Quick Links

Quick Links

Back to top

Our Lady's College, Greenhills, Drogheda, Co. Louth


Claire McDonnell

For my Leaving Cert in Greenhills, I studied Biology and Chemistry. I enjoyed these subjects but also really liked English and History so it was difficult to decide what to study in college. I opted for a Science degree in University College Dublin. UCD was very big in comparison to Greenhills and it took a few months to get used to it. I was able to try out all of the science subjects in first year. I then chose to specialise in Chemistry as I liked the focus on understanding what us and everything around us is made up of. I finished my degree in 1992 and decided to continue my studies as a postgraduate research student in Organic Chemistry. I chose Organic Chemistry because it looks at molecules that often have a biological effect such as medicines. I got a grant that paid me a basic wage while I was a research student but it was nice to be able to get a job that paid more when I finished my PhD.

I first worked in Trinity College on a project for a pharmaceutical company to look for a better way to make one of their products. I then got a job in a company in Athlone. The products they made included fragrances for perfumes and materials used by pharmaceutical companies. I then moved to Ipsen, a pharmaceutical company in Dublin. While there, I got to work in Boston in another branch of the company.

In 2000, I moved to a role as a Chemistry lecturer in Dublin Institute of Technology (which recently became Technological University Dublin). I had helped with teaching in laboratory practicals while I was in UCD as a postgraduate student and enjoyed it. Also, my mother is a retired primary teacher so I think I got my interest in teaching from her. Because of my experience, I was able to give practical examples of how Chemistry is applied in my teaching. I’ve developed activities for students on topics including sustainable lab practices and treatments for malaria. I’ve also worked with community partners on projects where our chemistry students help young people from socioeconomically disadvantaged areas develop their confidence when learning science. Since 2016, I’ve been in a management role as Assistant Head of Chemical and Pharmaceutical Sciences but I still do some teaching. I’ve been back to Greenhills a few times to talk about college Science courses and always enjoy the visit!