Nuffield student Emily O'Regan wins UK Young Scientist of the Year

18 March 2013

Congratulations to Nuffield Research Placement students Emily O’Regan and Fred Turner for winning UK Scientist of the Year and UK Engineer of the Year at the National Science and Engineering Competition Award Ceremony at London’s ExCel on Friday.  

Emily O'Regan and Fred Turner

Emily, from Newcastle College, was awarded the prize for her project on the breeding and mating habits of a flock of Chilean flamingos, which she carried out while on a Nuffield Research Placement at Washington Wetland Centre, Tyne and Wear.

The captive group of flamingos were no longer breeding, and Emily's project aimed to find out why. She began by speaking to a number of experts to try and find out if this has happened before. She also monitored the flock, their living conditions, and courtship habits to determine what had caused them to stop breeding.

Emily discovered a correlation between temperature and breeding, and also that the flamingo’s breeding habits changed when there was an increased seagull population in the area.

Responding her to win, Emily said: "I'm ecstatic to have won. I've loved science since I was little and even filmed homemade nature documentaries in my garden. Science is such a male dominated field and I'm delighted to be an ambassador for girls who want to break into the industry."

Fred Turner won the engineering prize for building a fully-working Polymerase Chain Reaction (PRC) machine for testing genes. PCR machines can cost up to £3,000, but Fred managed to build one from scratch in his cellar at home. He now hopes to use the design of his machine as a kit, so that others can build one with the benefit of his experience.

A student at the Crossley Health School in Halifax, Fred also undertook a Nuffield Research Placement project at the University of Manchester last summer. 

More Nuffield prize-winners

Congratulations to Claudia Fryer from Upton Hall School who was a runner up in the National Science and Engineering Competition, and to Meriame Berboucher from Heston Community School, Joshua Sauer from St Bernard’s Catholic Grammar School, and Kimberly Meechan from Gillingham School, who were all highly commended. 

Julien Toh from Liverpool College won the CREST Prize for Real World Context, and Karen Peters from St Edward’s College won a place at the Stockholm International Youth Science Seminar.

Cecylia Watrobska from The Cardinal Vaughan Memorial School was awarded the Society of Biology Prize, and Emma Sharman, from The English Martyrs School and Sixth Form College was awarded the Royal Society of Chemistry prize.

Oliver Page, from the Royal Grammar School will travel to the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair, an award made by the British Science Association, and James Shaw from the Gateacre Community Comprehensive School was awarded a place on the London International Youth Science Forum.

BIS Podcast

Listen to this BIS Science and Innovation Podcast featuring Emily and Fred in conversation with Science Minister David Willetts.

Photos and videos courtesy of the National Science & Engineering Competition