Ranelagh researcher wows with project related to Irish ageing

by Cóilín Duffy

Sandford Park student Oscar Despard scooped the top individual gong at the BT Young Scientist Exhibition for his project, entitled Applying Data-Driven Experimental Analysis to the Irish Longitudinal Study on Ageing.

The fifth year student used data in his project from a large database of Irish individuals to analyse a number of blood proteins to see if there was a correlation between blood levels and atrial fibrillation (AF).

Levels of a protein called LDL showed an unexpected relationship with AF, which can see an individual’s heart beat in a disorganised and irregular way, potentially leading to a range of symptoms and complications.

The research, somewhat unexpectedly, suggested a possible beneficial effect of LDL in reducing the risk of AF.

The work went on to show that a protein in white blood cells in the heart played a pivotal role in the process.

The judges commented on how “this exceptional young researcher took a new perspective on a global problem and has brought new insights”.

His project also picked up the Perrigo Best Biological and Ecological best project award.

17-year old Oscar has been busy in recent months, and was one of the delegates to the recent Youth Assembly on Climate Change held at Government Buildings.

Oscar’s project was one of four from Sandford Park School.

Benjamin Murray’s project in the Technology category saw him create a ‘JC Coder’ – an e-learning website for teachers and students of the Junior Cycle Short Course in Coding.

Benjamin picked up a Special Award from HEAnet – Ireland’s National Research & Education network – for his project.

The school had one group project, with Breffni Carroll and Ruth Caraway Pointon in the Biologicial and Ecological Sciences category, where they entered a project, entitled Testing The Effects of SO2, NO2 and Particulate Matter on the Air Quality Surrounding Trees.

Alex Li’s project in the Chemical, Physical and Mathematical Sciences category was of particular interest to golfing enthusiasts, with the project asking Which Factor can Cause the Most Affect to the Golf Ball Hitting Distances?

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