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Inspiring a new generation

Showcasing Undergraduate Research Excellence at BU (SURE BU)

The project

Over the last couple of years, undergraduate students at Bournemouth University have been taking part in our university-wide undergraduate research conference: SURE.

SURE (Showcasing Undergraduate Research Excellence) is a unique opportunity for students to share their research and develop their communication skills outside of their university assignments.

Here at BU, we believe strongly in our aim to blend cutting-edge research with the latest professional insights and inspirational teaching – and of course, as SURE shows, carrying out research isn’t just limited to our academic community. The conference is a celebration of our undergraduate research and gives students a chance to develop skills that will benefit them in any career. Some go on to pursue research careers by applying for Master’s programmes, while others find the skills and confidence they develop are useful for performing better in job interviews.

For our academic staff, SURE is an opportunity to learn about undergraduate research from outside their faculty or programme and a chance to discover future opportunities for collaboration with other colleagues. But most importantly, they are able to support the personal and professional development of our students.

Throughout their time at university, our students have the opportunity to get involved in research as part of their course, by becoming an undergraduate research assistant or taking part in our newly launched Student Project Bank. By getting involved in research, our students are able to develop their own skills and confidence, work with external organisations and take their newfound knowledge back to their courses.

Following the success of SURE, between 25-26 April 2017, BU will host the British Conference of Undergraduate Research (BCUR). Over 300 students from across the country will gather to present their research and share their research experiences as part of this annual event. We look forward to welcoming all participants and supporting our own students to take part.

The academic

Dr Luciana Esteves, Principal Academic in Geography

Luciana has been the driving force behind the development of SURE.

“The main aim of SURE is to encourage our undergraduates to take part in research and develop their skills. It’s great for student development and benefits our general academic environment.

“About 50 students present their work at each conference through posters, oral presentations and even art installations. SURE is open to students from all programmes and levels of study, including recent graduates who can come back to present their undergraduate research. We’ve hosted two conferences so far, with some students presenting at both, which is really encouraging. It shows that we’re creating a culture of undergraduate research at BU,” Luciana says.

“Feedback from our students has shown that taking part in SURE gave them confidence to talk about their work and was an excellent addition to their CVs, as potential employers noticed and valued their contributions,” she explains.

“As an extra incentive, conference participants have the opportunity to win one of three SURE awards: Research Excellence, which comes with the prize of a fee waiver for any Master’s course at BU, Best Oral Presentation and Best Poster. Winners of the latter prizes are awarded financial support to present their work at an external conference and an iPad respectively,” Luciana tells us.

Students have told us the encouragement and support from their supervisors was one of the main reasons they submitted work to SURE, so we hope to see many more of our academic staff supporting our students to enter BCUR in 2017 and SURE 2018. We look forward to seeing you there!”

The student

Rosie Lumley, BSc (Hons) Nutrition student

Rosie was awarded the Research Excellence prize at SURE 2016 for her poster entitled ‘Increasing awareness of the signs and symptoms of malnutrition and what to do if you think you may be suffering.’ 

“I have a long-held interest in nutrition for the over 65s ever since working as a carer for older people and seeing first hand just how important good food is to an individual and the impact it can have on their health and quality of life,” Rosie explains.

“I spent my placement year working for Dorset County Council’s Partnership for Older People Programme (POPP), where I was asked to design a poster highlighting the signs and symptoms of malnutrition; and importantly, what to do if you or someone you know might be suffering,” she continues.

“It was designed to be displayed in GP surgeries, community centres and day centres in order to catch the attention of people aged over 65 who are living in the community, because malnutrition is highest in this age group. Prevention of malnutrition or early intervention is key to reversing potentially serious health and quality of life issues for an individual and is also one of the most effective cost-saving strategies for our healthcare system.

“POPP were really pleased with the end result and are going to use it on their website and within the community,” Rosie says.

For me, it was a great opportunity to put my knowledge into practice and to get to work for an organisation in my field. It brought together my interest in nutrition for older people and the knowledge I’ve gained through my course."

"My interest in this field continues to grow and I dearly hope to be able to continue learning, researching and working in this area for the foreseeable future.”

The impact

Jane Hutchings, Community Development Worker for Access to Food and Nutrition for Dorset’s Partnership for Older People Programme

Jane worked with Rosie during her placement.

"Dorset POPP strives to achieve prevention and early intervention on issues predominately relating to older people in the community,” Jane explains. “Malnutrition is a serious issue and often accepted as normal as we age so raising awareness is very important.

“Rosie was asked to design a poster so people could easily identify if they or someone they knew may be at risk of malnutrition by highlighting the common signs associated with malnourishment. It was great for us to have a keen student studying nutrition who showed enormous passion and professionalism to help us achieve our goal by designing an eye catching poster with a simple but clear message,” Jane continues.

The student placement worked well for both parties involved as Rosie developed a deeper understanding of working in the local community setting, specifically relating to access to food and nutrition for adults."