In 2021, the Marine Institute is profiling our people, sharing their study and career paths, the work they do at the Marine Institute and the important contribution their work delivers.
Scientific and Technical Officer
Policy, Innovation and Research Support Services
What is your current role at the Marine Institute and what's involved in your daily work?
I am a Scientific and Technical Officer in the Policy Support team of the Marine Institute's Policy, Innovation and Research Support (PIRS) Service area. My daily work in PIRS is quite varied but the main aspect of my role involves supporting the implementation, monitoring and reporting of the National Marine Research & Innovation Strategy 2017-2021 (MRIS). Under the MRIS, the National Marine Research Funders' Forum was established in 2018 as a strategy implementing mechanism. This Forum brings together organisations with the aim of enhancing coordination in marine related research funding, whilst also addressing a number of the implementing actions set out in the MRIS. In collaboration with the members of this Forum, I collect data on marine research investments in Ireland from national and international funding sources. I have worked with the Forum members and colleagues in the Marine Institute to develop the National Marine Research Database, which contains details on marine research projects active during the lifetime of the MRIS. We have also produced a number of charts that visually represent the data contained within this Research Database. The purpose of this work is to provide a platform for knowledge-based decision making, informing policy and increasing coordination of marine research funding. I continue to work with colleagues to maintain the Research Database, improving the robustness of the data and enhancing the accompanying visualisation tools.
What did you study and why?
On leaving secondary school I joined a large number of my classmates in enrolling in the Bachelor of Commerce undergraduate course at the National University of Ireland, Galway (NUI Galway). The course provided an opportunity to gain a foundation in a number of areas of interest including accounting, marketing, strategy, tax and law and I graduated in 2010. I returned to NUI Galway a year later to complete a Masters in Strategy, Innovation and People Management and went on to work for a time in a financial services company.
I joined the Marine Institute in 2016 to provide support in the final stages of the National Marine Research & Innovation Strategy 2017-2021 drafting process, particularly to assist with a public consultation being undertaken to inform the final strategy. I was interested to experience working in a different sector and see the strategy development process that I had studied in university in practice. That initial experience evidently went well as I'm still here almost five years later and have been enjoying my career progression in the Marine Institute ever since. Although it was not anticipated, I consider myself fortunate to have found myself working in such an interesting and exciting sector.
What are you interests and passions?
I have a keen interest in sports and music. The recent return of sports after months without playing has been so important to me and hopefully live music events can follow suit in the not too distant future! I'm particularly passionate about Gaelic football and soccer, which I've played since childhood. Many of my evenings and weekends are spent on pitches with my local football (St. Michaels GAA) and soccer (NUI Galway FC) clubs. Growing up I always enjoyed being by the sea and in recent years I've come to appreciate even more the benefits of having the ocean on my doorstep. I have started to swim more frequently, it's great for rejuvenating the body and is helping to keep me lining out for my clubs each week.
What is the best thing about working in the Marine Institute? What do you enjoy most about your job?
Joining the Marine Institute from a non-marine background means that I am constantly learning, which keeps the job very interesting. It's enjoyable to work in a role that is so varied and with colleagues whose knowledge and passion for the marine is so inspiring. Working in the Marine Institute I feel part of a mission to have a positive impact on a global scale.
What is something you think everyone should know about the ocean?
More than 80% of the ocean is still to be explored. The surfaces of the moon and Mars have been mapped to a greater extent than our own ocean floor. When considering the life-giving properties of the ocean and all that it provides, it's amazing that there is still so much that remains a mystery. The potential for new discoveries and innovations is vast and underlines the importance of researching and protecting the ocean.