Diarmuid Ó Conchubhair – Team Lead: Marine Infrastructure Projects
What section and service area do you work in?
Oceanographic Services, Ocean Science and Information Services
Third level qualifications and where you obtained them?
I have a varied mix of undergraduate studies! Having initially studied Engineering, the economic downturn put a halt on progressing much further with this at the time so I undertook a Masters in Coastal Management and Geological Information Studies (GIS) at University College Cork (UCC). This course was operated by the Coastal Marine Resources Centre (CMRC) in conjunction with UCC and contained a significant amount of practical work including vessel time on the RV Celtic Voyager. The masters course also covered marine renewables, environmental impact assessments etc. which I found very interesting.
I have continued to develop over the past few years including an Accredited Module in Applied Marine Biological Sampling & Data Collection at Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology (GMIT), Higher Diploma in Gaeilge at National University of Ireland, Galway (NUIG) and Passive Acoustic Monitoring (PAM) course with the Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC).
What are your main responsibilities?
The main responsibilities involved in my position include Marine Institute (MI) input into a variety of European Projects including: EMSOdev, FIX03, JERICOnext and COOP+.
My position also includes being responsible for the Ireland Argo Programme which involves deploying Irish Argo floats in key monitoring locations within Irish waters. Initially sitting down with Argo data end users both at the MI and externally and determining preferable deployment locations, I then discuss with Research Vessel Operations about the mobilisation of floats on suitable research cruises. This information then needs to be relayed to collaborative organisations such as EURO-ARGO Research Infrastructure (France) and the British Oceanographic Data Centre (UK).
Writing research proposals is also a key responsibility of my position. Over the past 12 months I have been part of a variety of interesting European funding proposals from INTERREG to H2020. These funding mechanism's allow the Marine Institute to further develop is marine monitoring and research capabilities in collaboration with our European and Global counterparts.
I assist the wider OSIS team when required and as a result of my previous experience in marine renewables I am often asked to present on the great work being undertaken by the MI Ocean Energy team to media organisations such as Radió na Gaeltachta and TG4.
What are the most interesting aspects of your job?
I have to admit I have a soft spot for the ARGO mission! In a nutshell, Argo floats measure drift direction, temperature and salinity in the top 2,000m of the ocean. They undertake a 10 day cycle in which they drift, measure and then surface at which point they relay they data taken over the past 10 days back to shore before diving to 2,000m to begin the process all over again. There are currently ~4,000 Argo floats in the ocean giving us very good spatial data on changing ocean temperatures and salinity over the past ~10years
Another interesting aspect of my job is getting an insight into the latest advanced marine technology. Through European research projects this could range from the latest type of subsea observatory to autonomous underwater vehicles and newly developed drifter buoys.
I also love being at sea on research surveys. In February 2017 OSIS undertook a climate change survey to the Southern Rockall Basin, in probably the worst weather of the year...and I loved every minute of it!
Why do you think the work of Marine Institute is so important?
The Marine Institute plays an important role in marine monitoring, research and the development of new and innovative marine technology. It is through the high quality of work produced by the Marine Institute that we are sought after by European consortia for a variety of research proposals.
I also think that the Marine Institute has a fantastic and extremely knowledgeable staff who are always obliging in passing on their knowledge with fellow staff, bursars/interns and other research organisations alike.
Why do you think the Marine Institute’s Stagiaire Programme is useful for recent graduates?
Having completed the Marine Institute's Stagiaire programme on completion of my master's degree I would recommend it, without hesitation to any recent graduate. The Stagiaire Programme embeds a recent graduate into the Marine Institute and allows them to gain practical experience within relevant MI teams. The range of experience offered by the programme stands any participant in good stead with regard to future employment opportunities on completion of the 12 months.
What are your best career tips for someone in your area?
As I mentioned above the Stagiaire Programme is a fantastic way for people to gain practical experience within the Marine Institute but there are also other ways of gaining experience such as the Marine Institute Bursar Programme. Working in industry/companies who work within the marine sector is also a great way to gain experience. I spent 3 years with non-for-profit SmartBay Ireland Ltd where I learned an extensive amount.
It is also important to be enthusiastic in general and to have an open and positive mind-set. Continue to develop yourself and your skills (there are plenty of online courses costing relatively little, some are even free).