St. Mary’s students receive Excellence in STEM medal at SciFest@Intel

St. Mary’s Charleville students Méabh Mulcahy and Mairéad O’Donnell received an Intel Excellence in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) medal at the national final of the prestigious SciFest@Intel competition, held at the Leixlip headquarters of the global technology giant on Friday 28th October. The St. Mary’s students won top prize at the regional SciFest@Limerick Institute of Technology event held in May, for their investigation of Sudocrem being used as a mastitis rub for the progressive dairy farmer. The 15 regional SciFest winners were presented with their Intel Excellence in STEM medal by Dr. Graham Love, Director of Discover Science and Engineering (DSE) and Policy and Communications at Science Foundation Ireland (SFI).

Investigating whether Sudocrem is an effective alternative to antibiotics for the treatment of mastitis (inflammation of the cow’s udder) Méabh and Mairéad found that not only is it an effective alternative it also leads to significant cost savings for the farmer. Mastitis outbreaks lead to sub-stantial loss in farm income because of the necessity to withdraw the milk of infected cows. Should the farmer use Sudocrem as a treatment no such withdrawal of milk is necessary. Sudocrem costs under €2 per cow in comparison to the €10-€50 cost of one antibiotic syringe. It also eradicates the chance of traces of antibiotics entering the milk tank which would inevitably result in the farmer discarding his entire milk supply.

SciFest@Intel gives the winning projects from each of the regional SciFest Fairs an opportunity to showcase their projects at the Open Innovation Lab at Intel’s headquarters in Leixlip, Co Kildare. The overall 2012 winner was Simon Bluett, who will now go on to represent Ireland at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF) 2013 in Phoenix, Arizona in May 2013.