Michelle Hulin, from the University of Bath, was named Best Biology Student 2013 in the Europe-wide Science, Engineering & Technology (SET) Student of the Year Awards in London. It tops a great year for Michelle after she also won the Society of Biology Top Student Award 2013.
The three SET award finalists presented research from their undergraduate final year project and were interviewed by a judging panel at Charles Darwin House, London. Michelle Hulin impressed with her project, which aimed to prevent global disease spread in oil palm, a major commodity crop. She had developed a rapid and robust molecular method to detect the fungus Fusarium oxysporum, which causes vascular wilt in the crop. Her work has now been included in a patent application with the potential to help prevent the spread of disease from Africa to Asia.
"I'm overjoyed to have won the award," said Michelle. "I've been interested in plant pathology for a very long time. I believe crop science is really important for the future. We really need to protect our crops." She has now started a PhD at the East Malling Research Centre and the University of Reading.
The other finalists were Nevena Karapavlovic from Newcastle University and Eleanor Paish from Aberystwyth University. Nevena's project looked at why ageing naked mole rats maintain cellular function despite mitochondrial DNA deletions while Eleanor's investigated speed, accuracy and success in foraging fish.