Natural Sciences Student Wins Prestigious Award
Oct 03, 2012
School of Natural Sciences PhD student, Sive Finlay has won Best Biology student in the European Science and Technology (SET) student of the year awards.
The SET awards provide a showcase for educational excellence by publicly recognising the exceptional achievements of both students and universities. The awards are open to students at all European universities with categories covering the breadth of science, engineering and technology. Three biology finalists were interviewed by judges at Charles Darwin House in London.
Sive won the award on the basis of her undergraduate research project, ‘The plight of the bumble bee; diapause, immunity and parasitic attack’. Amidst an alarming decline in global populations of bumble bees it is essential to understand bee physiology and the threats to their survival. Sive’s research revealed novel insights into the complex relationship between bumble bee hosts and a common parasitic nematode, Sphaerularia bombi.
Sive Finlay with President of the SET awards, Malcolm Turner
Her project was the first to demonstrate that over-wintering queens have significantly reduced immune function. Interestingly, these queens cannot convert inactive enzymes into an active immune response. Protein analysis also offered intriguing insights into the mechanisms S. bombi has evolved to tolerate queens’ immune defenses.
Commenting on Sive’s award, Dr Andrew Jackson, Director of Research, School of Natural Sciences stated: “This success reflects the ‘research led’ teaching ethos championed at Trinity College and in particular shows how important fundamental science funding and research is to inspiring and enthusing Ireland's very best students about science”.
Sive’s project was supervised by Professor Celia Holland, Head, School of Natural Sciences and PhD student Joe Colgan and was conducted in collaboration with Dr Jim Carolan, NUI Maynooth and Dr Mark Brown, Royal Holloway, London. The work was funded by a Research Frontiers Programme grant, awarded by SFI to support fundamental, pure research. Sive was nominated for the award by Dr Andrew Jackson, Zoology Department, TCD.
Society of Biology Judging Panel member Ann Fullick said: “The calibre of the entries was universally high. It was a fantastic experience to hear young biologists speak with passion about the work they have done and where it is taking them. In the end, we had a very clear winner. The work that Sive had done on bumble bee queens was elegant, fascinating, covered a wide variety of aspects of biology and had a clear relevance to a major issue - the problem of the loss of pollinators worldwide.”
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