Attending this was the most fun I have had in years. It was better than going on holiday. In December I applied online to present my findings from a summer research project – and in April, Queen Mary sent me to Nottingham so that I would be the QMUL delegate at the 2014 British Conference for Undergraduate Research (BCUR). Science is fascinating to me and as I want to be a scientific researcher. My experience at the BCUR only reinforced this goal.
Travelling to a new place on your own is exciting, and it was quite a journey for me to get to the BCUR. On the train I even played poker with the stranger sat across from me while revising for an exam. After arriving at Nottingham, I met a myriad of people on my way to the conference, all of whom were happy to help me get where I was going.
I did not expect what happened then. Everywhere I went I met people who were welcoming, spontaneous, and just overall awesome. I had dinner with groups of delegates from different universities each day, and would then go to the hall bar with them afterwards. I met Swedish young scientist superstar Ulrika Frising and even a former Miss Wales. It was surprising to me how friendly everyone was, and how eager everyone was to spend time together and get to know each other. I mean: we were complete strangers.
The delegates gave talks or presented posters about their research during the day. It was fantastic to meet so many people with the same passion for science as me. On the second day I presented my poster, which detailed the procedure for synthesizing a novel bioplastic that I designed during the summer before I started university. This plastic is made up of corn starch molecules cross-linked with tartaric acid – a prevalent winemaking waste product. Its biodegradability makes it eco-friendly. Furthermore, it was designed such that it would be edible, opening up a world of possible applications. A research article I wrote exploring the synthesis of this bioplastic is currently under review for publication by the Canadian Young Scientist Journal. To learn more about the BCUR or how to apply to attend next year’s conference, you can visit www.bcur.org for information.