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Meet Our New Ambassador!

We are thrilled that award-winning space explorer and science communicator Dr Niamh Shaw PhD is our new Honorary Ambassador!

Dr Shaw, who describes herself as an engineer, scientist, artist, performer, space explorer and science communicator, has a passion to ignite curiosity about space and the world around us. She was chosen in recognition of the trail she has blazed for girls and women in Ireland.

Speaking at IGG’s National Council Meeting on 6 April, Irish Girl Guides President Maureen Murphy said IGG members were excited to have Dr Niamh Shaw as the organisation’s new Ambassador. “She has stated her wish to ignite people’s curiosity and has a big dream to travel in space,” said Ms Murphy. “Guiding is about providing new experiences and challenges to enable each girl to reach her own potential in today’s world, so Niamh is a very appropriate role model, inspirer and Honorary Ambassador.”

Dr Shaw, who is Dublin-based but regularly travels to Blackrock Castle Observatory in Cork where she is artist-in-residence, is particularly interested in encouraging girls and women to pursue Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) subjects. This ties in nicely with IGG’s aim to encourage girls and young women to consider STEM careers by inviting them to earn STEM, Engineering, Science Investigator, Online Surfer and Aviation badges.

“What I’m particularly interested in, during my term as Ambassador, is empowering Girl Guides to pursue in life what they are most passionate about, which is usually what they are also most curious about,” said Dr Shaw. “STEM will naturally play its part in that exploration, so rather than promote STEM in isolation, I want to encourage them to see STEM as a suite of tools with which to unearth and explore what they are most passionate about. And they can use this knowledge to enhance this passion directly or indirectly.

“STEM subjects can belong in a creative environment as much as a technical one. If I can achieve success in delivering that message to Girl Guides in the next year, then I will feel that I have made a worthy contribution to Irish Girl Guides. And, since my passion is space, I would also like to explore the creation of a space badge too, if possible.”

Dr Shaw, who was a member of IGG for some of her childhood, has fond memories of her time in the organisation. She was disappointed that it was difficult to stay involved because the family moved location frequently.

“I remember one time we had to collect the leaves of different trees, which led me to read and research more on the topic. And there was no internet then to do a simple Google search! Thankfully, we had the children’s encyclopaedia, so I referred to that a lot, and to other nature books in the house. To this day, I still test myself on tree identification!”

Dr Shaw said she was delighted to be selected as IGG Ambassador. “It’s a huge honour,” she says, “And I’m really looking forward to the year ahead.”