How did we begin?
Cell EXPLORERS was started as a pilot outreach project in February 2012 by Dr. Muriel Grenon, a research scientist in the School of Natural Sciences, with support from the NUI Galway/Student's Union EXPLORE Innovation initiative.
Subsequent funding from The Royal Dublin Society and the Biochemical Society allowed development of this pilot activity. In 2013-2014 Cell EXPLORERS received funding from the Wellcome Trust in the UK to facilitate the pilot of integration of science outreach into the undergraduate science curriculum as well as funding from Science Foundation Ireland's Discover Science and Engineering Awards to expand its outreach activities in Galway. In 2015 Cell EXPLORERS was granted a two year SFI Discover Award to continue its outreach efforts throughout Galway county and to expand nationally. Cell EXPLORERS receives continued support from the School of Natural Sciences and from the Discipline of Biochemistry of NUI Galway as well as the Galway Science and Technology Festival and Forum.
From the inital pilot activity of 10 team members designing and presenting an outreach session to one class of 30 primary school children the programme has expanded to 130 volunteers in 2014-2015 with a direct reach of over 6,000 people.
Our activities have also expanded to include secondary school sessions, workshops aimed at both children and the general public, summer camps and a national video competition.
In 2013, with the help of funding from the Wellcome Trust, the integration of science outreach projects in the undergraduate science curriculum was piloted for both 2nd year and 4th year students. In 2014, with help from an SFI Discover award, the 4th year projects were further extended to include students from both the Disciplines of Biochemistry and Microbiology.
In 2015 we have begun to pilot national expansion of the programme by establishing Cell EXPLORERS teams in partner higher education institutes across Ireland (see Partner Teams page for further details).