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Winners of the 52nd BT Young Scientist & Technology Exhibition announced

12 January 2016

Maria Louise Fufezan (aged 16) and Diana Bura (aged 15) from Balbriggan, Dublinhave taken home the top prize for their project entitled, ‘An Investigation into the Effects of Enzymes used in Animal Feed Additives on the Lifespan of Caenorhabditis Elegans’. The announcement was made in the BT Arena at Dublin’s RDS this evening by Jan O’Sullivan, TD, Minister for Education and Skills, and Shay Walsh, Managing Director, BT Ireland. The group entered in the intermediate section of the biological & ecological sciences category.

Maria and Diana were presented with a cheque for €5,000, the opportunity to represent Ireland at the 28th European Union Young Scientist competition in Brussels later this year and the BTYSTE perpetual trophy. In addition, as the Group Technical Partner of Williams Racing, BT will bring the winners on an all-expenses paid trip to the home of Williams Racing in Oxfordshire, England. Here the winners will get a behind the scenes look at how Williams are using technology to ensure they remain one of the world’s leading Formula 1 teams.

Maria Louise Fufezan (aged 16) and Diana Bura (aged 15) from Balbriggan, Dublin - BT Young Scientist & Technology Exhibition winners

Shay Walsh, Managing Director, BT Ireland, said; “We are proud that the BT Young Scientist & Technology Exhibition continues to act as a springboard for future entrepreneurs, academics, scientists and technologists and we have countless past winners who are proof of that. I would like to sincerely congratulate every single student who took part this week and to the thousands of other students who submitted a project but unfortunately didn’t qualify. Of course, particular congratulations must go to Maria and Diana, who will now join a prestigious list of esteemed winners and go on to represent Ireland at the EU Young Scientist later this year.”

He added; “Although this is my first year as managing director, I’ve been attending this event for the 16 years that BT has been involved and I can honestly say that it has never been bigger or better. The innovation and creativity of the students exhibiting here this week is astounding and it is truly inspiring to see the world of STEM brought alive by this talented young generation.”

Minister for Education and Skills, Jan O’Sullivan, said, “One of the things that always strikes me about this BT Young Scientist & Technology exhibition is its timing – the beginning of a new year. For many of the participants here, this may indeed represent the beginning of a new phase in your lives, the beginning of a love affair with science, with scholarship and research. For, this event provides you with a wonderful opportunity to showcase your talent and potential. It allows you to develop your natural instincts of curiosity and as Einstein once said “I have no special talents. I am only passionately curious.”

“I would like to acknowledge the tremendous work that students, teachers and entire school communities have put into their projects. The BT Young Scientist & Technology Exhibition is one of the highlights of the education year and the continued support by BT is critical to this fantastic event going from strength-to-strength.”

Speaking about the winning entry, category judge Prof. Grace McCormack commented; “These students have asked a novel question – could there be any effects of enzymes added to animal feed on worms of importance for soil fertility? The girls provide new evidence that there may be an unexpected detrimental change in behaviour and lifespan of these essential worms. The work is important for the environment and the food industry and will undoubtedly lead to further research in this important area”.

Almost 1,200 students from across the island of Ireland covering 550 projects from 29 counties competed in the RDS for the coveted title of ‘BT Young Scientist(s) & Technologist(s) of the Year’.

The award for Best Individual went to transition year student Shane Curran (aged 16) from Terenure College, Dublin for his project ‘Velodrome: The Automated Logistics Fulfilment Platform’. Shane was entered in the technology category at intermediate level.

The award for Runner-Up Group went to 6th year students Gabriel Barat (aged 17) and Adrian Wolniak (aged 16) from Synge Street CBS, Dublin for their project ‘A Mathematical Model of Coffee Rust’. The group were entered in the chemical, physical & mathematical sciences category at senior level.

The award for Individual Runner-Up went to 5th year student Renuka Chintapalli (aged 16) from Loreto Secondary School, Balbriggan, Dublin for her project ‘Developing a predictive tool for identifying FLNc-associated biomarkers of oesophageal cancer metastasis’. Renuka was entered in the biological & ecological sciences category at senior level.

View a full list of all of the winners
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