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Cell EXPLORERS University of Galway

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About

Contact the Cell EXPLORERS University of Galway team and arrange a school visit | cellexplorers@universityofgalway.ie

The Cell EXPLORERS University of Galway team brings brings the Fantastic DNA School Roadshow to primary schools around Galway.

Fantastic DNA visits are currently being delivered to schools remotely only using our Fantastic DNA in a Box science kits for teachers for National Science Week in Nov 2022.

About 

 

The University of Galway team was the first Cell EXPLORERS team, started in 2012 as an EXPLORE Innovation Staff/Students project with one lecturer from the Discipline of Biochemistry, Dr. Muriel Grenon, and a team of 10 undergraduate science students. Together they designed science outreach sessions and brought one to Barry McGuire's local 5th class in Galway Educate Together National School.  

 

In the subsequent years the team has grown, from 10 to 35, to 100, and then up to 130 members, and the range of activities has expanded. The NUI Galway team brings different science outreach sessions to local primary schools and runs several workshops on Galway Science and Technology Festival Exhibition Day. In addition, Cell EXPLORERS represents university Galway's School of Biological and Chemical Sciences in other regional, national and international science outreach events. Past Events include TeenTech NUI GalwayBT Young Scientist Technology Exhibition, Big Day Out, and the Malta Science Expo/Gozo Science Days.

Cell EXPLORERS University Galway has also run Scientist for a Day taster workshops for children during the mid-term of school and runs Science Holiday Camps during Easter and Summer breaks. These camps activities are currently on hold. You can find out more about the team's activities either on the activities page or on the news page.

 

Cell EXPLORERS University Galway has also succesfully integrated science outreach projects into the final year of Biochemistry undergraduate courses. This allows the creation of novel science outreach resources each semester that can then be disseminated by the volunteer team, if of sufficient quality. 

The Team

The Team

The team in University of Galway, made of 72 members in 2021, is the largest of the Cell EXPLORERS teams.

 

It is made up mostly of undergraduate Biomedical Sciences, Biotechnology or General Science students. The team also includes postgraduate students and staff from the college of Science & Engineering. Volunteers contribute as much time as they have available to different activities throughout the semester and especially around National Science Week. Some use their time volunteering with Cell EXPLORERS to apply for the University of Galway ALIVE certificate which recognises the contribution that volunteers give to their communities.

 

The University of Galway team activities are coordinated by Dr Muriel Grenon, Janic Schulte, Dr Sarah Carroll, Dr Kristin Anderson, and Shannon Stubbs, with the support of part-time interns during the academic year (see testimonials of past coordinators here).

Cell EXPLORERS University of Galway volunteer team at the Galway Science and Technology Festival in 2019

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CE University of Galway volunteers at a Fantastic DNA at Home event for GSTF 2021

Cell EXPLORERS GSTF Exhibition Day workshops 2015. Left, a Cell EXPLORERS demonstrator explains the red blood cell game in the Little Cells workshop. Right, demonstrators in the Fantastic DNA workshop. 

Current coordinating members

Dr. Muriel Grenon

Cell EXPLORERS Founder and Director

Lecturer in Science Communication,

School of Biological and Chemical  Sciences,

University of Galway

Muriel Grenon is a molecular geneticist specialised in the field of cancer biology with a PhD in Molecular and Cellular Genetics and many years of research experience in this area. In 2012 she founded Cell EXPLORERS, which became the outreach programme of the School of Natural Sciences in NUI Galway in May 2013. Both her extensive research and teaching experiences have been essential to the creation and development of this exciting education programme linking research, third level education and primary/secondary schools.

Muriel directs Cell EXPLORERS regional, national and international activities. She has also collaborated on the ReelLIFE Science Video competition directed by Dr. E O'Connell. In addition she is a member of the NUI Galway Science promotion committee since 2014 and a founding member of the Famelab Galway and Pint of Science Galway organising committees. She also directs the science education and outreach projects for 4th year students that run in the Disciplines of Biochemistry and Microbiology. 

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Janic Schulte

Lab manager & research assistant

School of Biological and Chemical  Sciences,

University of Galway

Janic stems from a biological science background having completed his undergraduate degree in zoology in NUI Galway, studying the embryological development of false widow spiders in respect to their venom systems. Janic has recently completed his Masters degree in Microscopy and Imaging in the NUI Galway anatomy discipline where he investigated the use of correlative light and electron microscopy to assess the effects of spider venoms on human cell lines. Janic has an extensive science outreach background having been a senior outreach officer at our sister initiative Eco-Explorers run by Dr. Michel Dugon in NUI Galway's Discipline of Zoology.

Janic was the Cell EXPLORERS National Coordinator for the SFI Discover award 2019-2020. During his time as National Coordinator, Janic played a crucial role in the creation and development of the highly successful Fantastic DNA in a box science kits for teachers. 

 

As a Research Assistant with Cell EXPLORERS, Janic assists the National Coordinator in equipping, coordinating and evaluating the activities of all Cell EXPLORERS teams. He is also responsible for event management of the NUI Galway Cell EXPLORERS activities, maintaining the Cell EXPLORERS laboratory and ensuring health and safety standards are upheld. 

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Shannon Stubbs

CE Volunteer Coordinator & PhD student

School of Biological and Chemical  Sciences,

University of Galway

Shannon is a PhD student funded by the Irish Research Council under supervision of Dr. Muriel Grenon, Dr. Veronica McCauley (School of Education) and Dr. Jennifer DeWitt. Shannon holds a BSc in Zoology and an MSc in Applied Ethology & Animal Biology. Shannon previously did her undergraduate final year research project with Cell EXPLORERS in 2017 during which she developed primary school educational activities for the All-Ireland Pollinator Plan.

Shannon’s research project aims at implementing the Science Capital Teaching Approach in an informal, scientist-facilitated intervention. Science capital is a concept that encapsulates all science-related knowledge, attitudes, experiences and social contacts that a person has.

In addition to her PhD, Shannon is also the CE University of Galway volunteer coordinator, a role she currently shares with undergraduate student Aoife O’Connell.

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Dr. Betul Ekiz Kiran 

Betul Ekiz Kiran is an educational researcher specialized in chemistry education. She holds a PhD in chemistry education from Middle East Technical University, Turkiye. Her research focuses on pre- and in-service teachers’ pedagogical content knowledge and pre-service teachers’ STEM-related educational practices, especially on engineering education.

 

Betul’s research interest in pedagogical content knowledge (PCK) oriented her heavily to qualitative methodology. She has published numerous articles in reputable journals of chemistry and science education research. Since she has an educational research background, she worked closely with in-service and preservice teachers. 

Betul joined the Cell EXPLORERS (CE) team in 2022 as a visiting lecturer and educational researcher. Her focus is the impact of the CE program on alumni CE volunteers. She also assists the team to organize the educational perspective of the work, and in the analysis and interpretation of the qualitative data drawn from the projects.

Visiting Lecturer and Educational Researcher

School of Biological and Chemical  Sciences,

University of Galway

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Dr. Talia Arcari

Cell EXPLORERS National Coordinator

School of Biological and Chemical  Sciences, 

University of Galway

Talia is the National Coordinator for Cell EXPLORERS 2022-2023. She holds a BSc in Biochemistry and MSc in Molecular and Cell Biology from the University of the Republic in Montevideo, Uruguay. She obtained her PhD in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology from the University of Granada at the Institute of Parasitology and Biomedicine “Lopez-Neyra” in Granada, Spain. She specialised in the field of molecular parasitology with a focus on drug resistance mechanisms in trypanosomatid parasites. She was also a teaching assistant at the Department of Biochemistry in the Faculty of Medicine (University of the Republic) where she prepared and taught practical biochemistry classes to first- and second-year medical students. Since moving to Ireland, Talia has worked as a project manager for two successful and exciting projects at University of Galway: PATHSENSE and the Bio-LP-1 project at BioProbe Diagnostics. Both roles involved coordinating large projects across multiple stakeholders, institutions and countries.

Throughout her career Talia has been interested in science communication and dissemination and has been involved in many public engagement events such as the Open days for several research institutions, and the ‘Molecular Biology Experiments’ workshop during the 19th Science Event and Open Day held in the Granada Science Park in 2016. Combining her extensive project management experience, and love for science communication has led her to her current role as Cell EXPLORERS National Coordinator. Talia is responsible for coordinating, managing and evaluating the network’s activities carried out by all the Cell EXPLORERS teams.

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Dr. Kristin Anderson

Project Manager of the GROWS project

School of Biological & Chemical Sciences

University of Galway 

Kristin is the Project Coordinator for the Cell EXPLORERS GROWS (Giving Real Opportunities to Widen participation in STEM) project. She holds a BSc in Neuroscience & Chemistry and a PhD in Neuroscience & Genetics where she studied the interaction of genetics and anxiety. Kristin completed a postdoctoral research fellowship in psychology & pediatrics, investigating the impact of stress on neural circuitry and how to leverage this understanding for the prevention of depression.

Kristin came to Cell EXPLORERS with an extensive science outreach, communication, and policy background. She has brought science to life through art, worked on science policy as a member of the Society for Neuroscience’s Government and Policy Affairs Committee, served as a science communicator trainer, and volunteered with youth outreach programs aimed at equity.

As the GROWS project coordinator, Kristin’s role is to deliver two of Cell EXPLORERS programs, the Youth Science Club and Cell Explorers Escape Room, to marginalized and disadvantaged communities in equitable ways that align with the best known socially inclusive practices. She uses her background to build collaborations with Youth Groups and community partners, increase engagement, and diversify trainings for volunteers. Kristin partners with several organizations to widen participation in under-served communities while incorporating equity and social justice in a meaningful manner. She is also involved in the research on the impact of the Science Club and Escape Room programs.

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Dr. Dekant Kiran 

Educational Researcher of the GROWS Project

School of Biological and Chemical Sciences,

University of Galway 

Dekant Kiran is the educational researcher member of the Cell Explorers GROWS (Giving Real Opportunities to Widen participation in STEM) project. He holds a bachelor’s degree in elementary science education from Hacettepe University and masters and PhD degrees in the same field from Middle East Technical University (METU), Türkiye. His research generally focuses on how post primary students feel themselves motivated to learn and do science. Specifically, he is interested in the source of the confidence and engagement of post primary students in science learning. 

 

Dekant has worked as an instructor at a university in Türkiye where he was teaching classes such as science teaching laboratory applications, science teaching and learning approaches, practice teaching, and history of science. He has vast experience in supervising preservice science teachers in their journey to become a science teacher and he worked closely with post primary students and science teachers during his research projects  

 

Dekant will plan and execute the assessment and evaluation of GROWS project. His main duty is to organize how the evaluation process of the project will be done. As he has published articles and attended to conferences in the field of science education, he will contribute to meaning making in terms of science education research from GROWS project data with his knowledge and expertise in the field. Investigating how GROWS project influences young people’ science related attitudes and beliefs will be the main output of his presence in the CellExplorers programme.  

School Visits

School visits

 

The University of Galway team conducts a large number of school visits over both the first and second semester of the academic term. The majority of visits take place in October and November, around National Science Week and the Galway Science and Technology Festival fortnight. 

What has the University of Galway team been up to lately?

Since 2020, to continue to deliver hands-on engagement to schools whilst adhering to COVID-19 restrictions, Cell EXPLORERS created Fantastic DNA in a Box : a remote adaptation of our Fantastic DNA session. This science kit provides teachers with all the materials and resources to introduce their pupils to living things, cells & DNA, whilst getting the opportunity to complete a DNA extraction experiment.

 

In 2021, the University of Galway team were able to provide 32 boxes to 25 schools and facilitated 17 online Zoom sessions. This gave an amazing 788 children the opportunity to extract DNA from bananas, meet a real scientist and gain a glimpse into the life of a molecular biologist.

Map showing schools engaged with University of Galway team in 2021

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What do pupils & teachers say?

All children and teachers visited have a chance to provide us with feedback on the visit. This helps us to evaluate the quality and impact of our visits!

A summary infographic is generated for each team every year. It shows the metrics of the team activity, highlighting children's and teacher's experience by summarising their feedback and includes pictures from school visits.

Click on the links to discover the University of Galway team visits over the past years.

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Fantastic DNA school visit
4th yr project pilot
4th yr project pilot
Fantastic DNA visit
4th yr project pilot
4th yr project pilot
Little Cells visit
Little Cells visit
Little Cells visit

University of Galway Team School Visits 

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Past University of Galway coordination Members

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Dr. Sarah Carroll

Cell EXPLORERS National Coordinator 2021-2022

Sarah Carroll is the National Coordinator for the SFI Discover award 2021-2022. As one of the founding members of Cell EXPLORERS, she has been involved with the programme in some capacity since it's creation in 2012. Sarah obtained her B.Sc in Biotechnology at NUI Galway in 2015. During the first year of her undergraduate degree, she was one of the student partners to pilot the Cell EXPLORERS programme, as part of an EXPLORE initiative, in collaboration with Dr Grenon. Sarah held the position of Volunteer Coordinator for the NUI Galway team in 2014, and between 2016-2019.

She holds a PhD in informal Science Education from NUI Galway. Her PhD thesis is entitled 'Science Self-Efficacy Beliefs of Upper Primary Pupils & the Short-Term Effect of a Scientist-Facilitated Informal Education Workshop' and was co-supervised by Dr. Grenon and Dr. McCauley from the School of Education. After completing her PhD, Sarah worked as a Research Assistant with Cell EXPLORERS from September-December 2020. She was the project lead on the CE IAS project: an online-based chat activity that is in collaboration with I'm A Scientist Get Me Out Of Here Ireland (https://cellexplorers.imascientist.ie/). She also developed the Science Club that is disseminated as part of the GROWS project. 

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Dr.Tereza Brumovská

Post-Doctoral Researcher

2019-2021

Dr. Tereza Brumovská is a social scientist with a PhD in Sociology earned in the UNESCO Child and Family Research Centre, School of Political Science and Sociology at NUI Galway in 2017. Tereza has a background in sociology, social psychology and social work (Charles University; Gothenburg University), and experience in social work, especially with socially-disadvantaged children and young people.

Tereza is an expert in qualitative research methods and analysis, specifically in phenomenological and participatory research methods in research with children and young people. Her current research aims at exploring Irish children´s attitudes to science and scientists, and the impact of the Fantastic DNA session on these attitudes. You can learn more about this research here.

Tereza's research interests include the youth mentoring relationships and interventions, theories of development in social context (Vygotsky, Bronfenbrenner), sociology of childhood, impact of significant adults in on children´s positive development and well-being, self-determination theory (Ryan,Deci, 1985), as well as volunteering and civic engagement in social services, motivation of volunteering, helping attitudes of volunteers and its impact on the quality of social interventions etc.

Dr. Martina Wernecke

Project Coordinator

2013-2019

Martina worked with Cell Explorers between 2013 - 2019 as a project coordinator. She was involved in organising and coordinating Cell Explorers outreach activities and events engaging primary school children such as the Fantastic DNA Roadshow, Scientist for a Day workshops and the Bio-Explorers Science Holiday Camps.

 

Martina holds a PhD in Microbiology and has worked in NUI Galway as a molecular scientist for many years in the research areas of marine microbial ecology and the development of molecular diagnostic tests. In recent years, she has moved into the area of coordinating and teaching undergraduate Biochemistry Practical programmes. As a Cell Explorers team member, Martina enjoys combining her background in scientific research with her experience in teaching and project management to promote and develop the group’s initiatives in science communication and public engagement.

Dr. Shane McGuinness
Shane Mc Guinness

Cell EXPLORERS National Coordinator 2018-19

Shane Mc Guinness is a conservation biologist and science educator with a PhD in Conservation Biology. He has many years of experience in engaging the public, designing outreach programmes and coordinating and conducting research.

Shane is a founding member of Biodiversity In Our Lives, a scientific outreach collective aimed at developing novel activities to inspire the public in biology and conservation and has spent many years teaching a range of sciences to a broad spectrum of society. Shane has worked at the Dublin Zoo’s Discovery and Learning department, developing new educational material, training teachers in science education and delivering material. Shane is an elected Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society and continues to develop international science outreach linkages like the Water Diaries project with Land Rover.

 

Dr. Claudia Fracchiolla

Cell EXPLORERS National Coordinator 2017-18

Claudia Fracchiolla is a Venezuelan native and a physicist. She received her PhD in Science Education from Kansas State University (KSU). Her research background is mainly in Physics and Physics Education Research (PER). As a graduate student and postdoctoral fellow, while at the University of Colorado - Boulder, she was the director of an educational community partnership for JILA, an after-school science program that serves K-12 populations that are underrepresented in science. While acting as National Coordinator, Claudia was also involved in conducting research into the impacts of Cell EXPLORERS activities on students, teachers and regional teams. Claudia is now a postdoctoral researcher at University College Dublin.

Dr. Claire Concannon

Cell EXPLORERS National Coordinator 2014-17

Claire completed her PhD in Biochemistry in 2013 and subsequently pursued her interests in science communication and education by joining Cell EXPLORERS in 2014. As Cell EXPLORERS coordinator she was responsbile for coordination, evaluation and equipping all national Cell EXPLORERS teams from 2015 to 2016. She was also responsible for creation and event management of  Cell EXPLORERS activities, maintaining the Cell EXPLORERS laboratory and ensuring health and safety standards are upheld. 

In addition, Claire co-supervised final year project students who undertake Cell EXPLORERS science education or outreach projects and has developed workshops, assignments and journal guidelines as content for this project module. Claire was also a founding member of the Pint of Science Galway organising committee. in 2017, Claire has moved to a position of outreach officer at the Otago Museum in Dunedin, New Zealand!

She Joined Radio New Zealand in 2021 where she host "Our Changing World".

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