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Minister Lenihan announces winner of School Science Essay Competition

January 19th 2010

Minister for Science, Technology and Innovation, Conor Lenihan T.D., announced the winner of the All-Ireland Science Essay Competition, organised by the Science Foundation Ireland - funded ‘Regenerative Medicine Institute’ (REMEDI), based at NUI Galway on the15th January, 2010.


Monaghan Secondary School Scoops Science Essay Competition for Second Consecutive Year

Visiting the Science Foundation Ireland stand at the BT Young Scientist and Technology Exhibition, Minister Lenihan presented first prize in the Essay Competition to Lisa Duffy of Castleblayney College, Co. Monaghan. Lisa, a fifth-year student, received a trophy, high-spec laptop and a €500 science bursary for her school from Minister Lenihan. This is the second consecutive year that a student from Castleblayney College has taken first prize in the competition.

 In making the presentation, Minister Lenihan said, “For the past five years, the REMEDI Science Essay Competition has invited young people to express their views on modern-day scientific challenges, and has sought to encourage students to consider pursuing science and engineering-related studies at third-level”.

 The Minister added, “The theme of this year’s competition – “Are people’s DNA sequences their business and nobody else’s?” – generated considerable interest in schools nationwide, with over 100 essays received from around the country. I welcome initiatives such as this in their drive to foster a greater awareness of science and its impact in our daily lives”.

 The Minister added “The Government places great emphasis on the importance of science to Ireland in an educational, social and economic context and, through a number of channels, continues to prioritise science-related disciplines from primary through to fourth-level education.”

 The competition, co-ordinated by the Regenerative Medicine Institute (REMEDI), was co-sponsored by the NUI Galway College of Science. The contest was opened to all students in the senior cycle of secondary schools in the Republic of Ireland, and in Northern Ireland. One hundred five essays were received on the theme ‘Are people’s DNA sequences their business and nobody else’s?’ The runner up prize of a video iPOD, trophy and € 400 school science bursary will go to Emer Jones of the Presentation Secondary School, Tralee, Co. Kerry. Letters of honourable mention were also issued to: Karen O’Neill, Intermediate School, Killorglin, Co. Kerry, Anna Tomalczyk, Virginia College, Co. Cavan, Niamh Dooley, Sacred Heart School, Tullamore, Co. Offaly, Roisin Ni Ghaoithin, Colaiste Ide, An Daingean, Co. Chiarrai, and Grainne Mulkerrin, Alexandra College, Milltown, Co. Dublin.

 Lisa Duffy’s essay was selected from a top-ten shortlist by a high profile panel of judges who met at REMEDI on November 24, 2009 to choose a winner. The judges included: Professor Frank Barry, Scientific Director of REMEDI and Director of the National Centre for Biomedical Engineering Science (NCBES), Tom Kennedy, Editor of Science Spin magazine, Lindsay Cody, Communications Officer at NCBES, Dr. Stephen Rea, Department of Biochemistry and President of Ireland Young Researcher Award Recipient in 2007, Lorna Siggins, Western and Marine Correspondent from The Irish Times, Dr. Heike Felzmann- Schmidt, NUI Galway Department of Philosophy and Centre of Bioethical Research & Analysis (COBRA), and Danielle M. Nicholson, Education & Outreach Officer at REMEDI.

 Dr. Mark Foley, Vice Dean for Communication and Strategy in the College of Science and Lecturer in the School of Physics at the National University of Ireland, Galway remarks, “The College of Science was delighted to come on board this year to support the REMEDI Annual Science Essay Competition. I am extremely encouraged by the quantity and quality of submissions which showcases the continued interest in Science at Secondary level. I hope that participation in science programmes at third level continues to grow in the coming years and that these students will be key to the success of Irelands Smart Economy.”

 Professor Frank Gannon, Director General, SFI said “I congratulate the winner and all of the students who participated in the essay competition. I hope that your involvement in the competition will encourage you to consider and explore the exciting career opportunities in science and engineering in Ireland.” Prof. Gannon acknowledged and thanked the Education and Outreach personnel for their work which are ongoing at REMEDI and the other nine SFI CSETs located at Universities throughout Ireland.

 Organised as part of REMEDI’s Education & Outreach programme, the aim of the competition is to hear young people’s views on contemporary scientific questions and to encourage students to consider studying science in third level.

Scientific Director of REMEDI, Professor Frank Barry states, “One of the important requirements for a successful career in science is an ability to communicate scientific ideas, debate important questions and report research findings in a clear and unambiguous way. The quality and originality of the winning essays in this competition are very impressive and I congratulate all the students who participated.”

Some of the submitted essays are available to read below: