Details and Transcript
Pint of Science Ireland Festival - https://pintofscience.ie/
DU Microbiological Society - https://linktr.ee/dumicrosoc
Clarified Podcast Episode - https://open.spotify.com/episode/50aAfiklH0j86dOo0WPbrw?si=c428ec578d54422e
Health Science Inquiry short story "The Climate Solution" - https://healthscienceinquiry.com/index.php/hsi/issue/view/14/15
Binary poem - https://www.kjbmercurio.com/binary
Flying High by jantrax | https://soundcloud.com/jantr4x
Music promoted by Switxwrhttps://www.free-stock-music.com
Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License | https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/deed.en_US
To my quality-over-quantity family and friends. Near and far. Old and new. This is more-busy-than-needs-to-be Kevin Mercurio on the mic. And welcome to another unique, floating episode of the Metaphorigins podcast.
How is everyone? Don’t answer that out loud, you may get some weird looks at the bus stop, in the park, office or wherever you choose to listen to this podcast. But it has been quite a while. Have you missed the silly fiction? The metaphors? The science communication? The wisdom of early career researchers? If your answer was yes to all the above, me too. During the initial planning stages back in 2021, I thought I would be able to sneak the fifth season in late last year. That obviously didn’t happen. In fact, I only uploaded 3 episodes all of 2022. I extremely underestimated my PhD work, the positions I very excitedly gathered throughout my time here, and the personal relationships that needed my full heart and attention. These often expanded my schedule into my free time, which, in all honesty, I was completely fine with. There are many out there listening who understand that I find it difficult to say no to initiatives with good intention, with a good goal and team behind them.
What about behind this? An audio experience veil called the podcast space? What’s been going on behind the scenes as host of Metaphorigins? This will serve as a quick update from my end. I’m recovering from a cold during this recording, but hopefully this just adds to the realism of it all. I’ll start with personal news. Around the time Season 4 ended, I celebrated my 29th birthday, this time visited by my lovely parents. I hadn’t seen my mother or father in person since I left Canada, a whole 18 months prior. That experience made me realize how different a feeling it is, one that has grown on me as I mature with age, that I truly value my time with them. I’m grateful to not just their support in my quest for knowledge, but also my brother’s support in getting them to Dublin in the first place. It was truly a unique birthday I will never forget. Around the beginning of this year, I also met a fantastic individual who, I must say, has one of the most beautiful minds I have ever come across. I am excited to see where this experience takes us. Lastly, as I’m sure you are all dying to know, my cat Mila is doing just fine as well haha.
For my academics, I recently passed a PhD milestone I thought would never arrive. In September of last year, I passed my transfer viva, confirmation exam, candidacy transition, whatever the heck you want to call it! About halfway through your project, PhD students are tasked to “defend” their results to a panel of professors, testing you on your ability to communicate your research and plan for your next steps. You should also know a lot more about your field, looking at how your project fits into the overall bigger picture. Shoutouts to my examiners, Dr. Frederick Sheedy and Dr. Matthew Campbell for a completely fair question period, and of course my supervisor Dr. Sinead Corr for her guidance throughout my PhD. This, along with opportunities to teach undergraduate students in laboratory environments have kept me busy and focused.
Regarding my extracurriculars, I’m quite proud to say, that I was elected as Co-Director for Pint of Science Ireland. If you haven’t heard of the global organization, Pint of Science brings scientists and the public together within informal settings, communicating complex topics in unique and engaging ways. Our festival, in which events will occur all throughout Ireland, will take place between the 22nd to the 24th of May this year. Additionally, I was elected as Chairperson of the DU Microbiological Society, a group of Trinity College Dublin undergraduates, postgraduates, post-doctoral fellows and even professors aiming at expanding knowledge in microbiology and skills development for early career researchers. We plan seminars, workshops, focused meetings and social events, enhancing the overall experience of life in our department. We luckily received a major industry sponsorship that will continue an annual focused meeting for microbiologists this July. These, along with teaching high school students as part of the PhD tutor group at Scholar’s Ireland, and helping students create aesthetically pleasing CVs based on their career goals as part of Trinity Career Services, have kept me even more busy, focused, and sane.
Back in June, I was interviewed for a great science communication podcast called Clarified. In it, we discussed the origins of my own SciComm journey, and the Metaphorigins podcast itself. The host, Clare Marx, is a teaching assistant for a SciComm module in the University of Bayreuth, which the podcast aims at delivering information to students in a non-standard format. As the guest of their first season finale, do check it out, along with the many other discussions she’s had with much more experienced science communicators!
Now, I am excluding many things, as I think summarizing everything I’ve done since the Season 4 finale would be absurd (although I did take an impromptu trip to Ibiza and Formentara last November, snorkling in the Balaeric Sea). Note that I have a few more projects planned that you may hear about via my Twitter or Instagram. Also, there will be more pieces via my independent writing project, Scalene Writing. But for the podcast, the new season will premier at the end of May! Stay tuned for updates on this season’s topics and guests, and really looking forward to hearing from you on what you think!
One final thing to leave you with. Two months ago, a short story I wrote, called the Climate Solution, part of a series of writing pieces under the Scalene Writing project, was published in the Health Science Inquiry’s newest volume on Climate Change and Health. It is sort of a dystopian future-esque take on 2021’s COP26, a climate change conference I became obsessed with due to the various speeches made during its opening ceremony. Do give it a full read if you are interested, as I’ll link the story in the episode’s description. In it, I snuck a poetic piece into it, one of my favourite poems I’ve ever written, called Binary. It’s a poem about how we have discussions, something that this podcast, climate change conferences, dinner parties, and hangouts with your partner all have in common. I would like to end by performing this piece to you, reading this for the first time to a public audience. I hope you enjoy it.
Seldom is there ever a moment in time noticed
That does not consist of obvious obscurity
But subtle uneasiness.
Topics that define previous generations’ normalities,
To later generations’ irregularities.
Discussions that persist in the ambiance like humidity,
The undiscovered ether waiting to be understood,
Waiting to be articulated.
Propagated through minds using neuronal electrical potential,
Exactly like neuronal electrical potential.
To plant ourselves on the surface of a planet filled with billions:
Shared interests, shared disinterests,
Shared experiences, shared inexperiences.
Created categories to better describe individuals for what they are—
Instead of why they are,
Despite how we come from one group, existing or non-existing
One value, one or zero.
But labels bring the inevitable fall of orderly men;
Breaking bridges recently built;
Severing ties recently strengthened;
For the purpose of identification,
The antagonist to collaboration.
Let us think in specifications:
Immorality in social behaviours, gender duplicity, racial non-amalgamation,
Where does one start when the path begins in the median?
When these complex ideas are so blatantly clear?
But the words just seem to crumble off the tongue,
Opposite of sense.
To an end, we juxtapose with stupidity:
Can one know the opinions to grasp in a sea of nonsense?
Which actors scream rational afterthought rather than immediate impulse?
In this performance we did not buy tickets for.
The catastrophic debacle of the decade
Summarized in simple terms:
How do we talk?
How do we explain ideas that we do not yet fully comprehend,
But want to be a part of the conversation?
Not left out of quintessential decisions,
Since how else do we determine a spectrum of reason?
Stutter, stammer, tongue-twist hesitation fillers into a string of phrases
Hoping that trust outweighs the conflict.
A tremendous inferno blazing within,
To puncture a hole in an already capsizing argument.
Rather than securing the break.
Forget ego, forget pride.
Remember that we are binary!
Not in the sense most frequently fought about
But existing or non-existing,
One or zero.
We are one, literally one.
Empathize with those who have good intentions,
Abstain from gladiatorial vernaculars
And be one!
One or zero?
Literally one every time,
As we will mean to be.
In the words of Maya Angelou, “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” And with that, stay skeptical but curious!