Ashbourne Community School, and N.U.I. Maynooth
Bsc in Physics with Astrophysics. Currently working toward PhD in Physics.
N.U.I. Maynooth, SRON, Tudor Windows
Researcher on Instrumentation for space telescopes.
N.U.I. Maynooth and European Space Agency (ESA).
Favourite thing to do in science: Learn new things about space, time and the universe; particularly the strange quantum processes that govern our world in the weirdest ways.
I am in my final year as a PhD student at N.U.I. Maynooth, researching new simulation methods for instruments for far-infrared astronomy.
ROCKET SCIENCE!!! I am a physics researcher and a dad of two girls. My research is aimed at developing new simulation techniques for analysing instruments that will fly into space aboard the next generation of space telescopes. The latest mission that we are helping the European Space Agency with is called SPICA, the SPace Infrared telescope for Cosmology and Astronomy. It aims to discover how the first galaxies formed, how planets form, and even analyse the atmospheres of exo planets that could prove the existence of life outside our solar system. The simulations we run help us to understand how the instruments will behave once they are in space. We also collaborate with the Space Research Institute of the Netherlands (SRON) where they build the instruments. I spent the summer working there this year.
My Typical Day
Sit at the computer puzzling over mathematical simulations until I either get a headache or get a ‘Ureka! moment’.
What I'd do with the money
I would use the money to travel to schools in order to perform fun physics experiments with the students so that I could help get them excited about the cool subject of physics and space science.
I believe that to get students interested in science we must make it fun to learn. There are so many fun experiments that can be displayed with simple apparatus (stuff). It is also amazing, the things we can learn about nature by using simple tools and applying a bit of thinking. For example we can measure the speed of sound in air with just a couple of tuning forks, some tubes and a bucket of water, even though the speed of sound has the really big value of 343m/s. Or we can show how objects can levitate (float) in a magnetic field with some special materials and some liquid nitrogen (which is now cheaper than milk).
I think that demonstrating some of these cool phenomena of nature to students can help get them excited about science, and particularly physics. Stories about the reality of time travel and parallel universes always go down well too!
How would you describe yourself in 3 words?
Totally Mad Scientist!
Who is your favourite singer or band?
Johnny Logan…Nah, just kidding. I’d have to say Pink Floyd, although my daughter demands I say One Direction???
What's your favourite food?
Ice Cream and Jellies.
What is the most fun thing you've done?
Worked with a travelling carnival for a summer. Being a Carnie is something everyone should try once.
What did you want to be after you left school?
Were you ever in trouble at school?
eh…….. Next question???
What was your favourite subject at school?
Maths and Science and Wood Work.
What's the best thing you've done as a scientist?
The teaching part of me research position has been the most enjoyable.Helping other people to understand the amazing workings of or universe is so fulfilling.
What or who inspired you to become a scientist?
StarGate SG! TV Show and my father-in-law.
If you weren't a scientist, what would you be?
Still working in the factory that I was in before returning to education as a mature student :(
If you had 3 wishes for yourself what would they be? - be honest!
1) Good Health and Happiness for me and all the people I know and love. 2)Become an Astronaut. 3) Be a famous Rock Star!
Tell us a joke.
What do you call a fly without wings……..a ‘walk’