Aoife O'Shaughnessy-Kirwan

Sad to see the women have been kicked out!

Favourite Thing: Experiments using cool microscopes which allow me to see things that are happening on a very small level!



Trinity College Dublin (2004-2008) University of Cambridge (2008-2012)


BA in Human Genetics and a PhD in Biochemistry

Work History:

Dept of Genetics Harvard Medical School and the University of Cambridge

Current Job:

Postdoctoral scientist at the University of Cambridge


University of Cambridge

Me and my work

I work as a postdoctoral scientist at the University of Cambridge and try to figure out how the cells in a fertilised embryo grow and develop into fully formed beings!

I look specifically at a protein which helps cells decide what type of cell they are going to be! I look at cells which don’t yet have any real identity/job and see what effects pop up when I take away the protein I am interested in. This is generally how we try to figure out how things work in biology! If we are interested in a particular gene or protein we simply get rid of it and see what happens to development!

My Typical Day

I spend my day looking after cells, doing experiments and reading/listening/talking about the area of science I work in!

I cycle to work and generally get in around 9.30 a.m. I usually spend some time figuring out what I have to do for the day and then maybe start an experiment or…have a cup of tea! This is very important in our lab! After this I continue my experiments and sometime we have a seminar or a lab meeting where we share our research and get feedback. I never look after my cells ’til the afternoon, and I’m not sure why this is but that’s how I do it! Generally we play some music while we work in cell culture and this means there can be quite a good atmosphere in that room! After I finish work for the day we sometimes have scientific discussion groups or we go out socialising, wahey!

What I'd do with the money

I would use it to make a video collection of conversations with students in the builiding so they can share their experiences and path they’ve taken in the hope of inspiring other young people to do the same

When we’re at school I don’t feel like we get enough information on what it’s like to work as a scientist on a day to day basis, it would be great to get some insight and make it freely available to young people over the internet!

My Interview

How would you describe yourself in 3 words?

Irish, fiery, dancer

Who is your favourite singer or band?

I have lots! Arcade Fire, Daughter, Bon Iver, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Alt-J, Florence and the Machine, Calvin Harris…

What's your favourite food?


What is the most fun thing you've done?

Spent the summer living in Boston, it was a bit of an eye opener!

What did you want to be after you left school?

A scientist or a medical doctor

Were you ever in trouble in at school?

Once or twice!

What was your favourite subject at school?


What's the best thing you've done as a scientist?

I went to Japan this year to present my work and saw Kyoto and Tokyo, that was pretty cool!

What or who inspired you to become a scientist?

I had a really great science teacher called Mr. Behan and he inspired me!

If you weren't a scientist, what would you be?

Probably a medical doctor

If you had 3 wishes for yourself what would they be? - be honest!

To live a long and happy life with the people I love, to finally get to where I want to be in my career, and to have fun doing both of the above (seems like a lot to ask!)

Tell us a joke.

What do you call two dinosaurs that have been in an accident? Tyrannosaurus wrecks

Other stuff

Work photos:

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