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Outstanding student battles illness to graduate and pursue career researching global warming impact

Ryan Weir, from Dundonald, will graduate virtually today (Tuesday 28 July) with a Bachelor of Science (BSc) degree in Microbiology with Professional Studies from the School of Biological Sciences at Queen’s Universit Belfast.

From the age of 15, Ryan has suffered from ulcerative colitis, an incurable bowel condition which causes chronic pain. However, despite experiencing flare ups and minor surgeries during his time at Queen’s, Ryan still managed to publish three research papers and present at an international conference in the field of biological sciences, something which is unheard of for an undergraduate degree level student. Speaking of his time at Queen’s, Ryan said: “I have hugely enjoyed my time and experience at Queen’s. The standard of teaching is exceptional, but also the level of care offered to students goes above and beyond.

“The staff and disabilities support team at Queen’s made it very easy for me to remain a part of university life and to complete my degree within the four years, despite my ongoing health issues and for that I am very grateful.”

During both his professional placement year and his honours project, Ryan contributed to original research that was published by three international journals. Speaking about his achievements, Ryan said: “I am proud to have had research published in three journals, especially the prestigious journal, Scientific Reports.

“I am also delighted to have had the honour of presenting at the national Microbiology Society annual conference, where I presented to scientific peers from the international community, detailing and explaining original research I completed.”

Following his graduation, Ryan is planning on taking some time to relax before commencing his post graduate research in pursuit of a PhD at the School of Biological Sciences at Queen’s. Looking to the future, Ryan adds: “My upcoming PhD focuses on the impact of global warming on plants and the rhizosphere. As global temperatures increase, and extreme weather events become more frequent, the conditions we grow crops in will change. It’s important we understand how these temperature changes will affect how plants grow and what this will mean for us humans.

“I feel lucky I am able to pursue a career in a field I am so passionate about and hope to publish further research in the future with the aim of helping our understanding of global warming issues.”


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