Running lots of crystal simulations while #workingfromhome and upping my cooking and gardening skills.
Mercy Mounthawk Secondary School, Tralee, Co. Kerry (Leaving Cert 2011), Bachelor of Science in Applied Physics in University of Limerick (Graduated August 2015)
Bachelor of Science in Applied Physics, PhD in Physics
I worked in Analog Devices for my college work placement, who make integrated circuits for electronic devices. I then worked as a PhD student growing crystals for electronic sensors and simulating the crystals with computer models. Now that I am "Dr. Guerin" I am working as a crystal scientist, using the same techniques but to make new and better tablets and drugs.
Researcher at SSPC in the University of Limerick
I work for the Solid State Pharmaceutical Centre, which is a research centre that works to make more efficient and environmentally sustainable medicines. The goals of SSPC are to develop environmentally-friendly ways of making medicines, to increases the range of medicines available to the public and to make more affordable medicines.
Favourite thing to do in science: Learning about and growing crystals, and telling people about science!
About Me: Physics researcher from Kerry who loves dogs, hiking and talking science. Often seen drinking tea, posting on Instagram and singing songs from musicals.
I am a science researcher in the Department of Physics in UL. I work in the Solid State Pharmaceutical Centre (SSPC) to make better medicines. I call myself a computational biophysicist to sound fancy, but it just means I study how medicines will behave in the human body, and I often get help from my computer!
I love science communication and love giving talks and workshops to schools, scientists and the general public. I take part in ‘Physics Busking’, which involves doing live experiments and demonstrations for students and families at public events. I also do demonstrations at the Young Scientist Exhibition every year with the Science and Engineering department.
I love hiking, and often climb mountains, either with the charity Concern or with UL Outdoor Pursuits Club. I am a tech addict, constantly on my phone, and I also love tea way too much. While I was studying for my Applied Physics degree in UL I helped to set up a Tea Appreciation Society!
My Work: I use computer models and simulations to tell us things about crystals before we even make them, and to make blueprints for new crystals! Right now I focus on modelling crystals that make up a lot of the medicines we use everyday.
My Typical Day: Running computer simulations in the morning, then growing crystals and running tests on/taking pictures of the crystals. Also lots of reading to make new computer models that can tell us exciting things about the crystals inside medicine.
When I come in in the morning I will grab tea and a scone and sit down to check my computer simulations. We run our simulations on the large Irish supercomputer (whose name is Fionn!) in Galway, which we can log into from our own computers. Depending on how big the molecules I am interested in are, the simulations can take 20 minutes to a week to finish.
After that I will answer any emails I have- they could be about reports I have to do on my research, science communication projects, meetings with my supervisors or other scientists, or my teaching schedule. I do up to eight hours of teaching a week, which includes helping out with labs and tutorials, as well as lecturing.
Then it’s off to the lab, to check on crystals which are growing, or to test the properties of crystals that have grown successfully. I also have to characterise my crystals to that I know as much as possible about them, I do this with a variety of microscopes, and also X-Rays.
For some crystals that I have done lots of work on already I am trying to make sensors and devices out of them. There are lots of interesting ways to do this- I can coat the crystals with thin layers of gold and connect them to little light bulbs, or I can squeeze them between large thick plates of copper. I can also coat them in thin plastics and grow lots and lots of crystal layers to increase how much electricity can be generated.
How would you describe yourself in 3 words?
Colouful, curious, and creative!
Who is your favourite singer or band?
Taylor Swift, Lauv, Ava May.
What's your favourite food?
I love toasted sandwiches! And Mexican food- enchiladas and fajitas.
What is the most fun thing you've done?
Ooh... possibly climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro, the highest mountain in Africa. It was really difficult but very very fun!
What did you want to be after you left school?
A scientist or a science teacher, or a doctor.
Were you ever in trouble at school?
School not so much, college I got into trouble for getting my friend to write an assignment for me- very bad decision!
What was your favourite subject at school?
By the time I was in 6th year it was physics, though Music and English were close seconds.
What's the best thing you've done as a scientist?
Using my computer simulations to predict and make a crystal that generates lots of electricity.
What or who inspired you to become a scientist?
My first memory of loving science was winning a build your own engine kit at a primary school science quiz. After that it was my leaving cert physics teacher, and I loved all the mathsy bits of leaving cert chemistry.
If you weren't a scientist, what would you be?
Event manager, hairdresser or surgeon
If you had 3 wishes for yourself what would they be? - be honest!
To travel the world, to own many dogs, to win a Nobel prize!
Tell us a joke.
Where does bad light end up? In Prism