European Researchers’ Night to offer a taste of research

Access Science: Free workshops, demonstrations and talks will be held in Dublin and Cork

Demonstrating the benefits of perspex: young scientists at an event to promote Cork Discovers.

Demonstrating the benefits of perspex: young scientists at an event to promote Cork Discovers.

 

Have you ever wondered what kinds of bacteria live in your mouth? Would you like to know how nanotechnology can help to conserve works of art? How about making ink, eating pre-historic-style bread or extracting DNA from a banana?

European Researchers’ Night on Friday, September 28th, will see researchers in Dublin and Cork offer free public talks, demonstrations and workshops that showcase their work.

Probing research

Trinity’s PROBE will showcase a range of subjects in and around its front square, including the ecology of wildfire and plants, iron-age inks, mental health and trauma and how to examine online data. If you are curious about your inner self, you can find out more about the oral microbiome – what lives in your mouth – as well as your nerves and your liver.

Researchers will take to the stage to tell their own stories about what ignited their passion for their work, and PROBE will host comedic talks in Bright Club as well as a poetry event.

The idea is to get as many people involved as possible across the sciences and the humanities, explains Conor Courtney, who has been working on the event and who encourages people to pay a visit.

“It is an interesting space to see what people are working on and have conversations and craic with people,” he says. “They are asking questions and [solving] problems and their enthusiasm is infectious – it makes you more curious about how the world works.”

Discovery in Cork

This is the first year that Cork is hosting events for European Researchers’ Night, and venues around the city will be hopping with demonstrations, workshops and talks, explains Dr Nóirín Uí Bhreithiúnaigh, a research officer at UCC.

Practical events will offer opportunities to extract DNA from a banana, to solve ‘crimes’ with science, to bounce through an inflatable gut, to build a model of a Jedi island, to get hands-on with archaeology and to try the products of a butter-churning demonstration with prehistoric-style bread.

You can also learn about the use of Greek and Latin mythology in modern literature, find out about folklore and medicine, see how nanomaterials and nanotechnology can aid the conservation of art, take part in classic psychology experiments and learn how your memory works. If conditions permit, there may also be stargazing.

“It’s an opportunity to see what is going on in Cork,” says Uí Bhreithiúnaigh. “There is so much diverse research that impacts on every aspect of life, and this is a chance to see what researchers do.”

New audiences

The Europe-wide initiative is about bringing researchers out and giving them a platform to engage the public, says Dr Joseph Roche, who is leading the project at Trinity. He would like to see new audiences learning from the experience: “Ideally, we want to see people coming along who have never interacted with a researcher.”

PROBE: Research Uncovered takes place at TCD campus tomorrow, September 28th. It is supported by TCD Science Gallery, TCD School of Education, the British Council and the European Commission. https://www.ttcd.ie/research/probe/

Cork Discovers – A World of Research takes place at various venues. It is supported by the European Commission; UCC, UCC Academy DAC, Teagasc, Cork Learning City and Cork City Council. See http://corkdiscovers.org/