Scientist & Engineer, STEAM Specialist on a Mission to get to Space
Inspiring us to see space as a way of ‘connecting the dots’ and feeling our shared humanity
Now working out of the International Space University in Strasbourg, France, Dr. Niamh Shaw is an academic and ‘space communicator’ who is on a mission to see the Earth from space in order to share a totally new perspective of our planet and of ourselves. For this entertaining and award-winning speaker, space highlights the power of our own agency as humans, inviting us to see the world more holistically. Shared with characteristic wit and warmth, her story inspires us to embrace change and not to be afraid of seeking opportunities to achieve a full and valuable life.
Through her work with STEM, STEAM and mainstream audiences, Niamh has witnessed firsthand how understanding space better can awaken us to our interconnectedness and to the shared human endeavor at the heart of science: making life on this planet better, as a collective. When we understand our agency in the world, we gain hope and confidence that we can make a difference to the crisis on the planet. Recently consolidated by a qualification in Practical Science Communicating from Cambridge University, Niamh’s work firmly places the legacy of David Attenborough into ordinary people’s hands, inspiring them to take ownership of their part of the world and seek to change it for the better.
Niamh’s mission to get to space officially began In 2011, but her belief in the power of knowledge to help us feel connected is rooted in her youth. For Niamh, learning was her anchor, and space is where she found connection. As a hugely popular speaker she shares innovative approaches to problem solving, collaboration and the personal steps she has learned that allowed her to dream big, develop a bigger social responsibility and fulfil her life’s ambitions.
Niamh has served as Co-Chair of Humanities at the International Space University’s 2018 annual Space Studies Programme, and Core Lectures Associate Chair of this programme in 2017. She has interviewed/moderated and hosted a variety of science-themed events in Ireland and abroad. In late 2020 she was awarded a space on the prestigious Homeward Bound project, which is about climate change and women). They select 100 women every year, culminating in a trip to Antarctica (pandemic allowing).
She has also returned to Irish national broadcaster RTE’s Home School Hub, and when travel restrictions ease she will head to Hawaii on an exciting Lunar analogue mission called Hi-SEAS.
Motivation – Making the impossible, possible
Niamh is on a personal quest to get to space and to share a unique perspective of Earth from space. An engineer, scientist, writer and performer, she shares her passion for space in a unique and accessible way. But more importantly, she shows us that if we have a vision and a just cause, anything is possible. In this talk, she inspires others to seek the freedom that comes from changing your mindset from finite and short-term to infinite and for the greater good of mankind.
Women in Science – Thinking Big: How to share your story with impact and integrity
Niamh is an award-winning science communicator and a champion for women in STEM. With honours and master degrees in Engineering and a PhD in Science, she’s also an experienced writer and performer whose first book, Dream Big (Mercier Press), was published in 2019. There is no better person who understands how to craft a story from science and connect with audiences.
Niamh provides bespoke workshops on effective communication, public speaking and talks about a new approach in attracting women into science and STEM careers.
- Sustainable at Home
We’ve all seen Greta Thunberg and David Attenborough’s urgent appeal for us to save our planet. Our hearts ached when we see animals affected by our life choices, the melting icecaps, the rising sea levels and increasing CO2 levels . And we all felt a sense of guilt and responsibility to do something about it. But what is that? How can my personal actions impact a problem as enormous as climate change. Where do you even start? What even is climate change?
This talk makes the topic of climate change relevant to the individual, which explains how nature seeks balance and how climate change has forced the planet to be out of balance. The audience will learn how to be more sustainable at home, and the impact that we can make on the ground in solving the bigger issue of climate change.
Niamh spent 15 days living as if on Mars as part of a simulated mission in the Utah desert, and it completely changed her relationship with the planet and her life choices. She’s taken it to the extreme, living minimally so that she can continue to learn more about living sustainably. Using the unique perspective of space, She wants to share her experiences with the general public to help break down barriers around climate change.
- A new perspective: What Space can tell us about our planet
Niamh wants to share a unique perspective of our planet from space. In early 2017 she spent 15 days on a simulated Mars mission in the Utah desert which completely changed the way she lives on Earth. By being deprived of the resources we take for granted every day, she saw it as an opportunity to downsize, minimise and develop a better understanding of climate action in the community. Because surviving in space is hard, it reminds us just how lucky we are to have our beautiful Earth. It also shows us simpler and smarter sustainable solutions to living on Earth, that can be applied in the workplace and at home. Space exploration is not just about seeing what lies beyond, but also about understanding our planet better, taking better care of it and making better use of what we already have. Niamh can provide talks and bespoke workshops on Space for Sustainability and on the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.
- What space has taught us about ourselves
We’ve been exploring space for over 60 years now, and much has been learned about our neighbouring planets, the sun and galaxies in our universe. Now there’s talk of humans returning to the Moon, the first female footprint on the lunar surface, and further missions to Mars. Where are we headed, what’s it all for and why should we care?
Niamh gives context to space exploration past, present and future and considers its huge impact on us as a species and on our planet.
STEM Education and Outreach for our younger citizens
Niamh regularly visits schools and communities to engage them in science and STEM through space topics. A regular contributor to Space Hub news for RTE’s Home School Hub and After School Hub, she worked with Blackrock Castle Observatory and the European Space Agency’s Education and Outreach Office (ESERO Ireland) to develop a Space badge of three unique suites of activities for the Irish Girl Guides. She is available to discuss bespoke workshops, talks and experiments.