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UK students take off to compete in International Biology Olympiad

9 July 2009

Today (9 July) four sixth form students are jetting off to Japan to fly the UK flag at the International Biology Olympiad in Tsukuba. Their trip has been funded by the UK Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC).

The four top students from the British Biology Olympiad (BBO) have formed an elite team to compete against over 200 other students from more than 50 countries.

BBO chairman, Norma Broadbridge said: "It always amazes me that our BBO exams somehow manage to select such very bright youngsters but such nice people too. They will be good ambassadors for the UK."

Sarah Gales, Joseph Harvey, Elizabeth Jefferys and Ted Pynegar are sixth form students from around the UK and all taking four or five A-levels, including Biology.

Sarah will go on to read Natural Sciences at Cambridge and has previously received the Gold Crest Award for her Nuffield Science Bursary placement project. Joseph is also heading to Cambridge for Natural Sciences and was selected for the British Chemistry Olympiad team earlier this year. Elizabeth plans to study Biochemistry at Oxford and is looking forward to using her Japanese language skills in Tsukuba. Ted joins Sarah and Joseph for Natural Sciences at Cambridge and will be pursuing his interest in Zoology with a third consecutive summer working at a tortoise and turtle park in France.

Commenting on their experiences so far, members of the team said: "I left after the finals with a sense of euphoria, motivation to read every one of the 1267 pages of Campbell – the so-called ‘IBO bible’ – and a strange overwhelming desire to section every plant in my garden."

"The finals were a fantastic opportunity to use the University labs. The best opportunity though is yet to come, when we share the same experiences with over 200 students from across the world. I can't wait!"

"My experiences at the BBO finals, with the chance to work outside the confines of an A-Level syllabus, have heightened my enthusiasm for Biology and I can’t wait to compete in Japan."

"The experience so far has reaffirmed my passion for biology and I am eagerly awaiting both the IBO in Japan and the start of my university course in October".

Dr Celia Caulcott, Director of Innovation and Skills, BBSRC said: "It is vital for the future of bioscience research in the UK that we encourage talented students to pursue a career in biological sciences. We are tremendously proud to be sending four exceptional students to represent the UK in Japan this week. It is our hope that they have an enjoyable and enriching experience that will stand them in good stead for their future."



Click on the thumbnails to view and download full-size images.

These images are protected by copyright law and may be used with acknowledgement.

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The four team members. Left to right: Elizabeth Jefferys, Ted Pynegar, Sarah Gales, Joseph Harvey (1.12MB)
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The four team members with Dr Celia Caulcott, BBSRC Director of Innovation and Skills. Left to right: Dr Celia Caulcott, Ted Pynegar, Elizabeth Jefferys, Joseph Harvey, Sarah Gales (1.13MB)
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The four team members with Professor Steve Jones and President of the Institute of Biology, Professor Raymond Dwek. . Left to right: Professor Steve Jones, Ted Pynegar, Elizabeth Jefferys, Sarah Gales, Joseph Harvey, Professor Raymond Dwek (745KB)
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Sarah Gales receives her prize from Professor Steve Jones (753KB)
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Joseph Harvey receives his prize from Professor Steve Jones (758KB)
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Elizabeth Jefferys receives her prize from Professor Steve Jones (692KB)
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Ted Pynegar receives his prize from Professor Steve Jones (766KB)


The Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) is the UK funding agency for research in the life sciences. Sponsored by Government, BBSRC annually invests around £450M in a wide range of research that makes a significant contribution to the quality of life for UK citizens and supports a number of important industrial stakeholders including the agriculture, food, chemical, healthcare and pharmaceutical sectors. BBSRC carries out its mission by funding internationally competitive research, providing training in the biosciences, fostering opportunities for knowledge transfer and innovation and promoting interaction with the public and other stakeholders on issues of scientific interest in universities, centres and institutes.

The Babraham Institute, Institute for Animal Health, Institute of Food Research, John Innes Centre and Rothamsted Research are Institutes of BBSRC. The Institutes conduct long-term, mission-oriented research using specialist facilities. They have strong interactions with industry, Government departments and other end-users of their research.


Matt Goode, Head of External Relations

tel: 01793 413299

Tracey Jewitt, Media Officer

tel: 01793 414694
fax: 01793 413382