IOPI awards event

21 December 2015

Dr Peter van der Burgt, co-chair of the Institute of Physics in Ireland, presented silver medals to the top Leaving Certificate physics students and the Earnshaw Medal for the best physics final year undergraduate project in Ireland.

The event in the RDS was attended by friends and members of IOP Ireland together with the students, families and teachers. 

The winning students were:

Leaving Certificate

Niall O’Donnagáin and David Glynn
Niall O’Donnagáin and David Glynn

Niall O’Donnagáin, St Peter’s College, Summerhill, Wexford
Teacher  - Mr Sean Rossitor
Niall was also the top student in Applied Maths and he is currently studying medicine at Trinity College Dublin

David Glynn, St Gerald’s College, Newport Road, Castlebar, Co. Mayo
Teacher  - Mr Joe Daly
David is now studying mathematics at Trinity College Dublin

Earnshaw Medal

Cleo Harvey, Dublin City University
Cleo Harvey, Dublin City University

Cleo Harvey, Dublin City University, for her  project entitled - Characterisation of Metal Nanoparticles for Surface-Enhanced Raman Spectroscopy.

Cleo's project was supervised by Prof. Colette McDonagh in collaboration with Ocean Optics and she is currently continuing her studies at DCU with a PhD in this area.

There was also an award for the best A Level physics student in Northern Ireland which this year was won by Mark W Allingham, Rainey Endowed School, Magherafelt
Teachers -  Ms Katrine Beggs  and Ms Joanne Doherty
Mark is currently studying chemical engineering at the University of Cambridge and will receive his medal at a later event.

Speaking at the event, Dr van der Burgt noted the welcome increase in students taking physics at Leaving Certificate with numbers up by 18% since 2012. IOP has put significant resources into providing support for the teaching of physics through its teacher networks and also in the provision of accurate and engaging careers materials. Howeve, he also expressed concern that almost a quarter of second-level schools across Ireland are not offering physics at Leaving Certificate level.

 “Not only is physics a fascinating subject, qualifications in this area give students a real edge in competition for highly-sought after careers. To deny the students of 24.5% of Irish schools the chance to study this highly valued subject runs counter to all government efforts to increase the uptake of physical sciences at third level which are seen as critical to the country’s economy.”

He continued “Physics-based businesses contribute more than €7bn annually to the Irish economy and directly employ more than 86,000. In order to achieve a lasting turn around in the numbers taking physics, significant support must be given to schools who are under pressure to drop physics altogether as once the subject is gone from the school it is exceptionally difficult to bring it back.”