Three fifth year students at Loreto College, Balbriggan, Co Dublin, won the runners-up group prize at the BT Young Scientist competition, with their project ‘Can we save the common ash?’

Olivia O’Shea, Erica O’Brien Murray and Abigail O’Brien Murray, all aged 17, examined the use of plant growth hormones to inhibit the growth of the fungus which causes ash dieback. In low concentrations, they found that one hormone could inhibit the growth of the fungus completely.

“These young scientists have provided robust data to highlight potential treatments which could, in combination with other actions, protect our native ash trees,” judge Dr Richard O’Hanlon said.

Farm safety

Elsewhere at the exhibition, John Buckley, a student at Hamilton High School in Bandon, Co Cork, won the ABP-sponsored farm safety award.

His project, ‘Investigation of a prototype tool belt to prevent musculoskeletal injuries in vets’, aims to reduce repetitive stress disorders, namely reducing shoulder pain and injuries.

Buckley designed the new tool belt after surveying 114 vets. It fits around the thigh, enabling minimal shoulder and arm movements.