GMIT Science Student Wins Top Award at National Sure Conference for Her Research on The Safety of Daily Use Cosmetics
Mayo student one of 60 undergraduates presenting her findings to a virtual audience
GMIT Science student Tamara Jordan has won a prestigious national award at this year’s Science Undergraduate Research Experience (SURE) Network Awards for her research project examining the safety of daily use cosmetics and for her communication skills in delivering her findings to a large virtual audience.
Tamara’s presentation, titled “Chemical characterisation of finished cosmetic products using spectrophotometric methods and analytical techniques”, examines the ‘make-up’ of the products to determine the relative composition of the compounds, their importance in creating the desired aesthetic appearance, while also ensuring safety and quality of the products. This project aimed to educate consumers around the major components present in their daily use cosmetics, to assess the safety of products available on the Irish market, and to raise awareness on the potential of harmful impurities.
Ten products were examined including lipstick, eyeshadow, and blush and bronzing powders. Safe ingredients such as polymeric compounds, metal oxide pigments and wax and oil components were identified in abundance through the various analytical methods chosen. The major safety concerns surrounding cosmetics involve the potential contamination with heavy metal compounds, as a result of poor manufacturing practices. This is of ongoing importance, as cosmetic products, unlike foods and medicines, are not subject to FDA approval prior to market release. Fortunately, the samples selected from the Irish market were deemed safe for use with no traces of heavy metal elements found. An important note made from this research was the harmful correlation found between counterfeit cosmetics and their inclusion of heavy metal contaminants, and thus, the necessity for consumers to purchase their cosmetics from a reliable source, to ensure safety and compliance with cosmetic industry safeguarding processes.
Tamara from Bohola, Co Mayo, completed her final year B. Sc. (Hons) in Chemical and Pharmaceutical Science in GMIT this year and will graduate in November. She was one of 60 students from nine Higher Education institutes to present their research projects to a virtual audience of over 600 final year students and academic research supervisors.
Dr Éadaoin Tyrrell, GMIT Dept of Natural Sciences, who supervised Tamara’s research project, says: “Tamara’s achievement in winning this award is due recognition of the complexity and depth of research and development of her project. Presenting to a ‘Virtual Audience’ due to the unique circumstances of these challenging times, she succinctly conveyed the complexity and depth of her research and its application to everyday life. Her enthusiasm for and application to her subject is an inspiration to us all.”
Commenting on her award, Tamara says "From conducting my research project, I learned to really appreciate the words ‘Science is more than a body of knowledge. It is a way of thinking'. Going forward in my career I aim to apply the same doctrine."
This was the seventh annual SURE Network Awards event and the first to have been hosted fully online, led this year by GMIT, CIT and TU Dublin. Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science Simon Harris, TD, delivered an address at the conference opening. At the awards ceremony on 16 October, GMIT President Dr Orla Flynn was joined by TU Dublin President Professor David FitzPatrick and CIT President Dr Barry O'Connor.
Dr Orla Flynn spoke of the importance of communication for scientists and how their science studies prepare them for a lifelong journey. “The world needs scientists now more than ever. We need to believe in science, we need to believe in evidence and the process by which we arrive at findings and results. The work that you have been doing throughout your undergraduate programme has helped prepare you for that lifelong journey.”
Minister Harris said “The SURE conference is an opportunity to celebrate the success of students, and to mark the development of students, which is a key focus of the Irish Higher Education system. It is an opportunity to bring your research work to a national audience, and allows graduates to inspire current students, and I really want to thank you for your generosity in that regard, because it is your work that will inspire the next generation. Successful societies and successful economies will be those that invest in and embrace talent, scientific research, creativity and knowledge.”
Dr Cormac Quigley, GMIT lecturer and Co-Chair of the National Conference Committee, congratulated the students and research staff for their work in hosting the event including Dr Orla Slattery, Dr John Healy and Dr Ian O’Connor from GMIT.”
Further information on the SURE Network, and information on the Conference, including the prize winners can be found on http://sure-network.ie/