My Journey Inspired by SciFest

My Journey Inspired by SciFest

From Curiosity to Career: My Journey Inspired by SciFest

Hello, my name is Clare Reidy, and I am currently finishing up my second year of undergraduate medicine at the University of Galway. In 2021, I was named the SciFest STEM Champion for my project entitled: “Cosmic Radiation Protection Simulation”, which looked at evaluating building materials for the future exploration of Mars.

On winning SciFest in 2021, I was just after starting my Leaving Cert year at Our Lady’s Bower Secondary School in Athlone. It was the first year I had made it through to the national SciFest competition after competing in the regional SciFest competition four times throughout my time at secondary school. As a result of this award, in May of that year I was afforded the opportunity to represent Ireland at the 2022 Regeneron International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF) in Atlanta, Georgia. The trip was a once in a lifetime experience and something I will treasure for life. Over the course of the week, I came to meet many highly motivated young people from all around the world and attended panel discussions from scientists and engineers at the forefront of innovation in their respective fields.

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Clare proudly displays her trophy having been named the SciFest STEM Champion 2021

Clare points to her name on the wall of finalists at Regeneron ISEF 2022 in Atlanta, Georgia

Clare representing Ireland and SciFest beside her project stand at Regeneron ISEF 2022 in Atlanta, Georgia

The phrases ‘to build from the ground up’ and ‘to shoot for the stars’ are sentiments that echoed throughout these panel discussions, and I like to think that I did both when it came to my participation in SciFest (both figuratively but also literally). My very first SciFest project looked at identifying species of dung beetles by sieving through cow dung. In contrast, the project that eventually clinched the title for me was, as previously mentioned, an exploration of the logistical aspects of habitation on Mars. On a more serious note, I do believe that my participation in SciFest has had an enormously positive impact on my attitudes towards research and enthusiasm for STEM. Beyond the valuable skills of research and communication that can be learned from taking part in the SciFest competitions at various levels, the true beauty of SciFest lies in the passion it cultivates in young people for research and innovation. Passion that can be carried through to various avenues in their futures.

Since starting college at the University of Galway, I have noticed that for some of my peers, entering into research at third level with little prior exposure can be a daunting task. For me, continuing to pursue research at third level seems a natural progression and a lot of this I can only attribute to my continued participation in SciFest from a young age and the motivating environment it creates for young people to explore scientific domains that interest them and to get excited about STEM.

This summer I will be working with the Duffy lab group at the University of Galway on a summer research project entitled: ‘Development of an Active Drug Delivery Device to Improve Delivery of Therapy for Glioblastoma’ after receiving funding from the School of Medicine Undergraduate Research Programme.

I would encourage any and all second-level students to take part in the SciFest competitions that are being held at their schools and local universities. For me, research continues to be an outlet to think creatively and challenge my ideas about the world in which we live. My hope is that many more young people will come to see it as such through participation in SciFest.

Clare Reidy 03/04/2024

31 2024
SciFest@School in Loreto College, Mullingar, Co. Westmeath
08 2024
SciFest@School in Sandymount Park Educate Together Secondary School, Beech Road, Sandymount, Dublin 4
13 2024
SciFest@School in St Raphaela's Secondary School, Upper Kilmacud Road, Stillorgan, Co. Dublin
29 2024
SciFest National Final
Michael D. Higgins, Patron of SciFest
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