Dr Aoibhinn Ni Shuilleabhain receives Maths Week Ireland awareness award
15 October 2020 | 0
UCD lecturer Dr Aoibhinn Ni Shuilleabhain has been honoured as this year’s recipient of the Maths Week Ireland Award for her contribution to raising public awareness of maths.
The award is presented once each year during Maths Week Ireland – the all-island festival of Maths and numeracy. The event is run with support from the Dept of Education (RoI), Science Foundation Ireland, the Dept for the Economy (NI), multinational technology firm Xilinx, ESB, universities, institutes of technology, libraries, schools, training colleges and employers, north and south.
Dr Ni Shuilleabhain, Assistant Professor in the UCD School of Mathematics & Statistics, is best known for her work as a science communicator, where she has presented RTE’s flagship science programmes The Science Squad and 10 Things To Know About… and has contributed to national radio, print, online media, festivals and conferences promoting mathematics and science.
Dr Ni Shuilleabhain came to national prominence as Rose of Tralee in 2005, the year of her graduation from UCD with a first-class honours degree in Theoretical Physics, speaking about her time at CERN.
Through her work with the national voluntary organisation WITS (Women in Technology & Science), she has celebrated the work of female Irish scientists and in 2018 co-hosted the Women in Mathematics Day in Ireland honouring Prof Sheila Tinney, one of the first Irish women to receive a PhD in mathematics.
As well as acting as a role model giving school talks across the country, she has been involved in a number of STEM role model projects and is a member of the Gender in STEM group at the Dept of Education & Skills. She has participated in the Royal Irish Academy celebration of Hamilton Day for many years and interviewed some of the most prominent mathematicians in the world such as Prof Cedric Villani and Prof Maria Chudnovsky. Working with Prof David Spiegelhalter OBE, she co-directed RISK Lab at the Science Gallery highlighting mathematics in the world around us.
“I am incredibly honoured to receive this award for raising public awareness of maths in Ireland. I am passionate about making mathematics accessible to everyone and hope that some of my work over the years has encouraged people to pursue their interests and education in mathematics,” said Dr Ni Shuilleabhain.
“While we have a heritage of some amazing mathematicians in Ireland, such as William Rowan Hamilton, mathematics has not always been accessible to everyone in the country and having an exam ‘for girls only’, with honours maths available to only an elite few, has allowed the subject to have some historical negative connotations.
“I believe we should celebrate mathematics in our educational and cultural settings and assure our students that mathematics, like any other subject, can be practiced and improved. In these times where we are bombarded with information and data, mathematical literacy for all members of society plays a hugely important role and I hope to continue to work to improve the mathematics experiences of learners across the country.”
Dr Sheila Donegan, co-founder of Maths Week Ireland, said: “We’re all aware how maths is vital in helping drive societal change for the better. Its implementation in problem solving, which is critical in countless sectors in society, reinforces its importance in our everyday lives.
“Through her internationally recognised work and research, Aoibhinn Ni Shuilleabhain has made an outstanding contribution to the promotion of maths to the public. She is a very worthy recipient of the Maths Week Ireland award for raising public awareness of maths.”