Eileen Courtney: ‘My presentation is trying to make radiation seem less scary’

4 Apr 2019

Eileen Courtney. Image: British Council

PhD student Eileen Courtney describes her ‘invaluable’ FameLab experience, which is teaching her how to discuss science in the media.

Eileen Courtney is a PhD student in University of Limerick studying nanotechnology and material characterisation. Specifically, she is trying to characterise materials using electron microscopy. “We like to say we are studying the world, one atom at a time!” she said.

Courtney’s research focus is on 2D materials, the thinnest materials in the world. She and her team are testing these materials in as many different ways as they can, to see what we can build out of them that could be useful in the real world.

How did you hear about FameLab and what made you enter?

I heard about FameLab from my university, which sent an email with details of the event around the college.

I entered with a group of friends. We all forced each other to take part, thinking it would be a fun night out.

What’s your presentation about and how did you prepare for it?

My presentation is trying to make radiation seem less scary to the general public. The term ‘radiation’ gets used quite frequently in the media, both correctly and incorrectly.

I prepared for my talk by looking at the media’s ideas of radiation sources, and finding a way to put the dosage of radiation into a more understandable context.

What was your journey to the final?

I took part in the Limerick regional heat and came in third. I thought my FameLab journey was over until a few months later I got an email saying I was chosen to go through from the video heats!

How valuable is this experience in teaching you how to communicate?

Taking part in FameLab will be invaluable to me in the future. I am learning how to present myself to journalists and media, learning how to give concise (and interesting) presentations, and most importantly I’m learning how to get the general public interested in science and research!

Are you a researcher with an interesting project to share? Let us know by emailing editorial@siliconrepublic.com with the subject line ‘Science Uncovered’.