South Eastern Regional College (SERC) is celebrating the success of their science students at the BT Young Scientist of the Year 2020 competition which took place in Dublin recently. The College scooped three wins including a First Place, Highly Commended and Northern Ireland Best Project, for the second year in a row.
Dr Susan Stokesberry, Lecturer in Science at SERC, said, “We are delighted with the success of the students at the BT Young Scientist competition 2020. Level 3 Applied Science second year students Ben Gibson (Lisburn), Jamel Donald (Belfast) and Caoimhe Clugston (Lisburn) were awarded First Place in the Biological and Ecological Sciences Senior Group category for their investigation which looked at whether cigarette smoke extract will cause an increase in inflammatory markers and glucose within the cells. The team were also awarded Northern Ireland Best Project.”
Student Jamel Donald said, “We were surprised but of course thrilled with the result which has been the culmination of months of hard work for the team. It was so exciting to be part of the competition and to meet so many other people who have the same love for science.” Fellow team member Ben Gibson added, “The whole project experience has been amazing. We were lucky enough to have support form Queen’s University Belfast, in order to conduct experiments on specialist equipment such as the PRC (polymer chain reaction) which gave us the edge.”
Students Tyler Patten (Bangor) and Emma Zubin (Ballyhalbert) were Highly Commended in the Biological and Ecological Sciences Senior Group category for their investigation which looked Trachemys scripta (terrapin) and their detrimental impact on Irish freshwater habitats. Tyler said, “We are delighted to be highly commended. Taking part presented a remarkable opportunity to meet scientist from across the country. We’ve been invited to University College Galway to discuss our project.” Emma added, “We have been working on the project since June 2019, including over the summer, when we were able to work in the Queen’s University Belfast Marine Biology lab in Portaferry with PhD students. The whole experience has given us insight into opportunities and ideas for the future.”
Four entries from the College were amongst the 550 selected for exhibition from over 2000 entries across the island of Ireland including Hollie Smith’s (Lisburn) investigation looked at activated charcoal dietary supplement controlling hindgut acidosis in horses; and Johnny McQuillan (Glenavy), Paul French (Lisburn) and Martin McKeown (Moira) who investigated developing a low cost and low-tech water filter using natural materials.
Ken Webb, Principal and Chief Executive of SERC said, “This is another tremendous achievement for the students and the College which has gained a reputation as the go to place for science. The students have worked hard and have been supported by a team of dedicated, award-winning science lecturers who have delivered above and beyond to ensure the students not only have the best learning experience in SERC but have access to specialist equipment and people through developed partnerships with the science community.
He added, “Hearty congratulations to the students and their lecturers and a special thank you to everyone who has supported the young people with their scientific investigations. The result is clear, if you want to study science, come to SERC.”