Hungerford Primary School, London (1993-1998); Presentation Primary School, Fermoy (1998-2001); Loreto Secondary School, Fermoy (2001-2007); Cork Institute of Technology (2008-2013); University College Cork (2014-2019)
B.Sc Applied Biosciences with Biotechnology, B.Sc (honours) Pharmaceutical Biotechnology, PhD Microbiology
I worked in a shop at weekends and school holidays before I started my PhD.
APC Microbiome Institute, UCC
Favourite thing to do in science: Knowing that my research can improve the lives of patients
My Work: Bacteria aren’t the only things that live in your gut! I work on some of the other stuff.
I’m a PhD student student studying microbiology. What that means is after I finished my primary degree at Cork Institute of Technology I applied for a PhD position with the APC Microbiome Institute, UCC and Teagasc. It means I’m spending another four years studying instead of getting a job straight away. My PhD topic is really interesting and it keeps me really busy but I get to do some cutting edge scientific research that nobody has tried before.
Microbiology is defined as ‘a branch of biology dealing especially with microscopic forms of life’. Like bacteria, protozoans, viruses, and fungi. We know a lot about good bacteria (like in your probiotic drinks) and bad bacteria (the kinds that can make us sick) but we don’t know as much about the other things that can live inside our digestive systems, so I’m hoping to figure out what some of the other things do.
Every day is different for me, which is why I love my job 🙂 I’m working on a lot of different projects at the moment so one day I could be working with DNA and the next day I could be growing things on agar plates in the lab. Then some days I might not be in the lab at all, for those days I might read research papers or process data and the results of my experiments on my computer.
Where I work some of us work with things like bacteria that can possibly make you sick. So you need a special kind of laboratory, lots of training and vaccines (and we have to be super careful while we work). This means that finding things that are safe to take to schools to show people about what we do can be hard. I’d like to buy some safe props that I (and other people that I work with) can take to outreach events and schools. Things I can pass around the class to make it interactive and give as prizes for asking awesome questions, like Giant microbes plush toys.
How would you describe yourself in 3 words?
Organised, enthusiastic and helpful
What's your favourite food?
Anything with chocolate
What is the most fun thing you've done?
I love going on trips to museums, last year I went to the science museum in London while I was attending a conference for PhD students. I got to help run the conference too!
What did you want to be after you left school?
Were you ever in trouble at school?
My dog ate my homework a lot…
What was your favourite subject at school?
I really liked science at school. I studied physics, chemistry, applied mathematics and biology for my leaving certificate but my best subject was definitely biology.
What's the best thing you've done as a scientist?
Sometimes I get to help at events and we have a big inflatable gut to teach people about their digestive system. I also got to travel to a conference in Germany this summer to tell people about my work.
What or who inspired you to become a scientist?
My teachers, they tried really hard to make science fun at school and to make the hard stuff easy to understand using cool examples.
If you weren't a scientist, what would you be?
If you had 3 wishes for yourself what would they be? - be honest!
To remember everything I read without having to study it, to win a Nobel prize for curing a disease and more wishes obviously :)
Tell us a joke.
Why is the mushroom so popular at school? He is a fungi