8 young researchers on course to change the future

12 Aug 2016

Natalia Cañas Estrada during her presentation at Researchfest 2016. Image via Conor McCabe Photography

Eight researchers took to the ResearchFest stage at this year’s Inspirefest, and if their research ideas prove fruitful, they could drastically change our futures for the better.

It seems appropriate when talking about young researchers, as we mark International Youth Day 2016, that we note that this year’s theme is ‘Road to 2030’, celebrating those in the 15-to-24 age bracket who will go on to shape the future.

Among those young researchers expected to make quite a splash in Ireland and internationally are the eight who appeared on stage last month for ResearchFest at this year’s Inspirefest event, presenting solutions to a wide-ranging number of scientific issues.

Future looks bright for young researchers

As part of the ResearchFest challenge, the eight researchers were required to explain their research in plain English in just three minutes.

During this short amount of time, they were expected to cover why it is important and what their aspirations are in the future.

Their work comes at a time when organisations like the EU are seeking help from international researchers – including Ireland’s Dr Shane Bergin and Ciara Judge – to help form the framework for a more welcoming research environment.

The end result of this effort was the submission of the Bratislava Declaration of Young Researchers, a bold four-point plan highlighting where exactly many nations’ current research models make things much harder for young researchers to progress.

While Shauna Flynn eventually went on to win the grand prize for her excellent presentation at ResearchFest, the seven other participants certainly made an impression on the audience too.

Now, after much demand from those audience members, as well as those who were not able to make the event, we are able to show you all of the eight researchers’ presentations.

Niamh Hunt

Hunt is currently in the third year of her PhD within the Dublin City University (DCU) Immunomodulation Research Group. Her research target is cow’s milk protein allergy (CMPA), the most common allergy associated with infants.

Dearbhla Burke

Burke believes that pain management is moving away from prescribing pills and towards developing a tailored programme of non-pharma treatments for individual patients, and this is the focus of her research.

Claire O’Connell

Irish Research Council (IRC) scholar Claire O’Connell is tackling the challenge of spotting cancer cells hidden amongst other similar-looking cells for her PhD research at the DCU Biomedical Diagnostics Institute.

Fiona Malone

Malone is in her final year of a PhD in biomedical engineering at Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology. Her PhD research focuses on atrial fibrillation (AF) and how this impacts on stroke risks.

Natalia Cañas Estrada

The challenge Cañas Estrada tackles every day is how to send more data through the optical fibre network – the one that connects us to the internet. A PhD student at Tyndall National Institute, University College Cork, she hopes to achieve this by using more than one light frequency.

Kim Connick

Connick is a postgraduate researcher in the Immunomodulation Research Group at DCU School of Biotechnology who is looking for novel emerging modulators (or NEMOs) in the ocean.

Robert Ahern

At Cork Institute of Technology, Ahern’s bioinformatics research is focused on computational analysis of antibiotic resistant genes. His proposal is to apply the latest computational paradigm – cloud computing – to perform this high-throughput analysis.

Shauna Flynn

ResearchFest winner, PhD researcher Flynn, is exploring how computing power might keep up with Moore’s Law by finding a faster and cheaper method to make transistors even smaller. This is an incredibly large challenge considering you can already fit more than 7,000 of the 14-nanometre transistors made by Intel across the width of a human hair.

Inspirefest is Silicon Republic’s international event connecting sci-tech professionals passionate about the future of STEM.

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic