Outreach Season

In addition to storm warnings and a well-deserved Christmas break for our students, winter also brings the two biggest outreach events of the year for NUI Galway’s Kitchen Chemistry outreach group.

26,000 visitors attended the 22nd Galway Science and Technology Festival in November that aims to communicate the relevance of STEM in our everyday lives and society to the general public. I would estimate that 120-150 children from the ages of 5-12 took part in the hands-on chemistry workshop the Kitchen Chemistry volunteers put on during this festival, discovering the wonders of elephant toothpaste, lava lamps, rainbows and liquid nitrogen thunderstorms – a glimpse of which could be seen on the RTE 6’oclock news.

Last week, the Kitchen Chemistry team promoted NUI Galway’s science courses at the BT Young Scientist & Technology Exhibition in Dublin. This STEM competition for secondary school students from across the island or Ireland is the longest running science fair in Europe and attracts around 60,000 visitors every year over three days. On one of these days, we demonstrated to the participants how important chemistry is in our daily lives with colourful redox reactions, important drugs, invisible ink and our do-it-yourself lava lamps.

A big thank you to the Kitchen Chemistry organisers and volunteers who always make these outreach events highly successful and fun!

Thomas Dillon Centenary Symposium

The Thomas Dillon Centenary Symposium celebrated 100 years since the appointment of Thomas P. Dillon as professor of chemistry at NUI Galway and his role in setting the course for Irish carbohydrate chemistry in the following century. Prof Paul Murphy, Dr Joseph Byrne, Dr Styliana Mirallai and the rest of the organising committee put together an excellent scientific programme showcasing the rich research on carbohydrates as natural resources and new medicines that is currently being carried out in Ireland and abroad. The evening programme was open to the public and included a historical lecture on Dillon’s life, a chemical ballet and 3-minute lightning talks by PhD students. Congratulations to Liam for winning 1st prize in this Threesis competition, and to all the other participants for their high-quality, delightfully enjoyable contributions – these, together with the rest of the evening’s programme, can be found on youtube and are truly worth a watch.

EFMC-ASMC ’19 Athens

It was a great honour and joy to present some of my work at this year’s EFMC International Symposium on Advances in Synthetic and Medicinal Chemistry in Athens. Thank you to the organisers for an excellent conference with an impressive lineup of speakers from industry and academia.

Arann wraps up his Masters

Arann leaving 2_2
(Photo credit: Eddie Myers)

After a great year in the lab, Arann is joining Teva Pharmaceuticals in Waterford. One of his last efforts in the lab included helping out with the joint chemical inventory of the O’Duill and Myers groups. Thank you to the whole team for their great work on this! And to Arann: Congratulations and good luck – your enthusiasm and inquisitiveness will be missed!

Cúram Annual Retreat 2019

Curam retreat 2019

Can we use poetry to communicate our science to the public? That was one of the questions asked at this year’s Cúram retreat in Athlone, along with other interesting challenges pertaining to our research and outreach activities. Congratulations to Liam and Neville on their election as graduate student representatives and a big thank you to the organisers – it was very inspiring to hear about the varied strands of research being carried out in Cúram and to get a ‘real world’ perspective from the members of the advisory board.

If you’re wondering how our attempts at poetry went – the answer is: Not Great, Not Terrible. Thanks to team Drug Delivery (Joe Byrne, Manita Dangol, Liam Fitzgerald, Jose Antonio Monterru, Neville Murphy) for their contributions to this work of art, and to Neville for the video.