Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 28 January 2015

This is the brainy but modest A-Level student with a magnificent 7 A* grades who is off to study science stateside

Victoria College south Belfast: Left to right.  Helen Bennett, Emily Mulls, Sophie Pollock , Sophie McCoo and Rebekah Milligan.
Victoria College south Belfast: Left to right. Helen Bennett, Emily Mulls, Sophie Pollock , Sophie McCoo and Rebekah Milligan.
Alastair Herron from Bangor celebrates his amazing A-Level results
Victoria College south Belfast. Head Girl Rebekah Milligan - A* Biology, A* Maths , A Chemistry.
Lagan College in east Belfast. Left to right. Chantelle Harvey, Sarah Lambe, Jacguie Livings, Alex McNaney, Aimee Dowds Roddy and Olivia Gamble.
Victoria College south Belfast. Maria Doran - A* Business, B Drama, A Politics.
Hazelwood Integrated College in Newtownabbey. Head Girl Olivia Johnston - B ICT, B Business, D English Lit
Sarah Smyth from Lisneal College
Eden Franklin from Lisneal College
Emma Olphert from Lisneal College
St Louise's Comprehensive College west Belfast. Brian Harmon - C History, C Religion, C Technology.
Northern Ireland- 15th August 2013 Mandatory Credit - Photo-Jonathan Porter/Presseye. A Level Results day in Northern Ireland. St Louise's Comprehensive College west Belfast. Kerry- Ann Rainey - A* English Lit, A History and A Religion.
Victoria College south Belfast. Sophie McCoo - A Biology, A Technology, A PE.
Wellington College south Belfast. Alan Reid - E Geography, E History, D English.
Victoria College south Belfast. Sophie Pollock - A Maths, Business and ICT.
Wellington College south Belfast. Dominque Dada - B Chemistry, B Biology, B Psychology.
Hazelwood Integrated College in Newtownabbey. David Smyth - C Politics, C History, U ICT.
Hazelwood Integrated College in Newtownabbey. James Cluney - A Construction, D ICT, E Science.
Lagan College in east Belfast. Glena Knox- Bradley - A Biology, A Chemistry, B Sociology.
Lagan College in east Belfast. Emma McCully - B Business, B Drama, B RE.
Hazelwood Integrated College in Newtownabbey. Ashley Law - B Health and Social Care, B Art and Design, B ICT.
Lagan College in east Belfast. Conall Gilmore - B History, B Politics, B Sociology.
Lagan College in east Belfast. Duncan Macmillan - A Math, B Physics, B Politics, D Chemistry.
Lagan College in east Belfast. Roseanna McGill - A Sociology, A RE, A Drama.
Lagan College in east Belfast. Caelan Trodden - A Sociology, A History, B Politics.
St Dominic's Grammar School west Belfast. Left to right. Tara Crawford - A* Business, A Biology, B Chemistry and Sarah Armstrong - A* Maths, A* Further Maths, A Biology, A Chemistry and A Physics.
A Level Results day in Northern Ireland. St Dominic's Grammar School west Belfast. Ciara Van Merkom - A* Maths, A Geography, B Biology.
Lagan College in east Belfast. Left to right. Chantelle Harvey, Sarah Lambe, Jacguie Livings, Alex McNaney, Aimee Dowds Roddy and Olivia Gamble.
Lagan College in east Belfast. Twins Sarah and Luke Withers with mum Geraldine
Hazelwood Integrated College in Newtownabbey. James Cluney - A Construction, D ICT, E Science.
Hazelwood Integrated College in Newtownabbey. Philip Burrows - A Applied Science, B IT, B Sport Studies.
Lagan College in east Belfast. Caelan Trodden - A Sociology, A History, B Politics.
St Dominic's Grammar School west Belfast. Ciara Van Merkom - A* Maths, A Geography, B Biology.
Lagan College in east Belfast. Left to right. Chantelle Harvey, Sarah Lambe, Jacguie Livings, Alex McNaney, Aimee Dowds Roddy and Olivia Gamble.
Emmet Mullan from St. Columb's College
Dean O'Driscoll from St. Columb's College
St Louise's Comprehensive College west Belfast.Gemma McFerran - A Religion, A Media Studies and A* Drama.
Hazelwood Integrated College in Newtownabbey. Danielle Maginnes - C Heath and Social Studies, C ICT, D Art.
St Dominic's Grammar School west Belfast
St Dominic's Grammar School west Belfast

He got a record-breaking seven A* grades in his A-Levels, yet was rejected by Oxford – but just who is the brainy Bangor schoolboy who has been making headlines across the UK?

In the coming weeks Alastair Herron will travel 3,392 miles to study at one of the world's top academic institutions, Stanford University in America.

The 18-year-old Royal Belfast Academical Institution pupil said he wanted to set himself a challenge when he selected a formidable seven subjects for A-Level – because he found it hard to restrict himself to the usual three choices.

For the last two years, Alastair has been studying biology, chemistry, physics, maths, further maths, Latin and Greek. Because of the lack of expertise here in Greek, he spent hours teaching himself.

Alastair got a $64,000 scholarship to attend California's Stanford University, his first choice university, which is known for its expertise in teaching sciences.

It followed disappointment at the end of last year, when Oxford University rejected the straight-A student.

Shane Johnston – the 'Inst' head of science – described the young pupil as a natural scientist who always waited for other pupils to answer a question before he would volunteer a response himself.

Mr Johnston's first memory of Alastair dates back four years to when the then-Year 10 pupil stood up in class and sang the periodic table song, listing the chemical elements without hesitation.

"Alastair is like a sponge. He's a natural, hard-working scientist, who will go beyond the chemistry and is very good at applying what he has studied," Mr Johnston said.

"He took part in the BT Young Scientist competition when he was in Year 11.

"He had read about the properties of a coffee plant and that it is a natural pesticide.

"So he carried out an investigation and tested the effects of caffeine on barley. He found that different levels of caffeine killed the barley.

"At the age of just 14 or 15, that's quite an achievement.

"Alastair also took part in the International Chemistry Olympiad in Russia this year, where he was competing with the best in the world."

The straight-A student told the Belfast Telegraph that there really was no secret to his success.

"I did not say 'I'm going to do three hours a day' or anything like that.

"I just did as much as I needed to until I knew as much as I needed to know," he said.

His former teacher described Alastair as a quiet boy with a quick, dry sense of humour.

"I have thoroughly enjoyed the last four years working with Alastair and his classmates.

"They get involved in everything and challenge you as a teacher.

"It's been all about team work," Mr Johnston added.

COMMENT RULES: Comments that are judged to be defamatory, abusive or in bad taste are not acceptable and contributors who consistently fall below certain criteria will be permanently blacklisted. The moderator will not enter into debate with individual contributors and the moderator’s decision is final. It is Belfast Telegraph policy to close comments on court cases, tribunals and active legal investigations. We may also close comments on articles which are being targeted for abuse. Problems with commenting? customercare@belfasttelegraph.co.uk

Latest News

Latest Sport

Latest Showbiz