A former student of Lumen Christi College has proved she is still top of her class, by taking the FameLab title.
Emer Maguire (23), walked away with Northern Ireland title on Wednesday night last at the global science communication competition after she won the battle against eight other science brainiacs at the Black Box in Belfast. She will now go forward to the prestigious UK final.
Emer’s talk was based on the science of kissing and why people smooch. Her discussion both delighted and horrified the audience, as she talked about immune systems, saliva and chemical cocktails.
A native of Strabane, Emer is currently studying for a Masters degree in clinical anatomy at Queen’s University, Belfast. But despite her in-depth presentation, could not quite believe her win.
Speaking afterwards she said: “I’m still in shock. I can’t believe I’ve actually won, but I’m absolutely delighted and can’t wait to see where FameLab takes me. Tonight has been an unbelievable, but really enjoyable experience.
“When I walked into the Black Box this evening my initial reaction was to turn and run as I was ridiculously nervous, but once I got onto the stage I was fine and raring to go,” she said.
Emer, who also works as a speech and language therapist, said she had never really thought about a career in science communication until entering the competition: “FameLab has definitely made me think about my future. As a speech and language therapist, communication is vital, so I would love to be able to combine this and my Masters to make science more accessible and something everyone can experience. FameLab has given me the confidence to do this.”
She will now head to the FameLab UK final in April and will also take part in an intensive two-day communication masterclass.
“I’m really looking forward to competing again, but don’t ask me yet about my chosen topic. I choose kissing for FameLab Northern Ireland as I wanted to talk about something a little different and engaging, but something everyone can relate to.”
The panel of judges included Steve Meyers, Head of CERN’s office of medical applications; independent broadcaster, Jim Fitzpatrick and Dr Joanne Stewart OBE, Director of Development at NI Science Park.
The decision to award the title to Emer was unanimous.
Organised by British Council Northern Ireland, in partnership with the Cheltenham Science Festival and the inaugural Northern Ireland Science Festival, FameLab Northern Ireland helps scientists acquire valuable skills to communicate their work to a non-scientific audience and the media.
FameLab aims to discover charismatic scientists who inspire people to see the world from a new perspective, but they have just three minutes to do it.
To watch Emer and the other competitors in action go online at www.nirelandbritishcouncil.org.
For more information on the event and visit www.nisciencefestival.com.