Joe interviewed in The Irish Times

Claire O’Connell interviewed Joe for a write-up in the Irish Times about his recent trip to Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings in Germany, meeting chemistry Nobel winners, and my current research programme in  into sensors for bacterial infections. Read the full article here.

Joe attends Lindau Nobel Laureates Meeting in Germany

Joe finally attended the prestigious Lindau Nobel Laureates Meeting this year, after two years of pandemic-related postponements. It was an excellent experience, where he met several Nobel laureates including Dick Schrock and Benjamin List, and had dinner with Jean-Marie Lehn and William Kaelin.

Joe has summarised his experiences at the meeting in a blog, which the Irish Research Council asked him to keep while away.

Joe attends Lindau Nobel Laureates Meeting

Joe attended the Lindau Nobel Laureates Meeting this June/July (thanks to the nomination of the Irish Research Council). At the week-long meeting about interdisciplinary science, from Pandemics to Blackholes, Supramolecular Chemistry to Microscopy and the cutting-edge in batteries and medicine.

As well as networking with young scientists from around the world, he was lucky enough to attend networking sessions with several Nobel laureates and have conversations about his research interests with Robert Grubbs, Richard Schrock, Ada Yonath, Ben Feringa, Saul Perlmutter and Martin Chalfie.

Chemistry talks now supported on ResearchSeminars

Since working on Project Anansi as part of the Lindau Sciathon event, I’ve been very interested in the prospect of implementing a platform that would allow chemists to share open access webinars, thus broadening their audience globally. See the previous posts [1 and 2] for more details on why. Anansi partnered with the team in MIT who had developed earlier in 2020 to expand their platform to support other disciplines (including Chemistry and Economics).

I worked together with @AnywhereChem in order to develop a list of sub-topics in chemistry, which are now listed on ResearchSeminars website. Please see below an email I have circulated asking people to consider adding content. The flyer is available here [PDF].

Make chemistry seminars and conferences accessible worldwide:

Dear colleagues

I would like to draw your attention to a new resource now available to chemists to both share and discover webinars, talks, conferences and more, which are happening online all around us:

This strange year with its lockdowns and travel restrictions has been very difficult, however one silver lining has been a golden age in online chemistry talks on every topic imaginable, available right at your desk. It has become clear that online research talks, seminars and conferences are here to stay in one form or another, even as many other aspects of our work return to normality. This will continue to benefit researchers and students, particularly those who are not based in big universities or large cities, including researchers in the developing world. However, it is still very challenging to keep up-to-date with all these interesting events with different hosts advertising in different ways, and making sure you don’t miss the most relevant talks. can be a solution to that obstacle. Some mathematics researchers at MIT built this free site, which is available to all and has valuable search tools, such as filtering by topic and language. Thanks to our positive interactions with the founders, since September, the site is accepting Chemistry talks. This is in addition to its use to great effect by researchers in Physics, Maths, Biology, Economics and Earth Sciences, which were supported since earlier in 2020, now totalling thousands of talks. Adding listings is easy (requires a free account) and will amplify the possible audience of your events once chemists start using this resource in earnest. Making our seminars and events “open access” is a positive step and ought to be the default choice unless a speaker does not wish to (e.g. presenting unpublished results). I know from my experience of organising a seminar series during lockdown that many of our speakers welcomed the opportunity to invite guests and promote their talk more widely when given the option to share a link on Twitter.

During this year, Twitter has been a great resource for keeping up to date with online events. For nearly 6 months, @SuperScienceGrl kept an index of upcoming webinars in addition to an ongoing list of chemistry conferences. The Twitter account @AnywhereChem was set up in response to the glut of exciting talks online, in order to share them far and wide and make sure no one missed out. Many of us benefited from this increased publicity alerting us to relevant talks. It is not sustainable to rely on just a few individuals, however, to keep the entire community up to date. provides the opportunity for event organisers themselves to commit to posting their timetables in a central database, making it easier for others like @AnywhereChem to publicise further from there.

I am asking you to seriously consider adding any upcoming events you are organising to and give researchers around the world an opportunity to find out more about what is happening in your university, research group or organisation. If you are planning to attend an online event in the near future, please forward this email to the organiser and see if they will take part. And most importantly, check in to see if any events in your field are occurring soon. This is a great opportunity to open the doors of seminar halls around the world and to the benefit of all.

Please find attached a flyer highlighting the main points and advantages of this new platform. I encourage you to forward this further to your network and to get in touch if you have any questions.

Kind regards,
Dr Joseph Byrne, School of Chemistry, NUI Galway

[See press release from MIT about the initial launch of ResearchSeminars in May 2020 here]

Lindau Online Science Days

The Lindau-Nobel Laureate Online Science Days event was hosted online to replace the annual meeting on the island of Lindau in Germany, as a result of the Coronavirus crisis. Those who were scheduled to attend this year’s Interdisciplinary Meeting were invited, as were attendees of previous Lindau meetings. The result was an engaging programme of events over three 12-hour days (in order to accommodate people in various time zones). Topics included diversity in the sciences, climate change, the economic impact of the pandemic, and green chemistry, among many others.

Joe asking Nobel Laureate Prof. Noyori about different solvents used in ‘green’ catalysis.

Joe had the chance to engage directly with Prof. Ryoji Noyori about questions of homogeneous organometallic catalysis – a topic he investigated during his postdoc in University of Bern – and solvent choice for green chemistry. This direct communication with Nobel laureates went on all through the event and was a unique opportunity.

On Wednesday, the top-ranked projects from the “Implementing the Lindau Guidelines” category of the Sciathon contest were invited to present their projects on the main stage and look for further support. Joe and Natalia Jiménez (University of Chile) represented Team Elmiger, and won the 3rd place prize. Watch the Sciathon Results presentation here:

Joe and Natalia Jiménez presenting their Sciathon project results on the Science Days Main Stage

Hopefully, the scheduled 70th Lindau-Nobel Laureate Meeting will take place in 2021 and there will be a chance to attend in person.

Read the Lindau-Nobel blog entry on the “Implementing the Lindau Guidelines” Category.

Lindau Sciathon: “Anansi Webinars” (3rd Place)

A new platform for sharing details of online seminars, and a call to “open the doors of seminar rooms worldwide” was the proposal of Team Elmiger, a group which Joe joined to compete in the inaugural 48-hour Sciathon contest, taking place as part of the Lindau “Online Science Days 2020”.

Team Elmiger meeting over Zoom to work on their project

The team of scientists and economists from around the world wrote a report and made a video over the course of the weekend about the importance of connecting the world to inspiring research talks. In particular, they highlighted the value of harnessing the shift to online events, which has been a consequence of the Coronavirus crisis, to invite researchers from the developing world to attend seminars in leading universities. The team built a prototype website to demonstrate how this could be achieved, and set out a plan about how this could be developed in future to create a more open and connected world. The team was a collaboration between researchers in the developed and developing world, and a clear example of the strength of bringing diverse people together, which is key to the vision of the Lindau-Nobel Foundation.

A panel of international judges awarded Team Elmiger the 3rd Prize in the Category “Implementing the Lindau Guidelines“.

See the video below:

Joe and Adele selected to attend Lindau Nobel Laureates Meeting

Joe and our colleague Adele Gabba, both from NUI Galway’s School of Chemistry, have been selected to attend the prestigious meeting of Nobel Laureates and emerging scientists from around the world in 2021. The pair will represent Ireland at the 70th Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting on the island of Lindau in Germany.

From the NUI Galway press release: Dr Byrne and Dr Gabba will join a selected group of 660 outstanding early-career scientists from 101 countries, who will meet with 68 Nobel Prize winners in the fields of chemistry, medicine and physiology, and physics. Selection to attend this week-long meeting offers a once-in-a-career opportunity to share their research and ideas with Nobel laureates and a wide network of future scientific leaders.

Dr Joseph Byrne is an Honorary Research Lecturer in the School of Chemistry, who is in the first year of a Science Foundation Ireland Starting Investigator Research Grant project, developing luminescent glycoconjugate materials for detection of bacterial infections.

Dr Adele Gabba recently graduated with a PhD in Chemistry and currently works as a research assistant in the group of Professor Paul Murphy, School of Chemistry at NUI Galway. She will begin a prestigious Marie Sklodowska-Curie Individual Fellowship in MIT in the coming months.

Dr Gabba and Dr Byrne were among six scientists nominated by the Irish Research Council (IRC), before going through a rigorous international selection process, through which only half of nominees were ultimately invited to attend. They will receive a grant from the Irish Research Council to enable them to attend the meeting, which takes place from 27 June-2 July 2021. The meeting was scheduled for this summer, but due to the outbreak of COVID-19, it has been postponed until 2021, while an interactive online programme of events will take place this year to fulfil the Lindau Foundation’s mission ‘Educate. Inspire. Connect.’

Joe said:

“This meeting is unique in putting the most ground-breaking scientists of recent decades and early-career researchers around the same tables for a week. With little-to-no distraction from the outside world, it is ideal for transferring ideas and sharing challenges between generations and countries as well as different disciplines. I am looking forward to building new relationships with other chemists, but also biochemists, physicists, medical scientists, who I could collaborate with to tackle challenging scientific questions of international relevance in the future.”

Adele said:

Dr Gabba said: “Being selected to attend a Nobel Laureate Meeting is a small life dream come true! I have been certainly looking forward with immense excitement for June, so I have to confess the news of the postponement for COVID-19 came along with a bit of disappointment. Despite my childlike eagerness, I think the organising committee took the right decision. I am sure all attendees will see that waiting and, most of all, the reason behind it, as an opportunity to reflect deeply on the importance of bringing together researchers with a different background in an interdisciplinary meeting. Problems that impact our society are mostly extremely complex, we will succeed in solving them only if we put our brains and best efforts together.”