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    Annual Food and Business conference shows breadth of student research

    22 February 2024

    A mini conference at which final year Undergraduate Business and Food students at Harper Adams University discuss their final year projects has shown breadth of research being examined. 

    The annual conference, now in its third year, is an opportunity for the students to talk about their Honours Research Projects –a long-form piece of work on a particular topic - with both in-person and poster presentations throughout the day. 

    With work now well underway on each project, students outlined what their investigations had currently uncovered, discussing their literature reviews, questionnaires, or even the physical research they are carrying out. 


    Among topics being discussed during the day were understanding healthcare professionals’ knowledge, perceived barriers or facilitators and their views surrounding the potential for personalised nutrition programmes to be implemented within the UK healthcare system; the barriers hindering women from reaching managerial roles in agriculture; Chinese consumer choices in plant-based foods; the use of fava beans in alternative milk drinks; the use of social media as a recruitment tool at farm level; and investigating the positive influence of market instability on encouraging farmers to invest in diversification projects. 

    In their poster presentations, students examined the factors which affect consumer acceptance of reduced meat content burgers, the art of selecting the best agri-machinery, a comparative study of meat quality and tenderness, and the factors which affect farmers’ decisions on their farm insurance. 

    Senior Lecturer in Economics,Dr Hairong Mu, organised the conference, and said: “The undergraduate research conference holds significant value for the students who participate.  

    “It provides an opportunity for students to showcase their research skills and academic achievements to a wider audience. Presenting at the conference provides recognition and validation for students’ hard work and academic accomplishments. It boosts their confidence and motivates them to continue their research endeavours.  

    “Furthermore, the conference offers a platform for students to receive constructive feedback on their research projects from the tutors. This feedback is invaluable for improving their research methodology, refining their arguments, and expanding their knowledge base.  

    “Additionally, for students who participate as audience members, the conference offers exposure to a wide range of research topics and methodologies, providing valuable insights across various fields. Witnessing their peers present their research projects inspires and motivates audience members to reflect on their own research projects.” 

    During the day, staff from across the business and food departments discussed students’ research – with part of the aim of the event to allow a discussion of the ideas and motivations underpinning each HRP. 

    Dr Mu added: “Staff members play a crucial role in supervising and guiding students throughout their research endeavours.  

    “The conference allows them to witness the culmination of their guidance and support, providing a sense of fulfilment and pride in their students’ achievements. It allows staff members to stay informed about the diverse range of topics in undergraduate research within our department. 

    “The success of students presenting at the conference reflects positively on the department, showcasing its commitment to fostering research excellence among undergraduates.” 

    Prizes are also given for the best oral and poster presentations at the conference, with a panel of judges drawn from Food and Business lecturers choosing two winners, and the attending students also voting on their favourite oral and poster presentation. 

    The winners received their prizes from Harper Adams Deputy Vice-Chancellor Professor Michael Lee

    Students voted BSc (Hons) Agri-Food Marketing with Business student Niamh McGrath’s presentation the best oral presentation, with their award for best poster presentation being awarded to BSc (Hons) Agri-Business student Jack Saunders. 

    Meanwhile the judges’ award for best oral presentation went to BSc (Hons) Food Technology with Nutrition student Grace Latham, and the award for best poster presentation went to BSc (Hons) Food Quality with Retail student Lin Zhao. 

    Dr Mu added: “The conference was positively received by both staff members and students. Staff members expressed pride in the conference outcome and commended the high standards set, finding it encouraging to see the rigour in the work presented. 

    “For students, the conference was a moment of recognition for their hard work and academic achievements. They greatly appreciated the feedback received from staff members, peers, and other conference attendees.  

    “After the conference, students conveyed their enjoyment, with comments such as ‘I really enjoyed it’, ‘It was a really beneficial and enjoyable day’, ‘I had a great day listening to all presentations and taking time to read others’ posters’, and ‘It was a standout event!’” 

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