Record number of entries for biosciences essay competition
By Sarah Wood
This year's University of Gloucestershire biosciences essay competition drew a record number of entries, with 207 essays received from 57 different schools across the country.
Entrants were asked to write an essay with the title: It's never been more important to be a biologist than now.
In the 21st century, the world faces many challenges: treating diseases (including during the current pandemic); tackling climate change; saving biodiversity; combating antibiotic resistance; and producing food sustainably. And many of these challenges are biological.
The biosciences essay competition was open to all pupils currently studying for A-Level, BTEC, SQA or equivalent qualification at a UK institution. The essays that the university received covered a wide range of topics, not surprisingly including Covid-19.
Due to the high quality of the entries, the judges faced a difficult decision. The essays were judged on the level of understanding of the content, the quality of the argument, the structure, the writing style and novel approach.
The essay by Matthew Gray from Royal Grammar School in Guildford won first prize and a cheque for £1,000. The essay explored the future of synthetic biology, where scientists redesign and engineer organisms to have new abilities. A fascinating and brave topic to choose, the judges were impressed with Matthew's argument that "the age of synthetic biology is here and it will affect all of our lives".
The essay by Marwa Hamza from Balcarras School in Cheltenham won second prize and a cheque for £500. It explored crop production and nutrition, and the central role biologists play in developing the technology that will feed the world.
The Wirral Grammar School for Boys submitted the largest number of entries − an impressive 53 essays. The school will receive a cheque for £500.
Adam Hart, professor of science communication, University of Gloucestershire said: "This is the second year that we have run the biosciences essay competition, and yet again I am blown away by the quality of the thinking and writing that the entries displayed. Synthetic biology is an important but tricky area of research and we applaud Matthew Gray for tackling this interesting subject."
The University of Gloucestershire offers undergraduate degrees in biology, animal biology, biomedical science, and ecology & environmental science. You can find out about studying biosciences on the university website.
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