Physiology Friday Festivities at University College Cork

Cork for PN Fig 2After an action-packed week of festivities, made possible by the tireless efforts of undergraduate and postgraduate students, postdoctoral researchers, academic, administrative and technical staff, we held our main event on (Physiology) Friday, 16 October 2015. It took place in the Western Gateway Building, one of the largest buildings dedicated to third level education in Ireland and home to the Department of Physiology.

The party kicked off with a trial of the ‘Mobile Physiology Laboratory (MPL)’, a portable bicycle ergometer and metabolic system, which we hope to use as a valuable outreach resource in the future. The MPL arrived at Bishopstown Community School, Cork City and was used to demonstrate cardiovascular, respiratory and metabolic responses to exercise to year 4 pupils (equivalent to year 11/GCSE stage in the UK). This demonstration was met with enthusiastic responses from the class involved and will be developed further as an educational tool.

The foyer of the Gateway Building provided a space for interaction with members of the public and the University. Events included:

– a celebration of ‘Women in Physiology’, marked by a ‘newspaper’, a poster and ‘walking exhibitions’ (through the medium of tee-shirts), highlighting the achievements of the twelve female Nobel Laureates in Physiology or Medicine

– double-sided posters presenting research carried out by postgraduates in the Department, with technical and lay versions aimed at different groups of visitors

– a world-record attempt to register the greatest number of ECG traces in five hours (over 280 were taken, including that of a government minister)

– a passport competition to record visits to various exhibits and a ‘bio-bake’ cake sale, which raised €605 for the Irish Heart Foundation.

Two research seminars were held during UCC’s Physiology Friday. One was a blitz session by academics and trainees in the Department, in which research activities were summarised in presentations delivered at a blistering pace (less than four minutes per ‘speaker’) in styles as diverse as poetry, Irish language, animation and rap. The second seminar was a highly entertaining and informative public lecture entitled ‘A First Kiss at Puberty: It’s all in the Mind’, presented by Prof Bill Colledge, from the University of Cambridge.

Our Physiology Friday celebrations were recorded for prosperity in multiple formats, which we aim to employ in the future for outreach to the public. These include a dedicated Physiology Friday page on our departmental website: and release of video clips via social media.  We would like to express our gratitude to The Society for funding these fun and exciting events, which will no doubt seed the growth of future successes in promoting Physiology as a discipline.

John Mackrill, Department of Physiology, UCCork

This article was published in Physiology News 101.

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