Keep the questions coming!
I went to primary school in Scoil Bhríde, The Curragh, Co. Kildare from 1993 to 2001. I completed my junior and leaving cert in the Patrician Brothers Secondary School in Newbridge, Co. Kildare froom 2001 to 2006. From 2006 to 2010 I did a science degree, specialising in zoology, at Trinity College Dublin. Now I am finishing my PhD research in Trinity College Dublin which started in 2011
I have a Bachelor of Science degree (specialising in zoology) from Trinity College Dublin and I am currently finishing my PhD research in the Department of Zoology at Trinity College Dublin
After finishing my leaving certificate, and during my early years in college, I worked in bookshops and various other shops to have some pocket money. During my PhD, I worked with an international biodiversity conservation charity called Operation Walacea. While working with them, I visited schools in Ireland tell them about Operation Wallacea’s great work and worked with students from all over the world while exploring and doing research in tropical Indonesia.
I am currently finishing my PhD research and hope to stay in science, helping to find solutions to threats to our plants and animals
Trinity College Dublin fund my research
Favourite thing to do in science To see strange and unusual animals in their natural environment, and to hold them if we need to (very carefully!) catch them for study.
I study birds on tropical islands in Indonesia, trying to learn more about how birds evolve into new and different forms
My Typical Day
During fieldwork: I get up very early in the morning to go out and study birds by watching them or carefully catching them to collect data. When I am not doing fieldwork: I read papers and books to learn more about evolution and birds, and analyse the data I have collected (which is actually more fun that it sounds!).
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What I'd do with the money
I’d like to run an event, taking a class out to a nature reserve for a day to tell them all about how fun and interesting it is to study wild animals (particularly birds), why the animals are important for us and why we should treat conservation seriously. Hopefully, we’ll be able to catch and release some birds on the day. Otherwise, I’d like to develop a series of short, fun and informative cartoons to teach young students about the previously mentioned topics
How would you describe yourself in 3 words?
Happy. Adventurous. Determined.
Who is your favourite singer or band?
Probably The Smashing Pumpkins
What's your favourite food?
Chorizo! It goes with everything
What is the most fun thing you've done?
I went snorkelling in the sea with huge, 12 foot Manta Rays at night in Hawaii. It was spectacular!
What did you want to be after you left school?
I didn’t know exactly what I wanted to be but I knew I wanted to study science and zoology
Were you ever in trouble at school?
A little. I got detention a few times but nothing major. Getting in trouble is just part of growing up.
What was your favourite subject at school?
Biology. I still love it. It’s endlessly fascinating.
What's the best thing you've done as a scientist?
Identifying a unique bird species was pretty cool and I really enjoyed doing TV and radio interviews about this discovery
What or who inspired you to become a scientist?
I found wildlife magazines and nature documentaries, particularly those by David Attenborough, very inspirational. They taught me about the amazing diversity of animals and plants and why they’re important. They also taught me that there is lots of exploration still to be done and animals to be discovered.
If you weren't a scientist, what would you be?
Who knows… maybe a teacher.
If you had 3 wishes for yourself what would they be? - be honest!
(1) To live a long and happy life. (2) To travel the whole world and see as much wildllife as possible (3) To change the world for the better, for humans and for wildlife
Tell us a joke.
I’m an environmentalist. Most of my jokes are recycled.
A male Wakatobi Flowerpecker. My research helped identfy these birds as a unique species, found only on the small chain of islands where I do my field research
Another one of my study species, the Lemon-bellied White-eye. A really cute bird!
I am very lucky to be able to visit and work on such beautiful tropical islands like this one
While out doing fieldwork, you come across all sorts of animals, like this giant millipede
A Collared Kingfisher. Unlike our kingfishers that live along rivers, this species lives in forests, farms and villages, eating frogs, lizards, bees and even other birds!
A beautiful Yellow-billed Malkoha, which is found only in Sulawesi where I work. Locals call them ‘monkey birds’ (burung munyet in local language) as they follow troops of Macaque monkeys through the forest, using the monkeys to find food.