The Communication Committee
The Communication Committee is a FENS committee responsible for the governance and implementation of the communication strategy. Its activities fall within the following areas:
- Advising the FENS leadership on the communication policy and its objectives
- Advising on the best strategies for implementation of the current programmes for public outreach.
Eilís Dowd, Ireland
Chair Communication Committee
Prof. Eilís Dowd received her PhD at the University of Edinburgh, after which she completed post-doctoral research at the University of Cambridge, McGill University and Cardiff University. She then returned to her home country of Ireland in September 2005 to take-up a tenured position as Lecturer in Pharmacology at National University of Ireland, Galway.
One of Eilís’ main research interests is in using biomaterials to enhance cell-based therapies for Parkinson’s disease. Her research is this area was the focus of the recent Parkinson’s documentary “Feats of Modest Valour” which won “The Scientist Award” (awarded by AAAS and Science) at the Imagine Science Film Festival in New York, as well as the “Professional Documentary Award” at the Raw Science Film Festival in California. The promise of this approach is also highlighted by the BBC Science Focus magazine article which described it as one of “Five Incredible Advances in Brain Disease Treatment”.
Eilís was President of Neuroscience Ireland, Ireland’s official neuroscience society, from 2017-2019, and President of the Network for European CNS Transplantation and Restoration (NECTAR) from 2014-2018. She currently sits on the Executive Committee of the Federation of European Neuroscience Societies (FENS) and Chairs the FENS Communications Committee. She is also Associate Editor of Neuronal Signaling, Section Editor of the European Journal of Neuroscience, and Editorial Board member at the British Journal of Pharmacology.
Nicolas Petersen , Denmark
July 2018-July 2022
Richard Roche , Ireland
July 2020-July 2022
Dr Richard Roche is Associate Professor at the Department of Psychology, Maynooth University, where he has been employed since 2005, following undergraduate, postgraduate and postdoctoral study at Trinity College, Dublin. His areas of interest are cognitive neuroscience/neuropsychology, particularly memory, ageing, dementia, stroke, brain injury and synaesthesia. He has published 35 research articles, over 90 conference posters, several book chapters and two books. He has to date accrued over €1.2 million in research funding, and has graduated 9 PhD students and 3 MSc students. He has served as President of Neuroscience Ireland and was Founding President of the Irish Brain Council. He is also strongly committed to science outreach and public engagement, and has given an Ignite talk at Science Gallery’s Mindfields at Electric Picnic 2016, performed for BrightClub Dublin in 2017, as well as hosting ‘The Brain Box’, a 2-part radio documentary about the brain on NewsTalk 106-108FM. Most recently, he co-organised and financed a series of public engagement events during 2019’s Brain Awareness Week (BAW) and the BNA-Neuroscience Ireland Festival of Neuroscience, and discussed art and brain on RTE Radio1’s Almanac of Ireland.
Katrien Van Look , Switzerland
July 2018-July 2022
Katrien Van Look joined the Blue Brain Project as a Scientific Project Coordinator in 2014, working in the Computing Division. From 2014-2020, she also provided scientific coordination, communications, community-building and project management for the Brain Simulation Platform of the Human Brain Project. Katrien completed her BSc Honours degree in Zoology at the University of Aberdeen and her PhD in Environmental Toxicology at the University of Sheffield. She held a Postdoctoral Research Fellowship at the Institute of Zoology, Zoological Society of London (affiliated with University College London) and also received a NESTA (National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts) Crucible Fellowship for scientists showing excellence in science, creativity and public engagement. After her Postdoctoral Research Fellowship, Katrien decided to leave the lab bench to focus on science communication, public engagement and event organisation. She was a Scientific Communications Officer for the Cancer Research UK Cambridge Research Institute, delivering the communications for the Institute and organising public engagement events for the Institute and the charity, Cancer Research UK. Prior to her current position, Katrien coordinated, provided communications and organised events (public engagement and scientific) for one of the strategic research initiatives of the University of Cambridge: cancer and its Cambridge Cancer Centre.
Emma Yhnell , United Kingdom
July 2020-July 2022
Dr Emma Yhnell obtained a BSc Honours degree in Biochemistry from Cardiff University before completing a PhD exploring Huntington’s disease (HD) in the laboratory. She then obtained an independent research fellowship funded by the Welsh Government through Health and Care Research Wales to translate her findings on cognitive training into the HD patient clinic. Her work looked to see if computerised brain training is feasible for people impacted by Huntington’s disease. Emma now works as a Lecturer at Cardiff University, teaching the next generation of budding scientists.
In addition to her research and teaching, Emma is experienced in public engagement, outreach and science communication. She is a regular media commentator and alongside writing award winning science communication articles and she was an invited contributor to the DK Book ‘How the Brain Works’. She has presented her work in Parliament, spoken at the Hay Festival, Soapbox Science and Pint of Science. In 2018 she gave the Charles Darwin Award lecture at the British Science Festival and in 2019 she was the Welsh winner of the FameLab science communication competition.