School of Geography

Students excel at British Conference of Undergraduate Research

17 April 2018

Five third-year students from the School of Geography, along with a group of students from other Schools at Queen Mary, attended the British Conference of Undergraduate Research (BCUR) last week. BCUR meets annually in the spring at a different British university and undergraduates of all levels are invited to submit papers, posters, workshops and performances, promoting undergraduate research in all disciplines. 

School of Geography delegates at BCUR 2018.

This year's conference was held on 12-13 April at the University of Sheffield where our students gave either an oral or a poster presentation based on their final-year dissertation research. They were able to experience the excitement that comes from presenting their research to a community of scholars, and from participating in an interdisciplinary conference. The students did an excellent job representing the university and showcasing their research.

“Just got home from BCUR 2018 and have to say it was out of this world. Being around so many like-minded and amazing individuals was inspirational,” said environmental science student Jason Lynch.

Environmental science student Jason Lynch uses a 3D sediment structure video to illustrate his research findings on managed realignment.

“My research looked at the influence of sediment structure on invertebrate communities in natural and managed realigned saltmarshes at the Orplands Farm site in Essex. It provides useful information for assessing whether managed realignment is actually a good technique at restoring sub-surface sediment ecosystems. Data gathered on sediment porosity builds upon the amazing research that my supervisors Dr Simon Carr and Professor Kate Spencer have been heavily involved in.

“My experience was phenomenal. Meeting so many students from a variety of backgrounds and universities with a complete array of interests from works by Franz Kafka to implications of Brexit to female military recruitment, was great. We met students who are collaborating with NASA to those coaching 'E-sports' teams competing in the world championships. There really was something for everyone and the random layout of the presentation sessions meant that you were exposed to a variety of topics in any given session.

Geographer Fabio Teixeira Kabiri with his research poster on historic coastal landfills.

“We enjoyed a fantastic conference dinner during which we made friends with students not just from QMUL but from all over the country who we will now stay in touch with. This event really elevated undergraduate students and their research, making us all feel like we’ve contributed to our own research fields no matter how small. It's definitely inspired me more to pursue a career in academia!” added Jason. 

Environmental scientist Lukasz Dobbek explains river restoration techniques.

Environmental science students Lukasz Dobbek and Fabio Teixeira Kabiri, and geographers Simon Hardy and Vin Binh Chau also attended the conference, accompanied by Professor Dave Horne, Director of Taught Programmes in the School of Geography. Lukasz's dissertation evaluated a river restoration project in Hemel Hampstead; Fabio presented a poster on historic coastal landfills; Simon's research focused on investigating the troubling mobilities performed by Deliveroo's bicycle couriers; and Vin gave a presentation on her research on ostracods.

My experience at BCUR18 was amazing! It was so uplifting to be surrounded by many passionate students studying an array of topics. It was really interesting to see the different types of research people carry out. My research was on ostracods and it felt great to be able to present my own research, with the support of my supervisor Professor Dave Horne being present, as well as fellow QMUL students,” said BSc student Vin.

Geography student Vin Binh Chau presenting her research on ostracods. © Dave Horne

Being able to meet and socialise with other students was also a plus because we all got along so well. I would recommend this opportunity to anyone because you're well supported throughout the process, from application all the way to presentation. It has definitely given me more confidence in myself as well as presenting and it was great to be able to represent QMUL and Geography!” she added. 

This is such a great example of how research-led teaching can benefit both the students and the university. The high standard of student work has contributed really valuable data and ideas to ongoing research in the School of Geography, whilst the students have benefitted from working on exciting and cutting-edge projects,” commented Professor Kate Spencer. 

Attending the conference is an invaluable experience for students who plan to go onto further study, such as applying for a masters or PhD. Funded by the Annual Fund and the Humanities and Social Sciences and Science and Engineering faculties at Queen Mary, the conference was supported by the Learning Development team who coordinated representation from Queen Mary. 

“We are very thankful to the Learning Development Team (Julian, Ana and Jack) who have tirelessly helped us get to the point where we were ready to present on the national stage. Also, a massive thank you to Professor Dave Horne for his continual encouragement and support – we are all very grateful!” said Jason. 

To second-year students; I was personally inspired last year by the then third-year students to apply to take part in the conference, and hope that through our experiences we can inspire you too!” he added.

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