Posted by in News.

It’s crystal clear that Galway students know their way around the science lab—after three of them swept the boards in national competition… to grow their own!

Professor Michael Zaworotko—one of the world’s top twenty chemists—announced the winners of the National Crystal Growing Competition as Coláiste Bhaile Chláir’s Jason Folan and Youbeel Hagi from Galway Community College.


This year’s SSPC Crystal Growing Competition winners pictured with Professor Mike Zaworotko.


The Synthesis and Solid State Pharmaceutical Centre National Crystal Growing Competition was launched as part of Science Week in November to celebrate the International Year of Crystallography. The competition was open to primary and post-primary schools from across Ireland.

Judging criteria centred on the quality of the single crystals that were grown by students, considering elements such as the definition of the crystal faces, along with the clarity and size of the crystal, which are important factors that need to be taken into consideration when controlling crystal growth within the pharmaceutical industry when making medicines.

The crystals submitted to the SSPC National Crystal Growing Competition will be kept on public display at SSPC headquarters at the University of Limerick.

The SSPC, funded by Science Foundation Ireland and Industry, is a world-leading research centre focused upon next generation medicines by developing more environmentally sustainable methods for drug manufacture; increasing the range of medicines available to the public; and reducing drug manufacturing costs.

The pharmaceutical industry employs over 25,000 individuals directly and 24,500 indirectly in Ireland, and produces over 50% of all exports, making Ireland the second-largest pharmaceutical exporter in the world. The primary objective of the SSPC is to retain existing jobs within the pharmaceutical industry in Ireland.

The Synthesis and Solid State Pharmaceutical Centre (SSPC), a Global Hub of Pharmaceutical Process Innovation and Advanced Manufacturing, funded by Science Foundation Ireland and Industry, is a unique collaboration between 22 industry partners, 9 research performing organisations and 12 international academic collaborators.

Judging panel members for the SSPC National Crystal Growing Competition paid tribute to the high standard and excellent quality of entries.

“The standard and quality of the crystals submitted for the SSPC National Crystal Growing Competition was outstanding. It is very encouraging to see such a high level of enthusiasm by the students and their teachers in growing the crystals over the last number of months,” said Professor Kieran Hodnett, SSPC Scientific Director.

“As one of Science Foundation Ireland’s twelve research centres, SSPC has a critical role supporting Ireland’s pharmaceutical sector,” added Professor Mark Ferguson, Director Genral of Science Foundation Ireland and Chief Scientific Adviser to the Government of Ireland.

“Ireland’s first SSPC National Crystal Growing Competition is an important element of SFI’s public engagement remit and SSPC’s education and outreach programme, which aims to inspire young minds as to the possibilities and application of science in our everyday lives. Congratulations to the deserving winners,” he concluded.