Meet Ireland’s 10 fabulous FameLab 2019 finalists

4 Apr 2019

The FameLab Ireland 2019 finalists. Image: British Council

After competitions across the country, 10 finalists will compete for the opportunity to represent Ireland at the international FameLab final.

The heats and regional contests are over and the nation’s FameLab competitors have been whittled down to 10 finalists vying for the opportunity to represent Ireland in the world’s biggest science communication competition.

FameLab challenges scientists, mathematicians and engineers working across Ireland to explain scientific concepts to a general audience in just three minutes. The 10 top presenters selected for the Irish final represent a wide array of different and fascinating science topics, from asexually reproducing animals to future-predicting mathematics.

Organised by the British Council in Ireland and funded by Science Foundation Ireland, the FameLab Ireland final takes place at the Science Gallery in Dublin on Thursday, 11 April 2019.

Ahead of the final, the contestants have been honing their skills and even attended a communications masterclass in order to perfect their presentations.

The winner will go on to compete in the international FameLab final at the Cheltenham Science Festival in June 2019. Last year’s Irish champ, Sharon Omiwole, competed against science communicators from 27 different countries and saw Malaysia’s Siti Khayriyyah Mohd Hanafiah, a biological science lecturer, take home the crown.

Surprisingly, Omiwole was new to presenting her research in this way before entering FameLab. Describing herself as shy, she entered in order to push herself out of that quiet comfort zone.

“One of the things that stuck with me was when we learned that if you feel comfortable with what you are doing on stage and if you look like you are having a great time, then people will engage with that,” she told Dr Claire O’Connell. Perhaps this year’s finalists can learn from her advice.

The 2019 FameLab Ireland finalists

  • Aisling Brennan: ‘Looking up cool videos of Komodo dragons is always a bonus’
  • Andrea Pacheco: ‘My presentation is about optogenetics, a new branch of neuroscience’
  • Chris Barrett: ‘FameLab has allowed me to turn my work into a story’
  • Eileen Courtney: ‘My presentation is trying to make radiation seem less scary’
  • Fiona Malone: ‘I prepared by saying my presentation out loud a million and one times’
  • Hayden Wilkinson: ‘It is necessary to spin a quick, coherent and engaging story’
  • James Blackwell: ‘How genetic testing was used to solve a 30-year-old cold case’
  • Jean Rizk: ‘FameLab is an opportunity to show that maths is for everybody’
  • Luiza Wasiewska: ‘Electrochemistry is not so complicated’
  • Saoirse McCrann: ‘My presentation directly reflects my research and my thesis’

Elaine Burke is the host of For Tech’s Sake, a co-production from Silicon Republic and The HeadStuff Podcast Network. She was previously the editor of Silicon Republic.