UCD Science Summer School 2011


Posted 27 July 2017

The UCD Science Promotion Committee organised three UCD Science Summer events - the one day 8 June Science Summer School, half a day as part of the UCD New ERA Summer School on 9 and 15 June and a lecture for the UCD New ERA Uni4U Summer School on 16 June.

8 June UCD Science Summer School

Students from 11 counties and 47 schools nationwide took part in a one day UCD Science Summer School designed to allow students experience a typical day in the life of an undergraduate student.

Some of the activities during the Physics practical with Dr James Rice and Dr Tom McCormack in the UCD School of Physics included measuring the width of hair and examining superconductivity with Mr Thomas O'Reilly.

Examining how superconductivity levitation works

The Biology, Chemistry and Biomedical/Biomolecular practicals were held in the undergraduate labs in the UCD Conway Institute.

The Biology practical from the UCD School of Biology and Environmental Science showed how important herbivory is in regulating plant growth. Dr Jan-Robert Baars explained how various native insects consume plants and how we use this to control exotic plants.

The UCD School of Biomedical and Biomolecular Science ran a series of demonstrations including visualizing DNA both inside and outside the nucleus of cells, measuring blood glucose levels and the effect of sugar intake and measuring protein levels and a mini practical to identify and visualize bacteria which are associated with human disease. Students also observed the effect that pharmaceutical drugs had on different organs of the body including the heart and the intestine as well as measuring the speed at which nerve signals travel and how our reflexes work.

Dr Andrew Phillips from the UCD School of Chemistry and Chemical Biology designed a chemistry practical with a green theme - generating energy from fruit.

The students from the morning and afternoon Chemistry practical who generated the most energy from their cells won prizes.

Dr Michael O'Neill and his team in the UCD School of Computer Science and Informaticstook the students through a series of programming challenges in the new interactive learning lab. For anyone interested in trying these at home, you can download the program called SCRATCH from the MIT website at http://scratch.mit.edu/

The first mini lecture was delivered by Professor Brendan Murphy from the UCD School of Mathematical Sciences on the theme of social networking. Professor Murphy introduced students to graph theory and its relevance to social media such as Facebook and Twitter.

The second lecture by Professor John Walsh from the UCD School of Geological Scienceswas a fascinating introduction to Geology. Professor Walsh took the audience on a journey through geological time and around the world to examine volcanoes and earthquake fault lines.


9 June New ERA Summer School

26 students joined Dr Keith Murphy from the UCD School of Biomedical and Biomolecular Science for an introduction to pharmacology in the undergraduate labs in the UCD Conway Institute. Dr Murphy outlined the role of pharmacologists in understanding epilepsy and Alzheimer's disease and this sparked a lively discussion after where students asked a series of questions on dyslexia, dementia and attention deficiency disorder.

Then Dr Tadhg Ó’Cróinín set the students a challenge to distinguish between different bacteria in a medical microbiology lab. Bacteria were identified by Gram staining combined with testing for the presence of enzymes such as catalase and cytochrome C oxidase. Students were also shown agar plates which contained a variety of different organisms ranging from strains of yeast which are used in the brewing industry to fungi which are used to produce antibiotics such as penicillin.

After finishing the medical practical students made their way to the UCD School of Physicswhere they met Dr John Quinn to examine a 1:4 scale model of XMM-Newton, an ESA earth orbiting satellite observatory, donated to University College Dublin by the European Space Agency (ESA). You can read more about the UCD ESA connection at http://www.ucd.ie/news/2010/10OCT10/011010-ESA-space-satellite-results-examined-at-UCD-hosted-conference.html

Dr Quinn then took the students on a tour of space and showed images from the Hubble space telescope and explained how astrophysicists are seaching for extra-solar planets using the Kepplar satellite.

Summer School students in the UCD School of Physics on front of the a 1:4 scale model of XMM-Newton, an ESA earth orbiting satellite observatory, on public display in the UCD School of Physics

On 15 June the students visited the UCD School of Chemistry and Chemical Biology where Dr Andrew Rous did a series of demonstrations.


16 June New ERA Uni4U Summer School

50 students attended a talk on Science in our World by Dr Orla Donoghue in the UCD School of Physics on 16 June 2011. The talk covered all areas of science including physics, chemistry, biology, computer science and maths. Students had the opportunity to learn about life on the International Space Station, how dinosaur food helps us understand climate change, how medicines are extracted from nature, how the weather is forecast and computer forensics. .......................................................................................


The UCD Science Summer Schools were organised by the Science Programme Office and the Science Promotion Committe. Sincere thanks to all the staff below for making the two days such a success:

  • UCD School of Biology and Environmental Science - Dr Jan-Robert Baars, Mr Philip Fanning, Ms Lorna O'Driscoll and 
    Ms Martina O'Brien, Dr Jennifer McElwain
  • UCD School of Biomolecular and Biomedical Science - Dr Tadhg Ó’Cróinín, Mr Michael Coffey, Ms Elizabeth Tennyson, Mr John Kelly, Mr John Flynn, Dr John O'Connor, Ms Rebecca Ring, Ms Audrey Wall, Mr Ciaran Downey,Ms Olivia O'Leary and Dr Keith Murphy
  • UCD School of Chemistry and Chemical Biology - Dr Andrew D. Phillips, Dr Andrew Rous, Mr Brendan Lyons, Professor Earle Waghorne, Ms Dominique Schreiber, Mr David Kavanagh Mr Amidou Dembele, Mr Mahfujur Rahman, Ms Crystal O'Connor
  • UCD School of Computer Science and Informatics - Dr Michael O'Neill, Ms Edel Caraway, Dr Erik Hemberg, Mr John Mark Swafford, Mr Alex Cronin and Professor Joe Carthy
  • UCD School of Geological Sciences - Professor John Walsh and Dr Patrick Orr
  • UCD School of Mathematical Sciences - Professor Brendan Murphy and Dr Andrew Parnell
  • UCD School of Physics - Dr James Rice, Dr Tom McCormack, Mr Thomas O'Reilly, Ms Denise Denning, 
    Ms Anna O'Faolain de Bhroithe and Dr John Quinn
  • UCD Science Programme Office - Ms Ciara O'Hanlon, Ms Shelly Power and Dr Orla Donoghue
  • Student Leaders - Ms Amy Zambra, Mr Conor Brennan, Mr Brian Caffrey, Mr Kevin Maguire
  • UCD Student Recruitment
  • UCD New ERA staff and student leaders - Anne Lavelle
  • UCD Conway Institute staff - Mr Melvin Fleming, Mr Michael O'Sullivan, Ms Siobhain O'Brien, Ms Elaine Quinn
  • UCD Conway Insomnia Staff - Sincere thanks to Ondra and Sylvie for looking after us all on the day.