Students in Ireland receive IOP medals for academic success

11 December 2015

Medals for the students who did best in their Leaving Certificate and A-levels this year, and a medal for a top physics undergraduate project, were presented at the Royal Dublin Society on 8 December by the IOP in Ireland.

Cleo Harvey

Teachers of the winning students, as well as their family members, friends, and IOP in Ireland members and friends, gathered for the prize-giving event in Dublin.

The top Leaving Certificate students were Niall O’Donnagáin and David Glynn, and the top A-level student was Mark Allingham. The Earnshaw Medal for the best final-year undergraduate physics project in Ireland was presented to Cleo Harvey (pictured).

O’Donnagáin studied at St Peter’s College, Summerhill, Wexford, where his teacher was Sean Rossitor. He was also the top student in applied maths and is now studying medicine at Trinity College Dublin.

Glynn studied at St Gerald’s College, Castlebar, County Mayo, where his teacher was Joe Daly. He is now studying maths at Trinity College Dublin.

Allingham studied at the Rainey Endowed School, Magherafelt, where his teachers were Katrine Beggs and Joanne Doherty. He is now studying chemical engineering at the University of Cambridge.

The title of Harvey’s winning project was “Characterisation of Metal Nanoparticle for Surface-enhanced Raman Spectroscopy”. Harvey was an undergraduate at Dublin City University where her project supervisor was Professor Collette McDonagh, working in collaboration with Ocean Optics. She is now studying for a PhD there in the same research area.

Presenting the silver medals, the IOP in Ireland’s co-chair, Dr Peter van der Burgt, said there had been a welcome increase in students taking physics at Leaving Certificate, with numbers up by 18% in 2012. But while the IOP had put significant resources into supporting physics teaching, still almost a quarter of second-level schools in Ireland were not offering physics at Leaving Certificate level, he said.

“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 said. “In order to achieve a lasting turnaround 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.”

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