NUI Galway (2014-2015), NUI Galway (2007-2011), St Mary's College, Galway (2002-2007), Scoil Bhríde, Shantalla (1994-2002)
Bachelor of Science (Anatomy), MSc in Biomedical Science
Lake Region Medical (2012-2014)
PhD Student in Biomedical Engineering at NUI Galway
National University of Ireland, Galway
Favourite thing to do in engineering: Using the microscope to look at bone cells following my experiments
I like to solve problems and understand more about how the body works
I am from Galway city where I went to school and college. I always loved science and maths and used to ask my teachers lots of questions. Sometimes, they didn’t have the answers and I would go to try and find out, which usually meant reading an encyclopedia (it’s like wikipedia, except in a book) to find the answer.
That desire to find out the answers never went away and it led me a career in science and engineering. Here I get to spend all day finding answers to questions.
When I’m not at work, I like to read and watch TV (especially science fiction). I also like to play sports like tag rugby and running.
I study how bone cells feel different forces, such as those from walking around, and how this process goes wrong in osteoporosis
Bone cells are very smart and they can sense when you are walking around and when you are standing still. They use special sensors to find this out. We know how some of the sensors work, but not all of them.
I spend my time studying more about how two of these sensors work. Knowing more about how they work expands our knowledge of the human body, but it also helps us to understand more about diseases where these sensors don’t work the way they should, such as in osteoporosis
My Typical Day
I spend a lot of time in the lab making sure my bone cells are alive and happy while I do my experiments. The rest of the time, I am at my computer trying to understand my results.
At work, I spend my days growing bone cells in the lab. I then push fluid over the cells to simulate the forces experienced within bone due to everyday activities, such as walking. I can then stain the cells with different dyes to look at different parts of the cell. Doing this, I can find the special sensors within bone cells used to sense mechanical forces. I can all look at how these sensors work by measuring the chemical signals they produce.
I learn more about how these sensors work so I can figure out how they go wrong in diseases such as osteoporosis.
A look at a bone cells stained for the special sensors in green and yellow:
What I'd do with the money
Use it create an activity about biomedical engineering for open days and science festivals
How would you describe yourself in 3 words?
Inquisitive, Witty, Determined
What's the best thing you've done as an engineer?
Getting the chance to work with a created and motivated group during my PhD
What or who inspired you to become an engineer?
I wanted to find a way to combine my passion for biology and physics and biomedical engineering was a good fit
What was your favourite subject at school?
Physics and Biology
What did you want to be after you left school?
Were you ever in trouble at school?
If you weren't an engineer, what would you be?
An architect or a teacher
Who is your favourite singer or band?
So many... Johnny Cash, Frank Sinatra, Queen to name a few
What's your favourite food?
What is the most fun thing you've done?
I got to abseil off a 14 storey hotel for charity
If you had 3 wishes for yourself what would they be? - be honest!
As long as everyone I love is happy and healthy, I can't ask for more... except for maybe a cool robot...
Tell us a joke.
How did the skeleton know that it was going to rain? Because he could feel it in his bones.