Guts, Enthusiasm and Perspective …That’s what it takes!

fergus picWe are really excited to see UCC PhD Famelab candidate Fergus McAuliffe in action at our special Famelab event in Co.Laois during Science Week. Fergus won both the Irish and international competition in 2013. His presentation challenged human definition of life and death, using the biology of a wood frog.

Fergus, can you tell us a bit about why you love science and what inspired you to study it?

I always had a natural curiosity for science. When I was young facts and figures is what I thrived on. But as you grown up and study science you realise that it is not all about facts and figures. These details are now just a google away so we no longer need to spend ages trying to learn and remember them. What is much more important is how you go about science. What decisions will you make? What time will you give to it? What are the results likely to be? This decision making process is what I love about doing science now.

Why are science and technology so important in today’s society?

You are reading what I wrote on a computer. Without science, technology and a large dash of curiosity this computer would not exist. The work that scientists and engineers do is incredibly important to modern life. In fact, without their work, modern life would probably not be very modern!

What area of science are you most passionate about and why?

I like environmental and earth science. Simply put, we have only one earth. We must sustainably live here. This is why I chose to study environmental science at UCC where I got a lot of exposure to how we can best manage the resources that we have such as water and land. I then did my PhD, also in environmental science, on the use of trees to sustainably clean wastewater to protect the environment. Now I work in the Irish Centre for Research in Applied Geosciences. This centre carries out work in to securing supply of energy for Ireland and how we can best manage our raw materials and water resources.

What does it take to be a good science communicator and why is it a vital skill to have?

Top 3 things to have:

1. Guts – you need to be brave enough to go on stage!

2. Enthusiasm – when you speak you must show enthusiasm and passion. Otherwise people will get bored of listening to you.

3. Perspective – can you put yourself in the shoes of the man on the street to make sure that the public will understand the science that you are explaining.