The Vacation Scholarship Scheme is intended for Scottish students undertaking an undergraduate degree course at a Scottish university, who have shown exceptional merit at university, and who would like to devote some portion of the long vacation to undertake a programme of independent research of direct benefit to their academic work. 

Applicants must be of Scottish birth, or extraction (at least one parent born in Scotland), or have been educated in Scotland at secondary level for at least two years. At the time of applying, applicants must be undergraduates of a Scottish university in either in year 3 of a 4 year degree (or an equivalent stage for part-time students) or year 3 or 4 of a 5 year degree (or an equivalent stage for part-time students).

Our Vacation Scholarships page details the full applicant and project eligibility criteria.

Last year 70 Undergraduate Vacation Scholarships were awarded for the summer of 2016, across fourteen of the Scottish Universities and across all disciplines.

The outputs from these research projects vary and the Trust is delighted to share a selection of these from the 2016 round.

Callum Fare (University of St Andrews, supervised by Dr Ognjen Arandjelovic) completed research titled: Advanced machine learning driven computer vision analysis of ancient coins. 

"Ancient coins are historical artefacts of great significance which attract the interest of scholars, and a large and growing number of amateur collectors. Computer vision based analysis and retrieval of ancient coins using their images promises a great many applications in this realm, and has been attracting an increasing amount of attention from the computer vision, machine learning, and data retrieval communities. My work is in great part motivated by the lack of systematic evaluation of the existing methods in the context of coin grade which is one of the key challenges both to humans and to automatic methods. I implemented a series of different methods, some adopted from previous work and others proposed as extensions thereof, and performed the first thorough analysis in the existing literature. I also introduced the first meticulously labelled data set suitable for this purpose. My findings demonstrate the difficulty of the problem and suggest that the existing methods still perform very poorly on data of interest in practice. I analysed and discussed the behaviour of different algorithms and their parameters, and highlighted a series of observations which should guide future work."

Callum's work has been accepted for publication and oral presentation at the prestigious European Conference on Information Retrieval.

Sophie Burdett (University of Edinburgh, supervised by Dr Thalia Blacking) completed research titled: Investigating the influence of canine morphology on body surface area.

"The aims of this project were to evaluate different means of measuring body surface area - 1) reconstruction of full-body CT scans and direct measurement of BSA and 2) 3-D scanning of proportional models, allowing calculation of the likely BSA for a full-size animal of that shape.  Data was gathered for cats, which have a relatively uniform body shape, followed by dogs, which have a more diverse body morphology.  The results suggested that standard BSA estimation formulae are likely to result in over- or under-dosing of drugs, depending on individual body shape.  For the dog, more “extreme” body shapes (e.g. particularly long backs or short legs) are associated with greater deviation from estimated values. 

burdett© Dr Thalia Blacking & Sophie Burdett

We hope to expand upon this pilot data to generate improved formulae for the estimation of BSA in clinical situations – for example, to take account of species and body shape – to aid in the accurate dosing of drugs and reduce the risks of toxicity to patients." - Dr Thalia Blacking. 

"I gained experience in designing a project and working independently. I improved my understanding of how computed tomography works - the project gave me practice at reading CT scans as well as interpreting clinical data.  I also had to learn to adapt to changes and allow the project to be flexible to accommodate any unexpected issues!  Overall, overseeing the whole process from development to conclusion was a great experience to have." - Sophie Burdett.

The images show (A) - Raw DICOM images of a cat CT used to construct surface mesh for BSA measurement (B). (C) Basset Hound surface mesh made using photo-based scanning of proportional model.

 

scran© Sophie McNaughtonAt the University of Strathclyde Sophie McNaughton (supervised by Professor David Kinloch) produced a collection of short stories with a research project called: ‘East End Pubs and West Coast Girls’: A Collection of Short Stories.

"As a student of Creative Writing, I used my Vacation Scholarship to produce a collection of short stories written from the perspective of young working-class Scottish women in 2016. To prepare myself, I researched the work of contemporary Scottish writers to explore the forms of urban Scots used by my generation of Glaswegian and Strathclyde women. I kept a weekly writing diary with notes for redraft which helped me polish up each story. Through the scholarship, I gained skills in research, critical analysis of literary texts, developing plot structures and recurring themes, characterisation as well as self-publishing and formatting. My short stories are now available online." - Sophie McNaughton

 We look forward to receiving the next round of applications; the deadline for submission is 15 March 2017 5pm.

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