Liam O’Brien from School of History, University College Cork Recognised by “Junior Nobel Prize”

The Undergraduate Awards (UA) gathered 150 of the world’s top undergraduate students in Dublin for the 2016 UA Global Summit in Dublin, including a student from the School of History, University College Cork.

Liam O’Brien was the winner of the best History paper in the Regional Category (the island of Ireland) and Highly Commended. His original and innovative paper was ‘Reflections on the Dunmanway Union, and its Workhouse, during the Great Famine’. It showed how much work remains to be revealed about the Great Famine on Ireland (1845-48), as to date the history of the Great Famine has elided its complexity, varied regional impact and the diversity of local responses. Liam is a top-quality student who excelled during his undergraduate degree by demonstrating superior historical writing and analytical skills, in addition to the courage and ability to undertake cutting-edge original research. His History paper was an undergraduate special project that he completed under the supervision of Dr. Mervyn O’Driscoll in the School of History, University College Cork.  (O’Driscoll directs the School’s MA in History and MA in International Relations.) Liam O’Brien has shown such promise that he has now progressed to begin a PhD in History.

Cited as the ultimate champion of high-potential undergraduates, and often referred to as a “junior Nobel Prize”, The Undergraduate Awards is the world’s largest international academic awards program, recognizing excellent research and original work across the sciences, humanities, business and creative arts.

The Undergraduate Awards received a record number of submissions in the 2016 program, totaling a massive 5,514 papers from undergraduates in 244 institutions and 121 nationalities. In each category, the Global Winner is the highest-performing paper overall and also within each category the Regional Winner is the highest performing Highly Commended paper from their region. Highly Commended Entrants are those who were ranked in the top 10% of submissions in each category.

In total, 58 different universities and 37 different nationalities were represented at the UA Global Summit this year. Ryerson University, Canada; Stanford University, USA; University of Johannesburg, South Africa and the University of Helsinki, Finland were among the institutions represented at the event.

The students received their medals and certificates at the UA Global Summit and were addressed by keynote speaker Dr. Mae Jemison, NASA astronaut. Pertinent to last week, Dr. Jemison addressed the students saying “Yikes. What have we been doing? We look at what’s been happening in the world, and people say things will just turn out… Good things just don’t happen, things don’t always turn out, they require work. As our future industry-leaders and CEOs, we are counting on you.”

Speaking about this year’s Winners and Highly Commended Entrants, CEO of The Undergraduate Awards Louise Hodgson said “This is a huge achievement for School of History, University College Cork and Liam O’Brien. UA received the highest number of submissions to date with only the best papers making it through the judging process – the competition was extremely tough and the Judges were astounded at the high quality of undergraduate research in the program this year. Congratulations to Liam and UCC”.

The UA Global Summit took place last week (November 8th-11th) in Dublin across several beautiful venues including Farmleigh House, St. Patrick’s Cathedral and City Hall, Dublin.

About The Undergraduate Awards

The Undergraduate Awards is the world’s largest international academic awards program, recognizing innovation and excellence at undergraduate level. Cited as the ultimate champion for high-potential undergraduates, UA identifies leading creative thinkers through their undergraduate coursework and provides top performing students with the support, network and opportunities they require to raise their profiles and further their career paths.

About the School of History, University College Cork

This is a vibrant School, one of the largest in the College of Arts. It provides a diverse and stimulating learning and research environment at both the undergraduate and postgraduate levels. The School has a proud tradition of high profile public engagement. It disposes of rich expertise across many periods (from the ancient to the contemporary), regions and themes but it is especially noted for its Irish, European and US interests. The School of History attracts a diverse range of students within the School from the local to global. It welcomes traditional and non-traditional students. It also welcomes students in significant numbers from a variety of partner European universities through the Socrates program and a range of North American states through the Semester / Year Abroad program. It has also many European and American students who enroll for its full BA, MA and PhD programs. The School values this international cultural exchange as it deeply enriches historical perspectives, learning experience and research quality.

For more information on the School of History contact:

Charlotte Holland

Senior Executive Assistant (undergraduates),

+353 (0)21 4902551


Deirdre O’Sullivan/Geraldine McAllister

Senior Executive Assistant (postgraduates),

+353 (0)21 4902755


For more information on the UA Awards contact:

Lara Coyle

Communications Manager, The Undergraduate Awards

+353 (0) 1 4415882


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