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Teagasc Supporting Smart Futures and SciFest

Teagasc is partnering with Smart Futures and SciFest to promote careers in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM). SciFest is a series of one-day science fairs for second-level students hosted locally in schools and in third level colleges.

Professor Mark Ferguson, Director General, Science Foundation Ireland and Chief Scientific Advisor to the Government of Ireland, says: “Smart Futures aims to help students make informed decisions about their career choices. By working with industry and academia it delivers science, tech and engineering career talks to schools across the country. Science Foundation Ireland, which manages the programme, is delighted to be partnering with Teagasc to inspire the next generation of innovators by connecting them to real scientists and engineers creating global solutions in Ireland”.

Teagasc Director of Research, Dr Frank O’Mara, says: “I am delighted that five of our researchers are involved in promoting STEM careers to young students at SciFest. I am sure students will be excited, and maybe a little surprised, about the great opportunities for STEM-related careers in the agri-food industry, and how many of these opportunities involve interdisciplinary research. For example, in the area of smart or precision agriculture, we see the application of sensors, networking, data analytics and other digital technologies to issues related to sustainable food production. We recognise the importance of bringing new talent into the industry, and as one example, our Walsh Fellowship programme currently has 230 students. They are mostly engaged in research towards PhD degrees across a range of exciting topics and many will subsequently develop STEM-related careers.”

Teagasc researchers will give presentations at the following Institutes of Technology (IT):

  • 22-Apr Cork IT Orla O’Sullivan
  • 04-May IT Blanchardstown Declan Bolton
  • 04-May Dundalk IT Tom O’Connell
  • 04-May Dundalk IT Sinead McCarthy
  • 13-May Letterkenny IT Carol Griffin

Today in Cork Institute of Technology, Dr Orla O’Sullivan, a researcher based at Teagasc Food Research Centre, Moorepark, Co Cork, will discuss how exercise and diet influence the bacteria in your gut and how we can use this information to add value to food. Orla is an SFI Starting Investigator Research Grant Fellow.

On May 4, in his presentation at the Institute of Technology Blanchardstown, Dr Declan Bolton, a Principal Research Officer at Teagasc Food Research Centre, Ashtown, Dublin, will map the journey from inquisitive student to career scientist and provide a new perspective on research as a career choice.

Also on May 4, Tom O’Connell and Dr Sinead McCarthy will be speaking at Dundalk Institute of Technology. Tom O’Connell is a Teagasc advisor in the Dunleer and Sreenty/Corduff agricultural catchment, working closely with both farmers and researchers. Tom will stress the importance of enjoying one’s job and the personal satisfaction to be gained from helping other people. Dr Sinead McCarthy, a Researcher in the Spatial Analysis, Food Marketing and Agri Innovation Department at Teagasc Research Centre, Ashtown, Dublin, will cover everything from studying science and nutrition to working on exciting research projects at Teagasc - trying to understand what influences the types of food people eat each day.

On May 13, Carol Griffin, Food Industry Development Department, Teagasc Food Research Centre, Ashtown, Dublin, will speak at Letterkenny Institute of Technology. Carol will explain how Teagasc helps food companies to carry out New Product Development and Sensory Analysis work on their new and current food products, giving interesting examples and case studies.