Peatland restoration project wins SciFest 2023

24 Nov 2023

Jack Shannon. Image: © Keith Arkins

The winner of the national science competition will go on to represent Ireland at the 2024 Regeneron International Science and Engineering Fair in Los Angeles.

Sixth-year Kildare student Jack Shannon was named SciFest STEM Champion 2023 for his project which looks at peatland restoration using remote sensing techniques.

The national final was held in the Marino Conference Centre in Dublin today (24 November) and was attended by student finalists from all over Ireland.

As part of Shannon’s project, two distinct peatland sites were investigated to assess the effectiveness of various imaging analysis methods, including multispectral and LiDAR, to track restoration progress and degradation. These methodologies supply regular and precise data, enhancing restoration planning and management.

The Clongowes Wood College student will go on to represent Ireland at the 2024 Regeneron International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF) in Los Angeles, California.

Earlier this year, the 2023 ISEF took place in Dallas, Texas, where 2022 BT Young Scientist winners Aditya Joshi and Aditya Kumar were awarded fourth place in the mathematics section.

‘Exceptional level of ingenuity’

SciFest CEO Sheila Porter congratulated Shannon. “Your accomplishment is not just a testament to your individual brilliance and dedication, but also a shining example of how young minds like yours are crucial in shaping our understanding of the world and paving the way for future innovations.”

Minister for Education Norma Foley, TD, said Shannon has embodied the principles of science through his project, adding that he demonstrated “an exceptional level of ingenuity and scientific acumen”.

“As Jack prepares to step onto the prestigious international stage, remember that you are not just showcasing a project; you are carrying the spirit of innovation and the promise of a brighter future for STEM fields.”

This marks the 18th year of SciFest, which saw students participating in local and regional STEM fairs across the country. Since launching in 2006, more than 100,000 students have participated in the competition.

Along with Shannon, other award winners in this year’s competition included Ciara Cannon for her project on using nanoparticles to create a self-sustaining antimicrobial surface, Mya Doocey and Mia Galligan for their project on the effect of the menstrual cycle on participation and performance in physical education, and Kamaya Gogna for her project on using machine learning to identify radiolucencies on panoramic dental radiographs.

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Jenny Darmody is the editor of Silicon Republic