Thanks for the great questions everyone!
Sacred Heart School, Tullamore, Ireland. 2002 -2008, Dublin City University, Dublin, Ireland. 2008-2012. University of Aberdeen, Aberdeen, Scotland. 2012-2013.
BSc. in Physics with Biomedical Sciences. MSc in Medical Physics. Dip IPEM in Radiation Physics, Nuclear Medicine and MRI. Working towards full Clinical Scientist registration in MRI.
St. James’s Hospital, Dublin, Ireland. Ninewells Hospital, Dundee, Scotland.
Trainee Clinical Scientist in Ninewells Hospital, Dundee. Working with the MRI medical physics group.
Favourite thing to do in my job: My favourite thing to do in science is to grow knowledge! We already know so much, but there is so much out there we haven’t even touched on yet. Growing knowledge and finding new ways to apply what we already know is thrilling. It’s the way to the future.
I’m a physicist and I use the laws of physics everyday to help run MRI scanners in hospitals
A medical physicist working in MRI has a very busy day. Because the main element of an MRI scanner is a giant magnet, there are certain safety issues that we need to keep on our minds at all times. No metal can come close to the MRI scanner – if you walked near a scanner with something like a key, it would fly out of your hand and stick to the scanner wall! The magnet can be more than a thousand times the strength of a typical fridge magnet. So one of our main jobs is to keep metal away – which can be hard sometimes when patients need to be scanned and they have things like pacemakers or replacement hips. We also do post processing of scans before the radiologist looks at the results. This makes extra information available for the doctors to base a medical diagnosis on. For example if there is a scan of a heart carried out, we can do some fancy analysis on the images and generate a number for the amount of blood flowing through the heart in a minute or calculate the speed the blood is flowing through the hearts valves at. Sometimes this information can help a doctor realise what is going on.
My Typical Day
My typical day doesn’t exist! Every day is totally different – different patients, different scans, different problems to sort out! That’s what makes it so interesting.
Working as a scientist in a hospital is great because the work we do can have an immediate and dramatic effect on a patient’s stay. One of the more challenging jobs for an MRI physicist is trying to make scan times shorter for patients, but at the same time keep the quality of the images produced up to as high a standard as possible. This can be trickey as it’s the opposite of what naturally happens! We run tests on the scanners to make sure they are preforming as well as they can at all times. We also screen patients before their scans so we can be absolutuly sure they have no metal in them or on them! Once all the patients have gotten safely through their scan we usually have some time to work on our own experiments and projects – my favourite part of the day. When I started I got to scan a pineapple to learn how everything works!
What I'd do with the prize money
I didn’t realise there was money! How much?! …because I really want a puppy :)
But if the puppy thing didn’t work out I would spend any money received setting up visits to schools to let classes know how science is used everyday in hospitals. All the machines that can tell your heart rate, image your bones, look at your brain, cure cancer – they all were developed as a result of scientific experiment. And all the work going on behind the scenes is going to be the healthcare we see in the future.
How would you describe yourself in 3 words?
rambunctious, gumptious, sesquipedalian
What's the best thing you've done in your career?
I worked on a project to analyse how people walk. It’s amazing what you can learn from how people strut their stuff!
What or who inspired you to follow your career?
My Physics teacher – she had so many great ideas.
Were you ever in trouble at school?
Nope – teachers pet
If you weren't doing this job, what would you choose instead?
I would be in the army, and well capable of running 10 miles presumably!
Who is your favourite singer or band?
London Grammer – the lead singer is awesome!
What's your favourite food?
Pizza. Hands-down winner.
What is the most fun thing you've done?
I’ve been camping with my friends – a few nights in the woods can be way more fun than it sounds, I promise!
If you had 3 wishes for yourself what would they be? - be honest!
I think every scientist has their eyes on a Nobel Prize…someday hopefully (dream big and all that!). I wish that I will love my job as much as I do for the rest of my working life – it really is just so interesting and fulfilling. Finally I wish for an unlimited supply of pizza :)
Tell us a joke.
Why did the cow win the Nobel Prize? …Because he was out standing in his field.