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Published on 13.02.15

AAAS Early Career Award for Public Engagement with Science goes to Irish Scientist - Shane Bergin

Dr Shane Bergin

American Association for the Advancement of Science awards Dr Shane Bergin the first non-American Award recipient.

The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) has honoured Dr Shane Bergin, Lecturer at the School of Physics and CRANN, Trinity College, with the AAAS Early Career Award for Public Engagement with Science.  The award recognises Dr. Bergin’s contribution to communicating science in an engaging and attractive way with the public and promoting meaningful dialogue between science and society.

The award will be presented today to Dr. Bergin, the first non-American Award recipient during the AAAS 2015 Annual Meeting in San Jose, California. 

Jeanne Braha, Public Engagement Manager, American Association for the Advancement of Science, said: “The AAAS Early Career Award for Public Engagement with Science was established in 2010 to recognise early-career scientists and engineers who demonstrate excellence in their contribution to public engagement with science activities.  Bergin’s work on the “DARTofPhysics”, the Pitch Drop, radio programming, and public programming serves as an example and inspiration to other early career scientists to share with – and learn from  - members of the public.”

‘Early Career Award for Public Engagement with Science’ was awarded to Dr Shane Bergin, who led an eye-catching poster campaign about physics called "DARTofPhysics" in the Dublin metro. Shane’s physics posters zapped commuters’ curiosities with statements like ‘The Spire is shorter when the weather is cool’ or ‘Everyone on this train is attracted to you….Gravitationally’.  Having zinged commuters’ interests, they were encouraged to continue their physics journey on the campaign website – dartofphysics.ie.  For his campaign, Bergin enlisted the support of some 200 undergraduate physics students, 50 Ph.D. candidates, and 50 staff members from the physics and education departments of Trinity College Dublin.

On receipt of the award Dr. Bergin said: ”I’m delighted. I invented DARTofPhysics to spark physics conversations across Dublin.  Irish people love to chat and I wanted to encourage them to chat, argue, debate and laugh about physics.”

Prof. James Lunney who nominated Dr. Bergin for the award said: ”DARTofPhysics is a fantastic vehicle to bring the beauty of physics to an entire city.  Shane is connecting an entire university department with the public, confronting them with beautiful physics, appealing to the natural curiosity to resolve the leading physics ads, and sparking a city-wide conversation about physics.”

Though still at an early stage of his career, Bergin has developed many other educational and communication-focused activities, including the Trinity College Pitch Drop. In 2013, he used a video camera to capture a rare physical event: a drop of pitch (tar) falling from an antique funnel. The resulting video, which dramatically illustrates the effects of viscosity, has been viewed more than 2 million times.

DARTofPhysics has won a number of awards over the last year and in addition, recently received funding from Science Foundation Ireland to run a second campaign in Dublin this year.

Background

The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) is the world’s largest general scientific society, and publisher of the journal, Science (www.sciencemag.org) as well as Science Translational Medicine (www.sciencetranslationalmedicine.org), Science Signaling (www.sciencesignaling.org), and Science Advances (www.scienceadvances.org), a new digital, open access journal. AAAS was founded in 1848, and includes more than 250 affiliated societies and academies of science, serving 10 million individuals. Science has the largest paid circulation of any peer-reviewed general science journal in the world, with an estimated total readership of 1 million. The nonprofit AAAS (www.aaas.org) is open to all and fulfills its mission to “advance science and serve society” through initiatives in science policy, international programs, science education, and more. For the latest research news, log onto EurekAlert!, www.eurekalert.org, the premier science-news Web site, a service of AAAS.

For more information on AAAS awards, see www.aaas.org/aboutaaas/awards/.

 

 

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