PsychSlam 2017

PsychSlam 2017

In 2015 The School of Applied Psychology celebrated 50 years of teaching, research and service in University College Cork.  We commemorated this milestone in a number of ways, including events and activities that showcased graduates, researchers and School members who had been part of the School community in  the past 50 years.  It was also important to us to do something to contribute to the future of psychology in UCC and in the broader community.  We hoped to run an annual event  that showcased how intriguing psychological science is, the importance of scientific process and the value of sharing science with everyone – and of course, we wanted something that would be fun to be involved in!  A group of us came up with the idea of a science communication competition for secondary school students, and PsychSlam was born!  Each year it’s grown, with schools all across Munster, and others in Kerry and Tipperary becoming involved, and it’s become a wonderful annual event.

PsychSlam is inspired by the idea of poetry slams and by a presentation style known as Pecha Kucha, where images and performance are combined in a very structured format.  In each presentation, speakers show 20 images, or in the case of PsychSlam, 20 slides, each of which advance automatically after only 20 seconds!

Training for Teams

In the first 2 years of PsychSlam, we provided several types of support to teams to help them prepare to compete. As interest in the competition grew, even beyond Munster, we developed a training day for all teams.  This was an enormous success, and Ian Kearney and Jean O’Connor delivered presentations to show TY students how to master the Pecha Kucha presentation style. Jean completed her degree in Applied Psychology in UCC, and Ian is completing his H.Dip in Applied Psychology in UCC, having already completed a degree in Sociology and Philosophy and a MA in Philosophy (both NUI Maynooth) and a Diploma in Forensic and Criminal Psychology.




To really give them a sense of what psychology researchers do every day, the students and teachers received a tour of the School and our facilities afterwards, which we really hope they enjoyed! We were so impressed by the students’ enthusiasm for science communication and also for psychology in general, and we hope that it expanded their interest in psychology, in science and in communicating research.

Lisa Murphy and Gillian Murphy trained teams on traditional and innovative science communication techniques and have both extensive experience in several forms of science communication.

Science communication is one of Lisa Murphy’s remarkable skills, and she is able to describe complex scientific ideas and processes with enthusiasm, clarity and humour.  Lisa was the 2015 Ireland Winner of FameLab Ireland and represented Ireland at the Cheltenham Science Festival that year.  In September 2015, Lisa travelled to the Czech Republic to talk about facial symmetry and selfie taking to a general audience and an audience of secondary school students in an annual science show titled ‘International Echoes in Prague’,  and she presented at the Irish Midlands Science Festival among many other science communication activities.  Lisa has developed larger group events to showcase psychological science, including events such as the Cork Culture Night and has assisted TY students conducting psychological projects for the BT Young Scientist Competition.  Lisa has also contributed to radio and television programmes, Including Newstalk’s Futureproof show,  bringing her expertise and enthusiasm to audiences in Ireland and beyond.


Gillian Murphy has been commended for her effective science communication, and she has a special knack of translating complicated scientific concepts so that audiences can understand how these concepts are at play in day to day life.  Gillian has many years of experience as a performing dance artist, and she brings some of those skills to science communication and building rapport with audiences.  Gillian’s ability to describe science is signified by the many awards she has won, including winning the FameLab National Final Audience Choice Award  (2015), and being selected for inclusion in science publications including in UCC’s The Boolean . She was noted by the 2015 Higher Education Authority ‘Making an Impact’ competition for her clarity in communicating to a lay audience




PsychSlam partners with FameLab Ireland

In 2017 we were honoured to announce that FameLab would now partner with UCC PsychSlam to showcase science communication by Transition Year students across Munster.  Famelab is the biggest science communication competition in the world, with more than 5000 young scientists and engineers participating in over 25 different countries.  FameLab inspires, motivates and develops scientists and engineers to engage with people outside of their area of expertise.

The partnership grew, in part, from the remarkable success SoAP, and UCC has had in the annual FameLab Ireland competition.  In 2015, Lisa Murphy, a PhD candidate in Applied Psychology was the winner of FameLab Ireland, and went on to represent Ireland at the Cheltenham Science Festival.  In the same year Dr Gillian Murphy, also of SoAP, was selected as the Audience Choice winner, as well as being placed third, and Ruairi Robertson of the School of Microbiology UCC and Teagasc Moorepark Food Research Centre placed second, and so UCC swept the board!  The pattern of excellence in science communication traces from the winning talk by Dr Fergus McAuliffe (UCC BEES) in 2013 to the 2016 win by Niamh Kavanagh (UCC Tyndall Institute).  Lisa, Gillian, Ruairi, Fergus and Niamh were all completing their PhDs at UCC when they competed and their performances showcase the fun, intrigue and wonder of science, and their performance can be viewed here.

In 2017 several members of UCC SoAP competed in the Munster heats of FameLab and Marica Cassarino, currently completing her PhD in SoAP, came second and will compete in the National FameLab Final in February, only a few weeks after the PsychSlam competition. You can watch this live online but follow @Famelab_Ireland to keep up with the news.