Earlier this month, 15-year-old Simon Meehan from Coláiste Choilm in Ballincollig was named the overall winner at the BT Young Scientist & Technology Exhibition in Dublin.
The transition year student, who lives in Ballinora, impressed the judges with his project, which came under the Biological and Ecological category. Simon’s project was an investigation of the antimicrobial effects of both aerial and root parts of selected plants against Staphylococcus aureus. Essentially, the project has the potential to overcome antimicrobial resistant bacteria, such as MRSA.
‘‘It has the potential to become a product that can cure. However, at the moment, I would label it as having an effect. I examined plants – various leaves, various roots and the fruit of blackberry.
‘‘Winning meant that I had a chance to recognise the people who have helped me, throughout the project. Obviously, my grandfather in particular. This acknowledged the fact that my grandfather had worked very hard in his lifetime (he was essentially a herbalist who used to treat people’s illnesses with plants). The ability to promote science in general meant a lot. It’s still a bit of a shock. Things have not gone back to normal just yet, ’’ Simon told the East Cork Journal this week.
For Simon – whose Dad Jeremy hails from Youghal – winning the BT Young Scientist award is, of course, a fantastic honour in its own right. His hard work has been recognised and he received a trophy and €7,500. A trip to Britain, to visit the World War Two heritage centre at Bletchley Park, is also on the cards. But, being the Young Scientist of the Year also opens up a whole host of other opportunities for the teenager, who hopes to make a career for himself in science.
‘‘The major thing at the end of the year is the European BT Young Scientist event. That’s in September, in Dublin. So, I’m going to continue my project, starting in the next few days, with a new idea. When I finish school, I hope to pursue a career in science. My main focus would be chemistry, ’’ Simon explained.