Researcher uses poetry to bust some dyslexia myths


2 Nov 2021

Image: Kyra Menai Hamilton

Some great minds with dyslexia were highlighted in researcher Kyra Menai Hamilton’s entry for FameLab.

Kyra Menai Hamilton’s research passion is investigating the impact of parasites in livestock. This is what brought her from a ruminant research technician role at the UK’s Harper Adams University to her PhD research in Ireland.

She secured a scholarship with University College Dublin for her PhD research investigating the relationship between wormer resistance and parasite biology. For this, she divides her work between Teagasc, which supports agri-food research in Ireland, and AgResearch, a research institute in New Zealand.

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“I have been on two five-months-plus trips to New Zealand to conduct research in between conducting research here in Ireland, and I’ve learned so much!” she told Siliconrepublic.com.

Now in the final stretch of her PhD, Hamilton somehow found the time to compete in the FameLab Ireland finals, a science communication competition where researchers have to engage audiences on a topic in just three minutes.

However, rather than talk about her work, Hamilton took this opportunity to bust some myths about dyslexia, being a dyslexic researcher herself.

‘I wanted to let younger people with dyslexia know that they are not limited by society’s expectations’
– KYRA MENAI HAMILTON

What inspired you to become a researcher?

I’ve always been curious about everything. I always have enjoyed asking why things happen and how they work. As a child I enjoyed asking my parent ‘why’ on a number of subjects. This resulted in me having several books (ironically) with facts and questions and answers on a lot of subjects.

How was your experience with FameLab?

Taking part in FameLab was inspired by a group I participate in where we practice presentation style, content and communication. It was a brilliant opportunity to test and improve my skills.

FameLab also offered a fantastic platform in order for me to reach a wider audience about a subject I am passionate about and that has impacted my life.

How would you sum up your FameLab presentation?

Dyslexia, rhymes, and ‘mythunderstandings’. Exploring dyslexia through poetry with some personal accounts, examples of stereotypes, and examples of well-known individuals with this learning difficulty.

Trying to rhyme with dyslexia is tricky. The sounds don’t connect to the symbols!

Why did you choose to focus on dyslexia for your presentation?

It’s an issue close to my heart as I’m affected by it and so are many of my family members. I wanted to let younger people with it know that they are not limited by society’s expectations of them and mythunderstandings that are present.

What is the biggest challenge you’ve encountered in science communication?

Remembering what I want to say when I’m giving presentations. Initially I used to panic. Now I like to include something that makes me laugh about halfway through as this helps me remember where I am in the talk and what is coming up next.

What common misconceptions about science would you like to correct?

That science cannot change its answer on a subject, as many see it as a be all and end all. Science is the path to answers; it can always be improved.

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