Leeds student wins Eisenthal Prize

A University of Leeds student has received the 2014 Eisenthal Prize for a project she carried out during an eight-week summer placement in the Faculty of Biological Sciences.

Undergraduate Sarah Pearsall was recognised as the highest quality student applicant for the Biochemical Society’s Summer Vacation Studentships.

The prize is given to the most successful applicant before they commence their lab work.

The winner was selected based on their credentials and the quality and originality of their proposal.

One hundred and ninety five students applied to the studentship scheme this year, the highest number the Biochemical Society has ever had.

The studentship scheme was designed to benefit students with valuable lab experience as well as introducing academics and supervisors to future scientists. 

Sarah recently completed her 8 week placement, where she worked on a project entitled Engineering of hexameric helicases to translocate specific RNA molecules”.  

Sarah was supervised by Dr Roman Tuma from the Faculty of Biological Sciences. 

Dr Tuma said “I enjoy giving such opportunity to motivated undergraduates like Sarah.

“In her project she was able to engineer a viral molecular motor into an RNA-processing molecular machine which has potential applications in fighting viral infections.”

Sarah said the studentship has proved invaluable as she returns to study.

She said the internship was “incredibly rewarding to me and will support my extensive third year project.”

Dr Tuma has asked Sarah to return to her studentship to complete their research with a presentation and report to present at a lab meeting.

Sarah and Dr Tuma’s research was funded by the Biochemical society, who run the studentship scheme and the Eisenthal prize.

The Eisenthal Prize is awarded in memory of Professor Robert Eisenthal, a former academic of Biology and Biochemistry at the University of Bath. Professor Eisenthal was an active member of the Biochemical Society, who have created the prize in his honour to act as a lasting mark of respect for a colleague who contributed to the success of the studentship scheme.

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