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Published 23 May 2018

St John’s College student off to prestigious science camp in Jerusalem

Michael D’Souza from St John’s College, Hamilton, has been selected by Royal Society Te Apārangi to attend the Dr Bessie F. Lawrence 50th International Summer Science Institute Camp in Jerusalem, Israel.

This amazing opportunity is worth over $10,000 and has been funded by the Raye Blumenthal Freedman Charitable Trust and includes international travel and registration costs. 

Michael is an avid science enthusiast and has participated in many science competitions and courses over the last couple of years. Currently he is an academic leader at school and is involved in various leadership programmes. He was awarded the Queens Badge in 2017 for his extended commitment to Boys’ Brigade. Michael said: “After finishing secondary school I plan to study a Bachelor of Medicine. I think that medicine is one of the most interesting applied sciences, with plenty or research opportunities and new discoveries which can be used to help people across the globe. I hope to work in health aid in the future as health is something that affects everyone and there are many countries in which trained medical professionals are in short supply. I am really looking forward to this experience and am very grateful to the Raye Blumenthal Freedman Charitable Trust for sponsoring me to attend. I know that when I get back I will be able to share what I have learnt with my peers at school.”

The ‘Bessie Program’, as it is fondly known, is organised by the Weizmann Institute of Science and it brings together approximately 80 highly-talented senior secondary students from all over the world to experience the challenges and rewards of scientific research and is geared towards students who are interested in pursuing a career in science research. The main focus of the programme is student participation in the on-going laboratory work of the Weizmann Institute. Students need more than good grades to take part; they also need to be able to work under intense laboratory conditions and work in a team.

Eamon Walsh, formerly a student at John Paul College, Rotorua and now studying health science at the University of Auckland, was selected by the Society last year and said “attending the Bessie Summer School has been one of the best things I have ever done. The month long experience really opened my eyes to the world of science and I also had the privilege of meeting 79 other science students from around the world. Every day was full of new experiences that I would not have been exposed to otherwise. I left having a huge love for Israel”.

During the programme, the students spend the first couple of weeks conducting research in the campus laboratories. The work includes the exploration of problems in biology, chemistry, physics and mathematical and computer science, with instruction in the use of sophisticated laboratory equipment, advanced computers, a particle accelerator, and lasers.

For the last week, students move to a different scientific focus: a field school in the Judean and Negev Desert. Expert guides from the Syd-Boker field school will lead hikes and acquaint the students with the unique ecological, geographical, geological, zoological and archaeological characteristics of the area – some of which are one-of-a-kind in the world.

Andrew Cleland, Chief Executive at Royal Society Te Apārangi says: “Not only is this a unique opportunity for a young New Zealander to interact with expert scientists at the Weizmann Institute but it is also an occasion for students to meet other like-minded students from around the world and to share their passion for science and learn about other cultural differences”.

Michael leaves for Israel at the start of July.

Source: Royal Society Te Apārangi