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Engineering
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Career Story: Professor in Biomedical Engineering. NUIG

Prof. Laoise McNamara

Job title
Professor in Biomedical Engineering
Company
National University of Ireland, Galway
Industry
Academia/Higher Education
Experience
12 years
Education
  1. Undergraduate Degree in Mechanical Engineering
  2. PhD in Biomedical Engineering
  3. Postgraduate Certificate in Academic Practice
  4. Postgraduate Diploma in Statistics
Favourite subjects in school
Physics and Honours Mathematics
The best thing about my job
My job is unpredictable and constantly changing.

Being a great communicator, both in terms of teaching undergraduates and writing scientific papers and grant applications has so many benefits to any student. 

 

Enjoying the challenge of research, which is unpredictable and the path is often not defined is very important for this area of work.

My main tasks

I Lecture on undergraduate and postgraduate biomedical engineering degree programs in NUIG. I am the program director for a masters in biomedical engineering.

What I like 

My job is unpredictable and constantly changing. It is challenging, but rewarding and there are many opportunities to define your own path, in terms of the research questions you pursue. You also get to work with so many bright students and outstanding researchers across the world. 

Challenges

My job has so many demands. Deadlines all come at once and the changing university environment means you need to develop a wide range of skills, which are beyond the traditional teaching and research skillsets associated with academics. 

Who influenced me 

I come from a family of engineers and scientists, each of these greatly influenced my decisions. The most influential moment was when I was in Leaving Cert year, trying to decide what to put on my CAO form. I was convinced I wanted to be a Physiotherapist (because I liked sport and the CAO points were high!).

My uncle was a Professor of Mechanical Engineering and he convinced me that the subjects I was interested in at school (Maths, Physics) were well matched to studying Engineering. I had never been interested in machines, being in an all girls school I never had any exposure to subjects like Engineering drawing or Workshop that might be available in a boys school.

However, my career guidance counsellor at school agreed with my uncle, and strongly encouraged me to study Engineering. So I took their advice, and from the first week of University I never looked back!

Work/ Life balance 

My job can be very flexible at times and generally I have a good work-life balance. But at times there are demands on late nights and weekends, particularly when it comes to travel abroad for meetings and conferences.

Most useful aspects of my education 

My Undergraduate Degree and PhD were required for me to have my current job.

I gained fantastic experience working as Postdoctoral researcher at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York for 2 years. I also got great experience as a Lecturer in Biomedical Engineering at the University of Southampton for 2 years. All of these experiences were invaluable for my job today.  

Useful work experience 

A summer experience in a research laboratory would give someone a great insight into a research career.