3 June 2022: CÚRAM has received funding to develop and deliver an undergraduate research opportunities programme that will support underrepresented undergraduate (UG) student development by providing 20 fully paid summer internships in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) laboratories across NUI Galway for six weeks between May and August 2022. 

This project is a collaboration between CÚRAM, the SFI Research Centre for Medical Devices, the Women in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (WiSTEM) student society, the College of Science and Engineering and the University of Sanctuary Initiative at NUI Galway.

The project has been funded by the SFI Discover Programme, announced by Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science Simon Harris TD and Minister for Education Norma Foley TD today. The investment aims to improve public understanding of science, technology, engineering, and maths (STEM).

The funding, which totals €3.7 million, will encourage diversity and inclusion in STEM while targeting a wide range of ages, including young children, teens and adults.

Announcing the funding, Minister Harris TD said: "I am delighted to announce today the 47 projects receiving funding through the SFI Discover Programme. These projects will have an invaluable impact, starting conversations about the role of STEM in society and inspiring our young people to explore careers in these areas. Through initiatives such as the SFI Discover Programme, we must support the public to have access to, and understand, the issues that impact our collective future and the role science and technology can play in providing solutions. I wish all the recipients every success in the rollout of their projects."

Speaking of the projects co-funded by the Department of Education, Minister Foley said:"We are pleased to collaborate with the Department of Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science by supporting five projects that will receive funding through the SFI Discover Programme. These projects are designed to grow and encourage participation in STEM education and public engagement, inspiring our young people to explore STEM roles in the future. I want to congratulate all of the individuals and teams involved in their work to date on these projects."

Over 50 senior academics across NUI Galway offered projects for consideration to the programme, which received over 500 applications from UG students for the 20 places available. Interns will develop practical research skills and training in public engagement and communications as part of this project. 

Prof Abhay Pandit, Scientific Director of CÚRAM and Project Director, explains: "We want to highlight STEM research as an exciting, long-term career option for secondary level and undergraduate students and encourage underrepresented STEM students to achieve their full potential. We hope these internships will address the low levels of participation of underrepresented groups in research careers and third-level education."

Helen Maher Vice President for Equity, Diversity and inclusion at NUI Galway says:  "I am delighted to see this initiative be established at NUI Galway. It exemplifies our commitment at NUI Galway to the public good, to partnership and to education as a critical catalyst for equality, diversity and inclusion."

Commenting on the announcement, Prof Philip Nolan, Director General, Science Foundation Ireland, said: "The SFI Discover Programme is a key part of our education and public engagement strategy and aims to grow opportunities for dialogue between the research community and the public. Our research improves people's lives, and we can only do that if we work in partnership with the public at all stages of the research process. The programme also aims to improve diversity and inclusion in science, broadening participation geographically and amongst less represented voices in research. STEM is such an exciting area to study and work in, and we want to make it more accessible to a wide range of people. We are looking forward to working with these fantastic, creative education and engagement programmes."