument that “There is a responsibility on Higher Education to use all its resources, human and capital, to re-articulate its commitment to the public good and reach beyond its campus.”

DCU has been a Partner Institution of The Undergraduate Awards since February 2016, and has had a long and active relationship with the programme. The UPresent day during the UA Global Summit 2015 was held in The Helix, and we were delighted to be able to return to the venue for this event. During his opening remarks, Trevor Holmes, Vice President for External and Strategic Affairs DCU, remarked that he was delighted to welcome top undergraduates to the university, which has had a busy few years, having grown to now encompass three educational campuses, making it Ireland’s fastest growing university.

If you are interested in submitting to The Undergraduate Awards the 2017 Programme is now open. 

UA Announces Prof. Ellen Hazelkorn as key note speaker for UPresent: Island of Ireland

The Undergraduate Awards is excited to announce Prof. Ellen Hazelkorn as the key-note speaker for UPresent: Island of Ireland, which is taking place on the 2nd of February in The Helix in DCU.

Ellen speech is entitled ‘Higher Education: Internationalisation and Civic Engagement’ and we are fascinated to hear what she has to say, considering her expertise on this topic.

Ellen is a Policy Advisor to the Higher Education Authority (HEA), and a Director of the Higher Education Policy Research Unit (HEPRU), Dublin Institute of Technology (Ireland). She is an International Co-Investigator at the Centre for Global Higher Education (CGHE), UCL Institute for Education and also a Visiting Professor at Boston College.

Ellen has worked as higher education policy consultant and specialist with international organisations and governments for over 15 years (e.g. EU, OECD, World Bank, UNESCO, US National Academy of Sciences). She is a member of various advisory board, including the Leadership Foundation for Higher Education (UK), and Foundation for Humanities and Social Sciences (Sweden).

She has strong connections with DIT, serving as Vice President of Research and Enterprise and Dean of the Graduate Research School from 2008-2014. She was also the Vice President and Founding Dean of the Faculty of Applied Arts at 1995-2008. Ellen was President of EAIR (the European Society for Higher Education) from 2013-2016.

Ellen was awarded a BA from the University of Wisconsin, Madison, and a PhD from the University of Kent.

Ellen is internationally recognised for her analysis of the impact and influence of rankings: Rankings and the Reshaping of Higher Education: The Battle for World-Class Excellence, . She has edited Global Rankings and the Geopolitics of Higher Education, co-edited Rankings and Accountability in Higher Education: Uses and Misuses, and co-authored, Rankings in Institutional Strategies and Processes: impact or illusion?

UA Announces New Event – UPresent: Island of Ireland

The Undergraduate Awards is excited to announce the inaugural UPresent: Island of Ireland!

Yasmin Hanif presenting at the UA Global Summit 2014

On the 2nd of February, all Winners and Highly Commended Entrants from the Island of Ireland are invited to present their papers and to officially receive their certificates at The Helix in DCU.

Wayne Egan from IT Sligo presenting his research on Enniscrone Beach

The Undergraduate Awards’ mission is to level the global playing field for awarding top undergraduate research around the world and we want to take this opportunity to celebrate the UA Highly Commended Entrants from the Island of Ireland and their achievement of being placed in the top 10% in their field globally in 2016.


The day will involve Highly Commended Entrants presenting their innovative work in under 3 minutes each. Each attendee will summarise their research for the diverse audience and hopefully make everyone else as passionate about their work as they are! Academics are also invited to attend the presentations and sample some of the top undergraduate research accomplished on the Island of Ireland today.

Andre Cleaver, US & Canada Regional Winner 2016 in Engineering presents his work.

This event is designed for top-performing students and graduates to share their own academic passions, and more importantly, to learn from other high-performing students. We hope all attendees will leave the day with a new understanding of different disciplines and topics.

This event is free of charge. If you are a Highly Commended Entrant, Winner or academic, who is interested in attending, please get in touch with Fíodhna on for more information.

Patrick Liu reflects on the UA Global Summit 2016

Patrick Liu from Northwestern University in Evanston Illinois was Highly Commended in the Psychology category of The Undergraduate Awards in 2016. Patrick attended the UA Global Summit in November and here he reflects on his experience:

“As a pre-medical student studying psychology, neuroscience, and biological sciences, I am obviously entrenched in a STEM bubble at Northwestern, and rarely do I have the opportunity to interact with and be inspired by an incredible array of global scholars outside of such a bubble. Throughout the week-long Global Summit, I only met a handful of students who studied topics within STEM and even fewer from America. Yet the moment I arrived, I felt an instant connection with the other attendees because of our similar yet so beautifully diverse passions for academic work.

Patrick chats with other Attendees at the Gala Dinner in St. Patricks Cathedral

It is not hard to imagine that when over 150 scholars from 25 disparate concentrations around the world blend together, world-changing ideas and thought-provoking conversations will flourish. However, what amazed me the most was not the immense skill and passion embodied by everyone there, but rather it was their commitment and motivation to utilize their talents to make the world better. The degree of collaboration displayed at UCollaborate on the final day galvanized me to strive to contribute my best to help foster global innovation, empathy, and compassion.

Patrick speaking with representatives from Western University

The Global Summit gifted me a lot. It offered me the chance to explore Ireland for the first time on a university sponsored trip, and it also allowed me to dive into other students’ cultural backgrounds vicariously through their stories and experiences. However, the aspect that will remain with me the longest is the people I met. Despite only being there for a few days, I am fully confident that the friendships I formed will be life lasting. The number of people there was overwhelming at times, but even as a massive introvert, I forced myself to make the most out of the summit by socializing with as many people as possible, knowing full well that I would have plenty of time to recharge after.

The moment I got off the plane, I met a man from London studying computer-brain interfaces. His research lies at the intersection of neuroscience, computer science, and electrical engineering. We immediately bonded over our mutual interest in neuroscience, and we coincidentally ended up being randomly paired as roommates for the duration of the summit. By the end of the summit, he knew much more about the molecular and cellular components of neural activity, and I the engineering perspectives.

Patrick receiving his certificate at the Awards Ceremony

In another instance, after hearing a brief presentation by a student with a background in philosophy and linguistics on the “dangers of generalization and dangerous generalizations”, I decided to strike up a conversation with him. His work applies to how stereotypes form, so I was able to draw from my psychology background on heuristical thinking to provide new insight into his research and point him to a psychology professor at his university who won a Nobel Prize on this topic. I had never considered his perspectives on stereotypes, and he did not know much about mine, but now we both have a much greater appreciation. Only now am I truly starting to understand how the humanities and arts are the guardians of modern society and culture; they answer the questions of if and why things occur, whereas the STEM fields predominantly focus on how.

The anecdotes of the marvellous people I met are endless. So many other friendships started with a spontaneous hello and quickly delved into much deeper conversation regarding academia, the state of the world, and future career aspirations. There was truly no boring moment, and even within my own field, I was both challenged and inspired.

Prof. Ian Robinson speaks to Attendees at The Colloquium

One of my academic heroes and an internationally renowned neuroscientist, Professor Ian Robertson, was invited as a guest speaker. I cannot recall the last time I have had such childlike glee in conversing with someone. Many other prominent individuals were also invited, such as the CEO of Blackrock, though my excitement was virtually nonexistent in comparison to the business students’.

In all, I have not much else to say besides that I am truly humbled and thankful to have been able to attend such a beautiful and life-changing conference. Thank you to all my professors and mentors at Northwestern who continually push me intellectually; to Dr. Civetta, Dr. Haarlow, and the rest of the relevant administration and faculty who sponsored the trip; and to The Undergraduate Awards staff.

I will certainly be applying again while I am still eligible, and I look forward to remaining involved with The Undergraduate Awards.”

UA Launches New Alumni Portal

At the UA Global Summit 2016, UA launched an exciting new project: The UA Alumni Portal!

We will be contacting Alumni through the email that they used when submitting to The Undergraduate Awards. If you are an Alumni and no longer use this address please get in touch on so that we can update your details.

Who is the UA Alumni Portal for?

  • The UA Alumni Portal is for anyone who has ever been recognised as Highly Commended or a Winner by The Undergraduate Awards.
  • On the 13th of December, all Winners and Highly Commended Entrants were invited via email to join the platform. In January, UA will gradually be adding all Alumni by year group, starting with 2015.

What does the Portal do?

  • This is a bespoke platform that allows UA Alumni to update their location in order to connect with members of the network in their city or country.
  • The platform is purpose-built to centralise communications between UA Alumni for many years to come.

 What are UA’s goals for the Portal?

  • To provide UA Alumni with a space to share ideas and collaborate.
  • To facilitate the network in offering support and advice to one another.
  • To connect UA Alumni who are at different stages of their research or career.
  • To encourage generosity and reciprocity within the network.

 Why does UA want to stay connected with our Alumni?

  • The Portal will allow the UA Team to inform the network about UA news, events, meetups and everything in between.

Any Questions?

  • Please review our Alumni Portal FAQ here.

We are so excited to see how this project develops! 

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