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Ciara Jacoby, Chemist Technician

Degree subject M.Sc. Environmental
Science, B.A. Chemistry, Trinity
College Dublin (TCD)
Job title Chemist Technician
Employer Inland Fisheries Ireland

Starting out

After completing my Masters in Environmental Science in
September 2011, I knew that I wanted to pursue a career in
environmental monitoring given my analytical background
in chemistry. After graduating I had the opportunity to work
in the Biogeochemistry lab in Trinity College Dublin. Whilst
there I analysed water samples for nutrient and major ion
concentrations taken from lakes and coastal regions in
Ireland as well as the Ria Formosa lagoon in Portugal.

My current job

My current role in Inland Fisheries was advertised on many
recruitment websites and I applied for it directly through the
FÁS website. The on-going monitoring of water quality on a
number of key inland waterways is one of the main roles of
Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI). The purpose of the work is to
identify and eliminate sources of pollution or incidents of
fish kills, thus maintaining these waterways as a valuable
recreational resource. IFI is also involved in a broad range of
fisheries research and monitoring activities including water
chemistry, aquatic vegetation, coarse fish, pike, salmonids,
conservation species, estuarine and marine fish.
My main responsibility is water quality analysis. This
involves processing water samples for nutrient
concentrations, chlorophyll, Biological Oxygen Demand
(BOD), Chemical Oxygen Demand (COD), alkalinity, turbidity
and heavy metals. I'm also involved in creating a new water
chemistry database for the lab which will consolidate all
sample results recorded since the 1970s. Different research
officers send in water samples from several sites around the
country for analysis. These sites include the water framework
sites, IFI fish farms and important fishery sensitive locations.
The experience I have gained at IFI has been truly
invaluable. I have been given the opportunity to implement
analytical techniques that I utilized during my Masters and
have developed a greater degree of competency.
Recently I assisted with the on-going Environmental
Protection Agency (EPA) inter-calibration programme which
our laboratory must participate in. This is implemented as
part of a quality management scheme for the IFI lab.

Tips for students and graduates

Networking is extremely important. LinkedIn.com, for
example, is great way of finding people and companies in
your discipline. Internships are central in providing
experience to graduates that employers’ ultimately desire.