Hi there! I am an Irish scientist, living and working in Philadelphia. 🇮🇪🇺🇸 I love watching sport, particularly rugby 🏉. I play the guitar, drink lots of tea and coffee and I am a total science nerd (proud of it too) 🧑🏻🔬🧬🧫
Hi there! I am an Irish scientist, living and working in Philadelphia. 🇮🇪🇺🇸 I am a postdoctoral scientist, which means I have finished my PhD and started to carry out some independent research with my mentors.
I was a secondary school teacher in Ireland before I decided to become a scientist. I eventually moved to Philadelphia in February 2020 (just before 🦠😷) and I have loved it here since. I enjoy socializing with friends and colleagues from work, who are all scientists like me. I live in the city center of Philadelphia and I ride to work on my electric scooter every day. I love to teach and research science! In my spare time, I enjoy walking around the city, drinking coffee, and I used to be an avid rower and sailor so I hope to pick up those hobbies again soon.
My pronouns are:
I work at the FitzGerald Laboratory at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. Here I research many topics including cardiovascular health, muscle health, public health and chronobiology.
My main focus is on circadian biology and muscle health. Our genes code for proteins and these molecules help our bodies to carry out our daily tasks. Some of these genes and proteins tell the body when it is the appropriate time to wake up or rest, to increase or decrease our blood pressure etc. These repetitive cycle happen everyday and they are called circadian rhythms. Without them we would all be active at different times of day! These rhythms are affected by light, diet, exercise, the environment, and even our genetics. I want to learn how these rhythms affect muscle health and how we age.
I also work on COVID-19 public health research. I have research supplements such as vitamin D and whether or not they are helpful and I work on projects investigating COVID-19 vaccines.
My Typical Day:
Typically my work involves me going to work on the bus or scooter (weather dependent) and starting around 9am. I catch up on emails before checking on my colony of mice 🐭 that help me with my research. After that I usually have meeting or various experiments to complete throughout the day. Some experiments take a few hours, some take days so it is really important that I plan these experiments very carefully. I like to finish my day around 5pm if my experiments are complete.
The interesting thing about my job as a circadian biologist is that we are interested in how time affects some of our experiments. Therefore, some days I work a normal 9-5 but then other days I could have very have to go to work very late at night (12pm) or early in the morning (4am). This can sometimes be difficult, particularly if the weather is bad, although Philadelphia has mostly nice weather. On a normal 9-5 day, I typically travel to work on the bus or my electric scooter (weather dependent). I start around 9am and I catch up on emails before I go and check my colony of mice 🐭 that help me with my research. I make sure they are all happy and healthy. After that I usually have meetings or various experiments to complete throughout the day. Some experiments take a few hours, some take days so it is really important that I plan these experiments very carefully. During the day I always try to meet my lab partners for coffee or a chat in the afternoon. This can be a time to talk about what we recently watched on Netflix, but more often than not they provide me with advice to help me with experiments. I like to finish my day around 5pm if my experiments are complete.
What I'd do with the prize money:
If I was to win the prize money, I would donate it to the biology students from the Philadelphia Friend’s Select School. I was recently lucky enough to visit Ms Mayer’s biology class there are some enthusiastic biology students who could use that money to conduct a research summer program at the University of Pennsylvania in our laboratory.
If I was to win the prize money, I would donate it to the biology students from the Philadelphia Friend’s Select School. I was recently lucky enough to visit Ms Mayer’s biology class there are some enthusiastic biology students who could use that money to conduct a research summer program at the University of Pennsylvania in our laboratory. Some students (2-4) want to visit and and help with experiments at our laboratory. This is a good opportunity for students to see if they would like to become a scientists. The money would fund any materials the students need (The laboratory provides mostly everything free of charge) and transport to the university for a period of three weeks. Any remaining money will be given to Ms Mayer to invest in science equipment.
Ardscoil Pobail Bantry, Ireland.
University of Limerick, Ireland.
Memorial University of Newfoundland, Canada.
University of Pennsylvania, USA.
PhD Biochemistry and Nutrition at the University of Limerick, Ireland.
Postgraduate Certificate in Teaching, Learning, & Scholarship at the University of Limerick, Ireland
Bachelor of Science in Biological Sciences at the University of Limerick, Ireland.
Former lecturer at the University of Limerick.
Former secondary school teacher (middle school/high school) in biology, chemistry, and agricultural science.
Lecturer at the University of Limerick form January 2017 – January 2020 on the following modules:
- Biological Sciences Applied to Nursing & Midwifery.
- Equine Breeding and Genetics
- Genetics and Molecular Biology
- Introduction to Food Science and Health.
Scientist working at the University of Limerick for Bord Iascaigh Mhara – University of Limerick: December 2019 – June 2020
Ocean Frontiers Institute (OFI) Research Fellow:
Memorial University of Newfoundland from June 2019 – November 2020. The title of my project was “Heart Healthy Salmon: Assessment of the antioxidant properties and structural elucidation of the antithrombotic polar lipids of farmed Atlantic salmon”
Research Intern at the Cell Membranes Laboratory:
Intern at the University of Limerick from January 2015 – August 2015. The title of my project was “The molecular cloning of PrtR cell envelope protease from Lactobacillus manihotivorans”.
Teaching Assistance and Instruction: December 2015 – January 2020
Instructor and teaching assistant for multiple university module in Limerick: Genetics and Molecular Biology (BY4008), Food Chemistry (FT4204), General Biology (BY4001 and BY4002).
Fully Qualified Secondary School Teacher:
Teaching Science, Biology, and Chemistry at Coláiste Pobail Bheanntraí, Bantry, Co. Cork, Ireland from September – December 2014 and January – February 2016
Teaching Science, Biology, and Chemistry at Maria Immaculata Community College, Dunmanway, Co. Cork, Ireland, from February – April 2013.
- Barista and bar service at the Scholars Club (student bar), University of Limerick, Limerick, Ireland.
- Bar service at the Stables Club (student bar), University of Limerick, Limerick, Ireland.
- Bar service at the Waterfront Restaurant, Bantry, Co Cork, Ireland.
- Bar service, waiter, and restaurant management at the Westlodge Hotel, Bantry, Co Cork, Ireland.
- Volunteer at Bantry Youth Cafe, Bantry, Co Cork, Ireland.
University of Pennsylvania: February 2020 – Present
Postdoctoral Researcher at the Institute for Translational Medicine and Therapeutics, at the Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania (USA).
Institute for Translational Medicine and Therapeutics, Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania
How would you describe yourself in 3 words?
Nerdy, friendly, tea fanatic
What's the best thing you've done in your career?
Moving from Ireland to Philadelphia
What or who inspired you to follow your career?
My science teacher
What was your favorite subject at school?
What did you want to be after you left school?
I wanted to be a teacher.
Were you ever in trouble at school?
Very rarely, but we are not all perfect!
If you weren't doing this job, what would you choose instead?
I would be a teacher for sure!
Who is your favorite singer or band?
Coldplay/ Snow patrol/ Hozier
What's your favorite food?
I love all food... but French cuisine is the best...
What is the most fun thing you've done?
I took part in Atlantic Challenge, which is an international rowing and sailing. Probably the most challenging and fun hobby I have taken part in. I got to meet great people from all over the world.
If you had 3 wishes for yourself what would they be? - be honest!
1. A long happy life with my family and friends; 2. A tenured position in academia; 3. A Dachshund puppy 🐶
Tell us a joke.
If a plant is sad do the other plants photosympathize with it?