Final tomorrow-so excited! Hope everyone can join into the free chat tomorrow 12-2pm!
Scoil Mhuire Gan Smal, Blarney (2002-2007 Leaving Certificate), University College Cork (2007-2011 B.Sc Microbiology), University College Cork & Alimentary Pharmabiotic Center (2011-Now, Ph.D Molecular Microbiology)
B.Sc (Bachelor of Science) Microbiology, hopefully soon to add Ph.D
My work history is mixed and laughable really – my first job was a Christmas elf in Santa’s workshop for 2 years (I was the Elf on the Shelf), followed by another 2 years working as a pharmacy assistant, one year in Dunnes Stores as a customer services assistant and then finally I was an office assistant in the School of Nursing in UCC.
I’m currently doing my Ph.D (in my third year), and because I am funded by a research grant, I get paid a small amount monthly.
University College Cork
Favourite thing to do in science: The best thing about science is getting to the bottom of a problem – it’s like a constant puzzle, but once you crack it, it’s the best feeling! That, plus a constant supply of free pens…
My work is all about about tiny compartments inside bacteria, which work like little factories – meaning there’s huge potential!
I work mainly with bacterial microcompartments, which are basically tiny little shells inside bacteria. They work to speed up chemical reactions by keeping the chemicals inside the shell, and also protect the bacteria from any nasty poisons building up in the cell in the same way. My job is to try and figure out
A) how they are made
B) how can I use them to make the bacteria better.
My Typical Day
My typical day – doesn’t exist! Every day in the lab is different, but here’s a snapshot.
Usually I begin my day cleaning the lab – bacteria create a lot of smelly waste so cleaning is a must! Afterwards I typically start multiplying up DNA that I collect from, and then start chopping and changing this DNA to use for my experiments! Its sounds quite yuck but it’s actually really cool to be able to see real DNA.
A lot of my experiments use really tiny amounts of liquids, called microliters, which is 0.001 of a millilitre, which in turn is 0.001 of a liter! So, yeah really small! I need to really concentrate in the lab to work with such tiny amounts, so of course that means plenty of tea breaks…
At the moment I’m supervising some students aswell, so I have meetings with them to make sure things are going ok, plus I also demonstrate to pharmacy students, PLUS I also run an after-school science program once a week, so usually by the time I head home, I want nothing more than tea and cheesy tv shows (extreme couponing anyone?)
What I'd do with the money
Science is easily the best subject in school – you can mess around and learn at the same time, but often I think we all get bogged down in learning big science words – I want to change that!
As I already run an after-school science program, I already get to see how fun it is to try out different experiments, without the pressure of homework and tests. Because of this, I would really like to make my science program bigger, and have more stuff that everyone can use – brain models, giant microbes and our own microscopes. I want to make a booklet with all the different experiments that can easily be done at home or at school, and make science accessible for anyone.
Science is not about learning big words and complicated maths – it’s about little adventures, where you always have to search to find the answers, but even then, the journey is quite fun!
Plus chopping up brains and bacteria is always fun 🙂
How would you describe yourself in 3 words?
Nerdy, Curious, Enthusiastic
Who is your favourite singer or band?
I have a fairly varied taste in music, including The Beatles, Arctic Monkeys, The Smiths, Ellie Goulding, Franz Ferdinand…and Britney Spears (I will never hear a bad word against her!)
What's your favourite food?
Oh, I love food full stop. But peanut butter is probably my weakess
What is the most fun thing you've done?
I am a known prankster amongst my friends, so hacking into my friend’s Facebook and telling everyone she was moving to Africa to start a charity was a personal highlight, considering both her boss and her aunt started ringing her house in a panic. Plus people started donating money to her too. She wasn’t too impressed once she realised.
What did you want to be after you left school?
An architect, I really liked (and still do) different buildings and how they’re designed. Not so good at maths though I think.
Were you ever in trouble at school?
Not really, I’d like to think I was sneaky enough to stay under the radar
What was your favourite subject at school?
English and science were both the best – both involved thinking a bit differently about problems and saying things in fancy ways.
What's the best thing you've done as a scientist?
Written a kick-ass thesis (said no one ever)
What or who inspired you to become a scientist?
My parents always encouraged me to try and find answers to any questions I had, so I suppose that naturally guides you towards science then!
If you weren't a scientist, what would you be?
Erm, probably a really poor writer, I’m too easily distracted.
If you had 3 wishes for yourself what would they be? - be honest!
1. To actually write a kick-ass thesis. 2. To go travelling once I’m finally finished college 3. To have a job that makes me happy!
Tell us a joke.
Did you hear about the new designer range for babies? It’s called Gucci Goo