Geography student as a (research) partner

Embodying the spirit of SEED learning which sees students as partners, final Year Geography student, Reuben Cutts, recently attended the UK Luminescence Conference in Sheffield. There he presented the initial findings of his undergraduate dissertation about lake shoreline sediments.  He was supported by his dissertation advisor, Dr. Abi Stone. Here Reuben reflects upon the conference and his experience of a broader research setting.


The longer I spend at university, the more about the world I realise I do not know. The day I spent at the UK Luminescence Conference in Sheffield represented one such juncture where this has been starkly apparent to me. I was presenting a poster on the initial research findings of my dissertation, which investigates the ability of a portable luminescence reader to identify the indicative age of lake shoreline sediments. Throughout the conference there were around 25 other poster presentations, as well a programme of  oral presentations.

At the conference I enjoyed being exposed to the cutting-edge of the research field that I am undertaking my dissertation in. It was interesting to see how the information we learn about in lectures is actually cultivated: years of unrelenting research, ultimately crafted into an abstract for students’ consumption. It surprised me to see that such a big emphasis of the conference was focused on interaction with other researchers, whereby people developed their own research efforts with the ideas of others. This collaborative approach to working was something that I had not anticipated. It demonstrated to me how my own dissertation research can be improved with the input of ideas from other researchers.

Reuben’s conference poster

In speaking to some of the UK’s leading thinkers in luminescence research, I gained lots of ideas as to how my research could be enhanced. It was also a really good way to have my own understanding of the work tested, and to have my thinking challenged by others’ different takes and approaches. I gave a two-minute presentation on my research to the conference audience, which although quite daunting, I definitely enjoyed.

Overall, this was nothing but a positive experience. I really enjoyed getting to know the UK Luminescence community, whom I found thoroughly supportive. I am especially grateful to Abi Stone for her encouragement and support with my poster, and of course the funding of the SEED social responsibility funds that made this experience possible.

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