Fresh from FameLab success, meet the new face of science in Ireland

16 Apr 2018

Dublin-based UCD medicine student Sharon Omiwole. Image: FameLab

In the face of tough competition from her peers, Dublin-based Sharon Omiwole has been named as the national winner of FameLab Ireland ahead of the international finals.

Bridging the latest concepts in science with the public through science communication can be one of the greatest pursuits of a researcher, which is why each year, FameLab Ireland hosts a competition to find the next generation of charismatic, up-and-coming scientists.

As part of the competition – now in its sixth year – scientists have to describe their research in three minutes in the most engaging way possible. The panel this year included Michelle Cullen of Accenture, Graham Love of the Higher Education Authority and Inspirefest CEO Ann O’Dea.

So now, it has been revealed that this year’s winner – selected from a panel of nine other new science communicators – is Dublin-based Sharon Omiwole.

The University College Dublin (UCD) medical student’s 180-second talk was entitled ‘Willy Wonka and the Coffee Factory’ detailing the effects of caffeine and its associated hormones and chemicals (adrenaline and dopamine).

With a keen interest in science, Omiwole credited her achievement to her father, a doctor, who inspired her to pursue a career in medicine.

She dedicates her spare time to clinics, retirement homes, day care centres and homeless shelters.

Next stop: Cheltenham

Second and third place were awarded to PhD students Daragh Bradshaw from the University of Limerick and Eoin Murphy from NUI Galway.

This year’s finalists chose a wide range of topics to bring under the microscope, from the digital apocalypse to the special powers of parasites, to the legacy of Jocelyn Bell Burnell’s work in astrophysics.

Commenting on the FameLab National Final, Margie McCarthy, interim director for the innovation and education directorate at Science Foundation Ireland (SFI), said: “Congratulations to Sharon Omiwole and all this year’s FameLab participants on their dedication to creating and delivering fantastic presentations.

“SFI, through the SFI Discover Programme, aims to encourage more people to engage with STEM. FameLab helps realise that aim by offering participants the opportunity to gain vital skills in communicating what can be complex research topics in an engaging way, inspiring others to join the conversation.”

Omiwole will join the finalists from all participating countries – now totalling 35 – at the international final at the Cheltenham Science Festival in June, organised by the British Council, with the hope of being crowned a global winner.

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic