Type of scientist:
Degree(s) and where you obtained them:
Bachelor of Science in Biochemistry at NUI Galway
BSc from NUI Galway
In my undergraduate I had a summer internship working with Professor Bob Lahue in NUI Galway. This research was on Huntington’s disease.
Postgraduate researcher in the Lowndes laboratory, starting this year!
The Genome stability laboratory in the Centre of chromosome Biology in NUI Galway, directed by Noel Lowndes.
I have been volunteering with Cell Explorers since 2016
Favourite thing about being a Cell EXPLORER volunteer:
All the friends I have made throughout the different years
My best tip for extracting DNA:
Swirl the test-tube slightly after adding the soap. (not too hard, you do not want too many bubbles!!)
Favourite thing to do in science: Producing images of cells. All the different colours of the stains used make for some amazing art.
About Me: I am starting out in my PhD, I am both excited and nervous about it but looking forward to the journey ahead. A beginner researcher excited to learn new things.
I am originally from a small town in south west Donegal. I moved to Galway in 2016 to start college and my career in science. At first, I was not sure what type of science I enjoyed but as time passed, I knew I wanted to study biology and cells. After finishing my undergraduate degree and getting experience in a research laboratory I knew I wanted to continue working in research. For that reason, I am now starting out in a research lab as a 1st year PhD student. Outside of my research and college life I really enjoy spending time with my friends and playing sport. One of my favourite things to do with friends is go for a drive or a walk to different scenic spots around the country, such as beaches or views from the top of a mountain.
My Course/Research/Work: I research the different causes of damage that can occur to DNA and the consequences of this damage.
I work on the DNA damage response in the Lowndes laboratory. This research involves finding out how DNA is damaged in the cell and what we can do to possibly prevent this damage. This research is very important in finding out what causes different human diseases and how they can be prevented. This research enables companies that produce medicine with ways in which they can treat the disease or ways in which they can prevent the disease. However, as I am in my first year of my PhD, I am still being trained up in the laboratory and spend a lot of time reading different research papers.
My Typical Day: Research, lab work, sport, and spending time with friends
After getting out of bed and getting ready in the morning I have breakfast and start preparing my lunch for the day in the lab. I usually double check my calendar to see if I have any meetings throughout the day or if I am demonstrating in any undergraduate labs. I will also check my emails in the morning as to keep up to date with what is going on in the college. After leaving the house I begin walking to NUI Galway where there is a bus that takes me to my laboratory. Once in the Laboratory I start my day off by checking on any cells I have growing for my experiments as to ensure they are healthy and then I begin my experiments for the day. Each day in the lab varies depending on what experiments you are running. Some days I might work with a microscope or work with my colleagues discussing different problems. Other days might involve more preparation, on these days I will prepare all the solutions I might require for my experiments. Preparation days are as important, if not more important, then experiment days as it ensures you have everything that you might need ready before you start an experiment. I also spend a lot of my time reading up on different research conducted by different scientists in my field as to keep up to date with different techniques and findings. In the evenings I like to partake in different sporting activities and luckily the college has many different clubs on offer. If I am not playing a sport or exercising in the evening, I like watching movies or a Netflix series with my friends to relax. I think it is very important to have this time to relax in the evenings as some days in the lab can be so busy that you need to give your mind a rest in the evening.
Why did you decide to study science/become a scientist?:
During my time in secondary school I always enjoyed studying Biology and Chemistry which may have led me to finish my undergraduate degree in Biochemistry. I was also very luck to have a science teacher for these two subjects who had a PhD in science himself. This teacher was so passionate about science and the way he taught it made me enjoy learning about science and lab work even more as he gave us more freedom in the lab classes.
What part of your own life experience gives you a unique view on your science work?:
I have always been a very talkative person and I often got in trouble in school for talking too much. Although it may have got me in trouble growing up, it has helped me a lot in my scientific research. I find that being a talkative has helped me with talking to my colleagues in the laboratory and when I have had to present my research to other scientists. This is important in science as you need to be able to explain your research to others.
Name 1 thing you struggled with in science and how you overcame it.:
One of my experiments lasts about full week at a time to conduct. Therefore, each day for a full week you are doing something to get your result from the experiment. However, one time on my last day of the week I forgot to do one small step and destroyed my results. This was a tough day and I taught myself a very important lesson. ALWAYS have your protocol in fount of you and double check your steps before you start.
Quickfire Q/A questions
State 1 part of your job that requires creativity
Coming up with the best way to display your results for others to clearly understand. This can involve the use of different graphs or charts that show what you found in your research.
Give 1 example of how a hobby/personal interest relates to science
Science is very much like art or painting a picture in how taking your time can prevent mistakes or can help you plan out the order in which you will do each step.
How would you describe yourself in 3 words?
Sporty, talkative and easy-going
Who is your favourite singer or band?
I like so many different types of music that I don’t have one favourite.
What's your favourite food?
Burrito bowls from boojum in Galway
What is the most fun thing you've done?
Going to watch Donegal play in Croke park in an all-Ireland football final.
What did you want to be after you left school?
I remember really wanting to be a pilot
Were you ever in trouble at school?
I was such a chatter box! My teachers were always telling me to be quiet.
What was your favourite subject at school?
What's the best thing you've done as a scientist?
The first time I produced my own results in the lab was so exciting and I was very happy. However, with cell explorers I have had so many amazing experiences through the many different road trips I have been on around Ireland.
What part(s) of your job makes you happy?
When my experiments produce interesting results that either answer a question or provide me with another question.
What or who inspired you to become a scientist?
If you weren't a scientist, what would you be?
A physiotherapist or a nurse
If you had 3 wishes for yourself what would they be? - be honest!
1. That I could speak every language in the world fluently 2. To travel all around the world 3. For a couple of more wishes!
Tell us a joke.
Why did the germ cross the microscope? - To get to the other slide