My main tasks
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.
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.