Anna O’Shea and Aimee Pugh

Book: Aroused

Exhibit: Poster

Featured Work

Written Work

Working together: Anna O’Shea and Aimee Pugh


We are Anna and Aimee, both students of the Chemical Sciences with Medicinal Chemistry course at TU Dublin.

Hi, I’m Anna – I chose to study chemistry because I love being in the lab and conducting experiments.

Hi, I’m Aimee – I chose to study chemistry as the pharmaceutical industry in Ireland is one of the best in the world and I would really like to work in one of the big companies such a Pfizer.

We both think a science degree teaches you strategical thinking, problem solving, team-work, and ethics all of these qualities are important traits for any job.

The Chemistry

Our poster is on the biological and chemical reasons why men are (usually) faster than women, mainly centred around the hormone testosterone and its function in both men and women. Testosterone is the main male sex hormone and oestrogen is the main female sex hormone. Chemically they are both very similar with only one difference in their structures (the chemistry bit – for testosterone, a ketone group or an alcohol group, a cyclohexene ring instead of a benzene ring and an extra methyl group) but these are both incredibly different hormones. Testosterone increases muscle mass, causes new blood cells to form and keeps bones strong. Oestrogen increases fat accumulation (and does lots of other things too).

Men and women produce both hormones but on a daily basis, as an average, men produce 8-10 mg of testosterone and while women produce 0.5 mg. Our project is particularly focused on sport, the world record for the men’s 100 meter sprint is 9.58 seconds set by Usain Bolt in 2009 and the women’s world record for the 100 meter sprint is 10.49 seconds set by Griffith Joyner in 1988. We wanted to find out why statistically men are 10 % faster than women. In our poster we discuss how testosterone along with other biological factors such as blood volume, and heart and lung size aid sports performances in men.



I read the book ‘Aroused’ by Randi Hutter Epstein which was on the history of hormones. Testosterone was first mention when Arnold Berthold performed a testicle swapping experiment on 6 roosters. I was particularly interested in the 2 roosters he castrated as he claimed they got fat, lazy, “their brilliant red combs faded and shrank” and he said ”they began to act like hens”. His experiment fascinated me, and I was compelled to learn more about the hormone testosterone.

The chapter I was most interested in was “Testosterone Endopreneurs” I was shocked how in the past competitive sportsmen used testosterone to build muscle mass, until The International Olympic committee banned it in 1975. However, this chapter was focused on the testosterone industry not the effect of the hormone on ones sports performance so I was inspired to do my own research. This led me to discover how women have naturally  about 16 times less testosterone then men. Then myself and Aimee researched how this hormonal difference linked to sports performance.

Overall, I found the book and our research extremely interesting and educational. From the book I learned a lot about how hormones control just about everything in your body and I was fascinated how such small amounts of hormones can have extremely powerful effects.


I read the book ‘Aroused’, and it made me curious about how testosterone affects the body. My attention was the caught by the chapter ‘Making Gender’ that talked about babies who were born intersex and what this all has to do with too much or too little testosterone. The final chapter that interested me was ‘Testosterone Endopreneurs’ which talked about testosterone used in competitive sports.  Anna and I were both intrigued by the studies of testosterone, and how it affected performance and build, and so we decided to do more research on it to gather more information on why men are (usually) faster that women.


Poster showing testosterone and its effect on male athletes