Celebrating the region’s best school scientists

Every year Science Oxford celebrates outstanding Year 13 science students across Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire at our Young Scientists of the Year Award. Usually, the event is held amongst the dinosaurs at the Oxford University Natural History Museum and the cutting edge technology at the Bucks New University, but this time round the celebrations took place virtually with over 70 students taking part from over 32 schools.

Science Oxford believes that hard work commitment and achievement in science should be recognised. That’s why we run the Young Scientists of the Year awards. Now in their tenth year, the awards are an opportunity for the county’s secondary school teachers to nominate their best Year 13 students in science. Pupils are selected on exam results, progress made during their A-level course or in recognition of their enthusiasm and commitment to their chosen subject.

Inspirational presentations were given by the keynote speakers: Professor Lisa White, a mathematical modeller from the Nuffield Department of Medicine and Cagla Tosun a DPhil student studying Oncology at the University of Oxford. Lisa spoke topically about modelling before, during and after the COVID-19 pandemic and how she is collaborating – currently 24/7 – with other scientists, politicians and health care professionals to get through this global emergency.

Cagla talked about the effects of low atmosphere environments on the impact of cancerous tumours. She also provided insight into how a DPhil(PhD) works and gave the students key tips to remember on their academic journey.

Other talks were given Zoe Clark, a graduate mechanical design engineer, working at the Rutherford Laboratory. She gave us an insight into her current work in the Targets group at ISIS Neutron and Muon Source and the engineering challenges she has to overcome. And, Mika Shearwood, a software engineering apprentice gave us a whistle-stop tour of the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory and what it’s like to work there. The talks gave students a chance to hear young science researchers and professionals about what a career in science is like and, hopefully, inspire them! Thank you to all our speakers and our sponsors, the Nuffield Department of Medicine and RAL.

Unfortunately, there was no prosecco and canapes on hand this year but biology, physics and chemistry students were celebrated with virtual waves or rounds of applause for attributes such as dedication, enthusiasm, curiosity and supporting others around them.

Here are a variety of reasons Year 13 students were nominated:

“He is an inquisitive and methodical young chemist who excels at applying his existing knowledge to new situations. He takes every opportunity to challenge and develop his understanding, to ensure a complete coverage of the syllabus and beyond. A great chemist and one of the best we have ever seen!”

“Consistently excellent commitment, understanding and enthusiasm in A level psychology. A model student, and a credit to parents and the school.”

“She has carried out a range of work experience, volunteering at care homes and hospitals. She has also supported her best friend through Covid-19 infection and helped her to catch up on school work. She consistently strives for academic excellence and is incredibly hard-working and conscientious.”

The Young Scientist of the Year Award is part of Science Oxford’s wider STEM Careers Programme, designed to create opportunities for secondary school students to gain the enthusiasm, information, knowledge and skills that could springboard them into a STEM career. For more information, see here or sign up to our newsletter to get regular updates.

Photos: above – Oxfordshire Young Scientists; below – Bucks Young Scientists

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