University student named Young Scientist of the Year

Three University of Auckland students have been named in the MacDiarmid Young Scientists of the Year Awards, including the winner of the overall title of Young Scientist of the Year.

Claire French, a PhD student in the Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences has been given the top accolade in the annual awards. Winner of the Science in Our Communities category, Claire's research, in association with crown research institute ESR (Environmental Science and Research), has identified a method of distinguishing between skin, vaginal and mouth cells. This easy-to-use test, which identifies the source of cells through colour staining techniques, is of particular interest to forensic scientists and has potential for providing additional evidence in sexual assault cases.

Andrew Graham, a mechanical engineering student at the University, has been named joint runner up in the Future Science category of the awards. Andrew works with a team of engineers designing medical robotics, focusing on revolutionary robotic equipment that will aid in the fast, accurate realignment of bones during leg surgery.

Another runner up, in the Advancing Human Health category, is Hayley Reynolds, whose research is funded by the Centre of Biomolecular Discovery based at the University. Hayley has developed technology that may doctors to monitor and predict the spread of melanoma in cancer patients using 3D computer models.

"It is a great pleasure to see our graduates so successful in the MacDiarmid Awards this year. It's particularly pleasing to see winners from across our major research faculties, Science, Medical and Health Science, and Engineering. Outstanding students like Claire, Hayley and Andrew, who have experience working with some of the best researchers in New Zealand, will be key figures in our future knowledge society. We are very proud of them and offer our heartiest congratulations on this fitting recognition of their ability and hard work," says Professor Tom Barnes, Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) at The University of Auckland.

The MacDiarmid Young Scientists of the Year Awards are presented by the Foundation of Research, Science and Technology. The awards are designed to recognise excellent research, science and technology while also promoting the importance of good science communication. In 2006, 21 of the 103 entries were from University of Auckland students.

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