European essay competition success for Perse students
Sheen Gahlaut and Sneha Goni (both Lower Sixth) delved into DNA as they achieved success in an international biology essay competition.
The Perse students came first and second respectively in the European DNA Day Essay Contest, with both investigating the question ‘How can DNA help us to discover ancient history?’
For their efforts in the competition, organised by the European Society of Human Genetics, Sheen and Sneha received cash prizes, while The Perse was awarded €1,800 to be used for a biology project.
Sheen said: “I just wanted to look into something a bit different outside of school studies, so it’s pretty amazing to have won the competition,” while Sneha commented: “I’m really happy, especially as it’s a topic I didn’t know much about before.”
Both students are considering a career in medicine and were keen to look into a topic in which there is much ground-breaking research taking place.
Sheen said: “I take a mix of A levels – sciences and history – and I’ve always enjoyed doing projects where there’s a combination of subjects.
“I thought it would be interesting to explore how ancient and modern genomes can be used, so I also looked at how we combined them and how they influence each other.
“I started by looking at the more known-about elements, such as gene development and admixture of different species, but I was really interested in the cultural aspect of it and how social norms have been passed on through time.
“The difference between ancient and modern genomes was quite striking. It’s a topic I’d like to keep track of now I know a lot more about the basics behind it.”
Sneha said: “I started off looking at how we can show population migration and admixture, and also disease and the environment people were living in at the time.
“I think it has quite a nice link to how researchers are now talking about whole genome sequencing in medicine and to help determine diseases.”