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Four Economics Students Present at the British Conference of Undergraduate Research 2014

The British Conference of Undergraduate Research (BCUR) is an annual prestigious event which promotes undergraduate research for all disciplines and meets each Spring at a different British university.

The Conference was founded in 2010 and held its first conference in 2011. The 2012 conference was hosted here at The University of Warwick. The BCUR invites undergraduates of all levels to submit papers, posters, workshops and performances to the Conference. Abstracts are peer-reviewed and those accepted are invited to attend the conference. BCUR also accepts submissions from students outside of the UK. This year’s event was hosted at the University of Nottingham between 14-15th April and four of our Economics students were accepted to attend and supported financially by the Department.

Abhishek Ananth, Nabila Kauser, Hoe Kwon and Virginia Minni attended the conference in April and you can read their reviews of the event here. Abhishek Ananth was judged to be the best overall presenter and has consequently been offered a Travel Fellowship by IATL to present his research at the International Conference of Undergraduate Research at Monash University, Australia in September. Read more here (link to Travel Fellowship Story).

The Department of Economics has an excellent track record of student success, with several students attending each year. In 2013 four of our Economics finalists attended.

The call for papers is usually published in the autumn and more information can be found on their website bcur.org

BCUR | The Student View

Abhishek Ananth, Economics, Final Year

“A few weeks ago, the Department of Economics, University of Warwick provided me the opportunity to attend the British Conference of Undergraduate Research (BCUR), hosted by the University of Nottingham. Spread over two days, the conference had amassed students from all over the country; with some even flying in from abroad. It presented us a unique opportunity not only to present our own research, but also to learn about the research undertaken across a host of other disciplines at an undergraduate level, making it an eye-opening experience for me.

Students communicated about their research either through posters or through spoken presentations. Having presented my research here, I learnt the value of making my research accessible to the wider audience whilst not abstracting away from the technicality of the matter. I also gained some valuable insight into gathering and using the feedback received either through the 'Q&A' session or directly through conversations with my fellow contemporaries.

Overall the conference was an assemblage of information which highlighted the interdisciplinary nature of many of the current issues and challenges discussed. Finally, the opportunity to network with motivated students who were passionate about their research enabled me to explore the possibility of collaborative research along common themes. For an aspiring academic like myself, this conference provided a glimpse of what might lie ahead.

I was elated to learn that my effort was judged to be the best overall presentation and have been offered a Travel Fellowship by IATL to present my research at the International Conference of Undergraduate Research, 2014 to be held at the Monash University of Melbourne, Australia.”

Nabila Kauser, Economics, Year 1

“This year, the British Conference of Undergraduate Research ’14 was held in the beautiful campus of University of Nottingham from 14th-15th April. Warwick had the largest number of talented researchers in the conference, presenting extremely diverse, high quality work via poster and oral presentation. The students were from Department of Economics, Law, Literature, Physics, Mathematics, etc. Apart from UK students, there were delegates, who came from 10 different countries in the world to attend this conference. As a first year, my poster presentation was highly appreciated by the academics and they encouraged me to pursue my project as I learn more through my degree. It was an incredible learning and motivating experience for me personally. Overall, this conference was a fantastic international platform for young researchers to showcase their work.”

Hoe Kwon, Economics

“On the 14th of April, I had the opportunity to present my Research in Applied Economics project at the BCUR 2014. Through a spoken presentation of 15 minutes, I had to explain how I found that fine wine prices do not commove with other commodity prices through the use of econometrics. This refuted works of two IMF economists who claimed that oil prices were driving the movement of wine prices.

As well as reviewing my RAE project, the presentation allowed me to think about several issues. Firstly, I could really feel how difficult it is to explain technical economic works to the general public. This was inevitable as my RAE contained some technical econometric models to back my argument that wine prices do not commove excessively with other commodities. For example, whilst the 'error term' in an OLS regression may sound obvious to economists and mathematicians, 'simple' concepts such as this can easily confuse the general public. Therefore I had to change my mindset from justifying why I used such econometric techniques to mainly the conclusion from different tests. For example, rather than explaining how GARCH errors are better than OLS errors when modelling commodity prices, I just explained the different results yielded from the two methods. This proved challenging but I managed to simplify the research down to its core, which was very important.

Secondly, after the presentation the audience had the chance to ask me some questions regarding my research. Most questions were mainly focussed on modelling and data collection as many in the hall were intrigued by how economic models could be produced/refuted. In particular someone asked me why my conclusion is different from the IMF researchers and if it means that you can't reach to a 'true' answer in Economics. From this I realised and suggested that if you run several models there are bound to be different conclusions to the same problem. However, it is important to realise the assumptions and the modelling procedure to decide which conclusion could be correct by yourself rather than relying on the general media (the results of the IMF researchers were explained in the FT, the Economist and the WSJ).

As well as a reflection of my own work, the conference presented me with valuable and untapped opportunities to interact with people outside of my course and usual interests. For example, there were various topics such as the excavation for Roman forts in Northern Britain, new animal models of Parkinson's disease and X-ray emissions in space, which I had no idea about before the conference. Whilst most the research ideas were well received by the audience, I felt that discussions were much more interactive in topics where everyone had some background and idea such as the topic of immigration and abortion. Therefore, if someone were to submit an abstract it would be a good idea to base the research on something which the general public has some ideas.”

Virginia Minni, Economics

“Attending BCUR 2014 has been a remarkable experience. Sharing your research with students coming from very different parts of the world and, at the same time, learning about many other research projects is a fascinating and exciting opportunity. My arrival at the conference is quite an anecdote. First of all, as I was changing train at Derby to get to Nottingham, I randomly saw a student carrying a poster cover: she was another student from Warwick going to the Conference! Happy to be travelling in two, I felt much more comfortable in reaching our destination. However, as we arrived at Nottingham, we realised how little knowledge we had of where we had to go, especially after we discovered that the university campus was all spread out around the city of Nottingham. Clueless, we approached two policemen who, without hesitating, offered us a ride in the police car up to our accommodation location. We were so surprised about such a warm welcome! However, the next two days at the conference have been continuously surprising: inspirational talks from professors, passionate presentations from undergraduates and a beautiful green and flowery setting at Nottingham campus. Above all, what I have valued most has been the chance to meet extremely talented people across all disciplines with which I could share interests, feelings and enthusiasm. I truly recommend this opportunity to anyone.“

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