Skip to main content

Trinity College Dublin, The University of Dublin

Menu Search


CUWiP Report

April 3rd, 2016

CUWiP, The Conference for Undergraduate Women in Physics, was held from the 17th to the 20th of March 2016 at the University of Oxford following great success from its first year in 2015. Seven students from Trinity College were selected to attend, Ciara Maguire, Holly Herbert, Aideen Gregg, Laura Orphal, Laura Murphy, Rebecca Kelly and Juliet Bennett McCormick. They ranged from Senior Freshman to post doctoral, from all disciplines, Physics, Astrophysics and Nanoscience.

Prof. Daniela Bortoletto, the main organiser of the event opened the conference. In her opening remarks she outlined the main objectives of the conference and the importance of this unique event. Its goal was to help undergraduate women continue in physics focusing on their development as scientists and showcasing options for their educational and professional futures. The conference enabled participants to meet, network with, and be inspired by successful women in physics with whom they shared experiences, advice and ideas. It informed students of the vast opportunities available by introducing students to useful resources such as the Institute of Physics. It also tackled social topics including stereotyping, imposter syndrome, lack of confidence and assertiveness.

Talks by distinguished speakers were given about cutting edge fields of research, such as Dr Sonia Trigueros presentation on ‘Nanotechnology for medicine’ and Helen O’ Keefe’s lecture ‘Why are neutrinos so interesting?’. Participants were given a unique insight into life as a scientist on the forefront of new discoveries and research. Professor Christine Davies spoke on ‘The Quandary of Quarks’ and Fay Dowker give an intriguing insight into special relativity with ‘A meditation on special relativity’. A presentation by Haida Liang illustrated the ability to marry physics with other disciplines. Originally in the field of Astronomy she is now using her skills in archaeology. Her work involves using spectrometry to examine the pigments in different paintings. Professor Amanda Cooper Sarkar’s talk on her career path in physics gave a personal insight into the challenges she faced and the many successes she has enjoyed.

Participants were given tours of both the Claredon Laboratory at Oxford University and the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory (RAL). The latter houses facilities such as ISIS, Vulcan and RAL space. Panels of female physicists from both academia and industry allowed delegates to learn about the diverse career paths available. The experts answered questions on graduate study and career opportunities outside academia that are open to students with a physics degree. The skills obtained in doing a physics degree can be applied to many fields from research, finance to enterprise. The informal activities such as a physics quiz allowed the participants to socialize and form connections. There was a café scientific, which allowed participants to chat to the various guest speakers and panellists in smaller groups. On the final night of the conference, there was a Banquet during which the speakers dispersed themselves among the tables, along for more personal conversations. The CUWiP was enriching and inspiring experience for all those who attended. Participants were honoured to have meet so many influential figures and to have been given the opportunity to discuss and share ideas with them. The event succeeded in its aims to support and encourage women in physics. Participants were honoured to have meet so many influential figures and to have been given the opportunity to discuss and share ideas with them.

The seven students who attended wish to sincerely thank Trinity College Dublin Physics department for supporting then and giving them the opportunity to attend such an unique event.


Trinity Physics wins prestigious Athena SWAN Award

Trinity Physics wins prestigious Athena SWAN Award. In the first ever round of Athena SWAN awards in Ireland, Trinity is one of only two Irish Universities to win an Institutional Award.

Athena SWAN, the initiative run by Equality Challenge Unit to address issues in gender inequality, recently celebrated its tenth anniversary, but this is the first year in which Irish institutions were invited to participate.

Both Trinity College Dublin and the University of Limerick received Bronze Athena SWAN awards for their institutions as a whole, with Trinity College Dublin also attaining Bronze awards at departmental level for the School of Chemistry, the School of Physics and the School of Natural Sciences.

Women in Physics Networking Event 2015

Click here to download the press release.

TCD Physics Focus on Women in Light: UNESCO International Year of Light 2015 Event

Prof. Julieta Fierro, Institute for Astronomy at UNAM, Mexico's National University, lived up to her reputation as a force of nature, when she gave a seminar and a Masterclass in TCD School of Physics. She gave a public lecture on Astronomy in Mesoamerica showering her audience with flying gifts and a glimpse of astronomy from 600BC to the 16th century.

Prof. Julieta Fierro - Photo courtesy of Bededict Shegog

Julieta is credited with encouraging swathes of aspiring scientists to study Science in Mexico and elsewhere. In her Masterclass focusing on Tools for Success in a career in Light, Julieta suggested that women do less rather than more, that perfection in every single area of life is not a realistic goal for most humans. She made a great connection with her audience - the Mexican ambassador proved an excellent demonstration volunteer!

This event was supported by the School of Physics Women in Physics and Solar Physics groups with sponsorship and support from the Dean of FEMS, The Dublin Mexican Embassy, Women in Technology and Science (WITS), WiSER, IOP Women in Physics Group committee and the national committee for the International Year of Light 2015.

Oxford Conference for Undergraduate Women in Physics, 2015

Oxford Conference for Undergraduate Women in Physics, 2015

For the first time ever Oxford University organised a conference for undergraduate women in physics (CUWIP). In February, 100 female undergraduates from all over Ireland and the United Kingdom were invited to come to Oxford and participate in CUWIP. Among those females, there were three students from Trinity College Dublin, Niamh Byrne (Physics), Jessica McKenna (Physics) and Katarzyna Siewierska (Physics).

The conference began on Friday, 20th of March. The delegates were welcomed by Prof. Daniela Bortoletto, the main organiser of the conference, seen with Jessica, Niamh and Katarzyna in the photograph. Everyone headed outside firstly to watch the partial solar eclipse and then travel to the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory (RAL). The RAL visit began with a talk by Ceri Brenner on high power laser research. All delegates got to participate in inspiring panel discussions and visit some of the research facilities such as DIAMOND, ISIS and CLF. These tours were followed by the tours of the Oxford Physics Laboratories. In the evening, the delegates had dinner in the beautiful Keble Dining Hall which looked like the Dining Hall at Hogwarts. Then the delegates explored a bit of the city of Oxford during a scavenger hunt. The second day of the conference began with excellent talks by Jocelyn Bell Burnell on her work in astrophysics and Kate Lancaster about high energy lasers. After lunch delegates participated in assertiveness and CV writing workshops. Then a very inspiring talk on what hinders people from flourishing in physics by Katherine Blundell followed by an academic panel. Once again delegates were able to ask any questions they had about career and academic paths. After the panel, Tara Shears spoke about particle physics and Sarah Bohndiek gave a very interesting talks research into cancer treatment. On the last day of the conference, the delegates enjoyed the talks by Helen Mason on solar physics, Heather Williams on nuclear medicine and Sheila Rowan gravitational waves. This last talk concluded this amazing conference.

Besides talking about their work, each speaker gave an insight into their own personal career path and challenges that they faced and still face today. They spoke about bullying, implicit bias, felling like an 'imposter' and lacking confidence, especially at the beginning of their education and careers. However, their hard work, dedication, passion for physics and support from people around them helped them defeat all odds and become successful physicists. The honesty of all of the speakers and people involved in career and academic panels helped boost the confidence of all of the delegates and loaded them with a very positive attitude toward achieving their goals in the future. The conference was a great success and it will almost certainly be organised next year.

Jessica, Niamh and Katarzyna are very greatful for financial support from WISER which allowed them attend the conference.

Record breaking gathering of TCD Women in Physics students for networking event

Record Breaking Gathering of TCD Women in Physics students for networking event

To celebrate the role of Women in Physics and the School's support of Athena SWAN and Juno initiatives, Athena SWAN Champion, Eithne McCabe and Undergraduate Physics Convenor, Lauren Byrne organised the first Women in Physics student networking event.

Students networked across all Physics courses and all years. Katarzyna Siewierska spoke about the recent conference for undergraduate women in Oxford she attended with Jessica McKenna and Niamh Byrne. The networking extends beyond the walls of TCD - former student Aileen Finn, a student at Diamond Light Source near Oxford, welcomed this trio last week in Oxford. Aoife Ivory, also a former student, attended to show the support of our female Physics alumni for our current undergraduate women in Physics.

This event saw a record breaking number of TCD female Physics students in a single TCD Physics venue!

TSSR and Physics students

Congratulations to Jessica Erkel (left) and Katarzyna Siewierska (right) who were successful in having their articles selected for publication in TSSR!

Trinity Student Scientific Review (TSSR) is a new Scientific Journal for undergraduate students set up and run by Junior Sophister students. It provides an opportunity for all undergraduate students in Trinity to engage with scientific writing and reviewing. The first volume was published on the 10th March 2015 and it contains 18 scientific papers on various areas in physics, biology and chemistry.

Congratulations to Jessica Erkel (left) and Katarzyna Siewierska (right) who were successful in having their articles selected for publication in TSSR!

Jessica Erkel's paper: Enceladus: Plume Composition and Interactions in the Saturnian System.
Katarzyna Siewierska's paper: Metamaterials - Future of Cloaking.

Astrophysics Class of 2014

Astrophysics Class of 2014 (From the left) Slaine Power, Damien Coffey, Aoife McCloskey, Peter Halpin (far back), Brian Doherty, Pamela Martin, Aoife Whelan, Aisling Murphy, Victoria McCormack (far back), Prof Brian Espey, Amy Holden, Louis Gregg

Trinity Physicist wins SFI Advance Award

At the SFI Science Summit, which took place recently in Athlone, the Minister for Skills, Research and Innovation, Damien English TD, announced the ten recipients of €1.7 million in funding delivered by the Department of Jobs through the Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) Advance Award Programme. The programme is aimed at encouraging women to return to or stay in a career in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) and the recipients were recognised with 300 leading researchers in Ireland in attendance.

Four scientists in Trinity were among the 10 women who received the award of €175,000 each. Among them is Dr Elisabetta Arca of the School of Physics whose research aims to improve the performance and reliability of p-n junctions, the fundamental building blocks of many electronic devices, including computers, flat screens and LEDs. This project aims to bring the technological development of transparent p-n junctions to a completely new level, thus enabling a set of new functionalities necessary for the realization of transparent electronics. She will carry out the research in the laboratories in both the School of Physics and in Trinity’s research institute for nanoscience, CRANN.

For more details on the SFI Advance Awards please click here.

Dr Elisabetta Arca pictured in one of the laboratories in CRANN where she will carry out her research on the deposition and characterization of transparent p-n junctions.

Senior Sophister 2014

Senior Sophister 2014

TCD Physics Postgraduate students Donna Rodgers-Lee and Lauren McKeown with Dame Jocelyn Bell Burnell at her Masterclass at the Royal Irish Academy.

TCD Physics Postgraduate students Donna Rodgers-Lee and Lauren McKeown with Dame Jocelyn Bell Burnell at her Masterclass at the Royal Irish Academy

Women in Physics Day - Ireland 2014

Report by: Katarzyna Siewierska, Anne Marie Delaney, Seoid NiLaoire, Beata Szydlowska and Harriet Walsh

On Wednesday, 19 March 2014, five Trinity Physics delegates were supported by Juno initiatives in TCD Physics to attend the Women in Physics Conference at Queens University Belfast.

The conference began with a talk given by Prof. Jocelyn Bell Burnell from University of Oxford. She gave an inspiring talk about her life failures and successes. She also described the life cycle of the stars and mimed the formation of a 3rd generation star - the Sun. The conclusion of her talk was that we are all stars (literally) and that failing an exam is not a disaster.

Later a series of interesting talks was held on careers and research in physics. One of the talks was given by our own Dr. Jessamyn A. Fairfield, a nano-scientist from the CRANN. Next was an exciting science fair and a poster session. Demonstrations at the science fair included a levitating magnet over a super conductor demonstrating the Meissner effect and making delicious strawberry ice cream using liquid nitrogen. Our delegates competed in the poster competition. The topics of their posters were viscosity, topology, bio mechanics of running and liquid phase exfoliation and optical properties of MoS2. At the end of the science fair the winners of the poster competition were announced and Beata Szydłowska, Prof. Blau's PhD student, was awarded third place for her poster. The conference ended with a really interesting talk by Dr. Rachel Edwards from University of Warwick. She spoke about her experience of working in labs with high magnetic fields. She showed a video of floating strawberries, water droplets and frogs! She explained that the magnetic fields necessary to levitate a frog are really strong (10 Tesla) so levitating humans are not possible. However, very strong magnetic fields (up to 2800 Tesla) have been generated in Russia for an extremely short period of time in a massive explosions.

After the conference the delegates strolled through the beautiful Botanic Garden beside the University. Flowers there had spectacular colours and gorgeous smells. The highlight of the trip to Belfast was the visit to the carbon dating lab at the Chrono-Centre, which is a part of the Queens University Belfast. The opportunity to visit the carbon dating lab was kindly given by Prof. Paula Reimer, the director of the Chrono-Centre. The tour of the lab was given by Prof. Ron Reimer, the AMS lab manger. AMS stands for the Accelerator Mass Spectrometer, which is used to count the number of atoms of carbon-14 present in the sample being analyzed. Prof. Reimer showed how to prepare samples and explained the operation principles of the AMS.

Overall the conference was a great success and the trip to Belfast was very interesting and informative. This would have not have happened if it wasn't for Prof. Eithne McCabe and Dr.Colm Stephens, who organised the trip. Also the delegates would like to thank their mentors, fellow team members and those who were involved in helping with the research, experimental work and data analysis for the poster projects.

TCD Physics Postdoctoral Researchers Forum

TCD Physics Postdoctoral Researchers Forum

Trinity College Dublin’s Physics Department has just been awarded Juno Practitioner status by the Institute of Physics in recognition of its best practice for taking action to address gender inequities across its student and staff body.

Juno Chair, Eithne McCabe, commented that the School recognised the vital role that TCD Physics postdoctoral researchers can play in advancing Juno. Gathering data from all seven Irish University Physics departments she showed that TCD Physics employs nearly half of Ireland’s University Physics postdocs. Therefore any changes in the working culture of Physics postdocs will affect a significant percentage of postdocs nationally. Eithne’s qualitative survey data from Physics postdocs illustrated the need for better communication and integration within the School and she identified the initiation of a postdoc forum and its integration into the School structure as one of the key Juno action plans for the School.

Shane Bergin has extensive experience with postdoc issues and chaired a very successful first postdoc forum meeting on January 30. He will be supported in this role by Evie Doherty. The forum will meet again one month from now. Agenda items/issues should be addressed to or

School of Physics Awarded Juno Practitioner Status

Trinity College Dublin’s Physics Department has been awarded Juno Practitioner status by the Institute of Physics (IOP) for taking action to address gender inequities across its student and staff body.

Seeking to redress the long-standing issue of there being too few women at the highest levels of physics academia in Ireland and the UK, Trinity’s physics department joined Project Juno to demonstrate its commitment and has now been recognised for its best practice.

Professor in Physics at Trinity, Eithne McCabe, said: "Trinity College Dublin School of Physics has made the increased participation of women in physics a key priority and is delighted to be awarded Juno Practitioner status. We recognise how improving the numbers, retention rate, profile and culture for female physicists will impact positively on the Irish economy as a whole and we feel we have an important role to play in this.”

To achieve the new status, Trinity’s School of Physics has demonstrated progression against a range of Juno principles set up to improve the working culture by, for example, introducing more flexible working arrangements, offering provision for childcare, or allowing for a more transparent organisational structure.

Link to full article.

Physics graduate Vivienne Williams wins innovation award

Vivienne Williams, co-founder of Cellix Ltd, with Trinity Provost, Dr Patrick Prendergast

The Trinity Innovation Award was presented to entrepreneurial graduate, Vivienne Williams, co-founder of Cellix Ltd, a Trinity College Dublin spin-out company that has developed new technology mimicking human capillaries in plastic with microfluidic pumping solutions. It counts leading pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies among its clients.

The Trinity Innovation Award is an annual award presented to an individual or company that has made an outstanding contribution to the promotion of an entrepreneurial culture within the University and society.

Link to full article

Trinity TP undergraduate presents research at American Geophysical Union’s Fall Meeting in San Francisco

Anna Lawless

Anna Lawless, a final year Theoretical Physics student, presented recent research at the 46th American Geophysical Union’s 2013 Fall Meeting in San Francisco, California at a poster session on Friday, 13 December 2013. Anna’s research on Alfvén waves in the solar corona was carried out while she was a intern at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in Cambridge, Massachusetts during the summer of 2013. She carried out the research under the supervision of Dr Mahboubeh Asgari-Targhi and studied an Alvén wave model for coronal heating of an active region and made comparisons with EUV imaging spectrometer (EIS) observations.

Intel Irelands 2013 Women in Technology Scholars

This week Intel Ireland unveiled the 2013 Women in Technology scholars at a special awards ceremony held at Intel’s Leixlip campus. Five female students who have just began studying Science or Engineering courses were selected as the recipients of the scholarships which are now in their second year. Alison Hennessy, a Junior Fresh NPCAM student was a recipient along with Junior Fresh Physics student Ciara Maguire.

The scholarship program offers a monetary grant valued at €2,000 per annum as well as opportunities for work placements at the Intel Leixlip campus. Each scholar is also assigned a mentor who is an Intel Leixlip employee to assist and provide advice on managing their academic career.