04 Oct 2022

Young Donegal scientist books a first class ticket to future success

Young Donegal scientist books a first class ticket to future success

Emily McGill pictured on Graduation Day at Dublin City University. Picture Credit: Maxwells

A young Donegal scientist has booked a first class ticket to future success. And the high-achieving Donegal Town academic, who is just 22-year-old looks set to become one of the new wave of Irish scientists, who will help map the continuing path ahead for future generations.

And proof of that is that 22-year-old Emily McGill from Donegal Town will be awarded the Lynam medal for best overall performance across all physics programmes on graduation at Dublin City University(DCU).

Emily was also the recipient of a Naughton Scholarship which applies to any STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Maths) undergraduate programme that is open to applications from high performing academic students.

Now working as a data scientist with Accenture, she said:

“There is so much from our course that I use day to day, especially the (computer) programming.”

From the start she expressed her wish to take part in as much as she could and said that in DCU, "they really, really do take that on board and they help you in finding out about these things,” and “with the small class sizes you have such a good friendly relationship with the lecturers."

For her work experience Emily went to IMEC, a semiconductor research facility in Belgium, in January 2020. The pandemic meant she had to return three months early in March but the company allowed her to complete her work using computer programming.

In 2019 she was one of the two DCU students to secure that years prestigious ten week placement Naughton Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) Fellowship offered by the Naughton Foundation based at Notre Dame in the US.

She was nominated by the Head of Physics at DCU, Dr Jean-Paul Mosnier and her ten week work placement in Notre Dame saw her working with Professor Graham Peaslee on research focussing on the use of nuclear physics in environmental applications.

No surprise

It was no surprise that Emily chose a science subject for third level but her decision to select DCU for her studies was made after attending an open day on campus.

“I really loved the atmosphere at the open day and I thought that the lecturers and the students who were doing demonstrations could not have been nicer and had all the time in the world to talk to you.”

Another significant factor in choosing DCU was the inclusion of work experience in the third year of the four year course in Applied Physics.

“The logical thing is if you can get work experience, you can get work. That was another thing that drew me to DCU as my aim in going to college was to get a job and have opportunities.”

Physics was her favourite subject in secondary school in Donegal Town at the Abbey Vocational School and she chose Applied Physics because of the modules it covered as well as the work experience including in third year.


In the Summer between first and second year she did a 12 week internship in DCU and she was also chosen to represent Ireland at the London International Science Youth Forum that year.

Due to the pandemic, her last time on campus during her course was in January 2020. For all of her final year, lectures were live streamed and there were scheduled tutorials and all of the final year project were adapted so that they could be completed virtually.”

“Obviously I miss the fun aspects of college and getting up and learning every day, it was great. I also feel very grateful that it has prepared me so well for working. I am very glad I went to DCU and in a weird way I am glad I have left, as that was why I went there - to go into a job I enjoy, and I absolutely love this one.”

Emily graduates with not just a first class honours degree but also with a legacy of friendships made with other students and said, “I don’t know anybody who did not come out of DCU without a bunch of friends that they will still know when they retire. We are all very close.”

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