22 March 2017 11:51

PhD student Craig O’Hare has won £500 for a science project as part of an X-Factor style competition among schoolchildren.

The “I’m a Scientist Get Me Out of Here” competition was a free online event for two weeks where school students met and interacted online with science postgraduates.

They could ask them anything they want, take part in a 30 minute chat with them and vote for their favourite to win £500 for science communication.

 Craig, who is researching Immunology, described what he is going to spend his prize money on.

“I’d set up a photoproject to showcase the diversity and variety of role models among scientists.

“One of the main reasons I’ve liked this contest is that it does a great job at showing students that scientists are real and relatable people and provides them with many potential role models as a result.

“However there is still a considerable lack of diversity of later career stage role models for science.  As a consequence of this, students from minority backgrounds may not consider careers in science as they don’t see themselves fitting in by not having anyone to relate to.

“If I won the money, I’d like to commission a photography project in collaboration with collectives like Athena SWAN and LGBTSTEM to profile and highlight the role models that exist for these under represented communities in science.”

The event is part-funded through a Sustaining Excellence Award from Wellcome, the UK’s largest medical research charity.

Dr Rod Dillon from Biomedical Life Sciences said: “Anything that breaks down the stereotypes of scientists in the eyes of school children is a good thing and Craig’s  session had some fantastic questions about the immune system but also included questions such as  - do you like your job and why and what is the best thing about being a scientist.”