Manchester students win ‘junior Nobel Prize’


Two students from The University of Manchester are celebrating, after they both scooped a global award often referred to as the ‘junior Nobel Prize’.

The Undergraduate Awards are the world’s largest international academic awards programme, which recognise excellent research and original work across the sciences, humanities, business and creative arts. They are the ultimate champion of high-potential undergraduates.

This year, the awards had over 5000 entries from undergraduates in 244 institutions and 121 nations – which is a record number of submissions. The ‘Global Winner’ award won by Jamie Hargreaves and Natalia Beghin is given for the highest-performing paper within its category.

Jamie won the Mathematics & Physics prize for his paper, which sought to investigate the biomechanical properties of the skin and understand how to accurately replicate its behaviour – this will give insights into a range of areas, from reconstructive surgery and wound healing, to the ageing process and computer graphics.

“There was an extremely diverse range of modules available at every stage of my degree, and having that exposure puts you in a great position to be able to apply what you've learned to new kinds of problems and work across disciplines” said Jamie. “I think this is a testament to the level of expertise that can be found amongst the staff within The School of Mathematics.”

Natalia won the Politics & International Relations prize for her paper about power structures, which used feminist theory to outline why establishing empathy for others makes it more difficult to commit violence against them.

“I came to Manchester because my grandmother is an alumnus - she studied medicine there in the 1940s, and I wanted to have the privilege to say we studied at the same institution,” said Natalia. “I really enjoyed my time at Manchester, and am hugely grateful for the opportunities I had there.”

This is a huge achievement for The University of Manchester and its students. We received the highest number of submissions to date, with only the best papers making it through the judging process - the competition was extremely tough, and the judges were astounded at the high quality of undergraduate research this year. Congratulations to this year’s successful entrants.
Louise Hodgson, CEO of The Undergraduate Awards

11 other entrants from the University were also Highly Commended, putting them in the top 10% of submissions. They were:

Ryan George - Business category
Esther Olarewaju - Business category
Veneta Haralampieva - Computer Sciences category
Robert McCall - Economics category
Rosie Nolan - Economics category
Bethany Ryan - Education category
Utkarsh Jain - Mathematics & Physics category
Robin Trenbath - Politics & International Relations category
Ryan Fox - Psychology category
Ria Basu - Social Sciences: Social Policy category
Sammy Madhi - Engineering category

The papers were submitted as part of The University of Manchester’s ‘Learning through Research’ project, which aims to equip students with skills they can use in their everyday lives through the use of research methodology.

“Though Learning through Research aims to change the way every student approaches knowledge - rather than focusing specifically on the outcome - if we do it right, it should also result in some excellent undergraduate research. The outcome of the Undergraduate Awards shows that this is indeed the case,” said Louise Walmsley, the university’s Director of Teaching and Learning Support.

“We are thrilled not just with the excellent outcomes of our global winners and highly commended students, but also with the increase in students submitting to the awards.”

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