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21/08/2014

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Ginger genes genius Fred steers UK to European science victory

Fred Turner, 18, from West Yorkshire, impressed an international panel of judges when he represented the UK at the 25th European Union Contest for Young Scientists. Having previously been crowned UK Young Engineer of the Year, at the UK’s National Science + Engineering Competition – Fred has now claimed a second victory, being awarded first place in the European competition.

Fred, who completed the project whilst still at school, won the prestigious title of UK Young Engineer in March 2013, and won a place to represent the UK in the international competition. Competing against 125 other young people who had won national competitions in their own countries, Fred secured victory with his project ‘Genetics at Home’. The project saw him build a fully working Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) machine which will allow anyone to carry out basic genetic tests at home, for a fraction of the cost of existing technology.

The inspiration behind Fred’s work came from a desire to find out more about the genetic differences that caused him to have brown hair, whilst his brother Gus has a shock of pre-Raphaelite ginger curls.  Using an old video player, he constructed a PCR machine that would cost £3000 new, for just £400.

Professor Derek Bell, UK member of the EUCYS 2013 Judges Panel explained why Fred’s work was so well received;

"Fred's success at EUCYS 2013 is thoroughly deserved. The competition for prizes at this year's competition was extremely intense so to be awarded a first prize is an outstanding achievement. Fred impressed the judges not only through the quality of his project, which was excellent, but also in the way in which he communicated with them in explaining his work and sharing his enthusiasm for science and engineering."

Imran Khan, Chief Executive of the British Science Association, the organisation responsible for nominating the UK candidate for the competition said;

"Everyone at the British Science Association is really thrilled for Fred that he's won first place - as he's one of the reigning winners of our National Science and Engineering Competition, it's a great reflection on the quality of UK science. 

"His success shows what young people can accomplish when given the freedom to - and that's exactly the ethos behind our CREST Awards programme, which provides a way for everyone to get stuck in”, he said.

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