Women in Research at #LINO19: Niamh Kavanagh from Ireland

Aug 29, 2019

#LINO19 Alumna Niamh Kavanagh from Ireland is a PhD student at the Tyndall National Institute in Cork, Ireland. Optical communications has proven to be the key to instantaneous global communication. The ability to connect and collaborate with anyone, anywhere in the world, has completely revolutionised science, technology and society as a whole. The goal of Niamh’s research is to develop next-generation optical communication systems in order to stay ahead of society’s ever-increasing capacity demands. Here is an excerpt from her Women in Research interview, now out on our blog. Read the full interview to learn more about Niamh's work and motivation to get into science. 

What is the coolest project you have worked on and why?

I am very enthusiastic about communicating my interest in science! Since beginning my PhD in 2014, I have taken part in over 100 outreach activities with the general public and students of all ages. My aim is to make complex physics concepts clear, relatable and memorable. I want to ignite curiosity, inspire interest in physics and encourage young people, especially young women, to consider careers in STEM.
I have had the opportunity to take part in lots of cool outreach activities that have taken me all over the world. But certainly, the coolest experience that I’ve had has been performing my own science stand-up routine on the Comedy Stage at a large music festival in 2018 with a group called Bright Club. That was so much fun!

What’s a time you felt immense pride in yourself / your work?

I really want to improve the culture of STEM to be more inclusive of everyone who is curious and interested. I am a passionate advocate for equity, diversity and inclusion. I am a member of several Empowering Women, Athena Swan and Diversity committees which are pushing for positive change locally, nationally and internationally, and I have been invited to international conferences to speak about these important issues. In November 2018, I was featured in a national documentary about gender equality called “The Big Picture: A Woman’s World” in which I spoke about some of the challenges women face to reaching their full potential in physics. I am also an award-winning mentor for my work with disadvantaged girls through the Irish Teen-turn initiative. All of this work makes me feel very proud. But the highlight has been helping to set up House of STEM, Ireland’s first network for LGBTQ+ people in STEM. As co-chair of this network, I helped to organise the first international LGBT STEM day on 5 July 2018, which reached 75 million people worldwide! That day I was full of pride; in myself, in my work and in my LGBTQ+ community, I’ll never forget it.

Niamh Kavanagh and fellow young scientists celebrating LGBT STEM day at #LINO19. Picture/Credit: Julia Nimke/Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings


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