More than 100 aspiring researchers gathered to present their work at the annual Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowships poster day.
The event was the culmination of weeks of summer research work carried out by the undergraduate students from across Xi’an Jiaotong-Liverpool University’s academic departments.
Under the fellowship, students are awarded funding to complete research projects, in collaboration with academic supervisors, during their summer holidays.
James Wilson, Director of the Academic Enhancement Centre that coordinates SURF, said that XJTLU is unique among universities in China in giving undergraduate students the chance to do such in-depth research, an opportunity usually given to postgraduate-level students.
He said: “It’s good to get undergraduates involved in research at an early stage so that when they get to their final year they really are truly involved in research and understand it better.
“SURF gives students the opportunity to go out and do all the theoretical things they go through with their lecturers and professors in class and helps students grow as researchers.”
Completing the projects allows students to gain practical research skills, build confidence, develop expertise and come up with ideas for their final year projects or further studies.
The poster day, held on Wednesday 9 September, was the chance for the students to present the work they have completed in the hope of winning awards. The more-than-70 projects were judged by a panel of academic staff, while students also nominated their favourite projects. There were also six cluster winners from built environment, business, humanities, industrial technology, mathematics, and science.
The academic-nominated winners were Boqing Liu, from Computer Science and Software Engineering, and Fangzhou Wu, from Mathematics, with their project "Bitcoin Intraday Trading Robot with Neural Network." The project was supervised by Dr Jinjun Liang.
Almost 600 votes were received in the student vote, with the winning project "Fabrication and Electrical Measurements of Passive Components on Flexible Thin Films by Screen Printing" by Boya Li and Zhenzhen Jiang, from Electrical and Electronic Engineering. The project was supervised by Dr Sang Lam.
The cluster winners were:
- Built environment – Yanzhe Zhang, Architecture, "Can potential shrinkage be a determinant of urban policy and design given an aging China?" Supervised by Dr Jiawen Han.
- Business – Mengyuan Wang and Yilun He, International Business School Suzhou, "Consumer Perceptions of Social Enterprises: A Qualitative Study in Suzhou". Supervised by Dr Juelin Yin and Dr Florian Kohlbacher.
- Humanities – Siwen Zhang, Yutong Luo and Jingwen Gu, English Culture and Communication, "Framing Risk in the Work of Yiyun Li". Supervised by Dr Graham Matthews.
- Industrial technology – Jing Feng, Computer Science and Software Engineering, "A comparative study of directly trained CNNs and CNNs trained by transfer learning technology in object recognition". Supervised by Dr Wenjin Lv.
- Mathematics – Boqing Liu, Computer Science and Software Engineering, and Fangzhou Wu, Mathematics, "Bitcoin Intraday Trading Robot with Neural Network". Supervised by Dr Jinjun Liang.
- Science – Jing He, Weile Chen and Hanshuo Lu, Biological Sciences, "Functional characterisation of arthropod TRPA channels". Supervised by Dr Tatsuhiko Kadowaki.
Professor Andre Brown, Vice President for Academic Affairs, called the poster day one of his “favourite” events, saying: “We say as a university we want to encourage enhancement, innovative teaching, engagement of students with academic staff and this event is one of the best examples of that happening.”
Yihe Yu, a student in the Department of Mathematical Sciences, worked on a project analysing the unique characteristics of the Chinese stock market. She really enjoyed the opportunity to do research on a topic that she’s interested in and that is so current.
She said: “This was my first time doing research, but I could never have imagined that it could be such fun. It was a really special summer and the project made my time at XJTLU more meaningful.”
International Business School Suzhou students Zhiwei Cheng and Keqin Cheng worked on a project analysing the challenges of selling Fair Trade products in China, finding that the Fair Trade brand needs more government support if it hopes to get Chinese consumers to buy products.
Zhiwei and Keqin enjoyed the process of completing the research project during which they learnt much about research techniques. They advised that new students thinking about getting involved in a SURF project should have a strong interest in the topic and already possess basic research skills.
Yuting Fei, who studies English and Communication Studies, and her team investigated the impact that speaking Mandarin had on the integration of rural migrant communities in south Suzhou.
She said: “I learnt a lot during this project, especially communication skills. We did a lot of interviews with local people and migrant workers, so we needed patience and speaking skills. I am hoping to do a masters that focusses on language and society so this research project will help me prepare for my masters study, as well as my final year project at XJTLU.”
The benefits of taking part in SURF continue well after students have completed their projects. Yiyun Zhou, from the Department of Urban Planning and Design and one of last year’s winners, gave a presentation on what she got out of her SURF project. She said that it has helped her with applications to universities for masters programmes and that she was “lucky” to study in a free academic environment where students can get involved in such initiatives.