Has your opinion of STEM changed since you were a teenager?
When I thought about STEM as a teenager, I pictured it as sitting in front of a microscope or computer in a lab. In reality STEM is lots of different things, and a career in it is no different. There are all kinds of backgrounds, projects, people and places to work in STEM.
In your opinion, what is the biggest myth about STEM careers?
It’s easy to see STEM careers as exclusive, and lots of people believe they do not have the ability to study and work in it. The thing about STEM is that because there’s so much diversity and so many options, there is something in it for everyone.
Do you believe that there is enough being done to encourage girls to study STEM and pursue STEM careers?
No – I spoke above about a lack of confidence. When I was a teenager I hated maths the whole way through school. I was terrified of it and never motivated to engage with it because I just believed my academic abilities lay elsewhere. I was scared going into a Science course as I didn’t think I would be able for third-level maths, even though I just had to take one module in it in my first year. I think girls in particular are prone to this lack of confidence, especially in science and maths, and more work needs to be done on showing them that they are more than capable for, and very valuable to, STEM.
Describe an interesting day in your current position.
In my work I get to engage with a wide variety of research and the people driving it, from those working on cutting-edge epilepsy treatment to those working alongside NASA. I often talk to them about their research and help them to spread news of it, whether it’s through a short article, a press release or a media interview. It lets me learn about the fascinating STEM research going on around Ireland, first-hand from those leading it.
What do you love about your current role?
Engaging with researchers to discuss what they’re passionate about and getting to sit down and write about it in a way that will engage the public, encouraging them to get involved and read about science news.
What has been your most exciting career moment to date?
Meeting Mary Robinson at the Schrodinger at 75 conference!
What kind of other experts do you work with on a day to day basis?
I work on a diverse team including people dedicated to international relations and digital and social media.
Is your current job, and the work of the wider team, making a difference in the world?
I think so – we are working to get people more involved in and informed about STEM, so that they can contribute more to deciding what research is most important to focus on, and so that they can understand developments taking place in Ireland and beyond.
What do you hope to achieve in the next year in your current position?
Getting the Irish public more involved in STEM research than ever.
Do you feel that you fit the stereotypical description of a person in your role?
Not entirely – two of us on my team have scientific backgrounds. My knowledge of science is very helpful in my role as I can understand to a greater extent the various projects that we need to engage with researchers about.
If a young person told you that they would like to get into your role, what advice would you give them?
Sometimes it doesn’t seem like you can combine your passion for science with other interests – but the thing about working in science is that there is lots of room to bring in things that you love and to be creative.
Name one thing on your bucket list.
To complete and publish a poetry book and/or novel.
What television series are you currently watching?
Patriot – it’s so good.
What living person do you most admire, and why?
Ruth Bader Ginsburg – she is the ultimate feminist icon!