The winners of the 52nd BT Young Scientist and Technology Exhibition have been announced as Maria Louise Fufezan and Diana Bura from Loreto Secondary School, Balbriggan.

The group entered in the intermediate section of the biological and ecological sciences category with their project 'An Investigation into the Effects of Enzymes used in Animal Feed Additives on the Lifespan of Caenorhabditis Elegans'.

One of the judges of the competition, Prof Grace McCormack, said the students provided "new evidence that there may be an unexpected detrimental change in behaviour and lifespan of three essential worms.

The work is important for the environment and the food industry and will undoubtedly lead to further research in this important area."

Both Maria and Diana were presented with a cheque for €5,000. They will also represent Ireland at the 28th European Union Young Scientist competition in Brussels.

Minister for Education Jan O’Sullivan said that the event provides students with the opportunity to showcase talent and potential.

The award for Best Individual went to transition year student Shane Curran, 16, from Terenure College, Dublin for his project 'Velodrome: The Automated Logistics Fulfiment Platform'.

The award for runner-up group went to 6th year students Gabriel Barat and Adrian Wolniak from Synge Street CBS, Dublin for their project 'A Mathematical Model of Coffee Rust'.

Renuka Chintapalli a 5th year student from Loreto Secondary School, Balbriggan won the award for Individual Runner-up for her project 'Developing a predictive tool for identifying FLNc-associated biomarkers of oesophageal cancer metastasis'.

Nearly 1,200 students from across Ireland covering 550 projects took part in the competition.