Ambassadors Programme 2014

TCD Innovation Academy Ambassadors Programme

Students come to the Innovation Academy from a huge variety of backgrounds, both culturally and in their research. In Trinity, we want to give our students an opportunity to share their experiences with their peers across campus. We’ve recruited a team of Ambassadors to help us get the message out – research doesn’t have to be a lonely journey! There are lots of interesting people and opportunities out there, if you’re willing to step outside your comfort zone just a tiny bit…but don’t take our word for it – see what the Ambassadors have to say for themselves…

Meet the Ambassadors!

Talking research at Discover Research Dublin event, Innovation Academy Amaury Souza – PhD candidate, Physics

“After every event/module I feel more and more motivated and eager to be part of the next one. Why? I deeply believe that this great mixture of fun, learning, friendship, stress and pressure has really pushed me forward and has expanded my career boundaries.”

As a physicist, Amaury’s research is focused on computer simulations of electronic devices for solar energy conversion applications.  We asked him what was the best thing about being a researcher… Find out what Amaury likes best about research


Barbara Bergin at Discover Research Dublin, Innovation AcademyBarbara Bergin – PhD candidate, Near & Middle Eastern Studies

“I think the whole concept is tremendously important for students who will eventually have to make their way into the workplace and find rewarding jobs.  Working as a team is not easy and it is an important way of learning how good you are at getting on with others, your ability to negotiate your point of view and add value to the team regardless of discipline, age, background or nationality.”

As a researcher, Barbara argues that we should look past Herod’s reputation as the Bible’s arch-villain and see him as an innovative architect, a builder and a king who brought to his realm stability. Read about what draws Barbara to Herod…


Michael Walter, Physics, TCDMichael Walther – PhD candidate, Physics

“The Innovation Academy offers an additional value for postgraduate students independent of their background. Working and studying in an interdisciplinary Innovation Academy student group offers the opportunity to develop new skills, to gain new experiences and ultimately to broaden the horizon.”

Michael is using nanotechnologies to develop a more cost effective way to test malaria vaccines.  Find out what brought him to research in the first place….


AJ with his fans at Discover Research Dublin in Innovation Academy, Foster PlaceAyokunmi Ajetunmobi – PhD candidate, Medicine

“Promoting innovation and an entrepreneurial spirit within PhD research has incredible potential. Researchers have the opportunity to re-define society, either directly through their work, or indirectly through the experiences they’ve gained.”

As a life science PhD student in the Clinical & Translational Research Scholars Programme (CTRSP), AJ is developing a model that can devise connections typically found within the brain, and probe specific questions about brain development. Read all about it here…


Marshmallow Challenge_3254Christine Power – PhD candidate, Engineering

“I really enjoyed doing the modules and attending talks and find them really useful for my own research, especially for communicating about my work.”

Christine is investigating new designs that can enable water used during water treatment to recover energy, thus creating a more efficient service. Find out what inspired her in her research….


sarah edwards squareSarah Edwards – PhD candidate, Immunology

“I believe the Postgraduate Certificate with the Innovation Academy is a valuable asset alongside my PhD. I think other students would benefit from the experience too.”

Sarah is researching the underlying causes of autoimmune diseases such as Multiple Scerlosis by focusing on the regulation and function of T cells in autoimmunity. In addition to her research, She also performs as part of the band Take the Money and Run and sings in the Trinity Choir. Learn more about it here…


Vincent Mouchi explains geology to the public Discover Research Dublin event in Innovation AcademyVincent Mouchi – PhD Candidate, Natural Sciences

“I’ve gained a great deal from my engagement with the Innovation Academy and I’m happy to encourage others to get involved.”

Vincent is using fossils, skeletons and shells of corals and crustacea from ancient seas to identify what the climate of the Earth was like millions of years ago.  In doing so, his research will enable climatologists to predict the future climate of the planet. See what a day in the life is like for a geologist such as Vincent….


Niamh McGuinnessNiamh McGuinness – PhD Candidate, Neuroscience

“As a scientist who was very much committed to a logical and quite black-and-white way of thinking, the Innovation Academy taught me how to be creative (no mean feat!) and it changed the way I view my work.”

Niamh’s research concerns the roles of microglia (which are the immune or defense cells of the central nervous system) and natural killer cells (immune cells in the periphery, i.e. everywhere else) in multiple sclerosis or MS. When not researching, Niamh is passionate about music – especially playing the guitar and ukelele – pugs (the dogs), ice hockey… Learn more about Niamh’s various pursuits!


Sonam Banka – PhD Candidate, Nursing & MidwiferyIMG_0195

“The Academy gets us to think outside the box and it gives PhD students a chance to socialise as part of learning. The social aspect is a big part that PhD students lack in their academic life.”

Sonam’s background is as a psychologist and her research is mainly concerned with children’s mental health, measuring the physical and mental outcomes of children from disadvantaged backgrounds.

Sonam is a big fan of Bollywood movies and art in general…find out more about her here!


IMG_1386Michael McDonald – PhD Candidate, Physiology

“The Innovation Academy creates a vibrant and engaging atmosphere and being a part of that is always a thoroughly enjoyable experience. As I complete more modules I find myself talking about the Academy to my friends and peers on an increasingly frequent basis!”

Michael’s research investigates the potential for cannabinoids, which are the drugs extracted from the cannabis plant,  for use in cartilage tissue engineering. When not improving human health, Michael plots to sleep more and listen to music, often at the same time. That’s just how he rolls…


Conference- Martin HolmesMartin Holmes – PhD Candidate, Bioengineering

“Since I finished the Creative Thinking and Innovation module I completed several podium presentations at international conferences. The communication skills I developed in the Innovation Academy have been invaluable to me.”

Martin’s research involves investigating the use of acoustics to monitor the inhaler sounds of people with chronic respiratory diseases such as asthma. In doing so, he is assisting them in improving their technique, adherence to inhaler medication and ultimately health.  Find out what else Martin is up to, here…


Rachel BerminghamRachel Bermingham – PhD Candidate, Medicine

“The Academy opened my mind to the world of opportunities available outside of the traditional research PhD that I think is often forgotten about by many students.  It can be hard to see past the pressures of your own research to how you can contribute to the world beyond, however the majority of us will find ourselves in this world when we finish and I think the Academy offers us skills to prepare us for this.” 

At the moment Rachel’s research project focus is exploring how Rorα contributes to circadian rhythm in immune cells. It is becoming increasingly evident that cells can act and respond differently depending on the time of day, much like people’s moods! Find out more about Rachel and her research, here…


Aisling MillerAisling Miller – PhD Candidate, Microbiology

“I started in the IA when just two months into my PhD so it has been an important and wonderful part of my life as a researcher in Trinity. My project as part of the Creative Thinking and Innovation module involved consulting with a music education resource company on their business development plans. Little did I realise that three years later my personal interests would have expanded into developing and managing science education resources.” 

Aisling is doing a translational healthcare PhD, looking at aspects of infection control. She is based in Oral Biosciences in the Dublin Dental University Hospital. In addition to my research she’s also heavily involved with sport in Trinity having been on a Trinity Sports Scholarship for Olympic Target Shooting. Read more about a day in the research life of Aisling here…


IMG_7318 Luca Mancinelli – PhD Candidate, Natural Sciences

“I always enjoyed meeting people from different cultures and background. I find that this is the best way to open our minds and reach a personal growth. In this sense the Innovation Academy is a perfect environment to achieve a personal goal, where you can confront yourself with other smart people with a completely different mindset and background.” 

Luca has always been  interested in science and followed his interest in geology by completing a BSc and a MSc in geology in Perugia (Italy). To Luca, research is all about routine… but being Italian, he’s a great cook and enjoys the social aspect of research nearly as much…find out more here.