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Bantry students urged to get supercomputer named for Ellen

April 19th, 2018 7:15 AM

By Southern Star Team

At the launch of the Supercomputer Naming Competition were the director of ICHEC, Prof Jean-Christophe Desplat, right, and Minister for Education Richard Bruton.

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A CAMPAIGN is underway in Bantry to get the country’s new supercomputer named after pioneering local botanist Ellen Hutchins.

The supercomputer for researchers will be installed later this year to replace Fionn, the current system, in use since 2013.

And the ICHEC (Irish Centre for High-End Computing) has asked primary and secondary school students to decide who it will be named after, from a shortlist of scientists, including Ballylickey’s Ellen.  

She was the country’s first female botanist, who in a short life (1785-1815) complicated by illness, discovered many plants new to science, and made a useful contribution to the understanding of seaweeds and other non-flowering plants. 

All her plant-hunting was done around Bantry Bay and West Cork is the co-star in the story of her life.

The team that organises the Ellen Hutchins Festival each August around Bantry are encouraging local schools to get involved and are inviting students to ‘vote Ellen.’

Team Ellen has produced a website with materials on Ellen, her scientific achievements, her life and times, and the importance of botany and plants. The website  https://botanistellen.wixsite.com/mysite  has separate sections for primary and secondary students. 

The material has been put together by Madeline Hutchins, Ellen’s great great grand-niece, and one of the festival organisers, and Jenny Dempsey, from Bantry , who designs all the Ellen Hutchins materials. Financial support to make it possible came from UCC Library, where there will be an exhibition on Ellen Hutchins from October to December this year, and from Bantry Credit Union, supporters of the annual Ellen Hutchins Festival in Bantry during Heritage Week in August. 

See https://nameourcomputer.ichec.ie/ for more about the competition, prizes and ICHEC.

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