Soapbox Science Galway set to go virtual with Facebook live stream

3 Jul 2020

Soapbox Science Galway as an in-person event in 2017. Image: Jessamyn Fairfield

Soapbox Science Galway will see 12 women in STEM take to their virtual soapboxes at a free live-stream event.

While the Covid-19 pandemic has put a halt to a huge number of events and conferences, many others have found ways to go virtual and reach out to the public through other approaches.

One such event is NUI Galway’s fourth annual Soapbox Science Galway event, which is set to return on Saturday 4 July in the form of a Facebook live stream.

Soapbox Science is a global public outreach platform for promoting women scientists and their research. This year’s Galway event will see 12 women in STEM take to their virtual soapboxes to talk about their work in science, tech, engineering, maths and medicine.

Talks will cover a diverse range of topics from bioengineering, marine pollution and glaciology, to physiology, psychology and nanomaterials. Attendees will have the opportunity to learn about these topics and ask questions.

Soapbox Science Galway events are organised by Dr Jessamyn Fairfield from the School of Physics at NUI Galway, and Dr Emily Growney of Boston Scientific.

Fairfield said the event brings researchers to the public to talk about their work in their own words.

“We work with the researchers beforehand on science communication, but there’s no intermediary – you can just ask a top scientist or engineer about their work directly.”

The online event will mean each of the 12 speakers will have approximately 10 minutes to talk, followed by a Q&A session. Fairfield will host the event and transition between speakers, while Growney will facilitate the Q&A from the Facebook stream.

“We were sad not to do the traditional soapboxes at the Spanish Arch, but we can’t really ask crowds to gather close to the speakers this year. Besides, it means that for once we aren’t at the mercy of the Galway weather,” said Fairfield.

She added that the event is important for showcasing women in STEM because women are often underrepresented in a lot of these fields.

“As I’ve said before, it isn’t enough to encourage girls into STEM if we don’t also celebrate their successes once they’re there.”

Anyone who is interested in science, technology, engineering, maths or medicine is encouraged to ‘attend’ the online event this weekend.

Soapbox Science Galway 2020 participants were selected from a competitive pool of researchers and come from NUI Galway and Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology (GMIT).

The participants and their talks are:

Dr Margaret Jackson, NUI Galway

‘What can glaciers tell us about past climate?’

Elena Pagter, GMIT

‘What’s all the commotion? Plastic pollution in the ocean’

Dr Nadeeka Rathnayake Kankanamge, NUI Galway

‘Freshwater pollutants and how they transform in marine transitional zones’

Gillian Murphy, NUI Galway

‘Developing a diabetes drug-delivery hydrogel using a heart-shaped protein’

Maeve Louise Farrell, NUI Galway

‘Making waves: what’s under the PIER?’

Emily O’Dowd, NUI Galway

‘How can we help our health service learn from its mistakes?’

Aisling Murphy, NUI Galway

‘Titanium bone plates – is there an alternative?’

Dr Ananya Gupta, NUI Galway

‘The importance of physical activity – being active is being healthy’

Chloe Walsh, NUI Galway

‘Autism-friendly doctor visits: tips for success’

Sandra Brandon, NUI Galway

‘Can a lung exercise programme improve my ability to eat, drink and swallow?’

Marta Cabello, NUI Galway

‘PalaeoExplorers: sailing back in time to discover how the ocean will affect Ireland’s climate future’

Duré Basit, NUI Galway

‘A pencil, some sticky tape and a Nobel Prize’

Soapbox Science Galway will take place from 12pm to 2pm on Saturday 4 July, streaming live on Facebook. It is free and open to the public.

Jenny Darmody is the editor of Silicon Republic