In April this year, I was fortunate to have the opportunity to attend the British Conference for Undergraduate Research (BCUR) at Plymouth University, a two day conference where undergraduate students from the UK and beyond exhibit their research.
The conference gave me the opportunity to exhibit my research findings on enslaved wet nurses in the antebellum USA, which I did as part of the Undergraduate Research Opportunities Programme, and also formed the basis of my undergraduate dissertation.
The conference allows attendees to exhibit research in either poster or presentation form, and as I chose to use a poster, I enjoyed the challenge of presenting my research in a different format than usual. It was demanding to put such lengthy research into a poster that was at once concise and visually appealing, as well as accurately documenting the findings of my research. The exercise certainly helped me to be more concise about the findings of my research, which was helpful in answering the questions of attendees and the public who viewed the final posters, and is proving to be helpful in summarising my research as I begin my PHD applications.
One of the benefits of presenting at the BCUR was that the conference is interdisciplinary. Students from other academic backgrounds often had different approaches to my topic, such as a medical perspective or sociological. This kind of feedback will certainly inform how I approach further research projects, and in turn I was able to contribute my perspective to the work of other students. The interdisciplinary nature of the conference also meant that I was often presenting my work to people with little background in American history, which meant I learnt to briefly contextualise the period, which has helped developed my skills of presentation.
The BCUR also involved faculty led workshops, on subjects such as publishing undergraduate research, and pursuing careers in research. These sessions were incredibly helpful in finding out about the options to begin a career in research, and it was also good to meet like-minded students who are beginning the same career path.
I would strongly recommend the BCUR to other undergraduate students. It was a great introduction to exhibiting at conferences, and really nice to meet other students from Reading and universities across the world who are enjoying undergraduate research.