Science was the real winner
I went to the CBS in Naas and then Trinity College.
My degree was in Science (Physics, Chemistry and Maths were my chosen subjects) and my PhD was in Stellar Astrophysics.
I worked at NASA for a bit but mostly I’ve been studying and working at Trinity College (in the School of Physics and Science Gallery) for the last decade.
Research Projects Coordinator
Science Gallery, Trinity College Dublin
Favourite thing to do in science: I really like taking scientific concepts that people find difficult to understand and explaining them in a way that makes them interesting and easy to grasp.
I love science and I love talking. I think I might have found my perfect job because I spend most of my time talking about science :)
My Typical Day
I don’t think I have ever had a typical day in work.
My job is always diverse and exciting. Yesterday I spent the day designing a science project for transition year students, interviewing people for some roles here at Science Gallery and then writing a lecture about Living on Mars. Today I’m off to Brussels for a meeting with the European Commission to discuss how we teach science. Who knows what I will be doing tomorrow.
What I'd do with the money
I would use the money to improve the visual communication of astrophysicists.
My colleagues and I study some of the most spectacular phenomena in the universe – solar explosions, dying stars and colliding galaxies. Sometimes it is difficult for us to convey the wonder of these processes with just words and we often cannot observe them using visible light. I would spend the money on technology and training to make us better at expressing the breathtaking beauty of the cosmos.
How would you describe yourself in 3 words?
Energetic, overexcited and inexhaustible.
Who is your favourite singer or band?
I listen to all kinds of music but if I have to work I listen to metal. Metallica are my favorite band but generally I listen to heavier and darker music while I’m working. I often annoy people by being too happy and positive. They find it slightly disconcerting that when I’m at my desk I’m listening to death metal, but I don’t think the music you listen to should influence the way you dress or behave.
What's your favourite food?
Lasagne. But only if my mother has made it.
What is the most fun thing you've done?
That’s probably a tie between skydiving and snowboarding.
What did you want to be after you left school?
Were you ever in trouble at school?
I was much better at getting out of trouble than I was at getting into trouble.
What was your favourite subject at school?
Art and Physics. They are more relevant to each other than you might think.
What's the best thing you've done as a scientist?
Using the Hubble Space Telescope for my research was one of the things I am most proud of but I think working at NASA was probably the highlight.
What or who inspired you to become a scientist?
My brother was really good at physics in school and I wanted to be just like him, so that was the reason I picked it as a subject for the leaving cert. I had a really good teacher in school and when I studied science in Trinity College I was surrounded by inspirational scientists.
If you weren't a scientist, what would you be?
Either a failed artist or a struggling farmer.
If you had 3 wishes for yourself what would they be? - be honest!
1) I wish I never had to sleep. I have a pretty healthy lifestyle apart from never getting quite enough sleep. It might not sound like it initially, but I think it might be the best superpower. Think about it – if you never had to sleep you could accomplish almost anything. 2) I wish I could solve the world’s problems. That might seem silly, but scientists are all about problem solving. One of the driving forces of being a scientist is that you might be making the world a better place. 3) I wish I could understand people. No matter how much study you do, you will never be able to understand someone to the point that you know exactly what they are thinking. I would not like to see peoples thoughts because that would take the fun out of being human, but it would be nice to know that you would never upset anyone ever again.
Tell us a joke.
I wanted to tell a really good chemistry joke, but all the good ones ARGON.
Here we are making an Iodine Snake, also at Electric Picnic. Roney has a PhD in Chemistry and mine is in Physics, so between us we get to talk about lots of science in our demonstrations. We really like blowing things up and setting things on fire and it’s nice to get paid to do that.