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Sussex undergraduates win bursaries to undertake research projects over the summer vacation

Mantids will be one of the subjects under investigation by this year's JRAs.

Seventy-four University of Sussex undergraduates have made it through a competitive selection process, securing bursaries allowing them to undertake research projects this summer.

As a group, they  will make up the latest cohort of Sussex’s Junior Research Associate (JRA) scheme, a pioneering undergraduate research programme which encourages top undergraduates to consider a career in research. 

Supported by a £1,600 bursary, a dedicated academic supervisor and mentor, and a comprehensive programme of training and social events, these students will spend their summer getting a real glimpse inside Sussex’s research community.

They will each complete an eight-week research project from July-September. Once their project has finished, each student will create an academic poster summarising their work, to be presented at our annual Celebrating Undergraduate Research Poster Exhibition in October. After the exhibition, there’s also the chance to take their work further afield by attending the British Conference of Undergraduate Research in 2019.

Additionally, the two JRAs who produce the posters judged to be the best by a panel of Sussex academics will be invited to represent Sussex at Posters in Parliament next spring.

This year, some of the exciting projects to receive funding include:

  • Cognitive, motivational, and social-contextual factors in kindness: a mixed-methods investigation (Psychology)
  • Queering of Politics and Space: How and Why Did Gay-Black London Emerge in the 1980s?  (History, Art History and Philosophy)
  • Mapping Eurosceptic and Anti-establishment sentiment within European Parties in a post-Brexit Europe  (Law, Politics and Sociology)
  • Identifying soil triggers of podoconiosis – A disease of millions (Brighton and Sussex Medical School)
  • Does motivational state affect praying mantids’ willingness to attempt to capture prey?  (Life Sciences)
  • From merger trees to merger graphs: improved descriptions of halo growth  (Mathematical and Physical Sciences).

Four students to join Sussex's Planet Bethlehem Archive

Taking the scheme in a new direction, four students will be undertaking projects in Sussex’s Planet Bethlehem archive, an open-access digital resource documenting Bethlehem's history and culture. These four students will be researching the following projects:

  • The methods and ethics of digitising personal ephemera: a Palestinian case study
  • Practices of digital heritage among the Palestinian Diaspora in Latin America
  • A lifetime of movement distilled in a candy box: representing the personal papers of Katrina Sa’ade in a digital archive
  • Sudan's forgotten role in the formation of the Palestinian diaspora: a case study of the Kattan family.

Dr Jacob Norris, the archive’s director, is excited to welcome all four students this summer: “These JRAs are among the most promising undergraduates in the History department and will provide a massive boost to the Planet Bethlehem archiving project. Each student will pursue their own specific research strand, which in turn will help us document and understand the way Bethlehem's modern history is fundamentally connected to the development of the Palestinian diaspora. This experience promises to be hugely beneficial for both the students and the archive.”

International JRAs to visit Sussex in June

The JRA scheme, now in its tenth year, is coordinated by the Sussex Undergraduate Research Office (SURO). The programme has expanded each year, and this the team are particularly excited to welcome 19 International JRAs, high-achieving students drawn from selected partner universities including:

  • Hong Kong University of Science and Technology
  • University of Ghana
  • Cornell University
  • Koç University

These students will be staying at Sussex for eight weeks over the summer, each completing a set research project alongside a supervisor.

JRA 2019

If you’re interested in becoming a JRA next year, take a look at SURO’s webpages, where you’ll find plenty of resources, including information on eligibility criteria, a list of previous JRA projects, and a gallery of JRA posters that have been presented at Posters in Parliament. If you’ve got any questions about the scheme, email

Posted on behalf of: Sussex Undergraduate Research Office
Last updated: Thursday, 24 May 2018