Soapbox Science 2020: Top female researchers give virtual insight into their work in STEMM

Posted 13 July, 2020

Top female researchers and academics in Ireland took to virtual soapboxes to discuss their work STEMM.

For the first time this year’s Soapbox Science event was given to a strictly online only audience rather than the streets of Dublin, in a live stream on Facebook and Youtube, due to COVID-19.

Among the twelve female scientists who spoke of their research in science, technology, engineering, mathematics and medicine, eight were faculty at University College Dublin.

One of the Soapbox Science Dublin 2020 speakers was Dr Fatemeh Golpayegani, of UCD School of Computer Science, who delivered a talk on the use of computer science to develop sustainable solutions to urban problems.

“According to a study by the UN, 55% of the world’s population live in urban areas, a proportion that is expected to increase to 68% by 2050,” she said, speaking in advance of the event.

“Although cities provide exciting and unique opportunities for growth, they face daunting economic, environmental, and societal challenges that will increase even more, given the increasing population expected to live in cities in the near future. Therefore, it is an important task for policymakers and researchers to address the challenges to make cities a better place for everyone.

“Finding a solution to answer the need for ever-increasing urban population, improve people’s quality of life and at the same time address the environmental issues such as climate change is challenging. Computer science is a powerful tool that can work along many other sciences to find sustainable solutions to address these problems.”

Established in 2011 Soapbox Science is a global public outreach platform for promoting women scientists and the science they do.

This year over 40 Soapbox Science events, including the Dublin event, are planned across 14 countries.

The full list of the Soapbox Science Dublin 2020 speakers, and the topics of their talks:

  • Dr Edel Kelly, University College Dublin - 'Food production, farmers and environmental policy: A mess we need to clear up'
  • Laura Murphy, Trinity College Dublin - 'First Light: The First Stars in the Universe'
  • Dr Sarah Eivers, University College Dublin/Mater Misericordiae University Hospital - 'Could you have Viking vision?'
  • Annie Regan, Trinity College Dublin - 'Materials Science: From Tea-towels to Nanomagnets'
  • Dr Catharine Pschenyckyj, University College Dublin - 'For Peat’s Sake - A new era for Ireland’s Bogs'
  • Eadaoin Doddy, University College Dublin - 'Forecasting matters – Saying goodbye to inaccuracy?'
  • Dr Sonia Negrao, University College Dublin - 'Plants also have stress. Are plant scientists a sort of plant psychiatrists?'
  • Aisling Ryan, RCSI - 'Effective Cancer Treatment: Reality or just a Fairytale?'
  • Dr Fatemeh Golpayegani, University College Dublin - 'Sustainable solutions to urban problems'
  • Veronica Farrugia Drakard, University College Dublin - 'Gardens Beneath the Waves'
  • Dr Chiara De Santi, RCSI - 'Tiny and shiny: When small molecules can fight human diseases'
  • Dr Áine Byrne, University College Dublin - What is maths good for?'

This year's Soapbox Science Dublin was supported by UCD through a seed funding programme and from the UCD Earth Institute.

The event was organised by Dr Dara Stanley, Dr Angela Feechan, Dr Tara Dirilgen, Dr Saoirse Tracy and Dr Anna Tiley, researchers at the UCD School of Agriculture and Food Science, along with Dr Hannah White, UCD School of Biology and Environmental Science.

Soapbox Science Dublin 2020 joint-organiser, Dr Dara Stanley said: “As women in particular are under-represented at many career stages in STEMM subjects, Soapbox Science aims to break down stereotypes around who scientists are by featuring a number of female scientists speaking on a number of diverse topics.”

By: David Kearns, Digital Journalist / Media Officer, UCD University Relations (with materials from Micéal Whelan, UCD Research and Innovation)