Bournemouth University’s annual research conference – Showcasing Undergraduate Research Excellence (SURE) – returned for a seventh year on Wednesday 16 March 2022.
Over 20 students presented their undergraduate research at the 2022 SURE Conference. Four students shared more information about their abstracts and the motivation behind their research below.
A full programme that details which undergraduate students presented their work during the event is available to browse online.
SURE 2022 Research
The Discursive use of National Identity by Boris Johnson during the Pandemic
Harry Palmer-Randle, BA (Hons) Politics
During times of crisis, it isn’t just WHAT our politicians say that is important, it is HOW they say it. My research looks at the language used by Boris Johnson in his speeches and addresses during the Covid-19 pandemic, and the ways he used them to try and establish a national identity.
The focus of a lot of his language was interesting because, having analysed a lot of what he said, it was less about the pandemic itself and more about establishing the situation as a ‘them and us’ situation – with Covid-19 as the ‘enemy’ and the rest of us in it together.
In doing so, he was trying to place us all on the same side and therefore in the same group, meaning to criticise him, his government, or any element of the response, was in effect a criticism of everyone.
Covid-19 isn’t the first time that language has been used in a way to serve an alternate purpose to simply disseminating information. Refugees are another example – the word ‘immigrant’ was often used instead of ‘refugee’ which can completely change perception. In the early stages of Covid-19, a lot of Boris’ language was military in tone, with talks of a battle, a campaign, and defeating the virus.
Join me at the conference to hear how my research, and other work like it, hopes to educate people so that they are more able to ask questions about why they are being distracted – and what they are being distracted from.
The Effect of Technology on Flexible Working Arrangements
Thomas Marshall, BA (Hons) Business Studies
Covid-19 changed a lot of things, potentially forever, and one of the biggest is the way in which we work. After years of viewing homeworking arrangements with distrust, HR departments all over the world are realising that there are huge advantages to homeworking including more motivated and engaged staff, as well as significant cost savings on office space.
My research looks at how HR departments can handle the transition to hybrid working in a responsible way, taking the needs of employees and employers into consideration. It’s now becoming easier than ever for people to check work emails out of hours, and there are inevitably concerns about maintaining a work\life balance in that context.
In particular, I’m looking at one of the most exciting potential by-products of this change in our working world, namely its potential to close the gender pay gap. It’s well documented that mothers are more likely to be left behind over the course of their career as they are more likely to need roles that are more flexible to help with issues such as childcare. Through making more areas of employment flexible through the use of technology, we could see the career options for mothers becoming much broader, helping them get into, and stay in, fulfilling careers that they can fit round other responsibilities.
Join me at the conference to learn more about how the way we will be working in the future may be completely different to the way we were working in 2019.
The exploration and summary of the current knowledge of senescence viability pathways, and the efficacy of F0X04-DRI in clearing H202 induced senescent lymphoma cells
James Dray, BSc (Hons) Forensic Biology
In an era where science and medicine mean we are living longer than ever, people are often surprised to learn that the human body isn’t really designed to last much beyond 40. Without wanting to depress anyone too much, from 40 onwards our bodies are breaking down, and it becomes simply a question of when they will stop being able to function.
The area of research I’m looking at has the potential to really change that, which is what makes it incredibly exciting.
Our bodies contain senescent cells, which are basically cells that have undergone some form of damage and been told to stop dividing by the body. Instead, they secrete a cocktail of chemicals and proteins into the tissue that surrounds them. Now, when we are young, this is a positive thing, as it helps us to repair any damage that we undergo.
However, the older we get, the more of our cells become senescent and eventually, our exposure to their secretions passes a tipping point and starts to cause us damage – that’s where age-related illnesses such as cardiovascular complications, dementia and renal failure are now believed to originate from.
I’m looking at research in this field, which has exploded in the last five years. A study with mice determined that injecting a recently created drugs called senolytics (namely FOXO4-DRI) can target senescent cells – and ONLY senescent cells. This means it can stop or even reverse some of the aging process. If the work that was done on those mice could be replicated in humans, it could mean a huge improvement to mobility and quality of life as we age.
I’m interested in this research because there is so much doom and gloom around aging, and I see this as an emerging area where I can help contribute to a significant change. It’s important that we help people to live better, as well as for longer, so join me to hear more about this exciting area of research and how it could change our perceptions of aging altogether.
Queer Care – the identification and care of queer effort victims in the pre-hospital setting
Nath Le Blancq, BSc (Hons) Paramedic Science
The seed for my research project came from something I discovered a couple of years ago that completely shocked me – gay conversion therapy is still legal in the UK. As long as the subject of the therapy consents, it is totally legal for (often unqualified) people to try and ‘stop them being gay’. This extends to other forms of identifying across the LGBTQ+ spectrum, so I use the phrase ‘queer change effort’ to describe it (as I also refuse to give the process the credibility of using the word ‘therapy’ in its title – it is anything but).
I was not alone in my ignorance of this topic, however. I quickly discovered that many people don’t realise this legal loophole – that people can be coerced into thinking their sexuality, gender identity etc – is somehow ‘wrong’ and then consent to queer change effort. A medical practitioner could not then intervene, because ‘consent’ has been granted.
My research looks at ways of raising awareness of this issue amongst pre-hospital practitioners, such as paramedics, educating them about queer change effort while making the case for better clinical governance of structures to support these clinical groups. Pre-hospital practitioners have a unique insight into a patient’s life, seeing them in their home environment. That means they are best-placed to spot the signs and symptoms of queer change efforts, but they can only do that if they know that this practice still happens, and know what to look for.
Ultimately, we need the legislation to change to better protect those vulnerable people coerced into trying to change who they are because of the prejudices of others, but in the meantime, join me at the conference to hear how we can help them better in the meantime.