12 women set to blow our minds at Soapbox Science Galway 2018

3 Jul 2018

Front row from left: Dr Karen Molloy, Morag Taite, Dr Kathryn Schoenrock and Cécile Robin, NUI Galway; La Daana Kanhai, GMIT; Eimear O’Hara and Alice Selby, NUI Galway. Back row from left: Organisers of Soapbox Science Galway, Dr Dara Stanley and Dr Jessamyn Fairfield, NUI Galway. Image: Aengus McMahon

Just like the days of old, science education is taking to the streets as part of this year’s Soapbox Science Galway with 12 amazing researchers ready to drop some knowledge bombs.

Before the internet and even mainstream media, one of the best ways to impart knowledge to the public was to turn up to a busy street, stand on a box and tell people what you thought they needed to know.

Now, harking back to that time, 12 women scientists are set to take to the very small stage as part of NUI Galway’s Soapbox Science Galway on 7 July at the Spanish Arch.

The free event will see these scientists showcase their work in technology, science, medicine and engineering with the public. This year, NUI Galway has joined forces with colleagues from the Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology (GMIT) and University College Cork (UCC) to showcase research talent across the western seaboard.

This year’s talks are expected to cover a wide range of topics, including microbial brains, how computers read fairy tales, octopuses and their ancient relatives, what kelp does for its community, and microplastics in the oceans.

Exciting speakers

Each scientist will speak numerous times on their soapbox throughout the event in order to challenge perceptions of what a scientist is by celebrating the diversity of women in science.

Those who attended Inspirefest 2018’s Fringe event will be familiar with one of those involved in the programme, Dr Jessamyn Fairfield, who organises Soapbox Science Galway along with Dr Dara Stanley from NUI Galway.

Now in its second year in Ireland, the outreach initiative was first launched in the UK seven years ago, and aims to bring the general public and scientists together in Galway.

Speaking of this year’s event, Fairfield said: “We’re excited to highlight some of the amazing women working in science and engineering from all around the west of Ireland and beyond.”

The full list of participating scientists includes:

Alice Selby

School of Physics, NUI Galway – ‘Human-Machine memory’

Cécile Robin

Insight Centre for Data Analytics, NUI Galway – ‘How do computers read fairytales?’

Morag Taite

Zoology, NUI Galway – ‘Octopuses and their ancient relatives’

Eimear O’Hara

College of Engineering and Informatics, NUI Galway – ‘Mechanical engineering: Not just boys and cars’

Dr Kathryn Schoenrock

Botany and Plant Science, NUI Galway – ‘Kelp me! What does kelp do for its community?’

La Daana Kanhai

Marine and Freshwater Research Centre, GMIT – ‘Microplastics in the oceans: Why the fuss?’

Dr Claire Conway

College of Engineering and Informatics, NUI Galway – ‘Engineering a virtual beating heart: Testing medical implants using computer simulation’

Dr Jean O’Dwyer

UCC – ‘What lies beneath? Assessing groundwater quality in Ireland’

Dr Karen Molloy

School of Geography and Archaeology, NUI Galway – ‘Fossil pollen: Nature’s own time machine!’

Dibyangana Dana Bhattacharyya

NUI Galway – ‘Battling evolution: Our DNA and its role in breast cancer’

Alison Connolly

NUI Galway – ‘When you use pesticides at work, do you absorb the chemical into your body?’

Laura Cutugno

NUI Galway – ‘The brains of microbes!’

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic