Really enjoyed it all. Great questions that really got the brain going!
Coláiste an Spioraid Naoimh (1986-1992); University College Cork (1992-1996); University College London (1998-1999)
B.Sc (Hons) in Geology and an M.Sc in Hydrogeology
Geophysical survey company 1997-1998. Geological Survey of Ireland Groundwater Section (1999 – 2001). Environmental Consultant at a number of companies (2001 – 2006). Environmental Protection Agency (2006 – today!)
Project Manager for a landfill remediation project. Basically the project involves intervening at an abandoned landfill site that posed a significant risk to groundwater and was causing a lot of odour problems, making life very difficult for the local community. Thankfully we’ve reduced a lot of the impacts and we’re waiting on news of funding for the long-term clean-up.
Environmental Protection Agency
Favourite thing to do in science: Fieldwork. Getting out in the field and seeing really cool rock formations or getting to drill cores deep into the ground. Going deep underground in a mine never gets old; having maybe a kilometer of rock above your head, surrounded by massive vehicles and machinery and being able to find really cool crystals and ore minerals everywhere you look.
My Work: Making sure that people operating mines, power stations, pharmaceutical plants, landfill and factories can all make our day to day lives better, but without the environment and future generations paying the price!
All Views my own!
My Typical Day: There isn’t one! That’s what’s great about my job; you’re constantly thrown into the deep end and need to learn new things to do your job well.
What I'd do with the money: I’d use it to beef up my school visiting kit: Compressed Air Rocket kit (Newtons Laws and hell it just fun), Ultraviolet light box for mineral shows (many things in your day to day life do seriously weird things under UV light), lots of high quality magnifying glasses for examining fossils and crystals (many crystals look so perfectly formed you just won’t believe they’re not man-made).
How would you describe yourself in 3 words?
Curious. Talkative. Nerd.
Who is your favourite singer or band?
This changes all the time. I’ve got Daft Punk on an endless loop at the moment; but I keep coming back to REM.
What's your favourite food?
PIzza. Pizza and more Pizza. (other healthy eating alternatives are available, consume as part of a balanced diet, terms and conditions aplye, etc.)
What is the most fun thing you've done?
Kite buggying. Its really cool and really fast, but can go wrong very easily. There’s a video of me being dragged along the ground backwards by a power kite in the Phoenix Park, screaming for help (no I won’t put it up. There’s a LOT of cursing and laughing at my expense).
What did you want to be after you left school?
A geologist. We had a really great Geography Teacher Tony Doherty or “Doc” as everyone called him who made Physical Geography and especially the geology part really interesting and I was hooked from then on. Thanks Doc.
Were you ever in trouble at school?
Not really. But I certainly wasn’t a star pupil either (my older brother was in the A-Class; I was a bit further down the alphabet). Things were looking very bleak in 6th year when my major achievement was going from an “F” to and “E” in Physics between Christmas and my Mocks at Easter. I did manage to get a C1 in the Leaving though, THE hurdle I had to get over to get into my Earth Science course.
What was your favourite subject at school?
Geography (the physical bits like geology. not the fisheries policy stuff – yuch)
What's the best thing you've done as a scientist?
I’d have to say meeting the love of my life in my Geology class (it was like a slushy romance novel but with rocks. hammers, bogs and GoreTex thrown in). Best thing I’ve done working as a Scientist: I’d say helping the Kildare Fire Service put out an underground fire at a landfill (these things can burn for years). It took about 3 weeks and 16-hour days and involved drilling boreholes down to where the fire was and injecting Nitrogen gas into the ground to snuff the fire out. It was a really serious issue to deal with but was huge fun in that we had to throw out the standard rule book and kept having to try new things and take lots of measurements/data to see what was working. It was all sorts of environmental and fire-fighting science combined and we beat the fire in the end!
What or who inspired you to become a scientist?
Tony “Doc” Doherty my Geography Teacher.
If you weren't a scientist, what would you be?
Too horrible to contemplate. A very frustrated accountant or divorce lawyer maybe?
If you had 3 wishes for yourself what would they be? - be honest!
In order of preference (and not reality): 1. Work for NASA at the Jet Propulsion Lab in Pasadena as a planetary geologist on the Mars Rovers Project. 2. Get to visit the International Space Station. 3. Win the Lotto (or it the jackpot is under €500k I’d settle for I’m a Scientist Get me Out of Here)
Tell us a joke.
Garda stops Erwin Schrödinger at a checkpoint and asks where he’s going. “On my way to the lab and it’s really urgent I get there soon”. The Garda says it won’t take long and can he have a look in his boot. Garda has a thorough root around and then shouts “Hey, did you know you’ve got a dead cat in a box back here?”. Schrödinger shouts back, really annoyed “Well, it is NOW!”.