FameLab Galway 2017 regional winners from l-r: Dr Patrick Ryan, Joanne Duffy, BSc student in Microbiology at NUI Galway and Ana Panigassi, BioInnovate Fellow at NUI Galway.
Feb 23 2017 Posted: 14:37 GMT

Winners announced at FameLab Galway 2017, the regional heat of the biggest science communication competition in the world

The 2017 Galway heat for FameLab, the biggest science communication competition in the world, was held at An Taibhdhearc in Galway City on Tuesday 21 February. The event, which was organised by the College of Science at NUI Galway in association with the British Council in Ireland saw 12 scientists compete for two places in the national final and was sold out in advance.

At FameLab, presenters explain scientific concepts to a general audience in just three minutes. The competition is open to scientists, mathematicians and engineers across Ireland working in industry, business, research, academia, education or public service.

The 12 participants in FameLab Galway 2017 came from a variety of backgrounds including a GP, an engineer from the medical device industry and researchers from NUI Galway involved in bioinformatics, civil engineering, physics and chemistry. The participants addressed a wide range of topics from being addicted to addiction, to the evolution of curiosity and answered a range of questions from ‘How to get rid of your energy bills?’ to ‘Can Oxytocin reverse a self-destructing civilisation?’

The winner of this year’s Galway FameLab heat was Dr Ana Panigassi, a fellow at BioInnovate Ireland based at NUI Galway. Dr Panigassi is a medical doctor who specialises in obstetrics and gynaecology, maternal-foetal medicine and ultrasonography in obstetrics and gynaecology. The title of Ana’s talk was the ‘Placenta of attention’.

The runner up was Dr Patrick Ryan for his presentation ‘Bananas don't grow on trees’. Dr Ryan is a bioinformatician whose research background is in flower transcriptomics. Patrick has a PhD in genetics, worked in industry as a microbiologist and is currently involved in a phylogenetics (the study of evolutionary relationships among biological entities - often species, individuals or genes) project looking at Darwinian selection in Arabidopsis.

The audience vote went to Joanne Duffy for her excellent presentation entitled ‘The Gene Genies’. Joanne is a BSc student in Microbiology at NUI Galway. A self -confessed public-speaking junkie who loves to talk about science with anyone who will lend an ear, Joanne also hosts and produces a weekly science radio show on the University radio station Flirt FM 101.3.

MC on the night was Dr Jessamyn Fairfield, Founder of Bright Club Galway and a Lecturer in Physics at NUI Galway. The panel of judges included Ms Mary Deely, Training and Events Manager, Galway Film Centre, Ms Cushla Dromgool Regan, Communications Office, Marine Institute, Mr Tim Jones, Senior R & D Engineer with Medtronic and Professor Dónal Leech, Dean of NUI Galway’s College of Science. Entertainment on the night was provided by Brian Hughes, Dean of International Affairs and Professor of Psychology at NUI Galway.

Commenting on the success of the event, Dr Muriel Grenon from the School of Natural Sciences at NUI Galway, and one of the event organisers said: “FameLab is a fantastic opportunity for anyone engaged with science to communicate the impact of science on people’s lives. It is a skill that’s becoming more and more important and we are seeing these science communication events increase in popularity with adult audiences in the last few years.”

Both Ana and Patrick will participate in the FameLab Ireland Final, which will be held at the Science Gallery in Dublin on Thursday, 13 April 2017. The winner of the National competition will have a chance to win the international FameLab final at the Cheltenham Science Festival, UK in June 2017. 

FameLab Ireland 2016-17 is managed by the British Council in Ireland in collaboration with Newstalk 106-108fm, NUI Galway, Science Gallery Dublin, Tyndall National Institute and the University of Limerick. The initiative is funded by Science Foundation Ireland and is supported by CPL Resources Plc and Henkel Ireland Limited.

For more information on FameLab visit http://www.britishcouncil.ie/famelab  or follow on Twitter @FameLab and @FameLab_Galway.

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