November 9, 2007
Secondary students start the term with some lively science

The UCD Science programme for schools 2007/2008 got off to a flying start in October with the UCD Conway Institute Science Alive seminars. During the month, over 400 secondary school pupils visited UCD to hear a series of lectures designed to complement the biology and chemistry syllabi by supporting the curriculum while offering current information on the topics. 

The series began with a presentation by Dr Orla Donoghue, UCD Science Programme Office, on "Our Ever Changing World". The audience was taken on a whirlwind tour of some recent advances in scientific research. Starting with space exploration, and going through efforts to fight climate change, developments in the beauty industry, biodegradable plastics, and drug therapies derived from flowers, Dr Donoghue finished by showing how advances in technology are shaping our lives.

Image by Mikael Dubourd, UCD School of Medicine & Medical Science and Conway Institute. "Cytoskeleton from Mouse Lung Fibroblasts
'Cytoskeleton from Mouse Lung Fibroblasts'. Image by Mikael Dubourd, UCD School of Medicine & Medical Science and UCD Conway Institute

UCD scientists are working at the forefront of much of this research and Dr Donoghue revealed how two UCD students Stephen Kearney and Marc O’Griofa took part in the European Space Agency’s (ESA) Student Parabolic Flight Campaign in July 2005. She outlined how chemists and engineers in the Centre for Synthesis and Chemical Biology (CSCB) are working on a new membrane technology which aims to separate carbon dioxide from nitrogen in exhaust streams, and how chemists take their inspiration from nature when trying to discover new medicines.

Delving into the dark world of cybercrime and digital forensics, the students heard how researchers at the UCD Centre for Cybercrime Investigation (CCI) work with police and customs officers on solving crimes including identity theft and credit card scamming.

Sharp-eared members of the audience were rewarded at the end of the presentation with a game of "science bingo". Prizes which were sponsored by the CSCB were won by students who filled their cards with facts learned during the talk.

The Science Alive series included the following talks: Dr Sean Callanan: "Inflame your Brain", Dr Brendan Kennedy: "Using tropical fish to understand colour vision", Dr. Keith Murphy: "Will we ever know how our brains work: Mission Impossible?" and Dr. Amanda McCann: "Cancer Uncovered".

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