Heritage conservation project wins top prize

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How to preserve heritage in rural Chinese villages was the focus of an award-winning research project undertaken by a team of undergraduate students at Xi’an Jiaotong-Liverpool University this summer.

The project, which was one of 66 carried out by 170 XJTLU students as part of the Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF) programme, took out the Overall University Winner category, as well as the Student-nominated Prize at the annual SURF Poster Day held on September 12.

The SURF programme offers undergraduate students the chance to work on research projects in collaboration with academic supervisors during the summer holidays. The winning project examined the protection of architectural heritage and cultural heritage in Jukou, Fujian, and was supervised by Dr Yiping Dong (pictured below, second from the right) from the Department of Architecture.

"The project aimed to study the protection of architectural heritage and cultural heritage through fieldwork," Dr Dong said.

”We traveled back and forth between XJTLU and the Fujian Province three times as part of the project. We analysed and discussed the data we collected from each trip so that we could return with new questions.

"We will now provide the research results to the local government with the aim of promoting heritage protection in the area."

Yichen Du (pictured above, first from the right), a Year Four student studying a BA Applied English, was part of the project team exploring image creation and localisation on corporate homepages, which took out the prize in the Humanities and Social Sciences Cluster category. Yichen said she learned a lot through participation in the SURF project.

"We had a lot of hypotheses before we started researching but the actual results surprised us, which helped us learn even more,” she said.

Fellow student Xuechun Mao, who recently graduated from the BA Applied English programme, and will pursue postgraduate study in Women’s Studies at the University of Oxford this autumn, said the SURF programme was a valuable experience.

"The SURF project helped me stand out when I applied for postgraduate programmes,” she said.

“It was also an interesting way to spend the summer with my inspiring supervisor and teammates."


Professor David Goodman, vice president of XJTLU, congratulated the students on spending their summer engaged in important research projects.

“The SURF programme is a great opportunity for students to explore different ideas and learn something new,” he said.

Professor Eng Gee Lim, dean of research and graduate studies at XJTLU, said he was impressed by the creativity and talent on display at the SURF Poster Day.

“I am sure these projects will be beneficial to your future studies and research,” he said as he addressed the student participants.

The winning projects from each academic cluster, selected by the judging panel, were:

• Built environment – Fanyun Chen, Xinrui Dan, Yunyan Li: ‘Heritage-zation in contemporary conservation practice in rural villages of China – Case study in Jukou, Fujian’, supervised by Yiping Dong. This project was also voted the overall institutional winner and received the student-nominated Prize.

• Humanities and social sciences – Chunmei Liao, Ruixue Zhou, Yichen Du: ‘Image creation and localisation on corporate homepages’, supervised by Hui Wang

• Business School – Tianyu Xiang, Donghua Zhang, Dawei Wang: ‘The internationalisation process of Chinese privately owned SMEs’, supervised by Tao Bai

• Industrial Techonology – Bian Yixuan, Zheng Shuoyang, Zhu Huiying, Abrham Bisrat: ‘Exploring integrated smart textiles and wearable electronics for posture correction and treatment’, supervised by Martijn ten Bhömer

• Mathematical Sciences – Jiaao Wang, Shuang Qiu, Jiangyi Hu: ‘Modeling the vehicle routing problem in two-echelon supply chain’, supervised by Min We

• Science – Yue Pan, Yuwei He: ‘Effects of microplastics and nutrient level change on the growth of Daphnia magna’, supervised by Yixin Zhang


By Heyang Liu, edited by Rosanna Galvin, photos by Haochen Wang

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