I worked for the Electricity Generating Board in England, then I went to Rome and worked at the European Space Agency on Earth Observing satellites. I also worked for the European Commission near Milan on using satellite photos to see forest fires. I worked in Switzerland using images from satellites that see through clouds to look for drug plantations in south America. After than I returned to Ireland and worked at Unviersity College Cork using satellite images to study the Ocean. I got fed up with the rain, so now I am in Portugal
I am the Director of the Foundation. I do a little bit of everything. I manage projects, write proposals to get money for new projects, organise the staff in the office on different prorjects and make sure that there is always enough money to pay everyone!
EurOcean Foundation, Lisbon, Portugal
working to let people know how important the ocean is to our life on Earth and looking at how satellite photos can be used to study it
My organisation EurOcean is working to highlight the importance of the Ocean in everyday life. Did you know that 50 % of all the oxygen we breathe is generated by microscopic plants, called phytoplankton, that live in the Ocean? Or that the Ocean is helping keeping our planet from overheating as it absorbs one third of all the Carbon Dioxide produced by human beings. Did you ever look up at the sky early after the sun sets and see something that looks like a star moving very quickly across the sky? Well, if you did, that could be one of the satellites I use in my work to take photographs. Myself, my work colleagues and some students I work with in University College Cork then look at those photographs to find out the temperature of the oceans, good places for sardine breeding, how healthy the forests are in Ireland and how much grass is growing for the cows to eat. We are constantly working on better ways to understand these photographs taken by all these satellites above us. So next time you look up – wave. You never know I might see you!
My Typical Day
put on the kettle for a cup of tea , check work email, finish that report, study some satellite images, come up with a good idea and ask the European Union to fund the research to make it a reality
Well, I need a hot cup of tea to get me going, while the computer is booting up. Then I check email, to see what people I work with around the world have been saying. As they work in different time zones, I may have gotten emails during the night or before I start work in the morning. Then it´s time to finish that project report, I´ve been ignoring for the last week, but the deadline is tomorrow! As I manage an office with a staff of five, I meet with the staff and we check how our various projecs are going. We make decisions about who needs to do what and I write these down as a set of actions, so we don´t forget, or I can kick ass, if they don´t get done on time! I then work on that new project proposal, where together with another 10 organisations around Europe we are asking the European Union to fund our project idea to improve the way we study the ocean by helping us to develop new equipment and fancy electronic sensors . Then I grab my passport and overnight bag and head to the airport as I have a meeting in Brussels tomorrow with the Flanders Marine Institute, as I am helping to organise a competition on the best ways of getting young people o be more interested in the ocean. Maybe you are interested too? If so check out this competition we are organising, where you can win prizes for putting your ideas into action.
What I'd do with the money
To give talks in schools in Ireland and Kenya about how space engineering is helping charities to do their job better
Satellites are used to take photos of the Earth, so can be used to warn people about droughts in advance. These pictures can also be used to warn about forest fires and see how many tents are in a refugee camp for example. Satellites are also used with GPS devices so that we can pinpoint the location of specific houses and water supply schemes supplied by charities for example. Satellites are also used so that charities based in Ireland can talk using Skype or mobile phones to colleagues based in Kenya. Working with the charity Friends of Londiani, I will use the money to give talks at secondary schools in Ireland with whom the charity already works about how satellite engineering is a great help to charities working in the developing world. I will also participate in an online workshop for schools both in Ireland and Kenya to speak about how engineering is helping to make the charity work better. Some of the money will be used to help purchase a smart phone, or a tablet or a laptop for a school in Kenya, with whom the charity works, so that they can take part in online discussions and exchanges with Irish schools
How would you describe yourself in 3 words?
Calm, curious, logical
What's the best thing you've done as an engineer?
developed the Marine Irish Digital Atlas (http:/mida.ucc.ie) – a web based atlas where you can find all sorts of maps and information about the Irish coast
What or who inspired you to become an engineer?
I was always taking things apart as a child – although less good at putting them back together again. I guess I was always curious about how things worked.
What did you want to be after you left school?
Well, I was not so sure really, but I knew I was interested in something to do with sience or engineering.
Were you ever in trouble at school?
If you weren't an engineer, what would you be?
an international tour guide – I love travelling and trying to speak other languages
Who is your favourite singer or band?
Leonard Cohen – a poet singer
What's your favourite food?
Anything Italian – a plate of spaghetti with clams would be pretty good!
What is the most fun thing you've done?
Zip-wiring through the Amazon rainforest
If you had 3 wishes for yourself what would they be? - be honest!
to be able to reverse a tractor and trailer in a straight line, clock up some aces at tennis and live healthily into old age
Tell us a joke.
I´m a better listener than teller of jokes
I get to do a lot of presentations and take part in workshops in my work. In the top one I was working with people in Brazil to develop a coastal Atlas, in the next one, I was in Canada working with people around the world also on how to create coastal atlases on the Internet. In the last one I was working in Kenya with other people from around the world to help the Government understand how they could use satellite photos to help them to plan and react better for floods, droughts and other disasters.
At the bottom there is a picture of my desk today – uhm a bit untidy, but it´s grand – and best thing is my view out the window over the city of Lisbon and the Tagus river!