November – a month-long Celebration of Research
contributed by Aimee Stapleton
November was a month-long celebration of research which began with the Cork Science Festival during Science Week and culminated with Cork Discovers on European Researchers’ Night. Events, workshops, competitions and conversations all migrated online so that everyone could celebrate science safely at home.
Microbes for Starters
In-person interactions have always been the mainstay of the EPE programme at APC, but 2020 forced us to take a new approach. We created a new online community called Microbes for Starters as a place to bring like-minded people together online. The group, which already has over 180 members, is a mix of scientists and “Starters” who are new to science but have a wealth of curiosity and life experiences. In our first project together, with Cork Discovers, we distributed 80 kits across Ireland to allow first-time food-fermenters to start science at home. Our friends at The Glucksman created a playful video of the yoghurt-making activity.
By interacting and sharing science together, we hope that the group may spark an idea for a research project at APC that involves citizen scientists. In this sense, we can all become science “starters”. Everyone is welcome to join at www.facebook.com/groups/microbesforstarters
Cork Discovers Live
APC research was on full display at the Cork Discovers Live Shows which marked European Researchers’ Night. The prime event featured Prof John Cryan and Prof Ted Dinan in conversation with ‘Blindboy’, a popular Irish satirist, author and podcaster. Discussing their book, “The Psychobiotic Revolution”, John and Ted shared their fascinating research that links our gut health and mental health. Fresh from the International FameLab Semi-Finals, APC’s Simon Spichak, hosted the live show which featured video content created and produced by several APC researchers. The videos covered topics as broad ranging as kefir fermentation, listeriosis and brain perception. The videos and live show recordings are all available to watch on demand.
Can we shape our microbiomes through food and viruses?
This was the topic of our Public Forum for Cork Festival of Science which drew over 200 participants from around the globe. Facilitated by Dr Orla O’Sullivan, the webinar featuring Dr Susan Joyce and Prof Colin Hill, explored how microbial influences can be harnessed for better health and the extraordinarily beautiful viruses that share our microbiomes. Whether online or in-person, it’s always a positive sign when there are more questions than time. We will share responses to the unanswered questions on the APC website shortly. In the meantime, a recording of the webinar is available to view on the APC YouTube channel.
Virtual science workshops for children
What do microbes look like? Where do they live? How small are they? These are some of the questions that children asked our researchers during virtual classroom visits.
Running alongside the virtual visits, APC sent 300 kits to classrooms in Cork and to children living in Direct Provision so that they could build a paper Microbe-Teller. Like a paper fortune-teller, a Microbe Teller reveals answers to your questions about bacteria, fungi and viruses. Watch a Microbe Teller in action or print your own template at home.