I have worked mainly in universities (Miami, London, Galway, UCD, Brest (France)) and in institutes (Met Eireann and IFREMER – the french Marine Institute)
Earth Observation and Modelling Manager
My ideal afternoon would be fresh sushi and a sing-song on a yacht, followed by a dive on a pristine coral reef.
I live in Wicklow, the Garden County, between the mountains and the sea. I’m a water baby and I sail, dive, snorkel, swim whenever I can find the time. I also love to sing and I am a member of a barbershop chorus, which performs on a regular basis. I have two roommates and one cat and adore asian food. I get to travel a lot with work and have visited some pretty remote places, I’ve even flown over the Arctic in a helicopter!
I use satellite data to study and observe the oceans, in a nutshell.
I’ve always been fascinated by the two biggest unexplored areas around us – space and the sea and I’ve been fortunate enough to turn that fascination into a job. Most of what I do is based on research and developing that into more concrete applications. My job is to come up with new ideas on how to use satellite data, find ways to realize them, and then promote the result. Turning an idea into reality requires resources: having people who have the skills to do the job; finding the right engineering or technical approach; planning what is going to happen and when; and how much it will cost and where the money to do it will come from. All of that needs to be managed, so that we know where we are going within the company, when we are going to get there. Coming from a scientific background, I work a lot with scientists, as they have great ideas which we can transition, or help them to transition, from pure research to a commercial activity.
My Typical Day
There is no typical day, apart from reading email and keeping up to date, and I like it like that.
One of the things I love about my job is that every day brings new challenges. I spend a lot of time at my computer, but doing many different things. I need to keep up to date with technical and commercial developments, in the company, nationally and internationally, as we are always looking for new opportunities. Sometimes I spend hours or days on a technical problem, programming or doing data analysis for a particular project. Other times I am trying to create a new project from lots of different elements, which usually means talking to people, coming up with different plans or approaches and sometimes just sitting and thinking! Recently I spend 2 weeks at the European Space Agency Research Institute near Rome, meeting with experts from all over the world to discuss the best way to make sure that the data we receive from Earth Observing satellites is as accurate as possible.
What I'd do with the money
I’d like to use it to encourage girls to participate in coderdojo or maker activities
Coderdojo and maker events are such a fun way to meet other geeks and learn new skills while you play. I wish they’d been around when I was in school! I’d give the money to a hacker or maker event to pay for girls to travel to the event if they couldn’t afford to go otherwise.
How would you describe yourself in 3 words?
Smart, active, happy.
What's the best thing you've done as an engineer?
Figured out how to use a GPS to measure the humidity of the atmosphere.
What or who inspired you to become an engineer?
I’m inspired by the unknown – space and the sea, in particular offer so many opportunities to explore…
What did you want to be after you left school?
I didn’t know, until I discovered that doing research could be a full-time career, that’s when I knew I’d found my calling.
Were you ever in trouble at school?
Yes. I was a quick learner, so I was always bored in class and created trouble to break the monotony.
If you weren't an engineer, what would you be?
Oooh, maybe a chef? Sushi chef, of course
Who is your favourite singer or band?
Sweet honey in the rock
What's your favourite food?
Raw fish – yum!
What is the most fun thing you've done?
The helicopter trip in the Arctic was a definite highlight
Tell us a joke.
What’s red, in the fridge and invisible? No tomato.
Some of the team deploying a buoy at sea. We use buoys to measure water temperature, quality and even waves and currents.
Installing a small turbine on a jetty
I spend most of my time at a computer – here my colleague is analysing satellite measurements of ocean colour
You can see a lot of features in satellite images. Here are some turbidity plumes (water which is carrying a lot of sand or sediment) which are caused by tidal currents sweeping up the Irish Sea and getting caught on Howth Head, forming eddies off Ireland’s Eye.