Farm-based research in Ireland makes sense and inspires
Meet Maria, our Chilean International Student Ambassador. She is studying for her PhD in Biological Science at the Cork Institute of Technology. Her research involves lots of travel, hard work, and she can’t recommend it highly enough…
I’ve been all around Ireland chasing animals for blood samples! My PhD involves cattle and sheep and lots and lots of statistics. I started a few months ago and the support I have received from supervisors and technicians at the Cork Institute of Technology and Teagasc has been wonderful. I feel absolutely supported from my supervisors and the team. This has made me very secure of what I am doing and my project. Here in Ireland, there´s absolute trust and openness; there’s an authentic desire to do things well, and to learn and improve each day. Dealing with Irish researchers is enriching and inspiring.
So what do I do?
My research involves obtaining samples from more than 300 farms across Ireland. We have already completed a third of this work – it has involved lots of travelling, long days and meeting many different types of people. Despite the hard work, being surrounded by majestic landscapes for the purpose of research reassures me everyday that I made the best decision by coming here to take part in this wonderful PhD.
How did I get here?
After searching for years for an opportunity in many different countries, Ireland appeared in my search results. The project seemed to be what I was looking for and after checking visa requirements, and more research, I realised that Ireland had a great reputation around welcoming international students. So I applied! I didn’t get my Teagasc Walsh Fellowship at the first try, but got it for another project that suited me even better… and here I am!
Where have I been?
This course gives me the opportunity to travel. I have seen Malin Head at the extreme north of Ireland and I have been to Dursey Island – one of the most southern points on the country – and everywhere in between!
Getting to Dursey Island was a complete experience. We had to take a cable car over a channel – I never imagined that it was possible to go to an island by this kind of transport! But, off we went (in a cable car!) with our sampling equipment – the animals were amazing and the place was so peaceful, I’d recommend a visit for everyone.
I wish I had more time to share with you each one of the characters I have met – each one different and authentic; each one curious in their own way and all of them very interested in the project and grateful to be taking part. I would dare to say that 80% of the farmers that my fellow researchers and I have met have invited us in for a ‘cuppa’ (a cup of tea!) in their home. Unfortunately we haven’t always been able to accept, as time is such a precious resource when you do a PhD and I´m trying to learn how to deal with that… it’s especially difficult on an icy December morning when you’re invited in to fresh, home-baked scones and gallons of real tea next to a warm fire!
If you want to do a PhD abroad, think about Ireland! It’s easy-going and it’s possible to find great teams to work with, especially in the Biological Sciences.