I graduated from TCD in 1987 and finished my PhD in Bordeaux in 1992
A degree in physics from Trinity and a PhD from the University of Bordeaux.
I’ve worked as a medical physicist in St James’s Hospital, as a lecturer in Waterford Institute of Technology, and my current job in the Institute of Technology here in Tallaght.
I lecture in Physics in the Institute of Technology, Tallaght.
Favourite thing to do in science: Every so often I give a lecture which just gets out of control. The carefully prepared notes go out the window and it becomes a rambling conversation with ideas and questions from students about the many intriguing areas in physics. We get no course material covered that day, but it’s fantastic.
My Work: I lecture to undergraduate students and I work as part of a research group that looks for new planets around distant stars.
I spend about half my time teaching, a blend of lectures and student laboratory work. For different courses we look at topics as diverse as the physics behind sports science to the physics of forensics to the computational requirements of large databases.
The other half of my working day is spent on research. We are developing computer tools to make it easier to detect and study new planets around distant stars. So far over 800 such planets have been found, and this number is growing exponentially. It’s an exciting, but complex and difficult area of research.
What I'd do with the money: We’d like to see the development of a planetary walk.
A planetary walk is a scale model of our solar system. It would be great to have such a feature in along the quays in Dublin. A model of the Sun would sit at the Millenium Bridge, Earth would be in front of the Ha’penny Bridge, Jupiter at O’Connell Bridge, and Neptune out past the O2. At each location there would be a plinth giving information about the solar system body in question. It would be a fantastic scientific and cultural addition to our capital. The prizemoney won’t be enough to build this, but it would help us develop the model and lobby for it.
How would you describe yourself in 3 words?
I love learning.
Who is your favourite singer or band?
REM, the B52’s, Ricky Lee Jones, Johnny Cash. As you can see, my taste in music hasn’t evolved much in several decades.
What is the most fun thing you've done?
Becoming a parent. Also the most frightening.
What did you want to be after you left school?
a physicist, the writing was on the wall for me pretty early
Tell us a joke.
“Hey, we don’t serve neutrinos here”, said the barman. A faster than light neutrino walks into a bar.