NUI Galway Nanoscience Physicist Wins Medal for Science Engagement

Dr Jessamyn Fairfield, NUI Galway pictured on an island in the Arctic Circle during her expedition to the Arctic as part of a two-week residency program. Photo: Jessamyn Fairfield
Jul 10 2017 Posted: 11:05 IST

NUI Galway nanoscience physicist, Dr Jessamyn Fairfield from the School of Physics at NUI Galway has been honoured with the Mary Somerville Medal from the Institute of Physics in what they have deemed her, “stellar work as a public speaker and writer on physics for a popular audience, and for having organised and hosted many innovative events bringing physics to the Irish public.”

Since February 2015, Dr Fairfield has been the director of Bright Club in Ireland encouraging academics to discuss their work through stand-up comedy. She has run 23 Bright Club events, teaching academics how to use comedy to discuss their work Dr Fairfield recently held a Bright Club training ’78 Degrees North’ while attending a science/art expedition to the Arctic. She also talked about physics in her own solo stand-up comedy shows in Galway and Dublin, and trains the Bright Club participants thanks to funding supporting the project from Science Foundation Ireland.

Dr Fairfield has just returned this week (26 June) from a two-week Arctic Circle residency program on board a ship bringing together scientists and artists to explore how the Arctic and its exploration intersect with art, science, architecture, education and activism.

Commenting on the research trip, Dr Jessamyn Fairfield at NUI Galway, said: “The raw and beautiful environment of the Arctic Circle is the perfect place to bring together scientists, artists, and innovators. I was delighted to be selected for the Summer Solstice 2017 expedition, where I worked on a Cerenkov detector made from Arctic ice to detect cosmic rays. I also ran a Bright Club training on how everyone, including artists and creators, can use humour to talk about the work they are passionate about. I am excited about the projects which are coming together as a result of this residency, and absolutely loved sharing the ship Antigua with so many amazing individuals during the midnight sun.”

Jessamyn Fairfield is a regular science news contributor to Newstalk radio show Futureproof, and will be creating written and radio pieces about her recent Arctic expedition. She has written and narrated a short film about nanoscience, called Small World. She has spoken at Pint of Science, Festival of Curiosity, Maker Faire Dublin, the Science Gallery, Inspirefest, Women in Physics Belfast, and many other events, and has also given two public lectures for the Institute of Physics in London. She also writes her own longstanding blog, Let’s Talk About Science, which is a top Google result for information about electronics.

Dr Fairfield is also co-organising a Soapbox Science event in Galway this July, bringing together female scientists into public spaces to talk about their work at the Spanish Arch on 15 July. She will be working with the Mawazo Institute to develop public engagement events for science and policy in Nairobi this autumn.

Other science communication engagements include being the blogmaster and lead writer for Dart of Physics in 2013 campaign that used adverts on public transport in Dublin and a strong online presence to spark a citywide conversation about physics. And two years later in 2015, Fairfield produced live events in addition to running the blog and contributing writing to the City of Physics campaign.

To read Dr Jessamyn Fairfield’s blog about her Arctic exploration trip, visit:

To watch Dr Fairfield’s video link from on board the Arctic expedition, visit: and to read about the Arctic Circle

To view the film Small World, visit:


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