Your Scientist ID:
Dunshaughlin Community College 2006-2012 and NUI Galway 2012-current
A hons B.Sc in Microbiology
Nightclubs, music shops, hotels, shops, restaurants, and now finally a lab!
I'm a PhD student, so I have a scholarship from the Irish Research Council to work on my research with Dr. Gerard Wall.
National University of Ireland, Galway and the Irish Research Council
About Me: I'm a caffeine addict, a microbiologist and I LOVE dogs.
In school, I always thought I’d end up doing something related to music and Irish, because I was good at the former and fluent in the latter. But then GO TOBANN in my leaving cert years, I discovered that not only did I love science, I was good at it. Years later, I’m a microbiology graduate working on a PhD in a fancy lab doing fancy science. I genetically engineer microbes to produce a kind of sticky glue that barnacles make in the oceans. In my spare time, I love a good marathon (of Netflix shows) and travelling to interesting cities.
My Work: I force bacteria to make glue by stealing genes from barnacles, and inserting them into bacteria.
Evolution has provided some WACKY creatures that do WACKY things. Barnacles are able to stick to just about any surface you can imagine with this really, really sticky glue-like cement, and it works underwater. Rather than trying to grow thousands of barnacles and harvest the glue, I steal the gene for the glue, and shove it into a bacterial species called E. coli. Bacteria, as you know, are really, really small. So I can have billions of bacteria in a small flask, all busy making glue, and I never have to leave the lab.
My Typical Day: I force cells to take up foreign DNA, grow them, check on them, tuck them in at night. Plus lots of reading!
I do some interesting things to some bacterial cells to make them susceptible to taking up foreign DNA. I mess with the cell membrane (the outer part of the cell) and make it “leaky” so that DNA can get in more easily. Then I use electricity to force foreign DNA inside, and let the cells recover (they’ve had a hard day). Then I let the cells multiply and take out my product when it’s ready!
What I'd do with the money: Set up an interactive science fair to showcase all of the brilliant science outreach groups!
A few years ago I ran a small science fair at NUI Galway, and I’d love to do it again but bigger and better this time! We have so many fantastic science outreach groups at the university; everything from Eco Explorers who have tarantulas and snakes, to Kitchen Chemistry who showed us the science behind Breaking Bad. There’s something for everyone and I’d love to let people see all the science we have here!
How would you describe yourself in 3 words?
Short, excited, barnacles.
Who is your favourite singer or band?
What's your favourite food?
What is the most fun thing you've done?
Rented a boat with my best friend and gone around the canals of Amsterdam.
What did you want to be after you left school?
Were you ever in trouble at school?
Oh yeah. I was ALWAYS talking.
What was your favourite subject at school?
English or biology.
What's the best thing you've done as a scientist?
Proved that a viral infection in my bacterial cultures was really there.
What or who inspired you to become a scientist?
My dad, my biology teacher at school, and my supervisor Dr. Gerard Wall.
If you weren't a scientist, what would you be?
Probably a musician or classical singer.
If you had 3 wishes for yourself what would they be? - be honest!
To be taller, to be better at dancing, and to have a dog.
Tell us a joke.
Why do the Swedish Navy put barcodes on all their ships? So that when they come back, they can Scan-da-navy-in.