Anne Horan The creative aspect of making molecules Photo of PhD student Anne Horan

 “The best thing about being a scientist is that you will continue learning throughout you whole career,” according to Anne Horan, who is in the first year of her PhD studies at Trinity College Dublin under the guidance of Professor David Grayson. Anne is a chemist whose research project requires her to collaborate with biochemists, an aspect of her work that she really enjoys.

How and when did you become interested in science?

I was always very interested in science and maths. They were my favorite subjects in school and it was something of a natural progression to continue my study in this area once in college.

What does your research involve?

Organic synthesis and chemical biology. My current research involves synthesis of novel linear tetrapyrroles for use in mechanistic studies and inhibitor development for BVR-A (biliverdin reductase A). BVR-A reduces water soluble bilirubin to biliverdin. It is an important enzyme involved in Haem degradation.

How is the day-to-day life in the lab?

Life in the lab is very varied and challenging. It requires a lot of patience but the rewards of the work are great and most importantly I really enjoy coming into work everyday.

What aspects of your work interest you most?

I enjoy the practical aspect of what I do; I have always enjoyed working in the laboratory.

What gives you the most satisfaction about your job?

I am really happy when I have made a target molecule or when I have discovered something interesting that may not have been seen before. I also enjoy the creative aspect of what I do.

What is the most difficult part?

Perseverance and patience when things aren’t working.

Are there opportunities to travel while studying?

Yes I have already spent time in Vienna during my undergraduate career and there are many opportunities to collaborate with universities abroad and contribute at international conferences.

What are the career opportunities in your area?

Career opportunities are varied. Ireland has a dynamic chemical/pharmaceutical industry but a PhD and degree in chemistry is adaptable to many areas and chemistry graduates are very attractive to potential employers due to their analytical skills.

Some students have a perception that scientists don’t earn as much as graduates in other areas. Is this true?

No, there are many different jobs to suit the different types of people that enter chemistry so there are also very different salary brackets. Studying science gives you the opportunity to build your own career.

What are your interests outside work?

Sport, cinema and reading. I play hockey and camogie in college. I am also interested in languages, cinema and socializing.

What would you say to a secondary school student who might think that science is too difficult or boring?

It’s worth the effort and the rewards can be great.


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