16 March 2018
Emily Xu, a senior student at James Allen’s Girls School has been awarded the GSK UK Young Scientist of the Year title at The Big Bang UK Young Scientists and Engineers Competition for her project “New Ways Of Separating Mirror Image Molecules”
Emily’s project looked at new methods for separating different types of molecules that can be very difficult to distinguish, as they are mirror images of each other, with each molecule reacting differently in the human body. This process could be very helpful in the pharmaceutical industry – in the case of ibuprofen, this could help make it more effective; in the case of thalidomide, this could have eliminated negative effects.
Emily Xu reached the UK finals of The Competition having won a place in the online heats.
Over 500 finalists from across the country were selected to show their ideas at The Big Bang Fair where ten were then shortlisted to pitch Dragon’s Den-style to a panel of VIP judges – including Nikki Yates (Senior Vice President, GSK Europe), Andrew Smyth (Rolls-Royce aerospace engineer and former Great British Bake-Off contestant) and Alex Deakin (Met Office meteorologist and weather presenter).
The Big Bang Competition is an annual contest designed to recognise and reward young people’s achievements in all areas of science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM), as well as helping them build skills and confidence in project-based work.
Winners of The Big Bang Competition in 2017 have since gone on to enjoy a range of other achievements on the back of their successes at last year’s The Fair – including winning international awards, appearing on Springwatch, getting other young people involved in their citizen science project, and taking part in conference presentations to industry professionals.
Winner of the GSK UK Young Scientist of the Year 2018 title, Emily Xu, said:
“Firstly, I’m really shocked but at the same time I am very honoured to be given this award. The overall Big Bang experience is definitely one that I’d recommend to any other young person interested in pursuing science.”
The winners will continue to show their project to thousands of visitors to The Big Bang Fair at the NEC in Birmingham, which aims to inspire other young people to consider a career in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM).
The Fair is open to families on Saturday 17th March and young visitors will be able to explore all aspects of STEM, including a host of different hands-on activities, interactive workshops and stage shows.
Congratulating the winner, Mark Titterington, Chief Executive of EngineeringUK, which organises The Big Bang Competition, said:
“Emily stunned judges with the insight, creativity and hard work that went into their brilliant entry. This innovative project was an extremely impressive project that makes her a worthy winner of this year’s award. I’m hopeful that seeing what they’ve achieved will encourage young people across the UK to enter next year’s Competition.
“While it’s easy to see why this project was a hit with judges, I have been blown away by the quality of entries from all of our finalists – both in terms of the work that went into them and the way they showcased that work with such confidence at The Fair. It certainly bodes well for the future that the scientists, engineers and inventors of tomorrow are already producing such astute and creative project work.”
Nikki Yates, Senior Vice President, GSK Europe, said:
“The quality of entries this year was incredibly high right across the board, and highlighted some amazing young talent. It really was a tough decision when it came to picking a winner.
“The best part of the awards for me is how we can get a fascinating glimpse into the minds of our future scientists and engineers. It’s hugely important that we continue to showcase real world examples of STEM and by doing so, the exciting opportunities that a career within a STEM organisation could look like.
“I’m excited to see what the young people I spoke with today will go on to achieve in the years to come. By giving young people the confidence to succeed, we can inspire in them the confidence and ambition to be our future innovators and leaders.”
JAGS Headmistress, Sally-Anne Huang said:
“STEM subjects are alive and kicking at JAGS and we are all well aware of the significance of bringing so many young women into this area of study. We are so proud of Emily and delighted by her well-earned success. She is a fantastic role model to younger pupils at JAGS and beyond.”