Young scholar receives award

Last updated 10:04 17/12/2013

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Marlborough Boys' College student Tom Morgan was presented with the Genesis Energy Supreme Award by Governor-General Sir Jerry Mateparae at the prestigious Royal Society's Realise the Dream awards evening at Government House in Wellington on Friday.

Tom received a $7000 cash scholarship and would attend the European Union Young Scientist Competition in Warsaw, Poland in September 2014.

This latest award comes after Tom won the Marlborough Lines Science Fair, for a project where he grew oyster mushrooms in the dark and then exposed them to ultraviolet light for varying periods of time before testing their concentration of vitamin D. His results showed a strong correlation between length of exposure to UV light and the concentration of vitamin D in oyster mushrooms.

The work highlighted the potential for others to rapidly investigate ways to improve vitamin D concentrations in food with a goal of addressing vitamin D deficiency, which is linked to osteoporosis and is a major cause of suffering and disability around the world.

Without access to the sophisticated laboratory equipment normally used to extract and measure vitamin D, Tom developed an inexpensive and simple technique using equipment available in many laboratories.

Last month, his project won him the Prime Minister's Science Awards future science award, of $50,000, which Tom planned to put towards his university fees when he studies mechanical engineering at Canterbury University next year.

Royal Society of New Zealand chief executive Dr Di McCarthy praised Tom's determination and commitment to researching and understanding his topic.

"I applaud Tom for his outstanding project that could make a real difference to how we address vitamin D deficiency in New Zealand. Tom faced many barriers to carrying out his research but overcame them, demonstrating commendable tenacity. I have no doubt that he will continue to excel in his future studies."

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- The Marlborough Express

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