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What our undergraduates did last summer

A group of University of Sussex undergraduates gave up part of their summer holidays to get a taste of top-flight research as part of a University scheme to inspire the academics of tomorrow.

A total of 22 second-year students were awarded Junior Research Associate bursaries, worth up to £1,800 each and made possible by generous alumni donations, to fund up to two months’ university research work at Sussex in the summer.

The aim of the JRA scheme is to encourage talented and ambitious Sussex undergraduates to consider postgraduate study at Sussex and a career in research following graduation.

The students, who have excelled in undergraduate study, assisted on research projects or conducted their own research in diverse areas including breast cancer research, bee conservation, a study of Surrealism and work on one of the world’s biggest physics experiments.

Now, the students are to present their work at a special poster exhibition this Wednesday afternoon (19 September 2012) in the Freeman Centre on the University campus before they get back to their final year of undergraduate studies.

Among the students presenting their research at the exhibition are:

  • English undergraduate Claudia Cockrell explored the life of Sussex man Edward James, a major figure in the Surrealist movement and a patron of and collaborator with Salvador Dalí
  • Human Science student Katherine Fensome spent the summer on the Downs, recording flower species for a survey of wildflower forage for bees – part of research being conducted in the University’s Laboratory of Apiculture and Social Insects;
  • Chemistry student Melvyn Ansell took part in molecular research in the lab as part of wider research at Sussex into the chemistry of greenhouse gases;
  • Brighton and Sussex Medical School second-year student Lekshmy Balakrishnan, who investigated the molecular mechanisms underlying drug resistance in breast cancer;
  • Physics undergraduate Jack Miller, has been assisting Sussex physicists in one of the UK's most important particle-physics projects – the neutron electric dipole moment experiment – which seeks to which seeks to explain why the Big Bang created more matter than anti-matter in the Universe.

Professor Richard Black, Head of Global Studies, speaking on behalf of the Doctoral School, says: “The JRA scheme has proved highly popular among our undergraduates and there has been heavy competition for places. The work produced by our JRA students is of an extraordinary quality and bodes well for the future of top-flight research at Sussex. Our alumni deserve special thanks for supporting such a rewarding and innovative scheme.”

Notes for Editors

The Junior Research Associate poster exhibition and reception will be held in Rooms24 and 25 in the Freeman Centre, University of Sussex, between 3.30pm and 5.30pm on Wednesday 19 September 2012. Visitors are welcome to come along and view the poster exhibition and talk to the student presenters about their work.

The University of Sussex Junior Research Associate (JRA) scheme is a pioneering project run by the Doctoral School. Its aim is to develop future research leaders by encouraging talented and ambitious undergraduates to consider a career in research following graduation.

The scheme recognises academic excellence and drive by supporting the best undergraduates during the summer vacation as they work alongside Sussex’s top research faculty on real-life research projects.

University of Sussex Press office contacts: Maggie Clune and Jacqui Bealing. Tel: 01273 678 888. Email:

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Last updated: Monday, 1 October 2012