Tag Archive: Marie Curie


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Beautiful “ferry” trees at Avebury in the UK’s Wiltshire region.

Last week I crossed the threshold into a brave new world. I traveled over to the UK, my soon-to-be home, twice to learn more about the place.

First, to celebrate Ireland’s bank holiday weekend, my partner Aongus and I flew to Bath. We rented a car so we could visit Stonehenge, the flight of locks at Devizes (the Caen Hill flight of the Kennet and Avon canal), Avebury which is similar to Stonehenge but larger, and the picturesque village of Castle Combe. In the city of Bath, we toured the ruins of the old Roman baths, the bell tower of Bath Abbey, Royal Crescent and the townhouse museum at One Royal Crescent, and weir and the Putney Bridge, as well as getting Watsu treatments and a night time soak with spectacular views from the rooftop pool at the Thermal Spa.

Stonehenge was spectacular, but Avebury had an even more mystical feel. The majestic old fairy trees with their thick boughs and knotted roots make it feel as if you’re stepping foot into C.S. Lewis’ Narnia or the Wonderland Lewis Carroll created for Alice. (Both of these were English writers, who could well have stood beneath the same magical trees we found here.) Wikipedia provides a quick reference to the meaning of ferry trees: “Many types of trees found in the Celtic nations are considered to be sacred, whether as symbols, or due to medicinal properties, or because they are seen as the abode of particular nature spirits. Historically and in folklore, the respect given to trees varies in different parts of the Celtic world.”

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Meeting with UCL’s Professor Nick Tyler.

After flying home, I flew back to London on short notice for four meetings on Wednesday–because my new colleagues at University College London had time to meet me and it was “review week” at DIT.

These meetings were in preparation for the start of my new Marie Curie research fellowship in January. The EU is providing funding for me to work at UCL for two years, to further upgrade my skills in educational research. During my short visit, I met with my primary supervisor Professor Nick Tyler who has an amazing record of research in transportation engineering and educational innovation. I also met with my secondary supervisor, Professor John Mitchell, who directs UCL’s Centre for Engineering Education (CEE). I also got to meet with the newest member of CEE’s research team, Dr. Inês Direito, who I’ll get to collaborate with in projects. All this in addition to visiting UCL’s European Office and quick chats with two other colleagues, Emanuela Tilley and Dr. Arnie McKinley, both originally from my own side of the Atlantic.

Overall it was a very productive day, and I even got two grant proposals read in route.

Across the span of the week, I had great experiences at work and at play. I can’t wait to get back to London, Bath, and the Wiltshire region of England for more learning, and more novel adventures.

 

That's when dad and I were building an experimental aircraft. (that's still half done, I'm sorry to say).

Me and WUT’s PW-5.

I just spent a most unexpectedly sublime week in Warsaw. What a beautiful, walkable, and livable city! Just the right density — useful public transport, affordable bike rentals, green space at regular intervals, and architectural monuments galore.

My primary task was to conduct interviews with budding engineers. Over the course of the week, eleven Polish women (who are studying various sorts of physics and engineering) each volunteered an hour and a half to share their experiences with me. It was amazingly insightful to discover similarities and difference with the experiences of the 10 Irish and 11 foreign-born women I’ve interviewed at Dublin Institute of Technology. (I also have 11 interviews recorded with Portuguese women, but these must still be translated.)

Fortunately for me, the students in Poland can opt to take their classes in Polish, or English, or a mixture of both. These Polish women spoke English very well and were bold enough to grant me interviews in my own native tongue.

In the evening hours I had time to explore some sites, depicted in the photos below.

Marie Curie Fellowship

It’s been a week of new adventures.  Last Monday my plane landed in Dublin and I began a new job at the Dublin Institute of Technology as a Marie Curie Research Fellow.  This is a two-year post funded by a generous grant from the European Union that will allow me to extend the research I began as a Fulbright scholar.  I spent several months last summer going the proposal, and met with success.

Many people helped with the proposal, including my mentor Dr. Nancy Stenson.  She has been a Marie Curie International Incoming Fellow (IIF) for the past two years… she told me of the IIF program, encouraged me to apply, and helped edit and refine my proposal.  Without her, I’d never have succeeded.  Jean Cahil, Jennifer Brennan, and Marek Rebow were also instrumental in the effort.  Colleen Dube, Pamela Eddy, Mike Murphy, John Donovan, and Brian Bowe provided valubale assistance as well.

Brian will be serving as my research supervisor for the next two years. Receiving this grant helped focus efforts in the college on the topic of research in engineering education. It lead to the formal establishment of CREATE (Centre for Research on Engineering, Architecture, and Technology Education, or something similar).

I’ll tell you about my recent adventures in an upcoming post….

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