TWO Ulster students have not only picked up first class honours in their BSc degree in Dietetics, but have also been honoured with their industry's top awards.
Ruth Boyce, from Scarva in Co Armagh and Kirsty Porter from Loughbrickland in Co Down were awarded prizes at the British Dietetic Association Research Symposia for dietitians new to research.
Ruth picked up an award for her study which examined the association between a common genetic factor and blood pressure in a group of premature cardiovascular disease patients. Higher blood pressure was found in those with this particular genetic factor. The study also showed that these patients were also less likely to respond to their blood pressure lowering therapies.
Ruth said: “I was absolutely delighted to pick up the award especially after all the hard work that was put in.” Ruth, who is currently pursuing a career in dietetics, undertook a placement at the Southern Health and Social Care Trust and said that this gave her a good grounding in her field.
She said: “I loved the course and the placement allowed me to develop my clinical skills working with patients. It was a fantastic opportunity to put into practice the theory learned in the lectures.”
Kirsty was honoured with an award for her research on B vitamins and bone health in older people. Her section of research was part of a larger cross-border study involving 6,000 Irish adults carried out in collaboration with Trinity College Dublin and backed by funding from governments in Northern Ireland and Republic of Ireland.
Dr Joan Gandy, Research Officer at the British Dietetic Association, said that the students had “represented the University of Ulster in a very professional manner” and that they both “did the University proud”.
Further success has followed for Kirsty as just this week she will pick up the Abbott nutrition prize for best final year project and awarded the Nutricia Ireland prize for second highest overall mark in her graduating year.
Dr Mary Ward, Senior Lecturer in Biomedical Sciences course director for the BSc Hons Dietetics said: “It was a wonderful opportunity for the students to showcase their work at such an early stage in their careers and abstracts of their research have just been published in the June edition of the Journal of Human Nutrition and Dietetics.”