Bitcoin and Bees: Sussex undergrads impress with their research expertise
Two University of Sussex students shared their research insights into cryptocurrency and bees with MPs and government officials in a nationwide competition.
University of Sussex Business School undergraduate Artur Lindmaa and Cassandra Uthoff of the University’s Life Sciences department shared their expertise at the prestigious Posters in Parliament event held on Wednesday.
Artur and Cassandra both took part in Sussex’s Junior Research Associate (JRA) scheme last summer, which gives undergraduate students the opportunity to gain real-world research experience in their chosen field, and were chosen to represent the University at the exhibition after being judged the top two research posters during the University’s own Undergraduate Research Poster Exhibition.
Cassandra explained to invited attendees how the common bramble is fought over by honeybees, bumblebees and solitary bees while Artur discussed his research project to develop indices that measures investor sentiment in various cryptocurrencies by garnering information from social media, journalists, traders, investors and the markets.
Artur said: “The day was inspiring and I had an incredible experience. I gained valuable insights from other researchers and learned a lot about current research trends outside my expertise.
“The highlight of the day was discussing my research with a member of the parliament and to see their genuine interest in the contemporary research done by undergraduates. I was surprised by the wide variety of ways how young scholars can engage with the parliament and its committees. The conference gave me new ideas to further expand my research.”
It is the seventh year in a row that the University of Sussex has entered students into the national competition and the second consecutive year that the University had the responsibility of organising and ensuring its smooth running for around 150 students, support staff and guests in attendance.
The event is traditionally held within the Palace of Westminster but this year it was held across Parliament Square in the headquarters of the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors.
Around 60 students from across the UK presented their research and discussed their findings with the Chair of Research England David Sweeney and several MPs including International Trade minister Conor Burns and Shadow Minister for Industrial Strategy, Science and Innovation Chi Onwurah during the event.
Cassandra said: “I was a bit nervous about the actual poster exhibition but it was really great to see so many people interested in my work and seeing how passionate other entrants were about their own research.
“My inspiration from the day was that you should really just do what you enjoy and it'll lead you to great places like Posters in Parliament. I'm definitely going to keep studying bees because I really have found my passion.”
A panel awarded top prize to the exhibition poster of Radu Adrian Racovita from the University of Warwick who built a functional artificial neural network using colonies of the E.Coli bacteria, which became expert at the game Tic-Tac-Toe through reinforcement learning.
Chris Harding, Undergraduate Education Officer at Sussex Student Union and former JRA researcher gave a speech at the event, said: “All the students here, who have produced this excellent work are incredibly inspiring. You have proven the importance that the young generation holds for the future and have shown how progress can still be made in a world in turmoil. Moreover, you have shown those who doubt young people because of their ‘lack of experience’, how wrong they are.”
The event was held in association with the British Conference of Undergraduate Research (BCUR), an open coalition of universities dedicated to encouraging a national culture of undergraduate research.
Sussex undergraduates who are interested in taking part in this year’s Junior Research Associate programme can find out more here.