The Science Undergraduate Research Experience (SURE) Conferences, which took place on Friday 28 September, were packed to the seams with over 400 science students and academics in attendance. The conference opened with a keynote address from the Minister of State for the Office of Public Works and Flood Relief, Kevin ‘Boxer’ Moran, TD, which took place in Athlone and was live streamed across the three venues.
Speaking ahead of the event, Professor Brian Norton, President, DIT, said, “We are delighted to host the Dublin leg of the first annual SURE Conference in DIT Grangegorman. This event is providing a valuable opportunity for our students to present their work on a public platform. Some of these students will go on to study at Masters and PhD level, and this experience is giving them a taste of what a research career in academia or industry could be.”
Dr Julie Dunne, Assistant Head of DIT School of Food Science & Environmental Health and the National Conference Chairperson, explained, “The presentations are showcasing the very best of undergraduate science research drawn from the final-year projects of the class of 2018. The oral and poster presentations cover a broad range of topics, including the investigation of pathogens in cystic fibrosis, how lichens may be an indicator of air pollution in rural areas, and the possibilities for using machine learning in electronic games.”
Highlighting the goals of the conference, Dr Barry Ryan, DIT, says, “This conference aims to support and empower students to showcase their dynamic research projects at a national level. It’s a chance for them to learn from their peers, to get valuable experience presenting publicly, and to celebrate what they have learned and contributed to the sciences during their course of study.”
At the Dublin venue, nine students gave oral presentations and a further thirty students showcased their work through a poster presentation. Awards were given on the day for the best scientific presentation and poster, and were presented by Professor Michael Devereux, Director and Dean of the DIT College of Sciences & Health and Dr Jennifer Brennan, Director of Research and Innovation, Technological Higher Education Association. Details of the awardees for the Dublin conference are included below.
The event also included a panel discussion by DIT postgraduate students who shared their first-hand experiences on the front lines of research, along with talks on career planning, getting past the interview stage, and funding opportunities for postgraduate research.
The conference Twitter feed was hopping throughout the day, and you can re-live all the action here.
The Science Undergraduate Research Experience (SURE) Network was established in 2017 by a community of twelve Institutes of Technology interested in enhancing practice in undergraduate research in the Sciences.
Best Oral Presentation - Helen Collins (IT Tallaght) “Investigating the Potential Virulence Factors of the Novel Cystic Fibrosis Pathogen Pandoraea”
Supervisor: Emma Caraher (IT Tallaght)
SURE Audience award for Best Oral Presentation - Simon D O'Neill (DIT) “MindGame: A Machine Learning Framework for Electronic Games”
Supervisor: Damian Gordon (DIT)
Best Poster Presentation - Elena Walsh (DIT) "The Development and Validation of Reverse Transcription Polymerase Chain Reaction (RT-PCR) Mutation Scanning Assays for the Initial Investigation of Biochemical Genetic Disorders"
Supervisors: Evan Keogh (St James's Hospital), Sarah Savage (St James's Hospital), Barbara MacNamara (St James's Hospital), Vivion Crowley (St James's Hospital) and Frank Clarke (DIT)
SURE Audience award for Best Poster - Jonathan Brady (IT Tallaght) "Investigating the Effects of Antibiotics and Natural Compounds on Bacterial Growth and Formation of Biofilms"
Supervisor: Emma Caraher (IT Tallaght)
The following students were Highly Commended for their oral presentations:
Michelle Jia Yi Teh (DkIT) “Advancement and Development of a Novel Ibuprofen Formulation to Address Limitations of Current Marketed Product”
Supervisor: Sinead Loughran (DkIT)
Sophie Masterson (DIT) “Neonatal Porcine Diarrhoea Subtyping of Porcine Clostridium Perfringens Type A Isolates Using Cpn60 Sequencing”
Supervisors: Jenny Larsson (Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences), Anna Aspán (Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences) and Julie Ann Naughton (DIT)