Irish Research Council special award winners at the BT Young Scientist 2016

Posted: 11 January, 2016

The Irish Research Council Award was presented by Chair Professor Jane Ohlmeyer to Gabriel Barat and Adrian Wolniak of Synge Street CBS, Dublin, for their project ‘A Mathematical Model of Coffee Rust’. The pair also won the runner-up group prize for which they received a cheque for €1,200 and a BT perpetual trophy.

Coffee rust is the most economically important coffee disease in the world, and in monetary value, coffee is the most important agricultural product in international trade. Gabriel and Adrian developed a powerful computer model that allows them to take a green approach to controlling this common disease.

The complex disease involves four organisms interacting together, and the balance between them dictates the impact of the rust on coffee plants. There is an existing mathematical model used to control coffee rust but it only takes into account two of these four organisms which include the rust fungus, white halo fungus, green coffee scale and a species of ant. Gabriel and Adrian’s model uses all four, giving coffee growers better information about keeping control of the disease.

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