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Silver success for top UK students

17 July 2012

Four of the UK's most gifted sixth form students competed against some of the very best young biologists from around the world at the 23rd International Biology Olympiad, Singapore last week. The elite UK team was made up of the top four students from the British Biology Olympiad, a competition organised by the Society of Biology. They returned to the UK on Sunday with 4 silver medals.

Dr Celia Caulcott, BBSRC Director of Innovation and Skills, said: "This is wonderful news, not only for the hard-working students and teachers involved, but for UK science in general. The UK is a world leader in bioscience and we need to do all we can to develop and nurture the next generation of scientists to help tackle some the challenges of the 21st century. BBSRC is proud to help support a scheme aimed at developing and inspiring the next generation of biologists."

The Society of Biology's Chief Executive Dr Mark Downs said: "Congratulations to Oliver Adams, Joshua Hodgson, Robert Starley and Freddie Dyke for their achievements at the final of the International Biology Olympiad and being such great representative examples of the UK's capability in the life sciences and a hugely positive reflection of UK education at a time when international competition is stronger than ever."

Image: IBO 2012 Singapore.

Silver medallists: front row (L to R): Freddie Dyke, Joshua Hodgson, Robert Starley and Oliver Adams alongside their guide from Singapore and Neil Richards, a member of UK Biology Competitions (UKBC), the Society of Biology’s special interest group that organises and runs the British Biology Olympiad. Back row (L to R): Dr Andrew Treharne, Dr Bill Burnett and David Rigby, also members of the UKBC-. Image: IBO 2012 Singapore.

The team left Heathrow for Singapore on 5 July to prepare for the start of the competition on 8 July. As part of the competition they took theory exam papers to test their knowledge and understanding of advanced biology and their laboratory skills were tested by a number of challenging practical tasks.

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

Nearly 4,000 British sixth formers entered the British Biology Olympiad this year. The top 16 students progressed to the British final of the competition where the top four were selected to represent the UK at the 23rd International Biology Olympiad, Singapore. This was a challenging three days at the University of Birmingham where students took a theory paper and practical exams in botany, cell biology, biochemistry and zoology.

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

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.

Singapore hosted the prestigious 23rd IBO for the first time from 8-15 July 2012. Over 260 of the world's most promising pre-university biology students and 182 officials from 65 countries were invited to take part. Students were challenged to work through stimulating and novel biology problems and experiments. The competition, now into its 23rd year, aims to promote a career in science for talented students and to stress the importance of biology in our society.

The 23rd IBO was organised by a team of professors and staff from the NIE at the Nanyang Technological University (NTU), and the Department of Biological Sciences at the NUS, as well as other staff members from various departments in NTU and NUS.

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