Leona Mc Girr
Mount Lourdes Grammar School and Queen’s University
Degree in Chemistry with Forensic Analysis and PhD in Physical Chemistry
Almac- Pharmaceutical Company
Research Fellow in The Centre for Cancer Research and Cell Biology
I have just finished a PhD in physical chemistry and I am currently working as a research fellow in the Centre for Cancer Research and Cell Biology. So you are probably wondering how I ended up doing this? Well, to be honest, I was terrible at English in school and so I chose to study chemistry, maths, biology and physics at A-Level. I completely fell in love with Chemistry and actually looked forward to doing my chemistry homework! When it came to deciding what I wanted to study in university, I really struggled. My careers teacher had advised me to do medicine, dentistry or pharmacy because of my subjects, but I wasn’t passionate enough about any of them careers and I didn’t want to limit myself to one job/area. So, I decided to do what I enjoyed the most . . Chemistry. I did a 3 year degree in Chemistry with Forensic Analysis at Queen’s University and a placement year in a pharmaceutical company. In the final year of my degree, I had to complete a forensic project with the Forensic Service Northern Ireland (FSNI). I really enjoyed the research and wanted to do more, therefore I applied for a PhD in physical chemistry and the rest is history!
My Typical Day: Go into my office (which i share with other post graduate students), check my emails, look up the latest journals in my research area and carry out experiments in the lab.
What I'd do with the money: Ohh I have a few ideas; organise a science event for secondary students to get hands on experience with science equipment. Or id donate the money to W5 in the Odyssey arena which is a non profit science organisation that make science and learning fun! But im also open to suggestions from the pupils . . . .
How would you describe yourself in 3 words?
Enthusiastic, curious and hard-working
What's your favourite food?
What is the most fun thing you've done?
What did you want to be after you left school?
I never really knew- so I just did what I enjoyed the most and that was Chemistry!
Were you ever in trouble at school?
Ssssh . . . of course!
What was your favourite subject at school?
CHEMISTRY!!! I was a pure chemistry geek.
What's the best thing you've done as a scientist?
Presented at ‘Fantastic Females’ at W5 in the Odyssey. I met soo many aspiring scientists and got asked loads of good questions.
What or who inspired you to become a scientist?
My old Biology teacher- he was a typical mad scientist!
If you weren't a scientist, what would you be?
That is a really hard question but I would probably be a medical doctor
If you had 3 wishes for yourself what would they be? - be honest!
Win a Nobel prize in chemistry (obviously), win the lotto and of course . . . 3 more wishes!
Tell us a joke.
Two atoms were walking down the street when one of them said, “I think I lost an electron!” “Really?” the other replied, “Are you sure?” “Yes, I’m positive.”