My Main Tasks
In 2016 I received funding from Science Foundation Ireland to investigate how useful certain materials could be for applications in the energy industry. For example, I am searching for materials which could improve the amount of charge batteries can hold or decrease the amount of time required to charge them. I design computer simulations to answer these questions, and supervise team-members also working on this problem. It is important to have strong time-management skills, good programming skills, excellent written and oral communication skills and the ability to work well both independently and as part of a team.
It is getting more and more difficult to stay up to date with all the latest research published in my field. It is not unusual for several people to be working on the same problem at the same time and it is important to keep up to date so that you don't waste time repeating the same experiment.
Who Influenced Me?
My PhD supervisor has had a big influence on my career. After spending time in his research group as an undergraduate, he encouraged me to start working towards a PhD.
On a day-to-day basis, my job has more flexibility than most. The quality and quantity of your research is what matters – not how long you spend in the office. Saying that, it can be easy to spend a lot of time working, particularly when you are close to finally solving a problem, or if you have a deadline approaching.While the job security of an early-career academic researcher is not great (academics generally spend several years on short-term contracts before finding a permanent job), this is somewhat compensated for by the ability to work on problems you find interesting and with the best minds in the world.
Most Useful Aspects of my Eductaion
The most useful thing I have learned is how to attack a problem logically. We spent a lot of time in school and in college proving maths theorems, and while I do not do that anymore, the highly logical way of thinking eventually sinks in until it becomes second nature! These problem-solving skills are in high demand by employers in all areas, not just in academia.
Useful Work Experience
While in school, try to get involved in something like Trinity's Walton Club, or in the events run as part of Science or Maths Week. Several universities offer work experience programmes for TY students. In college, it is possible to get work experience in a real research lab, where you could be assigned your own small research problem to work on.
Top Tip for Students
When I filled in my CAO form, I had no idea that "Computational Material Scientist" was a job. I chose my course based only on the fact that physics and maths were my favourite subjects. If you know you love science, but aren't sure exactly what jobs exist, rest assured that people with scientific training will always be in demand by employers.