Soapbox Science Inspires Dublin Public

20th June 2022

Posted In: Be In The Frame

After the success of virtual events in 2020 and 2021, Soapbox  Science Dublin was back in the city on Saturday, (18th June) when twelve female scientists addressed the public from their soapboxes to talk about their research in areas of science, technology, engineering, mathematics and medicine (STEMM) at Soapbox Science Dublin 2022.

The event, which took place on South King Street, included speakers from University College Dublin (UCD), Technological University Dublin, Maynooth University, and Dublin City University.

This year, Soapbox Science Dublin was organised by a team of scientists from the Department of Agriculture Food and Marine, University College Dublin, and the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland.

Soapbox Science Dublin 2022 joint-organiser, Dr Dara Stanley, UCD School of Agriculture and Food Science, said, “Soapbox Science is a really fun and engaging event, where female scientists bring their research to the streets to share with the general public. It is really important because many people do not know any scientists, so bringing science to the streets helps to break down stereotypes around who a scientist is, what they look like, and what they do in their research.”

Established in 2011 Soapbox Science is a global public outreach platform for promoting women and non-binary scientists and the science they do. This year alone over 35 Soapbox Science events are planned across 11 countries.

Dr Andrea Johnson, Chairperson at WITS Ireland (Women in Technology & Science), one of the supporters of Soapbox Science Ireland, emphasised WITS Ireland support for the event, “The vision of Women in Technology & Science Ireland (WITS) is to advocate, connect and act for women in STEM. Soapbox Science creates an incredible opportunity to bring science into the public realm. It gives everyone the opportunity to learn about the amazing experiments and discoveries that are made every day.”

One of the Soapbox Science Dublin 2022 speakers was Dr Veronica Sofianos, Assistant Professor (Ad Astra Fellow) at UCD School of Chemical and Bioprocess Engineering, who delivered a talk entitled ‘Size doesn’t always matter. How nanoparticles combat climate change!’.

Dr Sofianos said, “Soapbox Science 2022 is a great opportunity for me to share my journey on how I became an Assistant Professor at UCD in Chemical Engineering. You only need passion and the rest will fall into place. My passion is researching how I can use water to produce clean and cheap fuels to ease our pockets and combat climate change.”

Another of the Soapbox Science Dublin 2022 speakers was Eleni Zavrakli, a PhD researcher in Machine Learning and Control Theory at Maynooth University, who delivered a talk entitled, ‘A journey from Mathematics to 3D printing’.

Ms Zavrakli said, “Mathematics has always fascinated me, it is somehow beautifully abstract and incredibly specific at the same time. And while studying maths on a theoretical level is very interesting, its countless applications to real life problems can be even more intriguing.”

“At Soapbox Science Dublin 2022 I will talk about my work using mathematical methods and intelligent algorithms to improve the performance of 3D printers. My algorithms will allow the machines to learn in a similar way to how humans learn, based on past experience, gaining a reward for every good decision.”

Soapbox Science Dublin 2022 was supported by UCD through funding from the UCD Earth InstituteUCD School of Agriculture and Food Science, UCD School of Biology and Environmental Science, and WITS (Women in Science and Technology) Ireland.

Images: Illustrations by Francesca Tiley of speakers Dr Veronica Sofianos, Assistant Professor at UCD School of Chemical and Bioprocess Engineering and Eleni Zavrakli, a PhD researcher at Maynooth University. Main collage is of the 12 scientists who spoke at the event.