School - CBC Cork ; Undergrad - University College Cork ; Masters postgrad - Uni. Southampton (UK), Lund University (Sweden), Uni. of Warsawa (Poland) and ITC (the Netherlands)... it was a joint MSc. coordinated across the EU ; Postgraduate (PhD - ongoing) - University College Cork
BSc. in Applied Ecology, an MSc. in Remote Sensing, GIS, and Environmental Management
I've done a lot of work in bars and restaurants. These got me through college, but also taught me some damn important life lessons. My career (and current path) really grew, there is no job in the environmental sector when you step out of college, you really make your own job. In between my undergraduate and Masters degree I spent two years in bars and doing voluntary work in environment. Then after my masters, it was back to the bar, doing some small private contract work, before landing a small bit of work on peatlands with UCC. From there I went from contract to contract, project to project, all within UCC. I've worked on national projects, European Commission projects, and European Space Agency projects. Now that I actually write that down, thats pretty awesome!!! :)
PhD Student and general Space minion in UCC
University College Cork (technically I’m a student here).
About Me: I'm an ecologist, who accidentily fell into working in Space. Living in Cork, mad about the auld outdoors (surfing, hiking etc.), martial arts and most recently climbing (terrified of heights but it's an adventure). Love travelling, been to four continents now and always planning my next adventure.
I’m an ecologist, who accidentally fell into working in Space (Whoops). I wouldn’t consider myself an engineer tbh, more someone who works with engineers and marvels at the awesome stuff they do. I live in the auld Peoples Republic of Cork, currently doing a PhD looking at our Oceans from Space. I’d be a fairly active person, I’m mad about the auld outdoors (surfing, hiking, roadtrips etc.), martial arts, and most recently climbing (terrified of heights but why not sure).
I love travelling – been to four continents now and always planning my next adventure. I’m very happy my PhD studies do involve quite a bit of travel, so my travel bug is managed.
Music n’ movies are my zen-space. I have a fairly eclectic taste, but once the headphones are on I’m in my own little world. I’m just as happy sitting in the cinema with my mates, or just solo (with popcorn with Malteasers mixed in), soaking in the big screen escapism n’ letting the silver screen whisk me away on an adventure.
My Work: I look at the oceans from Space using satellites, their surface structure over space and time, how it changes.
Well…. my work really revolves around my PhD. In a nutshell, I’m looking at huge loads of satellite images of the Ocean surface and getting my computer to do some serious number-crunching to make sense of it all. I take a lot of images of temperature of the ocean surface, stick them together, and extract a single image of the surface structure over that time period…. and… it’s… AMAZING. First off, the results are beautiful, the ocean surface is wonderfully complex, with inconceivably huge systems churning away, shaping what I see in my results. Secondly, the best thing is realising how little I know about it. I see this incredibly complex image, and now have to go and figure out what makes it the way it is. What is that structure off the southwest coast of Ireland, and how does it change over time? How does this affect folks who live off fisheries in Cork, or Galway? I have all these questions fizz-popping about in my brain, and then off I go to do some statistics, compare my results to other peoples data, and get some clarity on some of these questions. After all that analysis, reading, and thinking (brain-pain), I have to write it all up into a thesis that makes some sense… that’s going to be fun… 🙂
But as with any job, you don’t just do a single task. I also get to work with communities, using my experiences in figuring out how to work in space, to help them spot opportunities for themselves, and work out how to seize those opportunities. That’s a seriously rewarding part of my work, when I see someone figure out what they can do with Space technology in their everyday lives, and they just light up.
I really enjoy being the person who helps the engineers and scientists to talk to the folks who are looking for solutions. It’s really challenging, often they speak different languages (all english, but the same words have completely different meanings), but you know you’ve got the ball rolling when they start chatting to each other and I can take a step back. I never realised how important it is, the social side of technology, and it’s an area I would like to move more into after I cross the finish line of my PhD marathon.
My Typical Day: I go in with a plan, and after ten minutes the plan goes out the window. :)
What I'd do with the money: I'd like to raise awareness of the Space technologies available to the next generation to help them adapt to Climate Change.
Climate Change is a reality which unfortunately you folks, our next generation will bear the brunt of. Raising awareness of the changes coming down the line, and the impacts they will need to deal with is vitally important. The European Space Agency has led the development of huge archives of Earth system measurements, which can be accessed and explored using the ESA Climate Change Initiative App.
This really cool info-app contains visualisations, explanations and nifty tools to explore and examine how the Earth is changing as Climate Change progresses. I can use it to tell a story about Climate Change. I’d like to travel to schools and teach them about Climate Change, Climate Adaptation, and their potential as Irish citizens to make a difference. It would also give me the chance to talk to students about my career, and opportunities for them in Space, highlighting that space isn’t just about astronauts and giant fireworks. Space is so much more… it’s the codes that keep things running smoothly, the people translating the data, the folks in ground stations keeping the satellites and astronauts safe and healthy, the compounds covering space craft to protect their delicate electronics from radiation, the engineers and scientists making these incredible devices which work in the harsh Space environments, and so…much…more.
How would you describe yourself in 3 words?
Wide-eyed, hardworking, quirky
What's the best thing you've done in your career?
Spent a week in the Caribbean last year helping folks to spot opportunities for themselves in Space technology... it was the most rewarding piece of work I've ever done, and to be fair... the sunshine in January was nice too. :)
What or who inspired you to follow your career?
My dad n mum who always encouraged me to question the world, my biology teacher in school (shout-out to Mr. Guiney!), my thesis supervisor in my undergrad (shout out to Dr. Harrisson).
What was your favourite subject at school?
Biology... our teacher Mr. Guiney just had this buzz about the subject and I caught it. I just found it mind-blowing that we are all made of these tiny bits that all coordinate and talk to each other, still blows my mind to this day tbh.
What did you want to be after you left school?
An expeditioney person traipsing about the rainforest...tbh, I hadn't a clue and I don't think I ever will... I'm just kinda rolling with it.
Were you ever in trouble at school?
Not really, as much as any teenager would be in I guess. Tbh, I didn't much like school. I just kept my head down and made sure i'd never have to go back and do it ... ever ... again. I loved college though, I was like a kid in a candy shop when I hit college.
If you weren't doing this job, what would you choose instead?
Community Development maybe, or nursing... It's kinda hard to answer this as I very much value how I got here... both the good, and the bad stuff I've gone through.
Who is your favourite singer or band?
This is a tough one, given I LOVE music. Top five at the moment are: Rufus, Steven Price, Florence & the Machine, Dean Lewis, and Feeder.... this will probably change in an hour..
What's your favourite food?
Mum's Lasagne... All of the faceplantage... it's unreal
What is the most fun thing you've done?
Hmmmm... torn between (1) a surf trip up and down the West coast of France (Biarritz to Nantes) with my brothers and a buddy in a crappy VW campervan, and (2) Zipping around the Mekong Delta in Vietnam on a motorbike on fieldwork asking farmers about their rice crops.... it's a tough call on this one... :/
If you had 3 wishes for yourself what would they be? - be honest!
1) To shake the hand of Sir David Attenborough (what a LEGEND!) 2) Some of my hair back... that'd be nice. 3) to be able to hold a handstand for 20 seconds.
Tell us a joke.
Whats blue and fluffy? Cold pink fluff. *queue tumbleweed*