My name is Louise and I hold a Masters in Forensic and Analytical Chemistry and a PhD in Novel Analytical Techniques for Disease Diagnostics from University of Strathclyde in Glasgow. After the PhD, I moved back to Ireland, carrying out research in the field of Nanomedicine and Nanotoxicology at UCD. I now work as a Scientific Programme Manager for Science Foundation Ireland helping to bring researchers in Universities together with those in Industry to deliver meaningful benefits for the people of Ireland.
Has your opinion of STEM changed since you were a teenager?
As a teenager I was so focused on becoming a Forensic Scientist. Based on the science we had done at school, I thought that was the only career in STEM that would really interest me. Once I got to University and was exposed to a wider range of science I realised that there were other options available to me, ones that excited me even more than Forensic Science.
Describe an interesting day in your current position.
On some days I get to meet with big multi-national companies who are looking to set up a research base in Ireland. I hear about the companies plans for the next 10 years and help them see why Ireland is an ideal location for them to expand into. On other days I could be heading out to a university to meet with a scientist who has a brilliant idea and point them in the right direction of getting funding.
What do you love about your current role?
While I loved being in a lab and carrying out experiments every day, I love my current job even more. I may not be the one making scientific discoveries but I am helping many others to do so and in areas from cancer to drone technology. It feels like my impact on science is even wider than it would have been if I had stayed in the lab.
Do you ever get to travel abroad for work?
In my current role I mostly only travel around Ireland, though in my previous roles I got to travel all over the world to meet with other scientists and work on projects together. I even spent 6 months in Uganda teaching Chemistry in a high school.
What kind of other experts do you work with on a day to day basis?
I work with experts in nearly every field of scientific research, from astrophysicists to software developers, from geoscientists to immunologists. Its really inspiring to work with the greatest scientific minds in Ireland.
If a young person told you that they would like to get into your role, what advice would you give them?
Say yes to opportunities that excite you – you may not end up where you thought you would, but you’ll end up happy!
Did you complete any sort of placement or internship during your studies? If so, did it prepare you for what you do now?
I did a one-year placement at GlaxoSmithKline during my university degree – it was an amazing year. It felt like everything I had been learning at Uni had a purpose as I could see it all being put into practice.
Do you feel secure in the fact that you can earn a living from a career in Stem?
There are so many career possibilities for someone with a STEM degree. I’ve never felt locked into one particular path and there has always been a choice of options available to me. I also think the skills you learn during a STEM degree and any STEM related job, such as critical thinking, problem-solving, working as a team make in extremely employable in loads of non-STEM related jobs too.
Name one thing on your bucket list.
I had always wanted to be the Rose of Tralee – unfortunately I may have missed the boat on that one.
What television series are you currently watching?
I’ve just finished season 3 of Stranger Things and looking for something equally amazing to get stuck into – suggestions are more than welcome!