Meet the Researcher: Jason Curran

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Jason is a CONFIRM PhD student based at the University of Limerick.

“The feeling you get when you finally crack a problem that you have been working on in months is amazing. “

Tell us a bit about your research...

Currently I am working on improving imaging technology. I am attempting to construct equations that can take a set of measurements from the surface of an object and use them to image the inside of the object, without having to damage the object in any way.

An example would be taking measurements on a person’s head and then reconstructing an image of their brain. This type of technology can be adapted to the industrial world as it can be used to test products for internal cracks and defects, without having to break open the product. The applications include also ancient bones and fossils, breast tissue and also seismology.

Could your research be of benefit to society in any way?

The main use that this research has is in the detection of cracks and defects inside of objects. This has the potential to improve the quality of products and also be used to detect medical issues such as cancer and brain tumors early, while also being non invasive.

What did you study as an Undergraduate?

I did a Bachelors of Science in Maths and Physics in the University of Limerick. This course meant that I spent roughly 50% of my time studying maths and 50% studying physics. We covered many topics, many of which I use today in my research such as Electromagnetism, the study of Partial Differential Equations and Optics.

Also, as part of the course, I had to complete a final year project in fourth year, which I did on volcano formation and how to model what happens after a volcanic eruption. This project taught me not just about volcanoes but about how to conduct research. Reading books and papers, collecting relevant information, writing in a scientific/mathematical way and presentation skills are all things I learned during my time completing this project.

What made you decide to go into research?

Partly, due to the research I did as part of my final year project and partly due to my work placement, which I did in Seagate in Derry. I worked in the Research and Development Department in Seagate and this meant that I spent my time coming up with and testing new ideas. This really appealed to me and it was great to see how big an impact research has on our world and how it drives innovation and change.

Research is of course all about solving problems and this is something I thoroughly enjoy. Moreover, in order to solve such problems, research allows you to cover a large number of fields and disciplines and I also find this to be an excellent part of doing research.

What do you enjoy most about being a PhD Student?

The research itself is definitely a very enjoyable aspect of being a PhD student. Also, getting to take part in acitivities such as teaching and doing workshops is a great benefit. However, the most enjoyable part is being able to show your research off to others and see that your research can make a difference to the world. The feeling you get when you finally crack a problem that you have been working on in months is amazing.

Do you have any advice for someone who is thinking about a career or research in STEM?

If you are thinking about studying STEM at undergrad I would absolutely recommend it. There are few courses that are both very interesting and rewarding to do as well as have strong job prospects afterwards. STEM is only becoming more relevant as time progresses. To prospect PhD students I would say that make sure you are interested in research and willing to put in a lot of work. However, if you are, you’re in for an amazing journey!

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