Cork students Ciara Judge, 16, Émer Hickey, 17, and Sophie Healy-Thow, 17, are in elite company on the Time shortlist of 25 contenders.Twitter / Edward Judge

Three Irish girls have been named as contenders for the world’s Teenagers of the Year for 2014 by the prestigious Time magazine – for a discovery that could help end the world food shortage.

Cork students Ciara Judge, 16, Émer Hickey, 17, and Sophie Healy-Thow, 17, are in elite company on the Time shortlist of 25 contenders.

It includes newly declared Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai, the 17-year-old who was shot in the head by the Taliban for campaigning for education rights for young girls in her native Pakistan.

Readers of Time magazine have been invited to vote for the Teenager of the Year in an online poll.

And the Kinsale students are regarded as serious contenders according to the criteria laid down by the magazine.

Of the Irish students, the Time editorial reads: “Emer Hickey, Sophie Healy-Thow and Ciara Judge from Kinsale Community School were named the BT Young Scientists of the Year at the RDS in Dublin in January.

“The trio from County Cork, Ireland took home the grand prize at the Google Science Fair after wowing the judges with their discovery: Diazotroph, a bacteria that sucks nitrogen from the atmosphere into soil, speeding up the germination of cereal crops like barley and oats and – more importantly – increasing their yield.

“This advance could play a crucial role in solving the global food crisis, and Judge, Hickey and Healy-Thow are already planning to commercialize it.”

The editorial to explain the shortlist adds: “Teens today might have a mixed reputation, but there’s no denying their influence.

“They command millions of fans on Twitter and Vine, start companies with funds they raised on Kickstarter, steal scenes on TV’s most popular shows, lead protests with global ramifications, and even – as of Friday – win Nobel Peace Prizes.

“But which ones rise above the rest? We analyzed social-media followings, cultural accolades, business acumen and more to determine this year’s list.”

As well as Nobel Peace Prize winner Yousafzai, the shortlist also features Hong Kong activist Joshua Wong, 18.

President Obama’s daughters Sasha Obama, 13, and Malia Obama, 16, also feature as do singers Becky G, 17; Shawn Mendes, 16, and Lorde, 17.

Actors on the shortlist include Kiernan Shipka, 14; Rico Rodriguez, 16, and Jaden Smith, 16.

Time magazine's 25 Most Influential Teens of 2014:
1. Mo’ne Davis, 13, Baseball player
2. Sasha Obama, 13, and Malia Obama, 16
3. Kiernan Shipka, 14, Mad Men actress
4. Jazz Jennings, 14, Transgender activist
5. Flynn McGarry, 15, chef du jour
6. Erik Finman, 15, Founder of
7. Nash Grier, 16, Social media king
8. Rico Rodriguez, 16, Modern Family actor
9. Ciara Judge, 16, Émer Hickey, 17, and Sophie Healy-Thow, 17, Google Science Fair winners
10. Shawn Mendes, 16, Social media musician
11. Jaden Smith, 16, Confucius for the Internet age
12. Becky G, 17, Youtube musician
13. Salma Kakar, 17, Cycling star
14. Lorde, 17, Singer-songwriter
15. Lydia Ko, 17, Golf champion
16. Chloë Grace Moretz, 17, Movie actress
17. Kylie Jenner, 17, and Kendall Jenner, 18
18. Malala Yousafzai, 17, Youngest-ever recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize
19. Rachel Fox, 18, Reality Star turned day trader
20. Bethany Mota, 18, Fashion and beauty blogger
21. Joshua Wong, 18, Leader of Hong Kong civil disobedience movement
22. Austin Mahone, 18, Pop star
23. Tavi Gevinson, 18, Publisher of online magazine for teenage girls
24. Megan Grassell, 19, Bra designer
25. Troye Sivan, 19, Actor turned musician