UROP Winners 2016/17: Beth Snyder and Dr Mara Oliva

On Wednesday 8th November 2017, students from across the University of Reading took part in the annual Undergraduate Research Showcase, to celebrate the work of those students who participated in the Undergraduate Research Opportunities Programme (UROP).

Beth Snyder, who studies BA History, was one of 89 students presenting at the showcase, and she won in the Heritage and Creativity theme for her project: “Climate Change Diplomacy: a Study of President Barack Obama’s rhetoric”. Her supervisor, Dr Mara Oliva, also won the very first UROP Supervisor of the Year Award.

For her research project Beth focused on how President Obama’s rhetoric portrayed the issue of climate change, presented US plans and policies, and addressed both domestic and international audiences. Beth analysed 41 of Obama’s speeches relating to climate change, examining the figurative language, rhetorical devices and his style and tone. She compiled an extensive database of her analysis, read and summarised secondary literature, and wrote a report based on her findings and conclusions. This report is now forming the basis of two articles that Beth is writing with Mara and Dr Sophia Hatzisavvidou (a rhetorician from the University of Bath who also worked on the project). Beth will also be presenting her work at the American Politics Group Conference in January 2018.

Beth said of her UROP experience:

“I decided to apply for this project because I had been thinking about pursuing a career in research and I wanted to gain some experience. American history is one of my key interests so I knew I would enjoy working on this topic. I mostly worked independently but had regular meetings with Mara to discuss my findings and to decide on my next steps.”

“I really enjoyed being able to spend a solid six weeks researching this topic – on a much larger scale than my previous research projects. I also loved the fact that I was researching something that hasn’t had a great deal written about it – it makes the opportunities that can come from this really exciting. I have also built a great relationship with Mara, who is extremely encouraging and created a good working environment, enabling me to feel comfortable steering the project in the direction I chose.”

“This was a fantastic experience and I would 100% recommend this to any student who enjoys researching. For me it confirmed that I want to carry on researching in the future and I am now planning to do a Master’s and a PhD, but even if you’re not pursuing a career in research this process develops many valuable transferable skills that employers will love. Not only this, but the opportunities that can come out of a UROP project are amazing – how many people can say that they have co-written an article and presented at a conference at undergraduate level?!”

Mara said:

“This UROP project was an extremely productive and enjoyable experience. Beth worked exceptionally hard and produced some fantastic results which have set very solid foundations, but have also highlighted new research questions and research paths to follow up. This was the beginning of a new research project for me and it was extremely helpful to have Beth carry out this work, because creating a database is time-consuming and unfortunately modern academia does not often allow the time to develop a project in such a short time. Beth is clearly an exceptional student and she will make a brilliant historian, should she choose to pursue that career, and I hope she will stay at Reading to do her MA and PhD.”

Bethany Snyder


This post was compiled for the our blog by Julia Smalley (Marketing Officer for the School of Humanities and the School of the Built Environment)

This entry was posted in News, Students Page and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.