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Awards ceremony provides a send-off for talented young scientists

Teenage biology olympians represent Britain in Singapore

29 June 2012

Four of the UK's most gifted sixth form students will fly to Singapore next week to compete against the cream of the world's young biologists at the International Biology Olympiad. The elite UK team is made up of the top four students from the British Biology Olympiad, a competition organised by the Society of Biology, which challenges students to expand and extend their talents.

At an awards ceremony last night, 150 students received medals to recognise their achievements in the British Biology Olympiad, and the four international finalists received a send-off from Dr Julian Huppert MP, a biologist himself. Julian says: "It is impressive to see so many young people with such enquiring minds and in-depth knowledge applying themselves to the life sciences. Many of the young people at the ceremony will be part of the next generation of scientists, and it is important that we nurture their talents and celebrate their success.

"I wish every success to the four students who will represent Great Britain at the International Biology Olympiad in Singapore."

The UK team is made up of Freddie Dyke from the Royal Grammar School, Guildford, Oliver Adams from Peter Symonds' College, Winchester, Robert Starley from Reading School, and Joshua Hodgson from Godalming College.

Team GB – Julian Huppert MP with the team who will represent the UK at the International Biology Olympiad in Singapore in July -  (from left) Oliver Adams, Joshua Hodgson, Robert Starley, Freddie Dyke

Team GB – Julian Huppert MP with the team who will represent the UK at the International Biology Olympiad in Singapore in July - (from left) Oliver Adams, Joshua Hodgson, Robert Starley, Freddie Dyke

Freddie Dyke is planning to study Veterinary Medicine at Sidney Sussex, Cambridge, next year. Oliver Adams is planning to study a 4 year Masters course in Biochemistry (Molecular and Cellular) at St. Anne's College, Oxford. Robert Starley is planning to study Natural Sciences at Cambridge (Emmanuel College) next year. Joshua Hodgson has applied to study Natural Sciences at Christ's College, Cambridge.

The team have been working hard to prepare for the final and are enthusiastic about the challenge. Oliver Adams says: "We are really excited to be representing the UK in Singapore at the International Biology Olympiad. We are looking forward to learning about the country and testing our knowledge against so many other students from around the world.

Robert Starley says: "Taking part in the Olympiad has been great fun; it is much more challenging than our usual exams. We are really looking forward to the trip to Singapore, representing the UK against the best biologists from all over the world."

Of the nearly 4,000 British sixth formers who entered in the British Biology Olympiad, the top 16 took went forward to the British final. This was a challenging three days at the University of Birmingham where they took a theory paper and practical exams in botany, cell biology, biochemistry and zoology.

The British Biology Olympiad, along with Biology Challenge, forms a Special Interest Group of the Society of Biology. Both competitions are supported by funding from BBSRC, the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council.

Dr Celia Caulcott, BBSRC Director, Innovation and Skills, says: "Encouraging, enthusing and inspiring young people about biology is crucial if we are to ensure the UK is equipped with the next generation of scientists to help meet the global challenges we face over the next century. The British Biology Olympiad does just that and it is encouraging to know that there are so many bright and talented youngsters out there."

The British competition is organised by a dedicated group of volunteers led by Dr Andrew Treharne FSB, with the support of Dr Amanda Hardy, Competitions Co-ordinator at the Society of Biology. Andrew says: "Almost 4,000 students competed in the British Biology Olympiad this year and the standard was as ever extremely high. Many congratulations to all the students who have been awarded medals and especially to Freddie, Oliver, Robert and Joshua for being selected to represent the UK at the International Biology Olympiad in Singapore."

In preparation for the international competition the students spent two days in Reading, at the Reading School and the University of Reading, honing their practical skills and running through some practice questions.

ENDS

About the Society of Biology

The Society of Biology, www.societyofbiology.org, is a professional body for bioscientists – providing a single unified voice for biology: advising Government and influencing policy; advancing education and professional development; supporting their members, and engaging and encouraging public interest in the life sciences.

About the British Biology Olympiad (BBO)

The British Biology Olympiad (BBO) is an annual competition for post-16 students. It is part of the International Biology Olympiad (IBO). In addition to encouraging and rewarding pupils in their study of biology, the BBO provides a means of selecting a team to represent UK at the IBO. www.biology-olympiad.org.uk

About the International Biology Olympiad

The International Biology Olympiad (IBO) is a competition for secondary school students. Their skills in tackling biological problems and dealing with biological experiments are tested. Interest in biology, inventiveness, creativity and perseverance are necessary. In bringing together gifted students, the IBO tries to challenge and stimulate these students to expand their talents and to promote their career as a scientist. Every participating country sends four students, who are the winners of the respective national competitions. They are to be accompanied by two team leaders as representatives of each country. www.ibo-info.org

About the Biology Challenge

Building on the success of BBO, the Biology Challenge was developed to act as a junior version of the British Biology Olympiad (BBO), raising its profile and encouraging participation. The Challenge aims to encourage pupils to take an interest in biology beyond the school curriculum and to stimulate their curiosity in the natural world www.biology-olympiad.org.uk/biology-challenge

About the UK Biology Competitions Special Interest Group (SIG)

UK Biology Competitions (UKBC) is a Special Interest Group within the Society of Biology. It was set up in 2010 as a single body to organise British Biology Olympiad and the Biology Challenge.

About BBSRC

BBSRC invests in world-class bioscience research and training on behalf of the UK public. Our aim is to further scientific knowledge, to promote economic growth, wealth and job creation and to improve quality of life in the UK and beyond.

Funded by Government, and with an annual budget of around £445M (2011-2012), we support research and training in universities and strategically funded institutes. BBSRC research and the people we fund are helping society to meet major challenges, including food security, green energy and healthier, longer lives. Our investments underpin important UK economic sectors, such as farming, food, industrial biotechnology and pharmaceuticals.

For more information about BBSRC, our science and our impact see: www.bbsrc.ac.uk.
For more information about BBSRC strategically funded institutes see: www.bbsrc.ac.uk/institutes.

External contact

Rebecca Nesbit, Society of Biology

tel: 020 7685 2553