Dean’s Award for Outstanding Achievement in Undergraduate Research
“I enjoyed being at a smaller university because you get a lot of one-to-one attention and support from the lecturers, who are all brilliant.”
Selina Royale was the receipient of the Dean’s Award for Outstanding Achievement in Undergraduate Research at our 2022 graduation ceremony.
Selina was selected for her award for the consistent high standards of her academic work despite challenges including home schooling her four children and running a busy household throughout the Covid-19 pandemic.
Her lecturers felt that Selina’s passion for her subject, combined with her dedication to her studies and application of her developing knowledge and skills, enabled her to more than surpass her initial achievement expectations.
For her final research project and dissertation, Selina looked at the health benefits of spending time out of doors during the Covid-19 pandemic, whether this increased peoples’ connection to nature and what the implications for conservation might be.
Data from a sample of 350 people showed that during lockdown the respondees generally spent more time than usual out of doors, and that they felt their mental and physical health was improved by being outside. They also felt more connected to nature and were more likely to become involved with conservation. This higher appreciation, however, decreased when work, leisure and family demands resumed in full once the pandemic was over.
Selina’s key finding was that people will connect with nature provided they are given the time and resources to do so, and she suggested that this could be achieved if more readily accessible outdoor spaces with interpretation boards were created in business locations, schools and public places.
Selina, who had not previously studied at higher level, began her UCR journey by completing our Access to HE course and is now considering continuing onto a Master’s degree and from there possibly into teaching.
She said: “I’ve always wanted to be involved with natural history but I didn’t realise that it could offer me a career until now. My degree course was really good because it had a good mix of relevant practical and theory sessions. I also enjoyed being at a smaller university because you get one-to-one attention and support from the lecturers, who are all brilliant.
“I’m a mother of four and hadn’t previously studied to degree level, so I was expecting challenges. But my Access to HE course prepared me well and I achieved far more than I thought possible.
“I’m interested in connecting more people to nature and I’d like to take this forward. I’m considering continuing onto a Master’s degree and from there possibly into teaching.”