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Autism Research Thesis-In-Three


"It was important to us to open this event up to the entire autism community."

The Family Genomics Research Group at Maynooth University and The Neurodevelopmental Research Group at Trinity College Dublin hosted a public engagement event on Zoom for this years' World Autism Day, April 2nd 2021, to highlight the current autism research conducted by early career researchers throughout Ireland.



The event was led by one of our PhD students, Fiana Ní Ghrálaigh (Science Foundation Ireland funded). In the image above, Fiana can be seen opening the event with the event organisers, Dr Lorna Lopez and Professor Louise Gallagher. Dr Jane English, one of our judges of this competition, can also be seen in the image above too. For this blog post, we interview Fiana to gain insight into her perspective of the Autism Research Thesis-In-Three competition.


Aoife:

“Hi Fiana. Good afternoon! Thank you for meeting with me today."


Fiana:

"No problem at all! Thanks for having me."


Aoife:

"Let’s begin, why do you think it was important to host this event?"


Fiana:

"The aim for this event was to bring together researchers from across Ireland and showcase the research that is underway here. I think we achieved this by having representation from six Higher Education Institutes. As well as bringing together researchers, it was important to us to open this event up to the entire autism community. We were joined by autistic individuals, advocates, family members and healthcare workers. It was great to have such a diverse audience for the event."


Aoife:

"What was your favourite part?"


Fiana:

"The best part for me was seeing the breadth of research areas all relating to autism. As a genomics researcher it was great to hear about research that I would otherwise not come across such as the work on education, pain management and neuroscience. It was an opportunity to step outside of the field that we spend most of our time in and hear from researchers investigating a wide range of questions, but all with the common goal of understanding more about autism."


Aoife:

"Would you organise an event like this again? If so, what would you do differently?"


Fiana:

"Definitely and we plan on doing so. Our feedback from the event also showed a big interest in future events. I think we will use future events to engage with more autistic researchers and more members of the autism community. I don’t think I would be alone in hoping for a chance to follow-up on some of the exciting research that we heard about this year. This event was a Thesis-In-Three style with just three minutes for each presenter to get across the main points of their research. Moving forward it would be great to give presenters a chance to speak more in depth about their work and to give the audience more of an opportunity to engage with the researchers and ask questions."


Aoife:

"What advice would you give to early career researchers for presenting at Thesis-in-Three competitions?"


Fiana:

"My advice would be to speak slowly. When you are aware of the ticking timer it is easy to try to fit as many words as you can into each minute. As a listener, I really appreciate when a presenter speaks slowly and uses pauses to give time to digest each piece of information before adding more."


Aoife:

"Was this event helpful for networking and making new relationships with researchers?"


Fiana:

"I hope so. We are aiming to establish an autism research network to bring together the autism community to highlight research priorities, provide opportunities for networking and build capacity in autism research in Ireland. If you are interested in being a part of this network, please email autism@tcd.ie. You can also keep up to date on our website https://www.familygenomics.maynoothuniversity.ie and by following our Research Group Lead, Dr Lorna Lopez, on Twitter.


We were pleased that not only did researchers attend but autism advocates, educators and healthcare workers came as well. We are very grateful for the attendees as they gave helpful feedback and raised €615 for the Irish autism charity AsIAm. We are thankful for the researchers that shared their research projects with us and the community. The map of Ireland highlights where autism research is taking place, in Kildare, Dublin, Galway, Cork, Limerick and Carlow.

We appreciate the Kathleen Lonsdale Human Health Institute at Maynooth University and Autism Research Group at Trinity College Dublin for their generous sponsorship of the prizes.



Readers, we welcome your attendance to these events and your feedback. We hope to organise more events like this soon to allow the Irish autism network to grow and become more involved in our research processes as well as discuss current and emerging directions of autism research. Please browse our engagement section to see similar previous events. If you would like to comment on this blog post or have any ideas for research engagement events you would like to see in the future, please email us at family.genomics@mu.ie.

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