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Tuesday 26 September 2017

How research students can 'Make an Impact'

Previous winners of the post-graduate researcher competition Fergus McAuliffe and Sarah-Jo Sinnott of the ESRI at UCC, Cork. Photo: Provision
Previous winners of the post-graduate researcher competition Fergus McAuliffe and Sarah-Jo Sinnott of the ESRI at UCC, Cork. Photo: Provision
Katherine Donnelly

Katherine Donnelly

He is a familiar face from RTE's popular 'The Science Squad', and for Fergus McAuliffe it all started with the €5,000 Irish Independent/Higher Education Authority Making an Impact contest.

The 28-year-old's flair for explaining scientific concepts made him a winner in the competition seeking research students who can communicate effectively to a lay audience on why their research matters. The University College Cork graduate followed up his own success with some coaching for his girlfriend Sarah-Jo Sinnott, who became a 2013 winner for her work on the effect of the 50pc prescription levy. Sarah-Jo now works with the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI).

Fergus, whose research focuses on the use of willow trees to treat wastewater, will shortly complete his studies. "Making an Impact has opened up a whole new career avenue. I now have a choice about whether to pursue further research, or the science communications side of things", he said.

The Irish Independent and the HEA are inviting post-graduate research students in any discipline at an Irish higher education institution to enter Making an Impact 2015 by sending a short submission on the difference their research will make. The closing date for submissions (to impact@hea.ie) is March 2, and finalists will compete at an event in The Helix, Dublin City University on April 22.

Awards of €2,500 each, sponsored by the Irish Independent, will be presented to two winners, one picked by a panel and the other by an audience of second-level students.

Irish Independent

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