Calling all researchers to take centre stage at ResearchFest 2017

13 Apr 2017

ResearchFest coordinator Arlene O’Neill MCs the 2016 competition at Inspirefest. Image: Conor McCabe Photography

ResearchFest returns to Inspirefest this summer to showcase the best of Irish research, from science and engineering to humanities and social science.

After a successful inaugural contest, deemed one of the major highlights of Inspirefest 2016, ResearchFest is back with a bang for the 2017 event.

“Leading on from the success of last year’s event, I am very excited to be back on board for ResearchFest 2017,” said ResearchFest coordinator Arlene O’Neill.

ResearchFest challenges PhD students across Ireland to summarise the value of their research in a mere three minutes without any slides to do the talking for them. The event showcases not only research talent, but the fine art of science communication and, this year, O’Neill hopes to attract applicants representing a broad slice of academia.

“This year, we are really looking for a more multidisciplinary feel to the event. As such, we encourage our colleagues from humanities and social science, as well as the STEM [science, technology, engineering and maths] fields, to come forward, submit their videos and join us at what will be an excellent research communication event.”

How to enter

ResearchFest aims to showcase some of the excellent frontier research undertaken by PhD students across STEM, humanities and social science fields in Ireland.

All it takes to enter is a three-minute video submission, communicating the value of your research in plain English. This short presentation should capture the researcher’s passion and explain the potential impact their work can have on society.

Entrants are encouraged to be creative in their delivery but not to worry too much about video quality. This video will not be seen by anyone but the screening panel and the competition organisers, so – whether it’s shot with assistants and a studio or handheld using a smartphone – all that matters is that you communicate with clarity for a non-technical audience.

‘We encourage our colleagues from humanities and social science, as well as the STEM fields, to come forward, submit their videos and join us at what will be an excellent research communication event’

Send your three-minute video – or a link to the video – to with ‘ResearchFest’ in the subject line.

The closing date for entries is 2 June at 12pm (IST), with the selected finalists to be announced on 9 June 2017.

What happens next

A screening board will evaluate all entries and eight finalists will be selected to present at Inspirefest 2017, taking place this year from 6 to 8 July in Dublin.

The inaugural ResearchFest put researchers on the Fringe festival stage but, due to an overwhelmingly positive response from the Inspirefest audience, the contest has been incorporated into the main conference, on the second stage at the Bord Gáis Energy Theatre.

On Thursday, 6 July, the international Inspirefest audience will be able to enjoy the science communication battle of the year over their lunchbox. Entrants will recreate their three-minute video presentation on stage, without the aid of slides, for the chance of winning some exciting prizes.

For first-time presenters, there’s nothing to fear, as the good folk at SNP Communications will give each finalist some expert communication training in advance.

The judging panel will be made up of visiting international speakers from the Inspirefest line-up, as well as communications experts and senior researchers.

ResearchFest 2016 winner

ResearchFest 2016 saw an incredibly high standard of entries, presenting quite a challenge for judges Fergus McAuliffe, an award-winning science communicator; Dublin City University (DCU) research director Prof Christine Loscher; SNP Communications co-founder Maureen Taylor and Saving Bletchley Park author Dr Sue Black.

But it was DCU School of Electronic Engineering researcher Shauna Flynn who was crowned the first ever ResearchFest champion.

Flynn wowed the judges with her presentation on using block copolymers to build more transistors into a silicon substrate to further the progress of Moore’s Law.

Check out more of last year’s finalists’ concise and insightful presentations and get your entries in now for an opportunity to showcase your research at Europe’s best conference for bright minds.

Inspirefest is Silicon Republic’s international event connecting sci-tech professionals passionate about the future of STEM. Book now to get your Early Bird tickets.

Updated, 17 May 2017 at 1.18pm: This article has been updated to reflect the extension of the deadline for entries from 26 May to 2 June 2017.

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.