The Human Resources Strategy for Researchers

MSCA Postdoctoral Fellowships 2021 - National University of Ireland Galway, Call for Expressions of Interest for projects in Education research with a focus on Informal Science Education

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    National University of Ireland Galway
    Educational sciencesEducation
    Recognised Researcher (R2)
    Established Researcher (R3)
    Leading Researcher (R4)
    12/07/2021 17:00 - Europe/London
    Ireland › Galway


Expressions of Interest from suitably qualified applicants to be hosted at the Educational Science Outreach Programme Cell Explorers based in Biochemistry, School of Natural Sciences, College of Science & Engineering, National University of Ireland Galwayare invited for the newly launched 2021 call (HORIZON-MSCA-PF-2021), deadline October 12th 2021.                                                                                 

In order to secure the funding, the experienced researcher must develop a proposal with the host for the October 12th 2021 deadline.


Research Field                                                                                                                                                                                     

Education research, Informal Science Education, social sciences, motivational research


Project idea and researcher opportunities                                                                                                                                                   

The proposed research will be related to the impact of scientist-led informal science interventions proposed by the Educational science   outreach programme Cell Explorers following the implementation of ‘Science Capital Teaching Approach’ (SCTA).

Cell EXPLORERS is a programme (www.cellexplorers.com) delivering science activities regionally and nationally in Ireland. Coordinated by the ‘informal Science Education’ research team at NUI Galway, the Cell EXPLORERS programme operates as a network of partner teams based at 13 Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) across Ireland. All partner teams in the network use the same model where local scientist volunteers (undergraduate/postgraduate students and/ or staff scientists) deliver outreach activities to school children and young people in the community with the aim of increasing public’s engagement with STEM and its importance in society.

Research shows that many children (aged 10-12 years old) have narrow and stereotypical views of what a scientist does and have had few opportunities to meet a scientist. An important aim of the programme is to provide a positive first experience of science while combating stereotypes associated to science (e.g. science is boring and difficult) and scientists (e.g. scientists are typically old, white, mad men with unkempt facial hair wearing glasses and a lab coat). To do this, the programme provides positive engagement between young children and local scientist role models through educational activities designed to give an authentic insight into how real scientists work.

The programme’s activities and practices have recently been revised informed by: 1) research conducted on it and 2) the Science Capital Teaching Approach (SCTA)- a specific way of teaching that employs social justice methods designed to both broaden young peoples’ views of what it means to be a scientist/who can be a scientist, and widen participation in science. The impact of implementing SCTA in short scientist-led interventions is currently underexplored.

This programme revision includes increased interaction time between young people and scientists as well as the development of specific facilitator training to allow for increased support for young people’s science capital.

The research group’s current interests include the study of the impact of revised activities and practices in supporting participants’ science capital, on their perception of science and scientists, the influence of the facilitators’ training on their classroom communication skills, and the impact of the revised activities on teachers’ / youth group leaders’ confidence in facilitating science sessions.

The fellowship will allow the researcher to contribute to understanding of the influence of the SCTA adaptation on participants (young people, facilitators, teacher/youth group leader), which we hope will help maximise the future impact of the programme and to develop best practices for any outreach initiatives involving interventions led by scientists.


Description of the research environment                                                                                                                                                     

The postdoctoral researcher will be integrated into the ‘Informal Science Education’ research team based in Biochemistry at NUI Galway led by Dr Muriel Grenon (Principal investigator and Director of Cell EXPLORERS) and also including Postdoctoral education researcher and Cell EXPLORERS national coordinator Sarah Carroll, a research assistant Janic Schulte and a newly recruited Postgraduate student. The evidence generated by the group’s research is applied to the programme and aims to advise on best practices for similar informal science education activities. The group also works in collaboration with researchers from the NUI Galway School of Education, and with an expert on science capital.

The researcher will both contribute to the group research projects as well as the delivery of some of the public engagement activities run by the programme as the context of their research.

Researchers at NUI Galway are encouraged to avail of a range of training and development opportunities designed to support their personal career development plans. Researchers are encouraged to engage with our Researcher Development Centre (RDC) upon commencing employment - see www.nuigalway.ie/rdc for further information

Further information on research and working at NUI Galway is available on Research at NUI Galway

For information on moving to Ireland please see www.euraxess.ie

Further information about Cell EXPLORERS and Biochemistry is available at www.cellexplorers.com and www.nuigalway.ie/biochemistry/


Recent publications:

• Carroll & Grenon (2021) Practice makes progress: an evaluation of an online scientist–student chat activity in improving scientists’ perceived communication skills. Irish Educational Studies DOI: 10.1080/03323315.2021.1915840

• Carroll et al (2021). "A scientist knows what s/he's doing: Exploring the effect of scientist-led outreach on primary children's science self-efficacy beliefs". Conference Proceedings for ESERA 2019, Strands 16.

• Carroll et al (2020). "Development and validation of the Irish Science Self-Efficacy Children's Questionnaire to assess short-term influence of scientists facilitating outreach". BioRxiv pre-print server for biology. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1101/2020.01.25.919357

• Carroll et al (2019) The sustainability of STEM education projects. Scientix observatory report,

• Grenon et al (2018) 'The Cell EXPLORERS programme – piloting a STEM engagement programme in Ireland'. Conference Proceedings for ESERA 2017. Strand 12, p1620-1630


About the host institute                                                                                                                                                                                 

NUI Galway has earned national and international recognition as a research-led university. With over 19,000 students and more than 2,700 staff, NUI Galway has a distinguished reputation for teaching and research excellence. The University has a growing international profile for its research in five key priority areas: “Applied Social Sciences and Public Policy; Biomedical Science and Engineering; Environment, Marine and Energy; Humanities in Context, including Digital Humanities; Informatics, Data Analytics, Physical and Computational Sciences.” The identification of priority research areas and subsequent investments in these areas have enabled the University to develop a critical mass of expertise, which has led to significant success in securing competitive research grants, nationally and internationally. To date, NUI Galway has participated in more than 200 Horizon 2020 projects and has been consistently successful in the MSCA postdoctoral fellowship programme.






More Information

Eligibility criteria

Eligibility of the applicant

• The applicant can be of all nationalities.

• The applicant must have a doctoral degree at the date of the call deadline (October 12th 2021).

• At the call deadline (October 12th 2021), the applicant must have a maximum of 8 years full-time equivalent experience in research, measured from the date that the applicant was in a possession of a doctoral degree.

• Researchers must not have resided or carried out their main activity (work, studies etc.,) in Ireland (for European Postdoctoral Fellowships) for more than 12 months in the 36 months immediately before the call deadline (October 12th 2021).

• The applicant can only submit one proposal to the MSCA Postdoctoral Fellowship call.

Please visit the European Commissions' Horizon Europe MSCA Information Pages for more information.

Selection process

How to Apply

- Submit your research interest and CV via e-mail to: Muriel Grenon, muriel.grenon@nuigalway.ie, mention MSCA-PF interest in the subject    of the email.                                                                                                                                                                                                  

Muriel Grenon NUI Galway Profilehttps://www.nuigalway.ie/our-research/people/natural-sciences/murielgrenon/        

Research Group pagehttps://www.cellexplorers.com/our-research

- Deadline for submission of the expression of interest: 12 July 2021

- All the selected applicants will be supported by the NUI Galway International Funding Team in preparing the final proposals.

- Envisaged job starting date: mid 2022 (to be discussed with supervisor)


Additional comments

Please note: You are submitting an Expression of Interest to apply for consideration of National University of Ireland support for a Marie Skłodowska-Curie Postdoctoral Fellowship. This is not a job application.

Required Research Experiences

    Educational sciences
    4 - 10

Offer Requirements

    Educational sciences: PhD or equivalent


The ideal candidate will have both interest and experience in informal science education research and researching the impact of informal science education activities on young people.


Essential Criteria:

• PhD in Education research or Science education or equivalent relevant experience.

• Skilled at the design, management and conduct of high-quality research projects

• Experience in both quantitative and qualitative research methods, with particular emphasis on conducting and analysing data from focus groups, interviews and both video- and audio-observation.

• Proficiency in the use of software programmes to assist in both qualitative (NVivo) and quantitative (SPSS) data analysis

• Publication of research in peer-reviewed journals

• Presentation of research work at international conferences

• Evidence of academic and report writing skills

• High level of interpersonal skills

• Proven ability to work independently as well as in a team environment.

• Garda vetting/ foreign police certificate is a requirement for this post


Desirable Criteria:

• Experience of applying for research funding and/or reporting for funders

• Teaching experience/qualification and/or experience of working with students

• Experience in designing of STEM public engagement/outreach activities

• Experience in delivery of STEM public engagement/outreach activities


Specific Requirements



Work location(s)
1 position(s) available at
National University of Ireland Galway
H91 TK33
University Road

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EURAXESS offer ID: 650408


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