Lumen Christi old girl, Emer Maguire, was narrowly pipped at the post at the world cup of science communication in Cheltenham when she took her talk on the chemistry of flirting.
The Clinical Anatomy student at Queen’s University Belfast, who won the UK final of FameLab 2015 recently represented the UK at world level at the Times Cheltenham Science Festival.
Competing against 26 other finalists from around the globe - including Australia, Cyprus and Switzerland - the 23 year-old from Strabane, was beaten by Oskari Vinko, an MSc student of synthetic biology at ETH Zurich, Switzerland whose talk highlighted the ongoing threat of malaria.
Oskari, who is originally from Finland, beat off over 1,000 scientists to win the FameLab title.
For Emer, getting through to FameLab International was an amazing experience and she now hopes to carve out a career in science communication.
She said: “For me getting this far was such an achievement - anything else would just have been a bonus. I really enjoyed FameLab and didn’t think I’d ever get this far.
“It’s helped me see that I would like to get more involved in science and I’d like to work in science communication - maybe something more performance-based where I can add a little humour - but I’ll take it as it comes.
“I’m so proud to have represented the UK and the support I’ve received has been unreal. I’d like to thank everyone for all their encouragement and support.”
“It was a tough road to the International Final for Emer however, who had to win several heats - including FameLab Northern Ireland, FameLab UK and the FameLab International semi-final - but she says the long battle has been worth it.
“I’ve met some really inspirational and wonderful people along the way - the international final especially was great as that was the first time in the competition when I got to meet similar people to me from all over the world.”
Emer has a big year in the pipeline and is sure this won’t be the last time we hear from her.
She said: “I’ve got a busy few months ahead because of FameLab – including talking at the first ever TEDxOmagh event in November - but who knows what other opportunities will present themselves. I’m looking forward to embracing all the new challenges that come my way.
“Apart from science, I’m also a singer-songwriter and will be releasing my own song, Lazarus, for the upcoming American documentary — Lazarus Running - which is based on the world-record marathon runner Tom McGrath.
“Exciting times definitely lie ahead.”
Speaking about Emer’s success, Jonathan Stewart, Deputy Director at British Council Northern Ireland said:
“Getting through to FameLab International is an amazing achievement and I have to congratulate Emer on her success - she’s done incredibly well and we couldn’t be more delighted for her.
“By speaking at an international level she has done herself and Northern Ireland proud and is a great example to other budding science stars in Northern Ireland. Hopefully this can encourage more scientists to enter FameLab Northern Ireland next year at the Northern Ireland Science Festival and we can unearth even more STEM talent.”
FameLab is an initiative of Cheltenham Festivals started in 2005, and has quickly grown into arguably the world’s leading science communication competition.
A partnership with the British Council since 2007 has seen the competition go global with more than 5500 young scientists and engineers having participated from over 30 different countries.
In 2015 FameLab is running in 27 countries, with NASA delivering the USA competition, and CERN organising a special CERN-only competition in Switzerland. Cheltenham Festivals and the British Council co-produce the FameLab International Grand Final held at the Cheltenham Science Festival each June.
This year’s international final was judged by Dr Gill Samuels CBE; British astrophysicist; Matt Taylor and British Council trustee, Tom Thompson OBE
The FameLab International final at the Times Cheltenham Science Festival can still be viewed online: http://www.britishcouncil.org/education/science/famelab-international-final-2015