Name: Caitriona Jackman
Job title: Cassini Research Assistant
What education and qualifications do you have?
I'm in my 3rd year of a 4-year degree in Applied Physics at the University of Limerick, Limerick, Ireland
Give an outline of your career so far
I completed the leaving certificate (Irish equivalent of the A-levels) 4 years ago. Subjects included maths, chemistry and physics. In the summer of 2000 (after my first year at university), I was chosen to represent Ireland at the London International Youth Science Forum, a 2-week meeting of students from all around the world that takes place in London every summer. I came across UCL-MSSL through the forum and then, last May, while trying to organise my compulsory 7-month work placement, I contacted the Lab and secured a job!
Why did you choose this career path?
I've always had an interest in space from an early age. When I visited the Lab in summer 2000 and attended lectures given by researchers that work here, it sparked my interest even more. Many of my class from university are doing their work placements in the semiconductor or computer industries, but I really wanted to try my hand in a space research environment and so far it's been even better than I'd expected and has confirmed in my mind that this is the area I want to work in when I leave university in a year's time.
What does your current work involve?
Officially, I'm doing research on Cassini-Huygens which is a joint ESA/NASA mission to Saturn. At MSSL, we've built an instrument that's flying on Cassini and there's data coming back from it all the time. One part of my job is to look at this data to make sure the detector is functioning correctly and not wearing itself out before it gets to Saturn - that's when the mission gets most interesting! Since I've been here, I've also done some website design for Cluster II, an ESA mission to study the Earth's magnetosphere. I'm involved in outside projects too, which are aimed at increasing the public understanding of science, including a project on the Tate gallery's website called Tate in Space.
Hobbies and interests outside work
Tennis, soccer, playing music and socialising.
Caitriona returned to Limerick for her final undergraduate year, obtained a PhD in Plasma Physics at Leicester University and is currently a research associate at Imperial College London.