Art Champlin Gold Medal Award 2019
The Professor Art Champlin Gold Medal Award for academic excellence in Biochemistry, was presented to Caoimhe Lynch on 15 October 2019 by Professor Patrick O'Shea, President of University College Cork (UCC); Professor Sarah Culloty Head of College, College of Science, Engineering & Food Science (SEFS), UCC; and Professor Rosemary O'Connor, Head of School of Biochemistry and Cell Biology, UCC
The Professor Arthur K. Champlin gold medal is awarded annually to the top student graduating BSc (Hons) in Biochemistry.
Caoimhe was joined at her graduation by her parents, Sharon and John Lynch, her sisters Darina and Shónagh, her brother Cian and her boyfriend Daniel Sheehan, who is also a Biochemistry graduate and a graduate of the MSc in Biotechnology programme UCC. Caoimhe has been an outstanding student and has commenced a PhD under the supervision of Professor John Cryan, Department of Anatomy and Neuroscience UCC. Caoimhe is delighted “to be staying in my alma mater for the next four years, surrounded my good friends and colleagues”. The staff in the School of Biochemistry and Cell Biology would like to wish Caoimhe every success in her future career.
Caoimhe’s path to the Gold Medal…
"As I child I was lucky enough to be brought up in a family that appreciated nature and the environment. With this in mind it’s not surprising that even from a young age I was fascinated by the human body and intrigued as to how its complex and diverse mechanisms work in cohort to enable an individual to function effectively and efficiently. Moreover, how these various mechanisms are influenced by an individual’s environment and how they differ in specific diseases. So, for me choosing to study Biological and Chemical Sciences in University College Cork was an easy decision and I knew it would set me on the right career path.
The first two years of Biological and Chemical Sciences was wide-ranging allowing me to study modules in Biology, Chemistry, Statistics and Physics. Moreover, it gave me a chance to make new friends and build relationships with lectures. Working hard and engaging in the course provided me with a really good basis for my future scientific endeavours. My passion for science and interest in getting an insight into scientific research led me to enquire about obtaining Summer placement during my second year. Fortunately, I was offered an opportunity to work in Prof. Douwe Van Sinderen’s laboratory as an APC Microbiome Ireland Summer student. Without a doubt, undertaking this project alongside extremely talented individuals increased my desire to pursue a career in scientific research. However, having completed second year I still wasn’t sure what career path I wanted to venture down: biochemistry or neuroscience.
After a great amount of thought and advice from lecturers and family I decided to commence a BSc in Biochemistry. Undertaking a wide variety of modules, third year really opened my mind to current research and provoked my interest particularly in the field of neurobiology. My desire to pursue a career in this area led me to obtain Summer Placement in Prof. Cora O’Neill’s laboratory. I was generously awarded a SEFs Summer Research Bursary which enabled me to conduct a project which investigated gut inflammatory responses in Parkinson’s disease. This project really demonstrated to me first-hand the impact that researchers can have on improving the lives for patients and their families. Additionally, this experience really crystallized the direction of research I wanted to focus on: the gut-brain axis.
Undoubtedly, the skills I had developed during my Summer placements helped me immensely during my final year project. Under the supervision of Dr. Eoin Fleming I actively worked on a project entitled: “Site-directed Mutagenesis of Cas9 for novel CRISPR-Cas9 mediated knock-out of the ubiquitin conjugating enzyme UBC6e/Ube2J1”. This project taught me to think outside the box, to be critical of my capabilities and always strive for self-improvement. During my final year I really challenged myself to keep up to date with recent research, to be creative and think of novel ways to elucidate scientific questions/problems. As Albert Einstein said, “Logic will get you from A to Z: imagination will get you everywhere”.
Without a doubt, my four years spent in UCC studying Biochemistry have been demanding but I’ve always enjoyed a challenge and my passion for science really didn’t make it feel like work! Moreover, having my hard work recognised by numerous prestigious awards such as Title of College Scholar every year of my undergraduate and two Eli Lilly Awards for Academic Excellence not only fuelled my ambition to succeed but also reassured me that hard work really does pay off and is always rewarded.
Outside of the countless hours of studying, laboratory practicals and lectures I also got the opportunity to be involved in numerous Education and Public Engagement volunteering activities such as “Alimentary Adventures” and “Fota Mad Scientist” during my Summer Placements. I was also an avid member of “Cell Explorers” an SFI funded scientific outreach program organised by Dr. Kellie Dean and Dr. Eoin Fleming in the Biochemistry and Cell Biology department. Without a doubt, I found these events extremely rewarding and they emphasized the importance of raising public awareness and communicating science. Networking is also an extremely important aspect of science, keeping this in mind I got the opportunity to attend numerous APC forums and seminars hosted by the Biochemistry and Biotechnology Society in UCC. These experiences allowed me to gain insights into a variety of different research fields and gain relationships with highly recognised researchers.
Studying Biochemistry in UCC has been an invaluable experience, not only has it shaped me as a person but also prepared me for the next step in my journey. Not to forget along the way I’ve met some amazing likeminded people, increased my skills and knowledge. I eagerly anticipate the next chapter of my career and look forward to what the future holds. I am honoured to have the opportunity to complete a PhD under the supervision of Prof. John Cryan and Dr. Gerard Clarke. Moreover, I’m thrilled to be staying in my alma mater, a world class University surrounded by a close-knit community of researchers, lectures and top-quality facilities. I look forward to making a difference in the scientific community by helping solve some of the most complex problems that face our society."
Winner of the Art Champlin Gold Medal for 2019, Caoimhe Lynch with her parents, John and Sharon Lynch; and UCC Staff, Professor Sarah Culloty Head of College, College of Science, Engineering & Food Science (SEFS), UCC; Professor Patrick G. O' Shea, President of UCC; Professor Rosemary O’Connor, Head of School of Biochemistry and Cell Biology, UCC.
Winner of the Art Champlin Gold Medal for 2019, Caoimhe Lynch with her parents, John and Sharon Lynch.
Winner of the Art Champlin Gold Medal for 2019, Caoimhe Lynch and boyfriend, Daniel Sheehan (BSc in Biochemistry UCC, 2012 and MSc in Biotechnology UCC, 2013).
Winner of the Art Champlin Gold Medal for 2019, Caoimhe Lynch with her boyfriend (centre) Daniel Sheehan (BSc in Biochemistry UCC, 2012 and MSc in Biotechnology UCC, 2013) and family; parents, John and Sharon Lynch; brother, Cian Lynch and sisters, Darina and Shónagh.