Dr Niamh Shaw
As part of our International Women's Day celebrations here at The Dundalk Democrat, we take a look back at our interview with former Louis pupil
She is well on her way
Her latest adventure was her mission to the Desert Mars Analog Ramon Station in the Ramon desert in Israel, which she has just returned from. D-MARS is a space analog
Niamh has expertise in many areas, some of which, at first, don’t seem to interconnect. Being an analog astronaut means she has gone on space missions such as visiting the Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Centre in Star City, Russia. Here, she experienced weightlessness and zero gravity flight.
“This gave me a full understanding of what it actually takes to leave this planet, how difficult it is, and I was able to practice not panicking,” she says.
She also participated in a simulated Mars mission at the Mars Desert Research Station in the Utah desert. She was part of Crew 173, a team of six international
“This gave me insight into what makes a good crew, and I
Niamh is lost for words when asked what her greatest achievement is, and she says “wow… I really don’t know.” She thinks hard for a few moments, then replies: “I made the decision and commitment to go to space, and it put me on the road to
Niamh says that growing up in Dundalk was hard at times because there wasn’t really an outlet for her interest in space exploration. “There was nothing at the time,” Niamh explains. “The world I lived in offered no tangible connection to space exploration, bar what I saw on TV,” she continues. “I had great parents who were very supportive, and I did find role models who managed to find their path in science… but the idea of space exploration was hard to access.”
Niamh also believes it is important to present the human side of science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) subjects, in order to make them accessible
“And the language of arts and science are different… I had to leave one world and step into another,” she explains, referring to her performances on stage, her writing
“We need to break that wall down and offer a direct line of view to everyone,” Niamh says passionately. “I try to pop up in places where science is not usually associated with. I hope my performances or talks might act as a stepping stone to people, to get them interested in science,” she ascertains. “I try to present myself as approachable.”
In this age of ever-advancing technology, Niamh believes it is essential
“Artists see STEM in a more philosophical way, offering innovation and creativity that might not be found otherwise,” she believes. “I think that with different approaches, there can be breakthroughs in design and invention.”
“I feel like there is an issue surrounding people’s feelings with STEM subjects,” Niamh says. “I think people are intimidated by them in school. That is why I want to bring the human side to them,” she smiles.
Niamh aims to promote the idea of STEAM, a movement which aims to merge science, technology, engineering, arts
Niamh’s current show, Diary of a Martian Beekeeper, is being performed in the Smock Alley Theatre in Dublin from the 13th-16th of March as part of Engineers
“Obviously the show is about space, but it also has a connection to
To find out more about Niamh, visit her website http://niamhshaw.ie/.