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Thursday, 12 November 2015

Undergraduate Awards 2015 - UPresent

It is Thursday, and the award winning undergraduate students are presenting their work in snappy 3 minute sketches of their research. Subjects range from coping with war to alcoholism, new materials to gender bias, modelling cancer to historical interventions on the Taj Mahal. Students from Singapore to the the Czech Republic.

The spread is all-encompassing - an eclectic mix of all aspects of human experience, and in every area, from cyberbullying to the visual arts, it is clear that huge changes are in progress.

Not only are these brilliant and sparkling young people capable of characterising and managing the huge changes which are afoot, they are thoroughly comfortable in this most dynamic of modern worlds.

Undergraduate Awards 2015 - Awards Ceremony!/fileManager/UG%20awards.jpg

The 2015 Undergraduate Awards ceremony and formal dinner took place last night at Dublin City Hall and Dublin Castle. Twenty five of the world's best undergraduates were presented with their gold medals by Michael Higgins, The President of the Republic of Ireland.

This Irish-inspired competition aims to identify the leaders and creative thinkers of the next generation. This year there were submissions from 255 institutions in 39 countries around the world. The ceremony is a high point in a week-long gathering of the very best of these students in Dublin to collaborate and consider the world's problems. Their presence reflects praise on themselves and on the institutions of the Republic of Ireland and the administration of The Awards. The Undergraduate Awards are now the premier and largest undergraduate competition in the world.

Tuesday, 10 November 2015

Undergraduate Awards 2015 - Congratulations to the winners of the Earth and Environmental Sciences section

Tomorrow the 2015 Undergraduate Awards will be presented in Dublin by Michael Higgins, the President of the Republic of Ireland.

The Overall Winner of the Earth and Environmental Sciences section of the Undergraduate Awards 2015 is Katelin Hanson of the University of Edinburgh for her analysis of offshore wind power potential in Oregon.

The Programme Winner of the Earth and Environmental Sciences section of the Undergraduate Awards 2015 is Karen O'Neill of University College Cork for her work on the conservation of the Freshwater Pearl Mussel.

As chairman of the panel of judges for the Earth and Environmental Sciences panel, and on behalf of the judges of that panel, I would like to offer my most sparkling of congratulations to both of the winners, and recognition of the insight and importance of their work.


International Undergraduate Awards I - Glitz, Glamour and Sparkle

So, here we are at the international Undergraduate Awards in Dublin. Or, to be more accurate, here we are having just arrived off a flight for which we had to get up at 5am to get, and will be at the Undergraduate Awards for the next few days.

Many will say, what are these awards? Well they are the premier award for high quality undergraduates who will be the leaders and critical thinkers of the new generation - The Future!

The Undergraduate Awards is a sort of student version of the Nobel Prize, the igNobel Prize and the Oscars, all rolled-up into one, and they are awarded annually to the best undergraduates globally across a whole raft of subjects from Art History, Music, Film & Theatre to Visual Arts & Design via Business, Science, Engineering, Medicine and Social Sciences.

Every year students from around the world submit their best reports to The Undergraduate Awards office in Dublin. Every year the submissions are whittled down through 4 stages until a winner and runner-up emerge in each of 25 categories. And why am I here? - well, this year I was the chair of one of the panels of judges (the best one - but then I would say that wouldn't I). Each stage in the judging process has been made thanks to the tireless commitment of each panel of judges, and mine, the panel of Earth and Environmental Sciences, were absolutely brilliant throughout. I reckon they must have read more words than a Man-Booker Prize judge, and all during their holidays. Equally, the staff at the Undergraduate Awards, and especially Belen Rodriguez Galvez, have been sparklingly marvelous. Do not tell her - but I am a big fan! Lastly, the support of the sponsors, including Google, has been as staunch and necessary as ever.

But the highest praise is for the contestants - the quality of all of the submissions was incredibly high this year, and as an academic professor, I will have to watch my step with some of these rising academic mavens of the new millenium.

The winners will be given their awards at City Hall Dublin tomorrow followed by a formal dinner in Dublin Castle. However, many say that the real award is the rest of the week when they share the wisdom of a set of distinguished lecturers and the opportunity to work together in teams in order to come up with new ideas to save the planet.

In my view each winner and runner-up is a nascent superhero whose special powers can be harnessed for the good of all, and they all deserve the highest praise and exhortation to carry on being excellent and serving the wider community in their own particular ways.