PhD student wins Rosse Medal at IOP in Ireland event as Belfast celebrates science

23 February 2016

PhD student Niamh Kavanagh of the Tyndall Institute in Cork won this year’s Rosse Medal at the IOP in Ireland’s Spring Meeting on 20 February.

Niamh Kavanagh

Kavanagh competed against five other finalists who gave short presentations in the postgraduate poster competition during the day-long event in Belfast. After her presentation on “Opening a new transmission window for telecommunications” was judged the best, the IOP’s chief executive, Professor Paul Hardaker, presented her prize at an evening reception and dinner.

The day also included talks on the search for gravitational waves, by Professor Mike Cruise of the University of Birmingham; the observation of quantum effects on a macroscopic scale by Professor Mauro Paternostro of Queen’s University Belfast; and general relativity and the big bang by Dr Cormac O’Raifeartaigh of Waterford Institute of Technology.

This year’s event coincided with the NI Science Festival, which is being held on 18–28 February at more than 25 venues, the majority of them in and around Belfast. The IOP in Ireland’s contribution to the festival has included physics busking in St George’s Market, Belfast, on 21 February and a “Physics in the Afternoon” event for schoolchildren at key stages 3 and 4 at the Ulster Museum, due to take place on 23 February. Plans include the chance for students to tour physics demonstrations at the museum, hear a talk on fusion from Dr Ian Chapman of the Culham Centre for Fusion Energy and listen to physics entertainer Lieven Scheire, who explains physics concepts through comedy.

The IOP in Ireland is also due to hold a science comedy show by Schiere on the evening of 23 February and, jointly with the UK Space Agency, a workshop earlier in the day for teachers and educators entitled “Make your own air-powered rocket launcher”. On 25 February the IOP in Ireland, working with the NI Physics Teachers Panel, has scheduled an informal careers event at the Black Box, Belfast, with speakers from a variety of physics backgrounds.

Dr Liz Conlon, the IOP in Ireland’s education and outreach adviser, is chair of this year’s NI Science Festival board.