2nd level: Coláiste Íosagáin 3rd level: Trinity College Dublin and RCSI
I have a bachelors degree in medicinal chemistry (from Trinity College Dublin), and I am in the final year of my PhD (in RCSI)
I have had lots of different jobs - I was a babysitter all through my teenage years, I have given grinds (private tutor) for the past six years, I worked in Pandora during my holidays, and I have also worked in two different chemistry research labs!
I am currently in the final year of a PhD in inorganic medicinal chemistry (making treatments for cancer). Funded by the Irish Research Council (IRC), associated with the SFI Research Centre for Pharmaceuticals (SSPC)
Government of Ireland Postgraduate Scholar
Favourite thing to do in science: I love setting up reactions in my lab to make new medicines!
About Me: I love nature and the outdoors, especially bringing my two dogs for walks and taking photos of the sky at sunset. Tá Gaeilge agam. Is féidir libh ceisteanna a chur orm as Gaeilge más mian libh :)
I live in Dublin and have two cats and two dogs. I love to bring my dogs for walks everyday. During quarantine I have started running, but because my dogs are old they don’t accompany me! I love taking simple photos of the sky with my phone camera, especially during a colourful sunset. Although I don’t play the piano I love to listen to piano music. My favourite is any song by Ludovico Einaudi!
My Work: I am a chemist in a lab. I mix different chemicals together to try and make a new medicine for cancer. When I make a new medicine I add it to some cancer cells in a dish and see if my medicine can kill the cancer.
I am a chemist and I work in a laboratory. In the lab I have all kinds of different flasks and beakers that I use to hold chemicals. I will plan which chemicals I could mix together to make a new medicine and what method I could use (just like when you are baking a cake at home!). I need to think about what temperature to use, how I will add the chemicals together, if any solid chemicals need to be fully dissolved etc. Once I am happy with a method and which chemicals/ingredients I need to use I will go to the lab and setup my reaction (like adding all of my ingredients into a bowl and mixing them). Sometimes it will take an entire day for my reaction to be finished (like keeping a cake in the oven for a day to cook)! I need to leave it turned on (reacting) overnight because it takes a long time for the medicine to form. The next day I return to the lab and see if my reaction has been successful. If my reaction worked I can then mix my new medicine with cancer cells.
For this I need to go to a different laboratory that is for biology. I can add my medicine to a dish that has some cancer cells in it. Then I leave the cancer cells and medicine for a few days. After a few days I will check the cancer cells, and if they have died it means that my drug was successful! More tests can be done by other scientists using the medicine I made to try and treat cancer in animals.
Most of the time it takes a while for me to find the correct method/recipe to make the medicine. Just like if you bake a cake and it gets burnt, or it doesn’t taste nice, or doesn’t rise- I need to go back and make it again until it is perfect!
My Typical Day: I read about work that other scientists have done to make medicine which helps me to decide which recipe/method and ingredients/chemicals I need to use. I then put on my lab coat and safety glasses and I go to my lab and add chemicals together to make some medicine.
This is a purification technique I use called column chromatography
I go to my office at the same time you go to school each morning. When I get to my desk I usually chat to my friends and read any emails I have. I will then plan my lab work. This involves either reading about how other chemists have made medicines similar to what I want to make (just like if you wanted to invent a new cake flavour you would look at the recipes and methods of other cakes to get an idea of how to do it!). Then I will use pen and paper to write out my method and what chemicals I plan to use. If I need to find a chemical I use a special computer in my lab that is like a library system. I just type the name of the chemical I want to use and the computer will tell me which press I need to look in. I will then get all of my chemicals ready and I will mix them toegther using the method I chose in my office. Like baking a cake, my chemicals take a while to react. Often I will leave the chemicals mixing overnight when I will go home in the evening time. The next day I can collect the medicine and I can use machines to analyse it. The machines can tell me if the powder I made is really the medicine I wanted to make. If the medicine is not correct I need to find a different method, or different chemicals and start again! Sometimes the medicines can look very nice- they can be lots of different colours and sometimes they appear as beautiful crystals!
How would you describe yourself in 3 words?
Friendly, chatty, open-minded
Who is your favourite singer or band?
What's your favourite food?
What is the most fun thing you've done?
I travelled around Thailand and got to wash and feed elephants in a national park!
What did you want to be after you left school?
Were you ever in trouble at school?
I used to annoy some teachers because I never stop talking!
What was your favourite subject at school?
French, Irish, and Chemistry
What's the best thing you've done as a scientist?
Made some very pretty crystals- I would've loved to steal them and make jewellery with them!
What or who inspired you to become a scientist?
My chemistry teacher in school
If you weren't a scientist, what would you be?
Probably a teacher!
If you had 3 wishes for yourself what would they be? - be honest!
1. That my dogs could live forever 2. That I could age more slowly 3. Everyone else in the world also got three wishes!
Tell us a joke.
Q: Why did the dinosaur cross the road? A: Because chickens hadn't evolved yet!