The OR Society Undergraduate Award

One prize is awarded per registered institution per academic year. At each institution, the student who completes the best OR project as part of their relevant undergraduate degree course is awarded: 

  • A certificate
  • £50
  • The opportunity to present an overview of their project at The OR Society’s Education and Research Seminar
  • Each winning student’s name, their institution and course details and project abstract is published on The OR Society's website
  • An article also features in Inside OR magazine with photographs of all prize winners at the seminar series or with photographs forwarded by the institutions

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Citation for The OR Society Undergraduate Award 2023

Katie Jenkins, University of South Wales

Following her graduation from USW in Mathematics, Katie plans to start a PGCE at the Open University to pass on her passion and knowledge of mathematics and its applications to inspire the next generation of mathematicians, statisticians, and data scientists.


This project investigates system dynamics models of ecology under the theoretical assumption of James Lovelock’s 1972 Gaia Hypothesis (2016), i.e., that the sum of life on Earth comprises a single mortal organism, which can live only while solar energy falling on the planet is below a certain level. Watson and Lovelock’s (1983) Daisyworld, a hypothetical simplification of Gaia, is taken as a basic ecological model and reproduced using system dynamics. Daisyworld is then extended to include herbivores (prey) and carnivores (predators) to create a complete biosphere model, using and adapting the Lotka-Volterra predator-prey (Lotka, 1910) equations. The effect of internal changes to parameters on the behavior of the biosphere is examined. External influences such as plant plagues, ice ages, and global warming are also investigated. Though limited in its real-world applications, this research can demonstrate interactions between flora and fauna and the effects of global temperature, allowing parallels with and further understanding of Earth’s contemporary issues with global warming. The research demonstrates the importance of flora, with adaptive albedo properties, to life on Earth and that even a small planetary temperature increase can cause a considerable decrease in a planet’s lifespan.


IMG 8783 Katie Jenkins Undergraduate Award 2023