Skip to main content

2015 Press Releases

UCC sweeps board at FameLab 2015

15 Apr 2015
L-R: Gillian Murphy, Lisa Murphy and Ruairi Robertson backstage at the final of the Irish leg of FameLab. Lisa will now go on to represent Ireland at the international final of Famelab to be held as part of the Cheltenham Science Festival in June 2015 (Picture: Claire O'Connell @claireoconnell).

Three UCC PhD students have wowed the judges at one of the world’s leading science communication competitions, as TY students prepare to follow suit using PechaKucha at 'PsychSlam' on 16 April 2015.

Kim Kardashian, bacteria and a PlayStation were the unusual forms of inspiration that led to UCC sweeping the board at the Irish final of FameLab held in the Science Gallery Dublin recently.

The PhD students walked away with first, second and third place, as well as the audience choice award. Each participant had just three minutes to impress, tasked with breaking down science, technology and engineering concepts in an entertaining and accessible way. Transition Year (TY) students from 13 secondary schools attending UCC this Thursday 16 April will get a chance to hear two of the winning FameLab talks live at the 'PsychSlam' event organised by UCC's School of Applied Psychology (see final section below for further details).

Since its inception in 2005, FameLab has grown into one of the world’s leading science communication competition, with over 5,000 young scientists competing from 25 countries. 

Hosted by broadcaster Jonathan McCrea, the ultimate winner of the Irish leg of the competition was Lisa Murphy from South Douglas Road in Cork. Lisa is a First Year Applied Psychology PhD student at UCC, where she is studying the area of health psychology and is supervised by Dr Samantha Dockray.

With the aid of a selfie stick and a reference to Kim Kardashian, Lisa discussed facial symmetry and how quickly people perceive attractiveness. 

Lisa will now go on to represent Ireland at the international final of Famelab to be held as part of the Cheltenham Science Festival in June 2015.

Ireland won the competition in 2013, thanks to UCC PhD graduate Fergus McAuliffe, who has since gone on to involvement in a range of STEM initiatives such as presenting at TEDxDublin, as well as contributing regularly to RTÉ’s ‘The Science Squad.’ Ireland also won in 2014 thanks to Adam Murphy from DCU.

Ruairi Robertson secured second place, discussing the bacteria on and within us all, how it is formed at birth and its impact on our health for the rest of our lives.

Ruairi is currently a third-year PhD student registered in UCC’s Department of Microbiology and the Alimentary Pharmabiotic Centre at UCC, and is based out of Teagasc Moorepark, where he is researching how to make seaweed the next superfood. Ruairi is supervised by Dr Catherine Stanton, Professor Ger Fitzgerald and Professor Paul Ross, Head of the College of Science, Engineering & Food Science (SEFS) at UCC.

Gillian Murphy who is also from Cork (Ballinhassig) won the audience choice award, as well as securing third place. Like Lisa, she is based in the School of Applied Psychology at UCC and is completing a PhD in Cognitive Psychology examining driving behaviour and how distraction can impact. Gillian is supervised by Dr Samantha Dockray and Dr Ciara Greene.

Using a model of her boyfriend’s brain, a giant elephant and the plight of competing for attention with a PlayStation, Gillian spoke about how intense concentration can lead people to not see or hear as well as usual.


Transition Year (TY) students from 13 secondary schools attending UCC this Thursday 16 April will get a chance to hear the winning FameLab talks live, as Lisa and Gillian present their winning entries again. Organised by the School of Applied Psychology at UCC, "PsychSlam" will see TY students present on a psychology topic in the style of PechaKucha from 10am – 2.30pm in Boole 2. An idea is presented using 20 slides, but participants can only talk for 20 seconds about each slide. 

Each participating school has been assigned a UCC Applied Psychology PhD student as an advisor. It is hoped that the students will gain experience in teamwork, building and describing knowledge and enjoy talking about psychology with other students, researchers and psychologists.

The topics the TY students will cover include:

  • Are young people more likely to take risks than older people?  If so – why?
  • Can ‘online’ friendships have the same quality and support as ‘real-life’ friendships?
  • How does psychological stress influence the risk of developing a cold or flu?
  • Is romance in the heart or in the head? The science and biology of love
  • Is Roy Keane mentally tougher than everybody else? What kind of personality does it take to be a great player and captain?
  • Why do some people love being scared?
  • Who watches horror films and why?
  • Should we trust eyewitness testimony?
  • Does happiness influence health?
  • I’m innocent – I’ll prove it by taking the test! Should we trust lie detector tests?
  • Should we always think of our future selves or live in the moment? The idea of time perspective type and health. 

More on FameLab

In Ireland, FameLab is managed by the British Council in partnership with Cpl Ltd, Midlands Science Festival, Newstalk 106-108fm, Science Gallery Dublin and Tyndall National Institute. FameLab Ireland is supported by Science Foundation Ireland.

FameLab's international partner is Cheltenham Festivals. 

For more information on FameLab, see

University College Cork

Coláiste na hOllscoile Corcaigh

College Road, Cork T12 K8AF