Since genetics is a significant topic in the A-Level Biology course in the Upper Sixth, the conference provided an invaluable opportunity for pupils to get a feel of how molecular biology can be applied in various practical areas such as agriculture and medicine.
Over the course of the four-day trip, the pupil delegates had the chance to attend a variety of lectures, ranging from the application of molecular biology in equine parentage testing to various reports on microbiomes. There were talks and workshops on different topics, from bovine genetics to learning about the genomics of aquaculture species.
Nick Wong, 18, said: “The lectures were given by researchers from various species consortiums around the globe. Although challenging, this prompted us to conduct our own private research on specific areas of molecular biology in order to understand the complex terminology used by the lecturers.”
“The trip was a huge success and, apart from firmly rooting our interest in genetics, it also allowed us to get a taste of the world of genetics research.”
After two days of lectures, the group took a break from the university and visited the Kilmainham Gaol, in which not only did they have the opportunity to learn about the Irish War of Independence, but also see with their own eyes the quarters in which various political figures were held. There were organised trips to the Library at Trinity College, Dublin, where visitors can gain a rich understanding of the history behind the making of the Book of Kells, which is on permanent display at the library.
Nick added: “Before heading towards the airport on the last day, we were extremely lucky to have a bespoke tour around Weatherby’s Irish Equine Centre (IEC). As a fully equipped laboratory aiming to protect the wellbeing of Ireland’s horse population, the IEC houses a lot of technical and complex equipment used in genetics research that we had previously only heard about in the many lectures.
‘The visit provided us with the chance to see the wide range of analytical equipment involved in molecular biology and insight into how this is used in a real setting. The trip was a huge success and, apart from firmly rooting our interest in genetics, it also allowed us to get a taste of the world of genetics research.”