I’m Aisling Miller and I’m a straight shooting scientist. I’m an Applied and Environmental Microbiologist doing a translational healthcare PhD looking at aspects of infection control. My PhD is based in Oral Biosciences in the Dublin Dental University Hospital. In addition to my research I’m also heavily involved with sport in Trinity having been on a Trinity Sports Scholarship for Olympic Target Shooting.
Infection Prevention and Control is a vast field which spans ecology, engineering, wastewater treatment, personnel management and education, material science, microbiology, genetics and beyond. In any one day I could be analysing the genetic basis of pathogenic microbial populations, bursting bacteria, dangling into a giant water tank and sticking my arm down wash-hand basin drains, though usually not all at the same time.
As the only student member of the Hospital’s water team I do a lot of sampling involved in our water cooler, wash-hand basin and dental chair unit projects. I’m also the unofficial lab handyman and lab photographer. I end up building experimental rigs for others, troubleshooting engineering problems and doing a lot of macrophotography, all in the name of productive procrastination. Aside from being a field of major benefit to humanity as a whole, how the roles and tasks in Infection Control research constantly change and develop keeps me interested.
What brought you to research?
I didn’t choose the research life, the research life chose me!
I ended up in research somewhat by accident. Having been intent on a career as a Forensic Scientist I was coaxed into doing a degree in general science first and Trinity to me felt like a good fit. After two years I specialised in Microbiology, mostly because they were the labs I liked most. My final year project looked at air disinfection in a cystic fibrosis outpatient clinic in Tallaght Hospital and I was hired straight out of my project to continue some of my research. Through this I ended up meeting my current supervisor who outright offered me my current PhD to start the following year. I just went along with the flow and ended up where I am now and at this stage I can’t imagine it any other way.
A wise man, formerly of Trinity Foundation, advised me when I was working in Science Gallery just before I started my PhD, to get on board with a new project being developed between TCD and UCD. It was the Innovation Academy. As a result I ended up being a member of the very first student cohort to do the modules and to graduate. 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 and working in education research in general.