Twelve Female Scientists Set to Speak at Soapbox Science Dublin 2020

7th July 2020

Twelve female scientists are set to talk about their research in areas of science, technology, engineering, mathematics and medicine (STEMM) this coming weekend at Soapbox Science Dublin 2020. The event will involve speakers from University College Dublin (UCD), Trinity College Dublin and RCSI University of Medicine and Health Sciences. Soapbox Science Dublin 2020 is taking place on Saturday 11 July (2pm – 6pm) and due to COVID-19 it will be held virtually and will be live streamed on the day to Facebook and YouTube.

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.

One of the Soapbox Science Dublin 2020 speakers is Dr Fatemeh Golpayegani, UCD School of Computer Science who will deliver a talk entitled, Sustainable solutions to urban problems. Speaking in advance of the event Dr Golpayegani said, “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. 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.”

“As I will outline during my Soapbox Science Dublin 2020 talk, 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.”

Dr Chiara DeSanti, RSCI is also a speaker at the event and will deliver a talk entitled, Tiny and shiny: when small molecules can fight human diseases. Dr Chiara DeSanti said, “The immune system is like a weighing scales, you need a balance between aggressive cells that protects our body from infection and soothing cells that turns the immune response off and allows for recovery. In some diseases, like multiple sclerosis, this balance is lost, leading to a chronic inflammatory state where aggressive cells are attacking our own body for reasons that are still unknown to date.”

“At Soapbox Science Dublin 2020 I will speak about my research on how to restore the balance using small molecules called microRNAs, tiny and shiny effectors whose manipulation can turn aggressive cells into soothing cells. Ultimately this would help to turn off the uncontrolled immune response that happens in MS and to fight the disease progression.”

Annie Regan, School of Chemistry, TCD, is also taking part in Soapbox Science Dublin 2020 and her talk is entitled, Materials Science: from tea-towels to nanomagnets. Annie Regan said, “Materials science does not live in the lab, it is literally all around us. It may seem far removed from everyday life when you hear scientists talking about “nano”-materials, or see news headlines referring to wonder materials like graphene, but it spans across every single object we interact with every day. From the tea-towel draped over the cupboard door, to the nanomaterials inside your phone that are needed for it to function, to the weird and wonderful materials that are emerging from research labs every day. My weird and wonderful material is iron oxide, and that’s where the nanomagnets come into play.”

“At Soapbox Science Dublin 2020 I’m going to explain how something as simple as a teeny-tiny magnet can be used to improve how medicines work in the body.”

The full list of the Soapbox Science Dublin 2020 speakers, and the topics of their talks, is outlined below.

Soapbox Science Dublin 2020 is supported by UCD by funding through a seed funding programme and from the UCD Earth Institute. The event is being organised by Dr Dara Stanley, Dr Angela Feechan, Dr Tara Dirilgen, Dr Saoirse Tracy and Dr Anna Tiley, researchers 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, UCD School of Agriculture and Food Science, 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.”

“Soapbox Science Dublin is great fun so please do join us online and hear about some amazing science being carried out by twelve fantastic female scientists.”

You can follow Soapbox Science Dublin via @SoapboxSciIRL and #SoapboxScienceDublin.

Tune in anytime on Saturday 11 July, between 2pm-6pm, to hear some fantastic scientists talk about their amazing work.


Photo: Soapbox Science Dublin 2020 speaker Dr Fatemeh Golpayegani, UCD School of Computer Science who will deliver a talk entitled, Sustainable solutions to urban problems. Illustration by Francesca Tiley.