We are delighted to be able to announce a very prestigious panel of Guest Judges who will decide on the overall winners for this year’s competition, funded by the Science Foundation Ireland Discover programme and CÚRAM.
Between 1995 and 2013, Canadian Astronaut, Commander Chris Hadfield, flew on three different space missions, becoming the first Canadian to walk in space, the first Canadian to command the International Space Station and a bona fide internet sensation. Chris is also a passionate science communicator and we are over the moon that he will be part of this year’s ReelLIFE SCIENCE team!
Inspired at the age of nine by the Apollo 11 moon landing, and watching Neil Armstrong’s moon walk on TV in his Southern Ontario home, Chris was determined to become an astronaut from an early age. After earning his pilot’s licence at the age of 15, he joined the Canadian Armed Forces at 19, becoming a test pilot and flying over 70 different types of aircraft, including some experimental models.
In 1992, Chris joined the Canadian Space agency, and three years later he flew his first space mission, Mission STS-74, to space station Mir. On his return, he continued to work at NASA becoming the chief CAPCOM, or Capsule Communicator, with astronauts on 25 space shuttle missions, before taking on the role of NASA Director of Operations in Star City, Russia.
In 2001, Chris was back on board the space shuttle and back in space, as Mission Specialist on Mission STS-100, this time docking with the International Space Station (ISS). During the mission, Chris became the first Canadian to walk in space, taking part in two EVAs (extravehicular activity), travelling 10 times around the Earth, while outside the ISS for almost 15 hours.
Cmdr. Hadfield is probably best known for his final space mission, when in 2013 he led Expedition 35, flying in the Russian Soyuz TMA spacecraft to the ISS, where he became its first Canadian commander. While on board, Chris recorded a hugely popular series of videos describing life in space, including how astronauts brush their teeth, cut their nails and make a sandwich. But the video Chris is most famous for, is his version of David Bowie’s Space Oddity, which has over 25 million views on YouTube, and which you can watch above.
Speaking ahead of the competition, Commander Hadfield said: “I am very much looking forward to seeing the science videos that Irish students will be making! Discovery and creativity, turned loose by imagination. A great project that I am proud to be a part of.”
Our next Special Guest Judge is Aoife McLysaght, Professor of Genetics in Trinity College Dublin and an active science communicator. Aoife leads the Molecular Evolution lab in TCD, researching the origin and evolution of new genes and gene loss. By analysing the genomes of a wide range of organisms, from simple poxviruses to complex vertebrates, Prof. McLysaght hopes to find genes important in clinical conditions, particularly developmental disorders such as schizophrenia, autism and epilepsy.
During her PhD in the lab of Prof. Ken Wolfe, Aoife began her study of vertebrate genome evolution, and helped author the 2001 Nature paper which published and analysed the initial Human Genome Sequence. After completing a post-doctoral research project in University of California, Irvine, Aoife returned to TCD to begin work on Science Foundation Ireland and European Research Council-funded molecular evolution research.
When she is not in the lab, Aoife can often be found appearing at events such as the Electric Picnic, Royal Institution, TEDx and the Science Gallery, bringing science to life for a wider audience. You can see many of her science talks in the YouTube playlist above.
You can follow Aoife on Twitter (@aoifemcl).
The final members of the ReelLIFE SCIENCE judging panel are Ian O’Sullivan and Eimear Murphy, two 5th year students from Coláiste Treasa, Kanturk, Co Cork and Overall Winners of the BT Young Scientist & Technology Exhibition (BTYSTE) in January 2015.
Ian and Eimear took part in the intermediate section of the Social & Behavioural Sciences category with a project entitled ‘Alcohol consumption: Does the apple fall far from the tree?’. As part of their prize, Ian and Eimear will represent Ireland in September at the European Union Young Scientist competition in Milan, a competition won in 2013 by that year’s ReelLIFE SCIENCE Special Guest Judges, Ciara Judge, Sophie Healy-Thow and Emer Hickey.