Midlands Science today announced the appointment of a new Expert Advisory Panel which will consist of the following members; Dr. Helena Bonner of the Royal College of Surgeons (RSCI), Dr Dan Nickström of National University of Ireland, Maynooth and Ms Anne Naughton, Athlone IT and Regional Skills.
Jackie Gorman, Midlands Science CEO said, ‘Midlands Science is delighted that the inaugural Independent Expert Advisory Panel will be contributing to our work in STEM outreach going forward. This Panel will provide Midlands Science with expert and independent advice on Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) outreach and how it can be grown in the Midlands in terms of its overall reach and impact.’
Dr. Helena Bonner works in the department of Physiology and Medical Physics and in the Centre for Systems Medicine in RCSI and is involved in various STEM projects, one of which comprises of a three-day structured TY programme called ‘Mini Science’. She hosts various seminars and laboratory tours in RCSI to TY and 5th year students. She also visits various secondary schools in the midlands throughout the school term to talk about the different careers available to STEM graduates, and the ample opportunities that are available in the different STEM sectors. Dr. Bonner said, ‘I am delighted to join Midlands Science and work with many other committed individuals as they continue to make great progress in promoting science as a career to people of all ages. It’s important for us to explore new ways to collectively change the face of STEM and reach out to young people to inform them on the type of research being undertaken at RCSI and to encourage them to pursue these exciting careers.’
Dr Dan Nickström graduated with a degree in applied physics from Dublin City University (DCU) and then completed a PhD in the Biomedical Diagnostics Institute and Department of Physical Sciences. Along with these areas of interest he has always been a keen communicator of science and received several awards in that area. He has worked in various areas of physics education across several universities since completing his PhD. He began teaching in the Experimental Physics Department at Maynooth in 2017 and acted as course coordinator for the Certificate in Science in 2018/19 while also lecturing across a wide range of topics in physics. He commented, “We need to actively encourage existing current students as well as future generations to embrace all of the multi-faceted areas related to STEM. I look forward to working collaboratively with my colleagues in Midlands Science and to focusing our efforts on continuing to stimulate curiosity about the world around us and foster a sense of wonder in pupils from the earliest years. ‘
Anne Naughton graduated with a Masters Degree in Computing Science from DIT and has since worked in various roles in the Third Level Education Sector at Athlone IT. Anne is currently working as a Project Officer for ‘Skills for Growth’ with Regional Skills part of the Skills Planning and Enterprise Engagement Unit of the Department of Education and Skills which will aid in building a more complete picture of regional and national skills needs and contributing towards a more robust national response in future. Anne commented, ‘The importance of students continuing with science subjects into third level cannot be overestimated. We not only need to prepare them to take on the jobs of the future but we must also help our current workforce to adapt the changing STEM environment through relevant retraining and up-skilling. Young peoples’ lives are increasingly influenced by science and engineering in ways that they might still be unaware. I am privileged to join the Midlands Science team and hope that I can contribute to their mission to increase local skills development in this diverse area and also to help improve the efficiency and impact of the great work that is already being carried out in the area of STEM education promotion here in this region.’
Jackie Gorman continued, “This distinguished new panel will bring fresh eyes and original approaches to our strategic plan. I look forward to hearing their recommendations around a wide range of science education and engagement issues and to working with them to ensure that we are constantly rethinking what STEM education means for students here in the Midlands and beyond.’
Photo; Anne Naughton