Ronan McNulty epitomises how an interest in science can take you practically anywhere. In 1985, the then Rathmines student won the Young Scientist competition with his clever device that wrote sheet music as you played.
From there he studied physics at UCD, then went on to attain a PhD in particle physics at University of Liverpool. He joined the world’s best particle physicists working at two sites — on the Large Hadron Collider at CERN in Switzerland, and at FermiLab in Chicago.
In a recent interview for the Young Scientist, he discussed children and science: “Science is by definition something that is interesting and fascinating, and young children are naturally curious, so it is the perfect vehicle for children to express themselves. Often they lose it a little bit in adolescence and by the time they are old and cynical adults, they often don’t question the amazing world that we live in. So, curiosity in science is perfect for young people and the BT Young Scientists’ Exhibition provides the opportunity to express themselves.
“The exhibition gives people the opportunity for self-directed scientific investigation. In other words, to take the kernel of an idea and grow it into a project of their own making and it also gives them confidence and recognition by the community that scientific work is valued in a way that is very easy to recognise [such as] what a sportsperson has done or what a rock musician has done, it’s a contribution to society.
“Science and academia also have a very important role to play and the Young Scientist rewards people who have that makeup in their character.”
Today, he is a physics lecturer at UCD, inspiring the next generation of young scientists to get a glimpse of the fabric of the universe.