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Caitriona Jackman, Planetary Scientist
Caitriona Jackman went to secondary school at Crescent College Comprehensive in Limerick. From there, she did a degree in Applied Physics at the University of Limerick. During that time she did a 9-month co-op placement at the Mullard Space Science Laboratory in Surrey. After graduation she moved to the University of Leicester to do a PhD in Planetary Science. She is now working as a postdoctoral researcher at Imperial College London.
For Leaving Certificate I did the usual English, Irish, Maths, then Physics which I loved, Chemistry which I wasn’t great at (kept breaking stuff in the practicals), French, Geography and Music as an extra. I really enjoyed English actually, and even though a lot of my job involves computer programming and some hard maths and physics, I still rely heavily on my writing skills.
As important as it is to have technical ability in my job, it is still crucial to be able to communicate any results I find. One of the main tasks for me is to write papers for scientific journals, and occasionally to write articles for a more general audience.
My French is also useful because I collaborate with several people from a lab in Paris and they like if I make an effort to speak a bit of French, even though my accent is very embarrassing!
I went to secondary school at Crescent College Comprehensive in Limerick. Following on from there, I did a degree in Applied Physics at the University of Limerick.
During that time I did a 9-month co-op placement at the Mullard Space Science Laboratory in Surrey, and after graduation I moved to the University of Leicester to do a PhD in Planetary Science.
My PhD took me just under 3 years, and then I moved down to London to start my current job, as a postdoctoral researcher at Imperial College London.
For me, my co-op placement was definitely the major stepping stone to my current career. It was my first chance to work with data from the Cassini spacecraft, which I then continued during my PhD.
I knew that I enjoyed physics while I was at university, but I would really urge people to try to arrange a work placement in the “real world” to get a feel for the day-to-day tasks that you might be doing in the future.
I have gone on several public speaking and media training courses. Also, because my job requires a reasonably high level of computer programming skill, I am always learning on the job.
I may at some point do some further training, but I’m less than two years out of my PhD, so I think I need a little bit of a break from exams!