Science Bursary student Thomas Hearing named as UK Young Scientist of the Year

18 March 2010

Thomas Hearing was named Young Scientist of the Year in this year’s annual National Science & Engineering Competition at The Big Bang Fair in Manchester.

Thomas’s winning project was undertaken in summer 2009 while on a Nuffield Foundation Science Bursaries placement. Using global positioning system (GPS) equipment, Thomas created a baseline dataset to help monitor and predict the erosion of Monmouth Beach, particularly the fossil-rich Ammonite Pavement.

‘It’s the erosion that makes the Jurassic coast so special’ says Tom, ‘because that’s what’s exposing all these wonderful fossils. But it’s eroding incredibly quickly, and we’re losing quite a lot of valuable fossils.

‘Because it’s a natural world heritage site we can’t interfere with the erosion, but we can at least monitor what’s there while we’ve still got it. So this project was a baseline study to see what was there now, and set up the possibility of monitoring erosion in the future’.

‘I’ll come back in a couple of years and see if the models were right and the area I’ve predicted to erode has done so. If so, I hope to roll this out across more of the Jurassic Coast’.

Lord Mandelson presented Thomas with the award as well as a cash prize of £2,000; an experience prize of his choice from either a trip to Earthwatch or NASA; and provided by Research Councils UK, an additional trip to CERN to see the Large Hadron Collider or the Roque de los Muchachos Observatory in La Palma.

Thomas attends the Thomas Hardye School in Dorchester, and his placement was provided by the Jurassic Coast World Heritage Team at Dorset County Council. The project was co-supervised by Andrew Ford at Bournemouth University. Tom is hoping to pursue his interest in geology at Oxford University in September.

Thomas is pictured receiving his award from Lord Mandelson at the Big Bang Fair.

Download more information about Thomas’s project (PDF)

About our Science Bursaries for Schools and Colleges
Our Science Bursaries programme offers post-16 students the opportunity to gain first-hand experience of a science, technology, engineering or maths (STEM) working environment through a summer vacation placement. To find out more, visit our Science Bursaries for Schools and Colleges page.

About the Big Bang Fair
Ten of the UK’s well-known scientists, engineers and science communicators, including Nobel prize-winner Sir Tim Hunt, Professor Jim Al-Khalili, BBC Bang Goes the Theory’s Liz Bonnin and engineer Dr Sue Ion came together to judge the efforts of the aspiring young finalists at this year’s Big Bang Fair. There were 190 different projects exhibited by 346 students at this year’s event, which was held in Manchester from 11-13 March.

A full list of prize winners is available on the Big Bang Fair website.