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A-level student wins maths prize for work with BBSRC-funded Rothamsted Research

4 December 2012

An A-level student who spent his summer holidays working with BBSRC-funded researchers at Rothamsted Research in Hertfordshire has won an award from the Nuffield Foundation.

Christopher Scott with his Nuffield Foundation prize. Credit: SETPOINT Hertfordshire
Christopher Scott with his Nuffield Foundation prize. Credit: SETPOINT Hertfordshire

Christopher Scott, 17, a pupil at Marlborough Science Academy, was taking part in the foundation's Research Placements scheme, which each year provides 1,000 students the opportunity to work alongside professional scientists, technologists, engineers and mathematicians.

After using mathematical analysis and modelling techniques in a project investigating the ability to predict bud burst date in willow varieties, Christopher won the prize for Best Use of Mathematics/Statistics (in the Applied category). He received his award at a ceremony at the University of Hertfordshire on November 6.

He said: "The opportunity to spend four weeks completing a Nuffield project at Rothamsted Research was an immensely valuable experience. My understanding of mathematics has subsequently grown as I encountered branches of mathematics which go well beyond the A-level syllabus.

"I also received a wide range of support from my supervisor and had daily meetings to discuss the progression of the project.

"I would highly recommend the chance to complete a placement at Rothamsted Research to anyone who wishes to study a mathematics or science based course at university."

Dr Marianna Cerasuolo from Rothamsted's Sustainable Soils and Grassland Systems department supervised the project and said: "Chris is a very skilled student with a fantastic understanding of mathematics. He worked very hard and he was always very active during our discussions. He deserved to win this prize!"

Dr Vinay Kathotia, Project Head for Mathematics for the Nuffield Foundation commented: "Christopher used a range of mathematical and statistical approaches to model and predict biological functions. What was striking was that over the summer not only did he pick up and use a number of computer programmes and statistical techniques that were new to him, but he developed an understanding of the power and limitations of quantitative methods

"We are grateful to Rothamsted Research and other placement supporters for the opportunities they provide."

The Nuffield Foundation's Research Placements scheme is supported by BBSRC via Research Council's UK. Students in the first year of post-16 Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics courses are eligible to apply. Placements are available across the UK, in universities, commercial companies, voluntary organizations and research institutions.

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