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Category Spotlight: Linguistics

This category is for students of Languages and Linguistics, including Phonetics, Phonology, Sociolinguistics, Syntax and Pedagogy.

All papers must be written in English or translated to English.

Papers which discuss literature should be submitted to the Literature category.

Entrants must submit an abstract of between 100-300 words long.

Read Alexandra Brito’s paper, Global Winner of Language & Linguistics 2017, here.

Word Count: 2,500 – 5,000

The 2015 Award Winner, Ronan O'Brien from Princeton University, penned a paper called "Opportunity Be Knockin': Race and Invariant Be in Hip-Hop Language" which looks at the linguistic construction known as "invariant be" one of the prominent features of African American English (AAVE) as well as Hip-Hop Language (HHL). Through the analysis of lyrics from a selection of rappers, the paper explores this feature.

2017's winning paper "Effects of Language Immersion versus Classroom Exposure on Advanced French Learners: An ERP Study" by Alexandra Brito of University of Tennessee, Knoxville, was a very illuminating study of L2. University students often report making significant advances in their second language (L2) ability after spending time abroad, immersed in a particular language. The degree to which late L2 learners can seem native like in terms of L2 performance and brain processing is unclear in second language acquisition research. Alexandra's study contrasts learners with advanced French proficiency who have attained this level with no, little, or more immersion experience through study abroad. By using empirical neurolinguistic techniques, she investigates the impact of immersion versus classroom experience on second language processing.

According to the judges this was an extremely interesting study which shed new light on the brain processing of L2. They went on to say:

"The author uses an intriguing and relatively novel neurolinguistic technique to investigate a question that not only is interesting in its own right but also has important implications for L2 pedagogy. Very interesting indeed."


 A Highly Commended paper from 2017, was Emma O'Neill from University of Edinburgh's submission " Breaking the Stigma: A corpus-based analysis of the changes in both the usage and semantics of the term mental health in modern day media". The paper investigates changes in the social perception toward mental health, through analysing the negative portrayal of mental health shown to exist in the media. The author examined whether the media's portrayal of mental health had shifted tone in recent years, possibly due to the increased  publicity of mental health awareness campaigns and organisations. The method of collating the data was to use word embeddings and compare the distances between vectors in multidimensional space.


If you would like to find out how to submit to The Undergraduate Awards 2018 click here.

If you would like to read any of the Global Winners or Highly Commended papers go to The Undergraduate Awards Library.

Where Are They Now Wednesday: Laura Collins

Laura Collins studied Biology at the University of St Andrews and was a Highly Commended Entrant of the Undergraduate Awards in 2015 for her paper “Garden birds and their use of provisioned water”. Changing behaviours in birds and community migrations can be seen as indicators of environmental health. Her study investigated whether fresh water increases the attractiveness of gardens to birds, how birds interact with different water sources and how water use varies between species. Laura argues that this area of research is pertinent as an understanding of effective water provisioning would be valuable since providing artificial sources of water in gardens may contribute vital resources to species of conservation concern, which rely on urban gardens as an important habitat. 

Judging Chair Spotlight: Azwinndini Muronga (Mathematics & Physics)

Professor Azwinndini Muronga is the Executive Dean of the Faculty of Science at Nelson Mandela University in Port Elizabeth, South Africa. This year marks his third year as Judging Chair in the Mathematics & Physics category at The Undergraduate Awards (UA), and we are delighted to have Nelson Mandela University as a UA Affiliate institution.

Professor Muronga is a theoretical physicist, who started his tertiary education at the University of Venda, Limpopo, South Africa, where he obtained with a BSc degree in Mathematics and Physics and a University Education Diploma. He then studied at the University of Cape Town where he obtained Honours in Physics and MSc in Physics. After completing his studies at the University of Cape Town hesubsequently went on to study at the University of Minnesota where he obtained his PhD in Physics. 

Azwinndini then did his postdoctoral training at the University of Frankfurt and at GSI Helmholtz Centre for Heavy Ion Research in Germany.

In 2005 he took up a position of Senior Lecturer in the Physics Department of the University of Cape Town. In October 2010 he joined the University of Johannesburg as an Associate Professor of Physics and concurrently as the Director of Soweto Science Centre – before moving to Nelson Mandela University as the Executive Dean of the Faculty of Science.

Professor Muronga's own research field lies in the intersection of nuclear physics, particle physics, astrophysics and cosmology, studying the nature and properties of hot and dense matter in heavy ion collisions and astrophysics.

Apart from his own research interests, Prof Muronga is also an outstanding and recognised science educator and communicator, with a strong passion for, and interest in, public engagement with science , particularly the rural and disadvantaged communities.

Every year UA invites cross-disciplinary and cross- cultural esteemed academics to the world's largest virtual academic judging process.
 If you are interested in becoming a judge for UA 2018, please email or complete this form.



Where Are They Now Wednesday- Surer Mohamed

Surer Mohamed, from Western University, was a Highly Commended entrant at the Undergraduate Awards (UA) 2014, for her paper 'The Trouble with 'Tribe': Beyond a Monocausal Explanation for Ethnicized Conflict in Sub-Saharan Africa' in the Politics & International Relations category.

Category Spotlight: Nursing, Midwifery & Allied Healthcare

This category is for students of nursing, midwifery, occupational therapy, physiotherapy, sport science etc.
Medical students should submit to Medical Sciences and students of Pharmacy should submit to Chemical & Pharmaceutical Sciences.

Entrants must submit an abstract of between 100-300 words long.

Word Count: 2,500 – 5,000

The Nursing, Midwifery & Allied Healthcare category began was first introduced at the Undergraduate Awards 2014, in response to a growing interest from students within the related fields. Last year's winning paper was submitted by Amy Lewis of Western University, Canada with a paper entitled 'Suicide Prevention and Mental Health Initiatives for Inuit Youth in Canada'. The paper explores the negative impact that the loss of culture and community in the post-colonial era has had on the wellbeing and mental health of Canada's Indigenous peoples, particularly among the youth.

In conclusion, Amy argues that suicide has many contribution factors, with the themes of peer and intergenerational discord recurring among Inuit suicide statistics. To tackle this, the paper argues that sociopolitical action must go hand in hand with preventative measures such as guidance from elders and a focus on mental health initiatives.

According to the judges, Amy's paper was an excellent review of the issues, that include major policy implications for not only the nursing profession, but also the provincial and political systems:

"Indigenous health is a global health issue, with the impacts of colonisation being experienced globally. The loss of Indigenous ways of knowing, experiences of cultural erasure, and the effects on young people today make this paper, while set in Canada, extremely relevant to populations globally."

Where Are They Now Wednesday: Jasmine Lee

Jasmine Lee from Nanyang University, was a Highly Commended entrant in 2015 in the Gender Studies & Anthropology category, with her paper " In today's post-Mao era, are females in China still limited by their gender in achieving the aims of education?' 

Category Spotlight: Chemical & Pharmaceutical Sciences

This category is for students of Chemical Sciences and Pharmacy, including Pharmacodynamics and Toxicology.
Students of Biology or Biochemistry please submit to Life Sciences

Judging Chair Spotlight: Barry Sheehan (Architecture & Design)

We are thrilled to have Barry Sheehan back as Judging Chair of Architecture & Design for The Undergraduate Awards 2018.

Word Count Requirements Updated For Undergraduate Awards 2018

Word Count Limits

Where Are They Now Wednesday: Will Heegaard

Will Heegaard from University of California, Berkeley was Highly Commended in the Politics and International Relations Category in 2013.