St David's Holy Faith Secondary School, Technological University Dublin, Ludwig Maximilians Universitat (Erasmus), Dublin City University
Leaving Certificate, BSc in Chemical Sciences with Medicinal Chemistry,
Barista, Ice-cream maker, and shop manager at an ice-cream parlour
Research Master's student
Favourite thing to do in my job: Learn new things!
About Me: I'm an engineering research student with a background in chemistry.
I’m from the Wicklow mountains, I have 2 big dogs, 2 little dogs, 4 cats, and a tiny blue frog. I am 21 years old, the youngest of 6 brothers and sisters, and I have a niece and nephew. My favourite things to do in my free time are to paint and draw, read, watch movies, play Nintendo, and recently I have started knitting. I am also trying to learn French but I’m not very good yet!
My Work: I look at coatings to put on metal implants that surgeons use to help repair bones after they break
Sometimes when bones break, surgeons have to fix them using metal implants that will hold the bones together. There is always research going on about how to improve this process and make the bone grow back better – can we use different metals? Can we coat the metals with different materials? Can we make it safer for the body? Can we make it easy to use?
I look at a type of material called “calcium-phosphates”, which are different forms of two molecules, calcium and phosphates. Calcium and phosphates already exist in the human body. They are used in different parts of your body in different ways to keep you healthy. One way they are both used is together in your bones! They combine to make a calcium-phosphate material called “hydroxyapetite” which is basically the part of your bones that makes them hard and strong.
My job is to make a coating made from calcium-phosphates that can be put on a metal implant. My coating has to be able to allow hydroxyapetite to grow around it, and it must also protect the metal implant from degrading too quickly in the body before its job is done. I use my background in chemistry to explore this problem and try come up with different solutions. Then I test these ideas in the lab and see if they work or not.
Since I am a new research student who just started this project, I haven’t gotten very far or done many experiments yet. But I have spent pretty much a full year reading about it, and I did a smaller project and wrote a thesis about this topic in my final year of college. The project is exciting for me because I have always been interested in how the human body works and how we can heal it, and learning about bones is cool because they protect us and allow us to move and there is some impressive engineering involved in that.
My Typical Day: Because of lockdown, I work from home most days. I spend my days doing lectures and assignments, reading about my research topic, and getting things organised for my project.
What I'd do with the money: Donate it to Irish Girl Guides
I would donate the prize money to the Irish Girl Guides because they actively encourage young girls to discover their potential in all areas of life and encourage girls to learn about and pursue STEM subjects in school and after school. I was also a member of the Brownies in 4th class and really enjoyed it.
How would you describe yourself in 3 words?
chemist-engineer and frog-enthusiast
What's the best thing you've done in your career?
What or who inspired you to follow your career?
Myself and going to university open-days
What was your favourite subject at school?
Biology and Art
What did you want to be after you left school?
A biomedical scientist
Were you ever in trouble at school?
Always for daydreaming or being late
If you weren't doing this job, what would you choose instead?
Probably a doctor, or a painter
Who is your favourite singer or band?
What's your favourite food?
Toast with butter
What is the most fun thing you've done?
Gone stand-up paddle-boarding at midnight in a bioluminescent pier
If you had 3 wishes for yourself what would they be? - be honest!
To be able to slow-down time, to have infinite money, to be able to talk to animals
Tell us a joke.
knock knock! Who's there? Cowsgo. Cowsgo who? Cows don't go "who", they go "moo"