24 Jan 2022

Congratulations! BT Young Scientist prize for Donegal student whose research could make hospitals safer

The Abbey Vocational School student's project combines a range of science disciplines

Ciara Cannon

Ciara Cannon pictured with Principal Mrs Geraldine Diver and AVS science teacher, Ms Donna Furey

A Donegal Town student has secured a fantastic second place in her category at the BT Young Scientist and Technology Competition.

Her research has the potential to make hospitals and other sterile environments safer, at a lower cost and with fewer risks than using traditional elements such as silver and gold.

Ciara Cannon from the Abbey Vocational School carried out an investigation into the optimum antimicrobial activity of nanoparticles. This involved detailed research that brought her to a lab in Dublin, and she was also supported by the laboratory at Letterkenny University Hospital.

Her research which works across physics, chemistry, biology and microbiology, could be a game changer in terms of how safe medical environments are created and sustained. Ms Cannon's findings are more important than ever given the challenges of Covid-19 and its highly contagious variants.

AVS science teacher Ms Donna Furey said: "Congratulations to first time competitor Ciara Cannon on achieving second prize in her category, Intermediate Biological and Ecological, with her ‌investigation‌ ‌into‌ ‌the‌ ‌optimum‌ ‌antimicrobial‌ ‌activity‌ ‌of‌ ‌nanoparticles.

"The foundation for this project idea came from reading and discussing the practical applications of nanoparticles with her older brother, Paul, who is a biomedical physicist, completing a PhD in utilising nanotechnology for DNA analysis.

"In her project Ciara investigated silicon, titanium dioxide and zinc oxide nanoparticles at six different concentrations and found that each material was effective against three of the bacteria used in this experiment. Silicon was effective against Enterococcus faecalis (+), Staphylococcus aureus (+) and Klebsiella pneumonia (-) respectively. Zinc Oxide was effective against Pseudomonas aeruginosa (-), Staphylococcus aureus (+) and Escherichia coli (-) respectively. Titanium dioxide was effective against Staphylococcus aureus (+), Escherichia coli (-) and Staphylococcus saprophyticus (+) respectively."

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