Experiencing Science. With Feeling
Exploring Space for Earth
Performer | Theatre maker
Chronicling her passion for Space
Engineer. Scientist. Artist (STEAM)
Dr Niamh Shaw is an Irish engineer, scientist and performer. She is passionate about igniting peoples curiosity and particularly interested in doing this by combining creativity with science topics. She presents the human story of science, creating theatre shows, public events and contributions to media with this focus. She has set herself a life’s mission to get to space, as artist and explorer. She hopes that by sharing the human story behind such a venture, it will help us better understand our place in the story of space, and the beauty of our planet Earth.
Recently voted one of Ireland’s leading science communicators and STEAM specialists (merging science, technology, engineering, arts and maths), her contribution to science and its application to Irish life was acknowledged by Uachtaráin na hÉireann, President Michael D. Higgins at his annual St Patricks Day reception in 2017 in Áras an Uachtaráin.
Niamh recently appeared on RTE’s new chat show The Tommy Tiernan Show to speak about her passion for space as scientist and artist. She contributes to BBC’s monthly Sky at Night astronomy magazine and writes a multimedia column aimed at adults to encourage new ways to engage with STEM, for the online journal Headstuff .
Niamh believes that we can be many things at the same time. She is curious, always and embraces failure every day.
She wants you to experience science- with feeling.
Check out my latest blogposts about the recent trip to Baikonur Cosmodrome for the launch of ESA astronaut Alexander Gerst & his crewmates Serena Aunon Chancellor (NASA) & Sergei Prokofiev (ROSCOSMOS) to the International Space Station. But it proved to be a lot more than just the launch…
On Dec 17th, in the midst of the pre-Christmas flurry, Niamh heads off to Kazakstan for the landing of Expedition 56 as they return to Earth following their 6 month mission aboard the International Space Station. She also reflects on the launch back in June, which she also witnessed, and shares her thoughts finally about the impact that event had on her.
It’s an early start to the day, but there’s a lot to see- the rollout of the Soyuz MS-09 which will take the three astronauts to the International Space Station two days later
We visit the Yuri Gagarin Monument and meet a young boy names Sascha
I get poked in the arm, and awake suddenly. The lady seated beside me, points to the air stewardess standing in the aisle, who I can just about make out beneath a mounting pile of blankets she is clearly collecting. ‘Oh, sorry’, I say in a half-sleep, giving away my snuggly blanket. ‘We’re about to land’, she says and smiles.
This kid has completely captivated me. I think he (or maybe she) is about 14 or 15 months old. He has a gorgeous moon face with big bright smiling eyes. He looks Kazak, and he’s carelessly wobbling around the waiting area.
Keynote Speaking | Communications Training
She is Co-Chair of Humanities at the International Space University’s 2018 annual Space Studies Programme in The Netherlands, was Core Lectures Associate Chair in 2017, is an 2015 alumnus of this same programme and has lectured on Space Communications and Arts on this programme.
Niamh provides specialised communication workshops in the private sector and academic/research institutes and is a keynote speaker on thought leadership and creative mindset in the workplace. She recently co-founded Connect2Communicate with UCD Researchand Tyndall Institute, a communications academy for researchers and academics using improvisation and theatre, working with the Alda Centre for Communications in New York in developing the curriculum.
Niamh hosts and creates STEM-related events for corporate clients, the general public and families including Art in Mind with the British Council, Bake in Space with Andrew Smyth BBC’s Great British Bakeoff Finallist, ‘My Place in Space’, Shakespeare Lives in Science: Can Shakespeare make you fall in Love? and many more.
She has presented at festivals included Cheltenham Science Festival (2017, 2016) Northern Ireland Science Festival (2017), Science week (2017, 2016, 2015), Space week (2017, 2016), Festival of Curiosity (2016, 2015, 2014).
Dave Fanning Show- talking TED talks
Theatre | Art
Diary of a Martian Beekeeper 2018 tour
A highly visual exploration of future interplanetary human exploration, Shaw and her creative team have created a new world order, reminding us of the power of the collective, the fragility of the solitary human and the united will behind all major breakthroughs. Because we may one day leave the cradle of Earth, but we will always be human.
This show emerged from over 2 years of interviews with astronauts and many people working at the Astronaut Centre in Cologne, who are all playing their part in getting humans into Space. Content presented is inspired by Elon Musks grand design for a future interplanetary civilisation, testimonies from ESA (European Space Agency) employees, her fathers beekeeping and Niamh’s own personal and ever evolving space journey.
Created by Niamh Shaw & Sarah Baxter in collaboration with CIT Blackrock Castle Observatory, ESERO Ireland, European Space Agency & ESA Astronaut Centre. Funded by Science Foundation Ireland Discover Programme 2017.
Created in collaboration with CIT Blackrock Castle Observatory, ESERO Ireland, European Space Agency & ESA Astronaut Centre, with the support of CIT Arts Office.
Booking details: Smock Alley Theatre , Dublin Mar 13-16th
Other Science Art projects
She has presented academic aspects of her work in STEAM at scientific conferences including CAP 2018, the International Astronautical Congress (2017,2016), European Geosciences Assembly (2018,2017,2016,2015), and European Planetary Sciences Congress (2015).
Her other work in science art & technology and public engagement includes Memory of Place (Festival of Curiosity, 2016, 2015), ’To Space’ (Edinburgh Science Festival 2016, Adelaide Fringe 2016, Edinburgh Fringe Festival 2015), Dream Big (Int. Space University, 2015) ‘Speaking with Plants’ (UCD Science Expression, 2014), That’s About The Size Of It (Dublin City of Science 2012, Dublin Fringe Festival 2011), Boys of Foley Street (ANU productions, Dublin Theatre Festival 2012). Her work has been supported by the European Space Agency (2015), Science Foundation Ireland (2014), The Arts Council of Ireland (2014, 2011), Arts@CERN (2011), Show in A Bag (2011), Dublin City Council Drama Bursary (2011), and is an alumnus of MAKE (2011), The SPACE Programme (2011), The Festival of Curiosity Residency (2013), and The Robert Wilson Watermill International Spring Residency, New York (2010).
★★★★★ Adelaide Fringe Festival 2016
What begins as a show about space slowly shifts to become something far more profound and personal about dashed hopes and disillusion – and the crucial importance of retaining a sense of wonder.
★★★★ David Kettle, The List Edinburgh 2015
Niamh’s work has been supported by The Arts Council of Ireland, CultureIreland, Science Foundation Ireland, ESERO Ireland, European Space Agency, The Festival of Curiosity, CIT Blackrock Castle Observatory Cork, Dublin City of Science 2012, Arts@CERN, MAKE 2011, Show in A Bag 2011, The SPACE Programme 2011 and Dublin City Council Drama Bursary 2011.
Artist residencies include: CIT Blackrock Castle Observatory, Cork (2014- to date), Festival of Curiosity, Dublin (2013), Robert Wilson Watermill Centre International Spring Residency, New York (2010).
Niamh the Space Explorer
Highlights of her mission so far include a visit to the Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Centre in Star City, Russia. During her time there, to experience a Zero gravity flight (see movie below) exploring weightlessness on Earth and the frailties of human in the extremes.
She participated in a simulated Mars mission in January 2017 as the artist and journalist for Crew 173. She was part of a team of six international analogue astronauts at the Mars Desert Research Station in the Utah desert. She will soon be announcing the next phase of her space journey and further analogue missions to extreme terrains on Earth.
Niamh brings her Stargazer Lottie Doll with her on all her missions, so that when she visits schools to share her adventures, young girls and boys might be inspired to pursue their own career in space and science.
She is Co-Chair of Humanities at the International Space University’s 2018 annual Space Studies Programme in The Netherlands, was Core Lectures Associate Chair in 2017, and is an 2015 alumnus of this same programme.
Experiencing Weightlessness in ZeroG Parabolic Flight
She continues to plan her next analogue mission to extreme terrains on Earth, and will participate in further training next Spring at Star City.
Stay tuned for further announcements of the next phase of her space journey!
Simulated Mars Mission in the Utah Desert, January 2017
The Mars Desert Research Station (MDRS), is a full-scale analog facility in Utah that supports Earth-based research in pursuit of the technology, operations, and science required for human space exploration. It hosts an eight-month field season for professional scientists and engineers as well as college students of all levels, in training for human operations on Mars. The relative isolation of the facility allows for rigorous field studies as well as human factors research. Crew173 carried out their mission under the full constraints of a simulated Mars mission. The mission was almost 3 weeks in duration, in total isolation with limited water, power and food supplies, surrounded by terrain that is a geologic Mars analog, which provided for rigorous field studies as they would be conducted during an actual mission on our neighbouring red planet.
A series of images, videos and published diaries of the mission follows:
Sol 0- Introduction to Life on Mars
Sol 1- my first EVA
Sol 2-Culture night on Mars
Sol 3-Trouble sleeping
Sol 4- Snow on Mars
Sol 5- Irish night on Mars
Sol 6- your money’s no good here
Sol 7- why we are all on Mars
Sol 8 & 9- getting in to the swing of Mars
Sol 10- when the French TV crew came
Sol 11-our time is almost up
Sol 12- someone’s eating all our data
Sol 13- when Crew 174 arrives
Sol 14 and beyond- Life after Mars
Interview with Dave Fanning on Ryan Tubridy show RTE Radio 1
Science Events | Workshops | Collaborations
As the Artist in Residence, Niamh works with CIT Blackrock Castle providing talks and space-themed workshops for schools funded under their SFI Discover 2018/19 programme. Together they collaborate with Lottie dolls awarded for their STEM doll ‘Stargazer Lottie’ to provide a special multidisciplinary art & space workshop ‘Inspired by Space’. Niamh also brings Stargazer Lottie on all her space explorations.
Niamh hosts and creates STEM-related events for corporate clients, the general public and families including Art in Mind with the British Council, Bake in Space with Andrew Smyth BBC’s Great British Bakeoff Finallist (Astronautical Engineer & fellow space enthusiast), ‘My Place in Space’Bright Club, Dream Big- an evening with Astronaut Al Worden and space tourist Cyril Bennis, Shakespeare Lives in Science: Can Shakespeare make you fall in Love? at Cheltenham Science Festival (2017, 2016) Northern Ireland Science Festival (2017), Science week (2017, 2016, 2015), Space week (2017, 2016), Festival of Curiosity (2016, 2015, 2014). She brought a number of Space-themed family events to Cork in summer 2017 as part of the Space Studies Programme Summer of Space programme.
Clients and collaborators
Moderated (and created ) by the brilliant Dr Niamh Shaw, the evening began when the two special guests were both asked what made them decide they wanted to dedicate their lives to space exploration. Unfortunately all good things must come to an end as the night had to come to a close.. with everyone already smiling from ear-to-ear after hearing such wonderful stories and adventures. Cian O'Regan
Please get in touch, if you have a question for Niamh.
Thanks for your interest and keep inspiring!