The abstracts below were accepted for the 2011 British Conference of Undergraduate Research. The key features of a successful abstract are:
1. A clear statement of your research question or field of investigation
2. A clear statement of the methodology used in your research
3. The background to your research project
4. A summary of your conclusions (or preliminary conclusions)
Because BCUR is a multi-disciplinary conference, you should aim to write your abstract in a way which is accessible for a broader audience where possible.
A comparison of novel drug combination efficacy in three dimensional cell culture
Charlotte Bellamy (Molecular and Cellular Biology)
Gliomas make up 68% of all primary brain tumours. The invasiveness of gliomas means that full surgical removal is difficult, leading to frequent reoccurrence of the tumour. To treat cancerous cells not removed, a combination of chemotherapy and radiotherapy is employed. Presently, chemotherapy treatment for the most aggressive brain tumours only serves to increase survival to 15 months maximum. Current chemotherapeutic drugs are indiscriminate, causing death of both cancerous and non-cancerous cells; the development of resistance by the tumour cells presents another problem to treatment. Therefore, increasing the effectiveness of drug therapeutics is an area of ongoing research which has been revolutionised by the development of 3D cell models.
The aim of this project is to investigate the effect of combined treatment with a histone deacetylase inhibitor and current chemotherapy drugs on glioma cells. Cells were treated with a range of concentrations and the extent of cell death will be measured. Cells were also cultured using both 2D and 3D methods to determine whether there is a significant difference in drug efficacy between the models. All drug combinations were found to cause cell death, which was found to be statistically significant in the 3D cell models.
Nature in the city: young people’s perceptions, values and experiences
Gillian Mayo (Geography & Environmental Management)
Current academic research has established a variety of benefits associated with ‘nature’ or ‘naturalness’ now recognised in urban strategy, policy and planning.
Comprising of a triangulation of quantitative and qualitative methodologies, this research explores the perceptions, values and experiences of young people aged between eighteen and twenty four, and which they associate with open, green and natural spaces within their local urban environment. The sub-theme of the study was to question whether the kinds of spaces provided ensure that young people are socially included in the quality-of-life benefits associated with them and subsequently to establish if there are potentially problematic gaps between ‘official’ and young people’s understandings of these spaces.
This examination revealed tensions that indicate the need for a more complex ‘bottom up’ approach to urban planning, policy and strategy than is already experienced. A palpable passion for naturalness, signified by nature, was revealed, being descriptive of social exclusion through perceptions of marginalisation, fear or stigma, rather than a dislocation from nature.
‘Chalk & Talk’ or ‘Fun & Games’
Catherine Singleton (Education)
The common stereotype of the Victorian school is of the rote learning of the three Rs. However, research carried out on the ‘Band of Hope’, supported by primary resources such as inspectors’ reports, has shown that other methods of teaching children were also used in Victorian England. The Band of Hope was a temperance organization which held weekly meeting for children. It also supported a school scheme where lectures were given in local schools, using interactive blackboard addresses, magic lantern shows, dialogues and recitations. Teaching aimed at giving children a vital educational experience, helping them to learn in an interactive way. The children took part in competitions, singing and in essay writing.
Very little has been written about the educational role of the Band of Hope; the last book to be published was Hope of the Race in 1946 and this is a narrative rather than a critical analysis. Although the movement in general has been written about more recently, by Lillian Lewis Shiman (1973) and by Pamela Horn in The Victorian Town Child (1997), this paper considers the movement's educational role, an issue yet to be fully analysed.
It’s not easy being green: an investigation into the effectiveness of ‘ecological citizenship’ as an explanation for pro-environmental behaviour
Jacqueline Wright (Environmental Management)
The UK government has committed to ambitious sustainability targets, and it is clear that the actions of individual people have a large role to play in achieving these targets. However, while some individuals do appear to be trying to live more sustainably, the majority are not. The author wonders whether the emerging field of ‘ecological citizenship’ could explain the actions of those that are making efforts. If so, it could be used to develop more effective strategies to encourage sustainable lifestyles.
An in-depth questionnaire and online discussion involving people identified as engaging in sustainable lifestyles were used to gather information on behaviour, motivations and attitude. Results showed that the group were engaging in many activities that they believe reduce their effect on the environment and collectively had strong pro-environmental attitudes. Furthermore, in line with the characteristics associated with ecological citizenship, they were often motivated by a sense of non-reciprocal responsibility to others. This responsibility was extended beyond national boundaries, to those spatially and temporally distant. Feelings of responsibility to the non-human world were also strongly evident.
Therefore, while it is acknowledged that the motivations of this group were multiple and complex, often the principles of ecological citizenship did apply. This suggests that the theory could be of use within the UK (and elsewhere) as one method to encourage sustainable lifestyles.
The past: is it costing our future?
Michael Brightman (Business Studies)
With 19,000 scheduled monuments, 1600 registered parks and gardens, 28 world heritage sites and over 370,000 listed buildings, the UK is awash with built heritage assets: cultural, religious, archaeological and industrial, dating from 2300BC to the Industrial Revolution and later. The numbers continue to rise. How does one put a price on the priceless? What is the cost of protecting and preserving this multitude of homes, castles, industrial buildings and urban social history and, more importantly, is it sustainable?
This ongoing study of the Economics of Built Heritage examines the business models of heritage assets whose incomes support their own preservation and considers how those that face market failure are assisted, if indeed they are, and by whom.
The Future of the Book
Wayne Noble (Criminology & Criminal Justice)
When I started my research internship looking into the future of the book, I decided to draw upon my experience in the field of Criminology and Criminal Justice. I had previously conducted research in a similar vein regarding intellectual property crime and it appeared to me that, should the future of publishing consist of digital developments (eBooks), media industries would incorporate some form of digital rights management as part of a business strategy. With the shadow of digital piracy looming over all media communications industries, it became apparent that further investigation into the extent and substance of this perceived threat would be required. I examined whether ‘digital’ and ‘physical’ books could co-exist and reviewed the viability of business models that supply the demand for digital content. I undertook an empirical study of sharing websites, extracting data and cross referencing with data taken from legal downloading sources, giving me the opportunity to calculate potential losses to the publishing industry. From this I was able to ascertain the most popular downloads, how much piracy as an activity represents a threat to the Digital Economy, and also indentify areas in which book sellers need to strengthen their digital presence by suggesting new business models.