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Communicating Science to the Public



UCC Science for All is a science communication competition now in its 13th year which challenges young scientists to share the excitement of their research with the general public in an easily understandable manner, without using jargon.  Open to senior postgrads, the competition provides training in writing and presenting science to a public audience.

Darren Reidy a PhD student at UCC’s School of Biological, Earth & Environmental Sciences, emerged as the winner at the final. All presentations on the night were of a very high standard including 3 from APC-affiliated speakers – Elaine Enright, Ciara O’Donovan, Katie Togher.  Topics included how travel affects the microbes in our guts, how microbes affect drug uptake, how stress in pregnancy affects the microbiome, how chemistry is being used to develop new solar energy technology, how bile affects the microbes in our lungs and how alien plants are affecting our rivers and lakes.

Snatch Comedy provided a dose of their fabulous unpredictable improv-sketches during the intermission.

MC for the final was Dr Fergus McAuliffe, TV presenter on “The Science Squad”, and “10 Things to Know About…”, and Education, Public Engagement and Communications Manager at the SFI-funded  iCRAG – Irish Centre for Research in Applied Geosciences.  Fergus is a previous winner of Famelab Ireland and Famelab International, the HEA “Making an Impact” competition, UCC Science for All and UCC Doctoral Showcase.

According to McAuliffe, “Winning Science For All kick started my career in science communication, giving me the skills and confidence to bring my research to diverse audiences. The experience of taking part in the competition gave me an in depth insight in to the public interest and understanding of science, allowing me to refine my research into a compelling story.”

The panel of judges was chaired by Mr John Dolan, Features Editor, Evening Echo, and also includes Ms Liz Dooley, Director Operations (Biologics) Janssen and Ms Donna O’Driscoll, Director of Marketing & Communications, UCC.

The competition is organised jointly by  the APC Microbiome Institute  and the Irish Photonics Integration Centre, two Science Foundation Ireland funded Research Centres, and UCC College of Science, Engineering and Food Science.



Photo: Winner Darren Reidy with Prof Paul Ross, Head of College of Science Engineering & Food Science, UCC & Deputy Director, APC Microbiome Institute, with finalists Elaine Enright, School of Pharmacy & APC Microbiome Institute, Stephanie Flynn, School of Microbiology & BIOMERIT, Ciara O’Donovan, APC Microbiome Institute &Teagasc Food Research Centre & Katie Togher, Dept of Obstetrics & Gynaecology, INFANT & APC Microbiome Institute.