Name: Dara Meehan
Degree Programme: MRes Plant Biology
Year of Graduation: 2020
Country of Birth: Ireland
- Why did you choose to study your programme?
I chose to study a Masters by Research in Plant Science for a few reasons. Namely, during my time in UCC as an undergraduate in Genetics, I became very fond of the topic of plant genetics, and molecular science. I was lucky enough to secure a literature project in 3rd year around the topic, which I followed on with my final year project, involving genetic modification of potatoes. I decided I wanted to pursue the field of research in my 4th year, and applied for a Masters by Research in BEES, with a project that would follow on from my final year project. I felt like there was more I wished to achieve in this area, and I wanted to get deeper into research as a whole, and learn new skills. Most importantly, I realised that working in industry was not for me, and that I always wanted to be trying new experiments and concepts, and I feel like this Masters suited that train of thought.
- How does/has your programme and the university help(ed) you fulfil your career aspirations?
Thanks to the degree I took, I was able to work as a Research Assistant immediately after I qualified. I spent a year working in a start-up company, which was immensely beneficial and interesting. I feel like I would not have had this opportunity had I not chosen the degree I did.
- What is/was your favourite thing about studying in UCC?
The sense of close-knit community and collaborative research. At no point did I feel like I was overwhelmed with problems. I always found I had someone I could go to to ask for advice or help, and this made my Masters much easier to cope with, and overcome any hurdles which came up.
- What do you miss (or will you miss for current students) the most about the university?
The people and the lab. I really enjoyed the atmosphere in BEES, it felt like a small community down there, and everyone was always happy to have a chat. I’ll really miss going in everyday to check on my plants in the growth room, or see if my bacterial cultures had grown or not. At the time, it certainly felt stressful, but in hindsight, it really was an amazing and fun time full of unexpected challenges, but incredibly rewarding all the same.
- What is your current role and what are your future plans?
Currently, I am working as a clerical officer in the City Hall Vaccination Centre. Naturally, this is not a long term plan for myself, and I intend to get back into research as soon as possible. Ideally, I would like to continue my studies by enrolling in a PhD in the fields of either Microbiology or Molecular Biology, and eventually work back into sustainable agriculture.
- What advice would you give to future students looking to study at UCC?
Talk to people. Either to those who have graduated from a course you’re interested in, or the co-ordinators or lecturers. I think people are too hesitant and nervous to reach out, but they should. The best advice will be given by those directly involved with a programme, and I think to make the best decision about your choice of study, you need to talk to these people. That’s what I did, and that was what made me realise I wanted to make a career out of research.