Bader International Study Centre


at Herstmonceux Castle, U.K.



at Herstmonceux Castle, U.K.

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Undergraduate Research on Display at the Bader International Study Centre

Five undergraduate students presented their own research on a range of topics at the Centre’s new semi-annual undergraduate research conference.

By Mitch Piper

students presenting at undergraduate research conferenceUndergraduate students from the Bader International Study Centre presented research projects at the Castle’s new semi-annual undergraduate research conference held at Herstmonceux Castle on Wednesday, November 27. Under the guidance of BISC faculty, students presented research in areas such as English, Geology, History, and Music.

Providing opportunities for undergraduate student research is an integral part of the BISC’s mission and develops skills and knowledge that can be used in further academic study or in the students’ chosen careers.

The BISC’s small class sizes provide an environment where students can easily collaborate with both faculty and other students on innovative research projects. Every course offered at the BISC includes a primary research component.

Faculty members nominated students to participate in the conference. “We are always happy to read great work,” said Dr. Peter Lowe, the BISC Research Director. “But it is nice to be able to reward students with more than just a good mark. Providing the opportunity for students to share research with colleagues and scholars is an excellent way to do that.”

Dr. Lowe is responsible for facilitating academic research activity by both Castle faculty and students. A rich research culture exists among BISC faculty. Nearly 90 percent are currently engaged in a significant research project.

Tegan McWhirter (ArtSci ’14), an Environmental Science major at Queen’s University presented a paper entitled Permafrost and Periglacial Environments. As a student who is interested in pursuing a Master’s Degree in Environmental Engineering or Environmental Science, she believes that developing research and presentation skills is very important. “Sharing my work is always exciting, especially with those outside of my field,” McWhirter explained.

However, true to the interdisciplinary nature of the Castle, not all science students presented on traditional science topics.

Joseph Robbins is a third year engineering student at Clarkson University in Potsdam, New York and is studying at the BISC for the fall term. His presentation focussed on interpreting Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata. Joseph had never engaged in arts research before arriving at the BISC.

“I mainly study math, which at first doesn’t seem to have much connection to the interpretation of music,” Robbins pointed out. “But I think it actually gave me an interesting perspective and drove my curiosity about the subject. Other students who also studied [Moonlight Sonata] had very different interpretations, but we were able to learn from each other.”    

Robbins said that music will continue to inform his academic, professional, and personal life by providing him with a perspective on the important connection between science and art in all facets of human existence.

First year students also presented research at the conference, including Sophie Kassel (ArtSci ’17) who discussed the changing view of gender roles in Mussolini’s government.

A new interdisciplinary BISC first year program set to be introduced in September will include significant research training for first year students. The program will provide students with the opportunity to engage in primary research through experiential learning opportunities across the UK and Europe—developing skills through both in and out of the classroom.

The BISC is committed to providing all students with a unique and rigorous academic experience that will prepare them to become leaders in an integrated, interdisciplinary, and global world.

A full list of student presenters and topics:

  • Tegan McWhirter (Queen’s ArtSci ’14) – ‘Permafrost and Periglacial Environments’
  • MJ Kim (Seoul Women’s University) – ‘Interpretations of Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata
  • Jessica Schalburg-Clayton (University of Kings College) – ‘Power and Authority in Shakespeare’s Richard II and Marlowe’s Edward II
  • Sophie Kassel (Queen’s ArtSci ’17) – 'Mussolini’s Gender Roles’
  • Joseph Robbins (Clarkson University) – ‘An Exploration of Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata

joseph robbins presenting