DCU student wins Mary Mulvihill Award for doc on Covid inequities

27 May 2021

Image: Eoin Murphy

Eoin Murphy won a prize of €2,000 in the annual science media competition for his audio documentary.

An audio documentary examining the contrasting experiences of Ireland and Peru during the Covid-19 pandemic has received this year’s Mary Mulvihill Award.

The documentary was created by Eoin Murphy, who is currently studying for a master’s in science and health communication at Dublin City University (DCU).

The Mary Mulvihill Award is an annual science media competition for undergraduate and postgraduate students in Ireland. It is named in honour of science communicator Mulvihill, who died in 2015.

This year’s competition challenged students to create an engaging piece of science media around the theme of ‘virus’.

Murphy won the top prize of €2,000 for his documentary examining inequities during the pandemic, which he wrote and narrated.

“The incredible speed of innovation, which the scientific community has demonstrated since the beginning of 2020, will only truly be realised in years to come,” he said.

“But what is already clear to see is that the inequality which exists around the world means that the poorest nations are being left behind in their battle to combat the spread of Covid-19.”

Murphy was also a winner at Researchfest in 2018, the science communication competition held at Silicon Republic’s Inspirefest event.

Matthew Thomas, who is completing a BA in molecular medicine at Trinity College Dublin, received the judges’ highly commended award with a prize of €500 for his essay on lessons learned from the AIDS epidemic.

The essay traced the story from first cases to the development of drug therapies. It also drew parallels between AIDS and Covid-19 in terms of misinformation and disinformation.

“Conspiracy theories proliferate in times of fear and uncertainty,” Thomas wrote. “With the rise of social media, they can spread faster and to more people than they could before.”

This is the fifth year of the Mary Mulvihill Award. The judges said they received a wide variety of entries on the virus theme, from considerations of different aspects of human virology to an analysis of the ‘infodemic’ that has arisen during the Covid pandemic.

Students from nine third-level institutions around Ireland submitted entries in diverse formats. They included an illustrated children’s book on viruses, a website and podcast on HIV, and different entries in text, audio and video.

Anne Mulvihill, sister of Mary and a member of the judging panel, said the judges were impressed with the volume and variety of entries this year.

“Eoin Murphy’s excellent audio piece was a unanimous winner and, given that Mary did a lot of audio work, it’s additionally fitting that the piece is in this medium.

“There was also consensus amongst the judges on giving the highly commended award to Matthew Thomas’s strong essay. We congratulate both winners.”

Sarah Harford was sub-editor of Silicon Republic