Spotlight 2018

Fiona Edwards Murphy, Apis Protect

3 Apr 2018
Fiona Edwards Murphy

Fiona Edwards Murphy is the creator of Apis Protect, a product which helps bee-keepers to reduce losses and increase the productivity of their hives through the use of in-hive sensors and technology. The company was named Business of the Year 2017 at the IGNITE UCC awards, and nominated in the emerging category for Cork Company of the Year Awards. Fiona talks to us about how UCC gave her the knowledge and skills to start an innovative business.

Course/subjects studied in UCC
BE Electrical and Electronic Engineering, 2009-2013
PhD, School of Engineering & School of BEES, 2013-2017

Best memory of UCC
During my undergrad, my favourite memories are those I made with my friends, both inside and outside of my class. Engineering social events were never dull, such as the Eng Cup and the engineering ball. 
During my postgraduate studies, my favourite memories are of travelling all around Europe attending conferences and other events. It was an amazing experience to meet experts in my field, learn about what they were working on and to discuss my research with them.

How has your time at UCC helped you to get to where you are now?
As well as the technical knowledge I gained during my studies, which I use every day, the network which being a UCC alumna has provided me with has been very valuable. Taking part in the IGNITE programme at UCC gave me a fantastic introduction to the world of entrepreneurship, as well as introducing me to a variety of UCC grown entrepreneurs who have inspired me to try to create a successful business of my own.

What is your advice to current UCC students?
Your time at University is short, and when you’re done it will feel like it passed in about five minutes (even if you stick around for eight years like I did). So, as much as you can, look outside your studies and get involved in the amazing things going on around you. Go join a Society, try out a sport you’ve never played, or find some students with a shared interest and create something new using your University-learned skills in the real world. Not only are these fantastic opportunities that won’t be easily available to you in the future, but they’re fantastic ways to build your network and flesh out your CV for the real world.

What person/people at UCC had the most positive influence on you?
Dr Emanuel Popovici, director of the Embedded Systems group, had a massive influence on me. I discovered the topic of Wireless Sensor Networks (WSN) during an internship in his group in the summer of 2011, and he supported me in all of my subsequent projects applying WSN to different areas such as toys, e-health, and beehives! I went on to pursue my PhD in this topic with him as one of my supervisors. 
Another positive influencer I had at UCC was Dr Pádraig Whelan in the School of BEES, who was my other PhD supervisor. Firstly, he provided me with a crash course in beekeeping and the biology of honey bees at the start of my PhD. His advice and guidance throughout my PhD helped me become a better researcher and technical writer.

Were you involved in any Clubs or Societies?
During my undergrad, like most engineering students, I attended lots of Engineering Society events. I also attended several Entrepreneurial and Social (E&S) Society events, which was maybe my first hint at what I would end up pursuing after college. I also worked on projects with other students in different disciplines. During my postgrad I took part in several events with the Biology Society, I appeared for them as a guest speaker and helped them organise fundraising events.

Favourite UCC legend or superstition 
It has to be the classic “don’t step on the quad or you’ll fail your exams”. It makes walking across the quad on graduation day very satisfying!

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