Prince Philip Award and Marsh Prize

This Award is run in association with the Zoological Society of London and is directed towards under-19 year olds. It recognises excellence and contribution to science, whilst encouraging students to see biology as a relevant and exciting field of study.

Entrants submit an account of original practical work of a standard comparable with A-level projects or higher. The projects are judged by a panel of experts from the ZSL, who then select the winning study.

(2017 Awards were presented in 2018)

Pictured: Okapi © ZSL

Eva Black, Colchester County High School for Girls 2023

Are Eurasian blue tits more attracted to UV fluorescent feeders or non-fluorescent feeders and do they show a preference between orange and red? 

 In her project, Eva investigated whether the colour and UV fluorescence of bird feeders had an effect on the frequency of visits that Eurasian blue tits make to them, and whether the birds could distinguish between similar shades of the same colour. Eva crocheted different covers for the bird feeders, and her results showed that the birds were significantly more attracted to the red UV fluorescent feeder than its non-fluorescent equivalent. The project was well-written and presented, and included a mature discussion of the results, alongside recommendations for future research. 

Previous Winners

Anna Robson

The effect of willow as a dietary additive on the growth rate of Wiltshire horn lambs’  

Anna’s research investigated the effect of feeding willow Salix spp. as a dietary additive on the growth rate of Wiltshire Horn lambs over an eight-week period. Current research into the benefits of willow suggest that it acts as a natural anthelmintic medicine and could therefore replace the role of artificial wormers in lambs as well as correcting common dietary mineral deficiencies, such as cobalt and zinc. The study was well designed and appropriate methods were used. The project was extremely well presented, and Emma evidenced an extensive understanding of the topic.  

Amy Tunstall

Amy, Tring School, for her project ‘Operant behaviours in Syrian Hamsters’  

Amy’s project regarding operant behaviour and reinforcement style had a very clear hypothesis, and methodology. The project was extremely well written and presented and her experimental design and statistical analysis was appropriate and thorough. Amy’s study could be replicated by others to provide more data and build a clearer picture of behaviour.

Mhairi McCann

Mhairi McCann, of St Columba’s High School, Inverclyde, won this Award for her project on the impact of novel agrochemicals on the activity of the marine intertidal amphipod Echinogammarus marinus. In this superb study Mhairi analysed the effect of two environmentally friendly agrochemicals neem and spinosad on the behaviour of an aquatic invertebrate. Mhairi wrote an extensive rationale for the study, and used well-designed methodology and excellent statistical analyses. The project is beautifully written and presented, with evidence of extensive background reading and Mhairi’s ideas for further research.

Jemima Frame

Jemima has won this year’s Award for her project entitled ‘To what extent does diet affect activity levels in a domestic cat?’

The data she collected supported her hypothesis that a cat eating a diet which is high in protein will have lower activity levels than a cat eating a diet which is high in carbohydrate.

Jemima used an activity tracker and set up a surveillance camera to collect her data. Her project was well written and included a mature discussion of the significance of the results.

Sacha Eyles-Owen

Sacha won this Award for her project entitled ‘Dietary turmeric reduces inflammation and improves mood and mobility in horses with fetlock joint inflammation’

Fetlock joint inflammation is a common problem in horses, arising mainly from an overall increase in their recreational activity due to better veterinary care and increased longevity. While there are non-steroidal, anti-inflammatory drugs which have proved efficient in reducing inflammatory symptoms, they come with the risk of significant adverse effects and other treatments that do exist tend to be largely non-researched. One of these treatments involved a molecule called polyphenolic compound curcumin, found in turmeric, which is known to have anti-inflammatory properties.

In her study, Sacha randomly assigned six horses with known fetlock joint inflammation to receive no treatment, or 0.05g/kg body mass high curcumin turmeric each day for ten days as part of their customary diet. Quantitative measurements of fetlock circumference showed no reduction in the control group, but up to a 5.0mm reduction in inflammation was recorded in the test group, following the administration of the turmeric. Professional handlers, who measured the mood and mobility of the horses on a daily basis, concluded that the turmeric test group significantly improved over the ten-day trial period.

Both Sacha’s quantitative and qualitative results strongly suggested that turmeric containing curcumin is an effective and easily administered treatment which reduces inflammation and improves the mobility and mood of horses suffering from fetlock joint inflammation.

Ingrid Christine Easton

Ingrid has been recognised for her project entitled, “Is the composting worm Eisenia fetida repelled by lemon peel in compost?”, undertaken at Queen’s Gate School.

Ingrid has shown independence and produced results which have a very practical use in this novel study. She used a standard avoidance test to see whether citrus fruits make soil too acidic for earthworms and her project included outstanding attention to detail and proved that worms showed a higher level of avoidance behaviour with higher concentration levels of peel. In addition to her extensive data collection, Ingrid also produced a clear critical evaluation of her study which identified priorities for future research.

Jamie Weir

Jamie won this Award for his project on the ground beetle fauna of Glen Finglas, in Stirlingshire, Scotland, and the factors affecting the distribution and abundance of this species. He designed and carried out his investigation independently, as part of his Advanced Higher Biology course at Larbert High School and undertook a three week field study in five different habitats at the Woodland Trust property of Glen Finglas.

Jamie measured factors such as temperature, soil pH and moisture and recorded Sixty-four specimens of nine carabid species. In addition to extensive data collection, Jamie provided an impressive critical evaluation of the project and identified priorities for future research. He found that many species which are nocturnal were found to increase in abundance when night temperatures were at their highest, suggesting that temperature exerts perhaps the strongest effect on levels of activity in many carabid species.

Carly Brown

Carly won this Award for her project entitled: ‘Can the common garden snail see in colour?’

This is a particularly novel and well-executed study in which Carly formulates a good hypothesis, supported by appropriate biological arguments and background research. The experiment was designed with due consideration for, and control of, all possible variables, and carried out in a systematic manner. Ample repetitions ensured that a good data set was produced, which was analysed with the use of a statistical test. This is a very good study, well written and presented, with real life relevance and a basis scope for extending further.

Emily Seccombe

Emily, is a pupil at Brighton College and was this year’s winner for her project entitled ‘An investigation into the accuracy of the Habitat Suitability Index as an indicator of great crested newt (Triturus cristatus) populations.’

This was a very accomplished and well executed study, with a well-constructed hypothesis. The aims of the study were clearly set out and Emily demonstrated a great deal of background research, including an excellent explanation of the application of a Habitat Suitability Index. This is a numerical index that represents the capacity of a given habitat to support a selected species. In the case of great crested newts, this is very important as they have very specific habitat requirements.

Emily’s thorough investigation and data collection as well as her excellent critical evaluation have made her a worthy winner of this Award.

Shona Crawford-Smith

Shona attends St Mary’s School in Shaftesbury and has been recognised for her project ‘A study of the artificial habitat preference of the white-clawed crayfish (Austropotamobius pallipes) at Bristol Zoo Gardens’.

In this accomplished study, Shona demonstrates that engineering bricks are the preferred artificial refuge of white-clawed crayfish, a species that has become endangered in Europe since the introduction of the American signal crayfish in the 1970s. The study is extremely well presented, with clear hypotheses and statistical analysis, and results that can be applied to the captive-breeding programme for the species, as well as at crayfish release sites. The review panel was extremely impressed with both the study design and Shona’s recommendations for future research.

Edmund Bradbury

Edmund, of Sutton Grammar School, won the Award for his project entitled ‘Investigation into how temperature affects preference of Porcellio scaber for different moisture conditions’.

Edmund studied common rough woodlice in choice chambers of four different moistures at a range of temperatures from 12-40 degrees Celsius. The correlation between frequency of woodlice found, and the moisture of the section they were found in, was compared between the different temperatures. Edmund demonstrated good background reading and clearly described the aims of the study. A preliminary test was performed to establish the temperature range for the equipment, and controls were in put place to regulate the maturity of the animals used and the light levels they were exposed to. The review panel was extremely impressed with both the study design and analysis of the data.

Grace O'Donovan

Grace won this Award for her project ‘Do certain soil types predominate in areas with high incidence of bovine tuberculosis?’, which she produced independently, without assistance.

Grace’s results identified environmental correlates of high bovine tuberculosis frequency. She has produced useful research with practical application and which is of agricultural importance. The report itself was well written, based on a thorough mastery of the topic.

Anthony Yong Kheng Cordero Ng

Anthony attends Concord College in Shrewsbury where he carried out a completely novel project. He tested the extent of resistance to heavy metal pollution by mosquitoes in Malaysia. The project was noted for its practical application, the originality of the idea, the clear hypothesis and supporting discussion and the associated risk assessment, in which Anthony demonstrated excellent attention to health and safety issues.