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Welcome Trust Research Developement Fellow, UCD

Fiona McGillicuddy

Job title
Welcome Trust Research Career Development Fellow
Academic Research
11 Years
  1. BSc in Pharmacology in UCD
  2. PhD in Pharamacology
Favourite subjects in school
The best thing about my job
I love that no two days are the same in research. I love going to conferences and meeting new people who are like-minded. Completing a PhD allowed me the opportunity to move to the USA for a few years to work as a PostDoc which I enjoyed immensely.

Work hard at school/university, take science subjects, get work experience in a laboratory to see if you like it. Somebody with great analytical skills and a curious mind and problem solver would be a good fit for this career. A science degree is a valuable back-bone to this career.

My Main Tasks

The main tasks are writing grants and papers which require excellent writing and communication skills. At an earlier career stage I was full-time in the laboratory and this required excellent organizational skills and attention to detail. A very important skill for this career is critical thinking skills – that means trying to work out what might have gone wrong in an experiment and working around how to overcome this problem. I’m now in a more managerial and project management position so excellent interpersonal skills and leadership skills are essential. Time management skills are also essential.


There is a lot of administration associated with building a team and dealing with HR can be stressful. Also there is a constant pressure to pull in additional funding which is difficult and changes according to what the government want to invest in which can be frustrating for a researcher.

Who Influenced Me

When I was a teenager a close family friend was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis which I found devastating that there was no cure. This really inspired me to go into medical research. Once I reached 4th year in my degree and I was in the laboratory I knew instantly that this was the job for me. I had great mentors over the year and they have been major influencers in my career progression. My three years’ experience in the USA was very beneficial for my career development and I still maintain close communication with my previous mentor.

Work/Life Balance

Yes. I have a nice work-life balance. I start work early so I can pick my children up around 4.30pm and spend the evening with them. I was awarded a permanent lectureship in 2014 which was a big relief as up till then I was contract to contract which was a constant source of worry to me.

Most Useful Aspects of my Eductaion

Every aspect of my education and experience has been essential to provide the foundation of my current career. A science degree really teaches you about critical thinking skills and gives you a good foundation across all the science subjects (I even did physics for a year). The chemistry I learned is always used. But I wouldn’t be where I am today without going abroad and getting the International experience. You don’t have to do this but it is a competitive advantage when applying for funding to have worked with international experts in your chosen field. Also this was a great life-experience for me.

Useful Work Experience

Laboratory experience is a must. Seeking out work experience in a laboratory is a great way to decide if you like the career. Doing research projects during the summer of University also shows commitment and dedication to upskilling. But most of all getting international experience and publishing good scientific papers would be a great asset to looking for a position similar to mine.