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STEM students at NUI Galway receive Johnson & Johnson scholarships

Recipients of the Johnson & Johnson WiSTEM2D Award, with Aoibhín Sheedy, founder of the NUI Galway WiSTEM Society; Ann Ryan, Directory of Strategic Development, NUI Galway; Michael Gilvarry, General Manager, Cerenovus,; Professor Walter Gear, Dean of Science and Engineering at NUI Galway; Professor Ciarán Ó hÓgartaigh, NUI Galway President; Associate Professor, Mary Dempsey, Vice Dean, College of Science and Engineering, NUI Galway; and Anushree Dwivedi, Johnson and Johnson.

Ten STEM students at NUI Galway have been awarded scholarships at a virtual ceremony as part of the Johnson & Johnson Ireland Women in STEM2D (WiSTEM2D) Award Programme. 

This marks the inaugural year of the programme in NUI Galway. WiSTEM2D scholarship recipients will receive extensive industry mentoring and leadership training to help prepare them to pursue a career in STEM.

WiSTEM2D refers to Women in Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics, Manufacturing and Design. The WiSTEM2D programme underlines Johnson & Johnson’s commitment to developing and implementing high-impact strategies to support female students undertaking STEM2D degree courses at NUI Galway.

The ten College of Science and Engineering students to be awarded the scholarships are:

  • Ailíse Roche; Biomedical Science; Kilmurry, Co. Clare
  • Aine Mitchell; General Science; Ballina, Co. Mayo
  • Aisling Hanrahan; Biomedical Engineering; Liscannor Co. Clare
  • Brenda Chanza; General Science; Swinford, Co. Mayo
  • Karen Gillooly; Financial Maths and Economics; Williamstown, Co. Galway
  • Luka Anna Mac Lochlainn; General Science; Moycullen, Co. Galway
  • Rida Naseer; General Science; Ballyhaunis, Co. Mayo
  • Sabrina Kinga Szalaj; General Science; Gorey, Co. Wexford
  • Shannon Hickey; General Science; Kilberry, Co. Kildare
  • Thalyra Costa; Biomedical Engineering; Gort, Co. Galway

Anna Rafferty, Johnson & Johnson WiSTEM2D University Lead and Director of Strategy, Johnson & Johnson Campus Ireland, said: At Johnson & Johnson, we recognise that women are still under-represented in the STEM workforce in Ireland. Since 2016, Johnson & Johnson has supported nearly 300 female students across Ireland through the WiSTEM2D programme. We were delighted to extend our programme to include NUI Galway for this academic year, as we continue to work at building a diverse WiSTEM2D science community and developing a talent pipeline by nurturing and mentoring our future female STEM leaders. Over the last two years, we have worked very hard to ensure that the recipients of this award have not missed out on any opportunities despite the challenges posed by the pandemic.” 

Professor Ciarán Ó hÓgartaigh, President of NUI Galway, said: “As the inaugural students to receive the Johnson & Johnson WiSTEM2D bursaries at NUI Galway, these students are changemakers, making history and shaping the future of our university. We are very proud of our 10 Johnson & Johnson WiSTEM2D scholarship students in the College of Science and Engineering.

 “By openly embracing and respecting all the talents in our society, we embrace and respect excellence. We are confident that the Johnson & Johnson WiSTEM2D programme will empower our scholarship students to impact positively for the public good, for our society, our people and our planet.” 

NUI Galway PhD candidate, Aoibhín Sheedy is an alum of the Johnson & Johnson WiSTEM2D Award Programme, and founder of the NUI Galway WiSTEM Society. 

Speaking about the impact that the programme had on her career progression, Aoibhín said: “I took part in the WiSTEM2D Programme during my postgraduate studies at University College Cork. The programme enabled me to complete my master’s thesis at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Boston. It also provided me with incredible opportunities, such as touring the Janssen Microbiome Institute and DePuy Synthes whilst in Boston. I am delighted that the female STEM students of NUI Galway now get the opportunity to take part in this programme. It has been one of the most defining elements of my career so far, and I know they will get as much from it as I have.”

Currently, there are approximately 117,800 people across Ireland who are working in jobs that require STEM skills. However, the CSO reports that just 25% of these roles are performed by women, with just 5% in leadership roles.Whilst there has been a general upswing in the number of students choosing STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) subjects on their CAO applications, uptake among females remains low. Figures from a 2019 UCD Study reveals that over 40% of males list a STEM course versus just 19% of females.

The virtual awards ceremony was also attended by Dr Anushree Dwivedi, Johnson & Johnson WiSTEM2D programme lead; Michael Gilvarry, General Manager, Cerenovus (Johnson & Johnson); Associate Professor, Mary Dempsey, Vice Dean, College of Science and Engineering, NUI Galway; families of the scholarship recipients; and student mentors. Recipients of the Johnson & Johnson WiSTEM2D Award scholarship were also presented with bespoke framed glass artwork created by Cork-based artist, Suzanne O’Sullivan. 

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