Gregory Tierney, PhD Student, Irish Research Council

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What’s your area of research?

I’m a PhD student at Trinity College Dublin, funded by the Irish Research Council’s Postgraduate Scheme. My research looks at the kinematics of concussion injuries in sport and how they affect the brain.

What motivates you in your research?

The great thing about bio-engineering research is that you know you are using your engineering skills to improve the quality of life and health of individuals. So the fact that I could marry my academic interests with my passion for sport is great for me.

What are the most important skills for your research?

I think problem-solving skills are hugely important, you encounter so many diverse challenges along the way during your research so you have to be able to step back and look at them in terms of devising a unique solution. Communication skills are also huge, you’re going to have to communicate your research to a large number of people from a range of different disciplines, either in a one-to-one meeting or in front of a large number of people at a conference. We work with the Irish Rugby Football Union (IRFU) and Leinster Rugby, who are giving up their own time so you have to be able to show them the benefit of what your research is achieving.

How important is the funding?

The funding is essential, the scheme covers your fee, your research costs and also provides a stipend, which is a salary which you receive every month.

What is the most enjoyable part of your research?

The autonomy is great, I love being able to manage my own time. I love the ownership of the research too, so I can shape how my PhD comes together. As a result, you take a lot of pride in your work.

What are your career pathways?

I think my research provides with a number of options. One of these is to go into post-doctoral research to examine concussion injuries further, another would be to go into industry as the research provides you with a lot of transferrable skills which would be desirable across a broad range of sectors. Also, there could be entrepreneurial opportunities as a result of your research.

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