IRIS student wins Big Bang’s Young Scientist of the Year 2022

June 2022

Connie, a 14-year-old student from Liverpool, is today celebrating her win of Big Bang’s Young Scientist of the Year 2022 award in recognition of her work analysing how some birds can fly and others cannot.  


Her research was supported by education charity, the Institute for Research in Schools (IRIS) and Liverpool Life Sciences UTC. IRIS develops opportunities for secondary school and post-16 students to be involved in authentic research. IRIS believes that student-led research is a powerful way for young people to experience STEM, setting learning in a real-world-problem-solving context showing that students can be active participants in science.


Connie studied the feathers of species of birds from different climates and environments to analyse their structure and why some were able to achieve flight. Connie captured high resolution images of the feathers by using a Scanning Electron Microscope (SEM) which was made possible by a loan to her school through IRIS, working in partnership with the National History Museum and Hitachi.  


This IRIS programme has sparked Connie’s imagination and she has already started to develop her research further, looking to source more bird feathers so she can compare even more species.  


Dr Jo Foster, Director of the Institute for Research in Schools, said;  

“We are all so proud of Connie for her original and creative project. It is fantastic that her work has been recognised, and wonderful that we have been able to make this kind of exceptional research a possibility. Connie is a role model for young scientists everywhere, that anything can be achieved with access to the right tools.  At IRIS, we are helping schools breathe life into the curriculum by providing access to research tools such as the SEM.  


“This clearly demonstrates the merits of unleashing the power of research in our schools. By getting students away from textbooks and involved in real scientific experiments it sparks a love of the subject and shows students that they can make a difference in the world.”  



Dr Alex Ball, Head of Division, Imaging and Analysis, at the Natural History Museum said:  

“Congratulations to Connie! Young Scientist of the year is an amazing achievement and is so well-deserved!   

“Her work on variation between avian species demonstrates a high level of understanding, a keen eye and a passion for science! I am very excited to see what Connie will do in the future.” 



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