St Andrew’s College Booterstown until 1993, Trinity College Dublin until 2003
I have a bachelor’s degree in Biochemistry, a doctorate (PhD) in Genetics, and two diplomas in Statistics
Trinity College Dublin, Cardiff University – in statistical genetics
I am a lecturer in Biostatistics
I am a statistician, which means I work with numbers, mostly on a computer. My background is in biochemsitry (the chemsitry of biology) and in genetics. While I was studying I realised that I need to know more and more maths and statistics (don’t let anyone tell you that no one uses maths in the real world), and less and less about how to run experiments in a lab.
So I studied by myself, mostly in evenings, and soon became the go-to person in our lab for anyone that need maths done. Nowadays I do three things
I work out how to use maths to figure out disease risk, using genetics
I advise a lot of people on data analysis – using maths to show whether medicine (or some other treatment) works or doesn’t, or whether something increases your risk for disease or not
I teach genetics, statistics, and epidemiology (the study of the causes of disease) in UCD, in Dublin
My Typical Day
A mix of giving advice to students, doctors & other scientists, messing with other people’s numbers, and working on computer programs to do genetics research
Two hours answering e-mails and advising people;
Two hours running some computer programs to analyse some data;
Two hours writing my own computer programs; 3 cups of coffee, a scone, a sandwich, and a litre of chocolate milk.
Maybe an hour in meetings in the School of Public Health, and an hour reading scientific journals. I also read on the bus, when I can. And at home. And weekends.
What I'd do with the prize money
I want to donate it to the Maths Sparks people in UCD
The Maths Sparks projects organise workshops to teach maths to students in DEIS schools. They are mostly students here in UCD, so their work is a mix of getting school students learning maths, and getting University students to learn how to teach maths. I think that’s a very cool way of doing it.
Maths isn’t cool at all. I think it’s really important, though. If people understand maths and manage to work with it even a little bit, I think they’re training themselves how to think logically, and being able to do that will be one of the most useful things they can do when they’re older.
How would you describe yourself in 3 words?
Intense, laid-back, contradictory
What did you want to be after you left school?
A scientist. Or a carpenter.
Were you ever in trouble at school?
Can’t remember… Next question!
Who is your favourite singer or band?
I love Stina Nordenstam’s songs
What's your favourite food?
Anything with cheese in it, or on it
What is the most fun thing you've done?
Hung out with my girlfriend. She is very funny.
If you had 3 wishes for yourself what would they be? - be honest!
I’d invent unlimited free electricity, I’d stop people littering on the street, and … world peace? No, a beach house maybe.
Tell us a joke.
Why are elephants big and gray? Because if they were small and purple they would be grapes.