Young luminaries shine bright in Dublin at EUCYS 2018

17 Sep 2018

Image: Connor McKenna

139 students from 38 different countries are showcasing 90 projects at EUCYS this year, all hoping to dazzle the judges and snag the overall prize.

The EU Contest for Young Scientists (EUCYS) is in full swing in Dublin’s RDS today (17 September), with judging to draw to a close later this evening.

This year, the competition sees Europe’s brightest young minds gather in the RDS battle it out for the coveted top prize of €7,000. Other awards on offer include a trip to CERN in Switzerland and to the European Space Agency.

It is the 30th anniversary of the event and the second time Dublin has hosted, the last time being in 2004. This year, 139 students from 38 different countries are showcasing 90 projects. All EUCYS participants have previously won first prizes in their home country’s national science competition and will now see how their projects size up against the offerings of their peers. They have come to Ireland not only from other European countries but also the US, Canada, Russia, China and South Korea.

The projects cover a wide variety of scientific areas including biology, physics, environmental sciences, computer science, mathematics, engineering, medicine and more.

“These students are here because they are the best in their [respective] countries,” said Lina Tomasella, EUCYS 2018 judge and former winner of the competition.

Prof Tony Fagan, head judge at this year’s event, added: “There’s quite a few very, very good projects. It is going to be difficult [to pick a winner].”

Representing Ireland this year will be winner of the 2018 BT Young Scientist and Technology Exhibition, Simon Meehan, who scooped the top prize in January. Meehan, a student at Coláiste Choilm in Cork, conducted an investigation into the antimicrobial effects of certain plants against Staphylococcus aureus, also known as ‘golden staph’. Golden staph is best known for its most antibiotic-resistant strain, MRSA.

Meehan is “fairly hopeful” about his chances this year, noting that he has spoken to many of the judges, who he deemed “all very pleasant people, very kind and very interested in the topic”.

Ireland has fared well in EUCYS over the years, taking home one of the top prizes “14 times out of 29 years”, according to Mari Cahalane, head of the 2018 event.

Updated, 5.20pm, 17 September 2018: This article was update to clarify that 139 students are taking part in EUCYS 2018, not 193.

Eva Short was a journalist at Silicon Republic