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Art Champlin Gold Medal Award 2016

24 Oct 2016
Elaine O'Brien, Gold Medal Recipient for 2016 and Professor David Sheehan, Head of School of Biochemistry and Cell Biology, UCC. Photo credit: Mary Heapes, School of Biochemistry & Cell Biology.

Elaine O'Brien graduated as top student, with a first class honours degree in Biochemistry and received the Art Champlin Gold Medal Award  in 2016. 

Elaine has since commenced the MSc in Biotechnology programme at UCC. The staff in the School would like to wish Elaine every success in her future career. 

 

Elaine's career profile on LinkedIn.

 

Elaine's path to the Gold Medal...

'Looking back on that day when I made my final choices on the CAO, I can definitely say that I made the right decision. I initially opted to study the Biological and Chemical Sciences course in University College Cork because of its broad range in degree specialisations…at 18 years old I was not yet ready to commit to a definite career path. I also really enjoyed biology and chemistry at secondary school and was interested to see how these areas of science evolve by studying them at 3rd level. However, it was the UCC open day at Western Gateway that consolidated my choice. After speaking to the lecturers in the Biochemistry and Microbiology departments, who were so passionate about their research, I knew that I wanted to share the same passion for science.

Through first and second year of the degree, I paved my way towards specialising in biological sciences. I really wanted to major in biochemistry particularly, as it was never a chore to study the biochemistry modules. I always wanted to find out more about the topics in question at lectures. Luckily, I was selected for the BSc in Biochemistry and was soon learning about the mechanisms of disease at a molecular level and studying the cellular processes that underlie the everyday function of the human body. The best thing about being a biochemistry student for me, was knowing that everything I was studying in college was current and making an impact on society. One day you too could be studying about the latest drug combination to tackle breast cancer, or the latest gene editing techniques such as CRISPR.

I had some fantastic opportunities during my degree that have got me to where I am today. In 3rd year I spent a month as a research assistant in the Cork Cancer Research Centre. I was involved in a project investigating the role of autophagy related genes in oesophageal cancer. The skills I had developed from the laboratory practical’s in the School of Biochemistry and Cell Biology helped me immensely during this time. Without a doubt, the highlight of my BSc in Biochemistry was conducting my final year project “Construction of Arabinose Inducible Expression Vectors for Recombinant Production of Hagfish Slime Thread Proteins” under the supervision of Dr Paul Young. I was exposed to a whole area of science that I had not been previously familiar with - synthetic biology. It also gave me an insight as to what undertaking a PhD might be like. My project was also very much biotechnology-based which in turn influenced my decision to undertake an MSc in Biotechnology here at University College Cork, as I am keen to develop my knowledge of this sector.

I believe that graduating with a BSc in Biochemistry gives one a great platform to work from; whether it be moving onto further education or starting a career in industry. During the course, not only are you encouraged to maintain a high standard with regards to academics, but also to get involved in the science community. Such opportunities are offered to students through the Biochemical & Biotechnology Society and research and industry seminars which allowed me and other students to network with experts. As students, the facilities, teaching and mentoring that we experienced from the School of Biochemistry and Cell Biology has been outstanding. I am sure the lessons that we have learned from our mentors within the School of Biochemistry and Cell Biology will be invaluable to us all throughout our careers.

Now, with a first class honours degree in Biochemistry under my belt, I am looking forward to the next step which happens to be the MSc in Biotechnology. I have had the best time during my four years at University College Cork that would not have been the same without my classmates or lecturers.'

Elaine O'Brien, BSc.

 

Elaine O'Brien, Gold Medal recipient and Dr Michael Murphy, President, UCC.

Elaine O'Brien, Gold Medal recipient and Dr Michael Murphy, President, UCC. Photo credit: Mary Heapes, School of Biochemistry & Cell Biology.

 

Professor David Sheehan, Head of School of Biochemistry and Cell Biology, UCC; Elaine O'Brien, Gold Medal recipient; Professor Paul Ross, Head of College of Science, Engineering and Food Science (SEFS), UCC; and Dr Michael Murphy, President, UCC.

Professor David Sheehan, Head of School of Biochemistry and Cell Biology, UCC; Elaine O'Brien, Gold Medal recipient; Professor Paul Ross, Head of College of Science, Engineering and Food Science (SEFS), UCC; and Dr Michael Murphy, President, UCC. Photo credit: Mary Heapes, School of Biochemistry & Cell Biology. 

Dr Sinead Kerins, School of Biochemistry and Cell Biology, UCC; Professor David Sheehan, Head of School of Biochemistry and Cell Biology, UCC; Elaine O'Brien, Gold Medal recipient; Professor Paul Ross, Head of College of Science, Engineering and Food Science (SEFS), UCC; Dr Michael Murphy, President, UCC; and Dr Susan Joyce, School of Biochemistry and Cell Biology, UCC & Investigator in the APC Microbiome Institute, UCC.

Dr Sinéad Kerins, School of Biochemistry and Cell Biology, UCC; Professor David Sheehan, Head of School of Biochemistry and Cell Biology, UCC; Elaine O'Brien, Gold Medal recipient; Professor Paul Ross, Head of College of Science, Engineering and Food Science (SEFS), UCC; Dr Michael Murphy, President, UCC; and Dr Susan Joyce, School of Biochemistry and Cell Biology, UCC & Investigator in the APC Microbiome Institute, UCC. Photo credit: Mary Heapes, School of Biochemistry & Cell Biology.

 

Elaine O'Brien, Gold Medal recipient pictured with her parents Stephen and Eileen O’Brien, her sister Niamh and brother Daniel.

Elaine O'Brien, Gold Medal recipient pictured with her parents Stephen and Eileen O’Brien, her sister Niamh and brother Daniel. Photo credit: Mary Heapes, School of Biochemistry & Cell Biology.

 

Elaine O'Brien, Gold Medal recipient and Professor Paul Ross, Head of College of Science, Engineering and Food Science (SEFS), UCC

Elaine O'Brien, Gold Medal recipient and Professor Paul Ross, Head of College of Science, Engineering and Food Science (SEFS), UCC. Photo credit: Mary Heapes, School of Biochemistry & Cell Biology.

 

Elaine O'Brien and her mother, Eileen laughing with the photographer from Lafayette Photography.

Elaine O'Brien and her mother, Eileen laughing with the photographer from Lafayette Photography. Photo credit: Mary Heapes, School of Biochemistry & Cell Biology.

 

School of Biochemistry and Cell Biology

Scoil na Bithcheimice agus na Cillbhitheolaíochta

University College Cork, Western Road, Cork.

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