FameLab Ireland 2020 finalists revealed

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Competition aims to inspire scientists to communicate their passion with the public



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1 April 2020 | 0

Six PhD students, three lecturers and a conservation biologist are set to compete for the 2020 FameLab Ireland title.

The science communication competition will see finalists digitally deliver a three-minute talk about a complex scientific topic using charm and wit to engage their audience. A panel of experts will judge each presentation according to content, clarity and charisma. The Irish finalists are vying for a place in the FameLab international finals in the UK this autumn.

The FameLab Ireland 2020 finalists are:



  • Joseph Pennycook, PhD student, APC Microbiome Ireland, University College Cork 
  • Simon Spichak, PhD student, APC Microbiome Ireland, University College Cork
  • Conor Duffy, third-year neuroscience PhD student studying at RCSI
  • Marina Mulligan, conservation biologist
  • Katherine Burns, Irish Research Council funded PhD student in the Stanley Ecology Lab at University College Dublin
  • Elena Pagter, PhD candidate, Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology (GMIT)
  • Helen Horkan, Galway (NUIG) PhD student
  • Sandra Hurley, equitation teacher, University of Limerick
  • Dr Gerard McGlacken, lecturer, UCC
  • Andrew McGovern, teaching assistant, University of Limerick

Organised by British Council Ireland and supported by Science Foundation Ireland, FameLab aims to inspire, motivate and enable scientists and engineers to share their enthusiasm and passion for science with the public.

“As the world grapples with the coronavirus pandemic, the importance of clear and engaging communication about scientific subjects is more important than ever,” said Mags Walsh, director, British Council Ireland. “Initiatives like FameLab equip scientists and researchers with the skills they need to communicate with a general audience and we in British Council Ireland are proud to support their development.”

Dr Ruth Freeman, director of science for society, Science Foundation Ireland, said, “Through the art of storytelling, science subjects are brought to life for new audiences in an engaging and inspiring way that generates discussion and improves scientific literacy at this very critical time.”

The FameLab Ireland final is hosted by TV and radio broadcaster Jonathan McCrea. As a result of Covid-19, the final will take place virtually for the first time ever. It can be viewed live on 15 April on the British Council Ireland’s Facebook page.

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