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On 2nd October there were a series of short presentations, held at the Anson Rooms, that detailed the research of 18 of the Interdisciplinary Research Internship Scheme interns.

These undergraduate student internships are coordinated by Bristol’s Institute for Advanced Studies and supported by the University Research Committee. The scheme has been running since 2014.

Professor Nishan Canagarajah, Pro Vice-Chancellor (Research and Enterprise), introduced the presentations and explained the innovative nature of the scheme, that it is student-led and each intern undertakes a research project over summer that covers at least two disciplines, one from their home school and one from elsewhere, preferably from another faculty. Each presentation was  two minutes long and accompanied by two slides.

Kinita Patel presenting her research

The presentations covered a huge range of topics from across all faculties, for example, one presentation by Kinita Patel spanned both the Faculty of Health Sciences and the Faculty of Science, and was focused on a new treatment for periodontitis, a condition that effects the tissues surrounding teeth.

By contrast the following presentation, by Julia O’Driscoll, covered the Faculties of Arts and Science, and focused on how the artist Ai Wei Wei deals with the refugee crisis and attempts to reduce xenophobia through the visual arts.

At the end of the presentations the Vice Chancellor, Professor Hugh Brady, said a few words praising the scheme, students and their supervisors, and highlighting how, as a ‘research intensive university’ Bristol is privileged in being able to offer such an ‘opportunity to learn how to research’. The Vice Chancellor also congratulated the interns on the ‘staggeringly high quality’ of their work, and encouraged them to take their research forward and to pursue Masters and PhDs.

The interns displayed their research on posters outside the Anson Rooms

After the presentations there was an opportunity to talk to the interns in more depth about their projects. Julia O’Driscoll, one of the interns and a final year Liberal Arts student, told Epigram that she had a ‘very positive’ experience, and that it was the interdisciplinary aspect of the scheme that appealed to her. She said that ‘it encouraged me to take more of a risk with my ideas’ and although ‘engaging with reading outside of my specialism was daunting at first, I soon found links and connections between texts’, and whilst ‘learning to articulate and synthesise these was a challenge, it was incredibly satisfying once I had achieved it’. Julia went on to say that she would recommend the project to everyone as it gave her a ‘much-needed confidence boost [in her research ability] for [her] final year’.

The URC/IAS IRIS scheme will be launched shortly for internships during summer 2018.


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