Four University of Dundee students have been recognised in a leading undergraduate awards programme.

Dana Leslie (24) has been named as a Global Winner in this year’s Global Undergraduate Awards (UA), while Nicole Coutinho Garrido (24) and Astriti Vatwani (23) have been named as Regional Winners and Dana Cheung (22) was Highly Commended.

UA is the world’s largest academic awards programme that recognises top undergraduate work, shares this work with a global audience and connects students across cultures and disciplines. It is underpinned by the values of innovation, collaboration, ambition, impartiality, inclusiveness and efficiency.

The four Dundee students were first recognised in the top 10% of entrants in their category, with Dana Leslie going on to be named the Global Winner in Visual Arts while Nicole and Astriti were named the top undergraduate researchers in Europe in their respective fields.

Read below for more information on the Dundee entrants and their submitted work:


Dana Leslie – Global Winner in Visual Arts
BA (Hons) Fine Art
Class of 2022

Hope is A Form of Planning

‘Hope is a Form of Planning’ is a series of immersive works encouraging interaction with the sharing, documenting, and battling of gendered experiences through a compassionate lens. The artworks are an extension of the website I launched last year which invites women to anonymously submit locations where they have experienced a form of GBV, creating a living archive of individual experiences. Originally conceived for my local area, the website garnered over a hundred submissions from eight countries. Encompassing installation, print, and video, the exhibition is comprised of three distinct pieces reflecting on the correlation between identity, memory, and systemic structures.

“I was really surprised to hear I had been named a Global Winner. It’s a nice reminder of how much work I had put into my honours project. 

The Global Undergraduate Awards recognises the importance of art in today’s society and celebrates the student voices that will become the next generation of artists. Being selected by a panel of experts in my chosen field has encouraged me to continue in the visual arts, and I will be beginning my postgraduate studies at the end of the month.

I would highly recommend that any student thinking – or even not currently thinking – about submitting their work to do so, as the application process is simple, quick and informative, and you may win an award!”

Nicole Coutinho Garrido – Regional Winner in Psychology
BSc (Hons) Neuroscience
Class of 2022

Investigating Similarities In Brain Activation Between Early-Life Adversity Victims And Criminal Psychopaths

Psychopathy is a severe and destructive condition. Criminal psychopaths (CP) contribute to 20% of the US prison population. Research suggests that genetics and early-life adversity (E-LA) are psychopathy risk factors. I aimed to conduct the first study investigating functional similarities in CP and E-LA victims by evaluating overlapping aberrant functional responses to emotional stimuli in brain regions. 

I conducted a qualitative analysis, two meta-analyses, and a contrast analysis, using Sleuth, GingerALE and Mango. I identified 17 clusters, representing overlapping activation in E-LA victims and CP fMRI scans. The results give some functional neuroimaging evidence that E-LA may contribute to psychopathy.

It means so much to be a Regional Winner. I am incredibly honoured to have won this award for my thesis in a topic that I am so passionate about. I enjoyed every minute of producing it, so to be recognised in such a way is really special. I can’t wait to see where the future takes me.

Astriti Vatwani – Regional Winner in Medical Sciences
Medicine MBChB
Class of 2023

Effects of Ischaemic Reperfusion injury on the cardiac palmitome in the presence and absence of Cyclosporine A

Acute myocardial infarction causes ischaemic injury and eventual cell death. Current therapies can paradoxically result in infarct expansion by triggering ischaemic-reperfusion (IR) injury. Understanding the molecular mechanisms responsible for IR injury is vital in developing novel therapeutic approaches.

The aim of this study was to determine the changes that occur in the cardiac palmitome following IR injury, in the presence and absence of an inhibitor – cyclosporine A. Three CsA sensitive proteins were identified that may play an important role in IR injury, namely PACSIN3 as well as Tescalcin and NHE1, and could be potential targets for future therapies.

“I am extremely delighted to be awarded the Regional winner in Europe for the Medical Sciences category. I am grateful to my supervisor Niall Fraser for his support and guidance in carrying out this original research and to the University of Dundee for providing this opportunity. This achievement has given me the encouragement to strive higher and I look forward to continuing with medical research.”

Dana Cheung – Highly Commended in Life Sciences
BSc Molecular Biology
Class of 2022

The impact of IRAK4 inhibition on B cell proliferation and class switch recombination

My research within the fields of cell signalling and immunology focused on B cells, which are specialised immune cells that defend the body against pathogens, through the secretion of antibodies. My honours project used a combination of western blotting and flow cytometry to determine the effect of inhibiting a protein called IRAK4 on these B cells. Specifically, any changes in proliferation or a process called class switch recombination, where B cells secrete antibodies that bind more strongly to antigens. Class switching is critical in mounting a strong immune response when fighting infection or after vaccination.

“I was shocked when I received the email from the Global Undergraduate Awards, as I had initially applied for the sake of applying. I had no idea that my work was seen as something commendable amongst all of the other entries. This made me even prouder of all the hard work I had put into my research.”

If you are a student interested in taking part in the Global Undergraduate Awards 2023, look out for further information which will be sent to your account throughout the year.