Presentation Secondary School Tralee (2004-2009), University College Cork (2009-2013)
BSc Chemical Physics
UCC Physics Department, UCC Chemistry Department and Tyndall National Institute
Computational Chemistry PhD Student
School of Chemistry and CRANN, Trinity College Dublin
Favourite thing to do in science My favourite thing to do in science is to learn new things and to come up with new ideas and new ways to look at problems in my research.
I’m a final year computational chemistry PhD student in Trinity College Dublin, my favourite things are science, cute animals and Harry Potter.
I’m originally from Kerry but I spent 4 years in Cork (UCC) while studying for my undergraduate degree and moved to Dublin in 2013 to pursue my PhD. I’ve got two younger brothers who are also budding scientists; one a physicist and one a biomedical scientist!
In my spare time I like to play games on my 3DS (like Zelda and Pokémon) and read. I also love travelling, listening to podcasts, audiobooks and music. My favourite types of movies to watch are documentaries, I’m a Netflix-fiend!
I use high powered computers to simulate properties of materials for applications in clean energy production.
My work involves investigating new materials for energy conversion (converting chemical energy to electrical energy) mainly in devices called solid oxide fuel cells. These devices are similar to batteries but rather than storing energy for later release they convert energy directly. These devices are very attractive as a solution to our energy crisis as they are highly efficient, which means they don’t waste much energy at all, and they can be used with clean and renewable fuels (like hydrogen fuel) which makes them very enviornmentally friendly.
I simulate these materials using a computer using a range of methods (both quantum mechanics and classical mechanics)which means that I spend no time in a conventional wet lab at all! When I say I simulate the materials what I mean is that I run calculations which act as virtual experiments and from these virtual experiments I can investigate interesting properties of the materials!
I love working in computational chemistry as it allows me to bring together my love of both physics and chemistry to work on interesting and important problems.
Here is a link to a video of me giving a talk about my research at a conference this year.
My Typical Day
A typical day at work for me involves running simulations, analysing lots of data, working on scientific papers and proposals for computer time, working on my thesis and sometimes I demonstrate computational chemistry labs to undergraduate students.
What I'd do with the money
I have a few ideas for the money; I would possibly like to use some of it to put on some workshops for students related to using computers for chemistry to show them what you can do! I would also like to give some of the money towards some of the outreach work that already happens in our chemistry department related to teaching second level students all about chemisty!
How would you describe yourself in 3 words?
Hard-working, organised, Hufflepuff
Who is your favourite singer or band?
It changes all the time, but I like a bit of everything from Radiohead to Kendrick Lamar
What's your favourite food?
Mexican food. Always.
What is the most fun thing you've done?
A trip to visit the Large Hadron Collider/CERN in Switzerland when I was in my first year at University!
What did you want to be after you left school?
An engineer or a researcher
Were you ever in trouble at school?
What was your favourite subject at school?
Probably Physics, but Chemistry, Applied Maths and German all came in close second!
What's the best thing you've done as a scientist?
I really enjoy travelling to conferences and presenting my research
What or who inspired you to become a scientist?
My teachers in secondary school gave me my love of science and carrying out research projects while I was in college helped me to figure out that that was what I wanted to do.
If you weren't a scientist, what would you be?
If I wasn’t a scientist I think I would be a surgeon.
Tell us a joke.
I only make bad chemistry jokes because all the good ones Argon.