NUI Galway Scientists Take to the Streets of Galway

Dr Jessamyn Fairfield and Dr Dara Stanley from NUI Galway and event organisers of Soapbox Science Galway.
Jul 05 2017 Posted: 16:38 IST

Research scientists will take to their soap boxes, and bring science to the streets of Galway from 11am-2pm at the Spanish Arch on Saturday 15 July, to share their passion for all things science with the public as part of the international event ‘Soapbox Science’.

This is the first time that Soapbox Science, founded in the UK seven years ago, has come to Galway and 2017 locations include Canada, Germany, Australia, Belfast and across the UK. The event has two aims: to bring science to unexpected locations to give a broader sector of society the opportunity to meet and interact with scientists, and to promote the visibility of women in science. 

This year’s talks will cover diverse subjects such as how to make stars, building your own body parts and sustainable fisheries. Each speaker will be showcased numerous times on their soapbox throughout the event as Soapbox Science challenges perceptions of what a scientist is by celebrating the diversity of women in science in Ireland.

Speaking about the event, Dr Dara Stanley, event organiser and Lecturer in Plant Ecology, in the Botany and Plant Science Department at NUI Galway, said: “NUI Galway is home to a diverse range of talent and we’re delighted to be bringing our expertise to the streets of Galway on subjects that range from osteoporosis, clean air in houses and carbohydrates chemistry. NUI Galway has joined forces with colleagues in GMIT, the Marine Institute and IT Sligo to showcase research talent across the western seaboard.

Dr Jessamyn Fairfield, Soapbox Science organiser and a physicist in the School of Physics at NUI Galway, said: “When many people think of a scientist, they think of a man in a white coat. Soapbox Science aims to challenge this perception by showcasing the work of female scientists in a fun and friendly way. In order to keep up with the need for a skilled STEM workforce, the scientific community must continue to attract the best talent, and be open and inclusive. We hope that this event can inspire people to look at science in a different way.”

Soapbox Science Speakers and their topics include:

  • Professor Laoise McNamara, NUI Galway - “Close to the Bone: Engineering research into the Biology of Osteoporosis and Implants”
  • Dr Rachel Cave, NUI Galway - “Help, help, I think my house is dissolving! (How ocean acidification works and why it matters)”
  • Dr Rachel Quinlan, NUI Galway - “How to make stars (in two and three dimensions)”
  • Dr Marie Coggins, NUI Galway - “Are you breathing clean air indoors?”
  • Dr Sharon Glynn, NUI Galway - “A new dimension to ancient enemies: What are these hidden viruses in our DNA and how do they contribute to cancer development”
  • Dr Heather Teresa Lally, GMIT - “How do creepy crawlies adapt to living in a watery underworld”
  • Dr Debbi Pedreschi, Marine Institute - “The story of sustainable fisheries: solving ‘wicked problems’ and other tales….”
  • Ms Juhi Samal, NUI Galway - “Biomaterial pills for Parkinson’s: saving cells to stop shaking?”
  • Ms Kirsten N. Fossum, NUI Galway - “Clouds; where do they come from, where do they go?”
  • Ms Adele Gabba, NUI Galway - “The sweet universe of carbohydrates chemistry!”
  • Ms Fiona Malone, GMIT - “Biomedical Engineering: Build your own body parts”
  • Dr Caroline Sullivan - IT Sligo - “The Wild Atlantic Way; why it’s so beautiful and how farmers helped create it”

Over 350 women have taken part in Soapbox Science since 2011, with a further 220 participating in the 19 events taking place during 2017. Over 55,000 people attended Soapbox Science events in 2016, with 85 per cent rating them as enjoyable or extremely enjoyable, and over a third stating it had an effect on their awareness of women in science. Those figures quoted come from the EU report She Figures 2012 – Gender in Research and Innovation, European Commission.

The event is free and open to the public. Soapbox Science is supported by the office for Equality and Diversity at NUI Galway.

View the Soapbox Science Galway video:

For more information about Soapbox Science visit: and follow on Twitter at @soapboxscigal.


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