Can’t help falling in love with science communication

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Science communicator, speech and language therapist, and musician Emer Maguire is on a mission to make science more relatable and fun. She spoke to Dr Claire O’Connell.

It’s December, it’s party season and science can help you with the flirting, according to science communicator Emer Maguire, who has some top scientific tips based on sight and smell.

“People are quite attracted to the colour red; it is associated with reward and anticipation and excitement, so that is a colour you could wear if you want to inspire these things,” she explained.

It might also be a good idea not to douse yourself in the latest celebrity aftershave or perfume, because your natural scent could spark some chemistry, she added.

‘Science communication is meant to benefit you and the audience, so you need to talk in a language that is universal’

Everyday science

Maguire is well versed on the science of flirting, kissing and love thanks to her preparation a few years ago for FameLab, a competition where participants explain scientific concepts in an engaging way in just a few minutes.

For Maguire, who is a speech and language therapist, FameLab was her step into the world of science communication while she was studying for her master’s degree in clinical anatomy at Queen’s University Belfast.

“I saw an ad for FameLab on Twitter and I thought I could probably explain a scientific concept in three minutes, so I entered it for the craic,” she recalled.

She racked her brains and came up with 10 potential topics to cover, and then sought some feedback to whittle them down to one. “I was trying to think of something that someone who was not into science or who was like me in school would want to hear about. I wanted something about the science of everyday life, something people could relate to,” she said. “Then I showed the list of topics to my family and they all voted for one: the science of kissing.”

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