Winner of the 60th BT Young Scientist & Technology Exhibition announcedPadraig Conlon 15 Jan 2024
The winner of the 60th BT Young Scientist & Technology Exhibition (BTYSTE) is Seán O’Sullivan, aged 17, a 5th year student from Coláiste Chiaráin in Limerick.
He won the top prize with his project, VerifyMe: A new approach to authorship attribution in the post-ChatGPT era.
The BTYSTE perpetual trophy was presented to the winner this evening at the RDS by Minister for Education, Norma Foley TD and Managing Director of BT Ireland, Shay Walsh.
Since OpenAI released ChatGPT in November of 2022, the line between human-written and AI-generated text has blurred, leaving academia and industry searching for a reliable method to discern “true” human authorship. In his project, Seán considered the challenges of author verification in the context of the significant improvements in Large Language Models (LLMs) like ChatGPT. He developed a novel approach to author authentication that identifies stylistic differences to verify authorship.
Chair of the Technology Group Judging Panel, Leonard Hobbs said, “The judges were hugely impressed by Sean’s innovative approach to addressing a problem that has only recently emerged and his programming skills in architecting a complex software solution.”
Seán is the 60th recipient to win the highly coveted trophy, and the top prize of €7,500. Seán will now also represent Ireland at the European Union Contest for Young Scientists (EUCYS) taking place later this year in the European City for Science 2024 – Katowice, Poland.
Speaking at the awards ceremony on Friday, Minister for Education Norma Foley TD said, “I’d like to sincerely congratulate Seán O’Sullivan from Coláiste Chiaráin in Limerick on his tremendous achievement of winning top prize in the BT Young Scientist and Technology Exhibition 2024.
“His win is testament to his hard work and dedication and the unwavering support of his family, teachers and school. It comes in the 60th year of the exhibition, when we must give significant credit to founders Dr Tony Scott and Fr Tom Burke who had the vision and determination to first establish this event in Ireland back in 1963 and to all of those who have nurtured and celebrated scientific research in our school communities in the years since.”
Abigail O’Brien Murray, Erica O’Brien Murray and Olivia O’Shea, all aged 18, and in 6th year in Loreto Secondary School Balbriggan (pictured above) won the prize for Best Group, with their project, Let’s Save the Common Ash!: A Continued Story.
This is the second year this project has been recognised at the exhibition having previously been awarded Runner-up Group in 2023.
Dr. Richard O’Hanlon, Group Biological & Ecological Category Judge, said, “These young scientists carried out several large and robust experiments, involving both lab and field testing. Building on work they presented in the 2023 BTYSTE, they found that their treatments had the ability to reduce disease by more than 80%. This work is an important step towards developing a pathway to save our trees.”
Shay Walsh, Managing Director of BT Ireland, which organises the exhibition, concluded by saying: “I have been lucky enough to be involved in the exhibition for almost a quarter of a century, since BT first became custodians. Being able to see first-hand the creativity and innovation of Ireland’s future leaders has been a real privilege.
“This year’s competition has been no exception with projects seeking to address real-world issues involving AI, health, and sustainability to name but a few.”
While the calibre of entries across the board has been outstanding, on behalf of all the team at BT Ireland, I would like to congratulate all the finalists of the 2024 exhibition and thank them for sharing their remarkable ideas and innovations with us.
“And to all this year’s winners, we look forward to seeing the future impact you will all undoubtedly make.
“Lastly, a special word of thanks to the teachers, parents, and guardians for their ongoing support, as well as our panel of expert judges, partners, volunteers and the BT team more broadly. This is a collective effort and one we are incredibly proud to be part of.”