University students present research in Parliament

Two University of Aberdeen students have presented their research at the British Parliament in London.

Fourth year students Yasemin Gulseven (Zoology) and Sam Ma (Medicine) exhibited their final year projects at the Posters In Parliament event run in conjunction with the British Conference of Undergraduate Research (BCUR).

Yasemin and Sam were two of 40 undergraduates from universities around the UK to be invited to present their work at the event – an opportunity for legislators and policy makers to see first-hand some of the innovative research taking place around the country.

Yasemin’s research concerned the invasive slug known as the (Arion flagellus) – a non-native species which is a major crop pest and costs the British economy £1.7 billion annually.

With the recent banning of chemical molluscicides in the EU, agricultural industries rely heavily on a biocontrol agent called Nemaslug. Yasemin tested the effectiveness of Nemaslug as a biocontrol on the Spanish stealth slug and found that it did not have a significant effect. 

“During the Posters In Parliament event, I spoke to various MPs, students and university staff, highlighting the importance of further research into improving biocontrol,” says Yasemin. “Their reactions varied from intrigue to amusement, mostly due to my choice of researching slugs! Overall, it was an exhilarating experience, providing me with valuable skills in public engagement.”

Sam Ma’s research was a systematic review regarding the effect of weight-loss diets for obesity on all-cause death, cardiovascular diseases and cancers using long-term randomised clinical trials.

No previous research has shown any reduced death or disease rates from using weight-loss diets. Sam’s review illustrated for the first time that low-fat diets can reduce premature mortality in obese adults over long-terms of follow-up (more than or equal to 1 year). The research adds to existing evidence, promoting the usage of low-fat diets for improving the nation's health.

“My time within the event was one of fascination and interest,” says Sam. “Having never visited Parliament before, it was an interesting time to learn about some Parliament history and also about other university's research. Me and my supervisor, Professor Alison Avenell received lots of interest in our research and we answered questions from other staff and students during the event.

“I hope that this experience will help me to become more engaged with the wider public and other types of research in the future of my career, and that this research can help the public too.”

It is the fourth year the University of Aberdeen have taken part in the event.