Saoirse McCrann: ‘My presentation directly reflects my research and my thesis’

4 Apr 2019

Saoirse McCrann. Image: British Council

Saoirse McCrann talks about the communication tips and tricks she’s learned on her FameLab journey, and the all-new presentation she is preparing for the final.

Saoirse McCrann is an optometrist and PhD researcher at the Centre for Eye Research in TU Dublin. Her area of study in optometry focuses on paediatrics and short-sightedness and her passion is to tackle what she describes as a current “crisis” in short-sightedness (also known as myopia).

She started a PhD in 2015, looking to find new ways to prevent short-sightedness in children, as well as addressing the attitudes of parents and eye care practitioners toward short-sightedness, all of which remained unknown. In the past three years, she has published research exploring parental attitudes toward myopia and their awareness of the condition, and also carried out the first study in the world to investigate the association between mobile phone use and short-sightedness.

McCrann is also a clinical trial investigator on the MOSAIC clinical trial, investigating the potential of an eye drop in slowing the progression of short-sightedness in children. “This exciting clinical trial is a primary focus of my future research in the prevention of myopia in children,” she said.

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

One of my PhD supervisors, John Butler, told me about FameLab when we were meant to be doing statistics!

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

First and foremost, my presentation aims to increase awareness on short-sightedness. It surprises most people to learn that short-sightedness is a leading cause of blindness among our working-age population. Consequently, my presentation is about changing our attitudes toward short-sightedness.

It directly reflects my research and my thesis, which I am hoping to hand in in April. The presentation incorporates the research I have carried out on smartphones, and draws interesting comparisons to other health issues, such as smoking.

What was your journey to the final?

First of all I’m ecstatic to be in the final and I feel so lucky to have met so many interesting, amazing people along the way. Plus, I’ve learned so much about other people’s fascinating work in various science fields.

I participated in the Dublin university heats and won a place in the Dublin final. The Dublin final was very exciting as it was open to the public and the atmosphere was electric! After a night of talking, laughing and deliberations, I was chosen to represent Dublin in the Ireland final.

Since the Dublin final, I have written a completely new talk, speaking about a topic directly related to my research and which I am very passionate about.

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

I never thought I would get so much out of this experience. As part of my PhD, I am giving a series of public health talks in Ireland and the UK. Fortunately for me, the communication masterclass was held the weekend before the first talk was scheduled.

From the masterclass and the previous heats I learned an abundance of tips and tricks on how to communicate with clarity and impact. The experience has been invaluable and I am privileged to be part of it.

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