Paul O'Mahoney

Final day! I'm not sure what I'll do with myself next week :(

Favourite Thing: Playing with lasers! (In a totally safe way of course!)



Queen Anne High School – 2001-2006. Perth College – 2006-2007. University of Dundee – 2007-2015


HNC Music Performance. BEng (Hons) Mechanical Engineering. PhD in Physics

Work History:

Current Job:

Research Assistant


University of Dundee

About Me

Half scientist, half-wit

I live in Dundee and work at the local hospital. Outside of work stuff I like to play computer games, play music and read books. I also like to have movie nights with friends, and I am also particularly fond of really terrible puns and competing with my friends to come up with the worst ones!

My Work

I research new ways of using light for treating skin diseases

I’m involved in many different projects, all looking at ways to use light for treating skin diseases. This mainly means people with sun damaged skin, but we also use optical fibres so that we can shine light inside the body to help treat things like lung cancer!

My Typical Day

After finally getting in to work (I am not a morning person!) I usually spend a few minutes reminding myself of what I did yesterday, and then do things like organising meetings, going to meetings, planning experiments, doing the experiments, wondering why the experiment didn’t work, trying it again and writing up the results.

Apart from some of the stuff I typically do everyday (like catching up on new research or coming up with crazy ideas), no one day is really the same – one of the reasons I love research. One day I could be writing code to analyse data from the sun, and the next I am in an operating theatre learning about brain surgery! Or sometimes I will be going through a bunch of emails that I had put off, and then I will be doing outreach and talking about science with the public!

What I'd do with the money

I’d fund a science exhibit or show about light in medicine

I’d try to collaborate with the local science centre in Dundee and come up with an exhibition or show that will teach people about using light in medicine. It’s something I’m really interested in, and from speaking to other people they find it really interesting too. So it would be nice to show people more about using light in medicine and hopefully it would get young people more interested in science too!

My Interview

How would you describe yourself in 3 words?

Tall, nerdy, hungry

Who is your favourite singer or band?

Muse. I’ve been a huge fan for years, and they’re great live!

What's your favourite food?

Italian food mostly – and cheese!

What is the most fun thing you've done?

I think getting married – biggest party I’ve had, with all my family and friends there!

What did you want to be after you left school?

Either a musician or a scientist

Were you ever in trouble at school?

Quite a few times, mostly for forgetting things like homework or textbooks

What was your favourite subject at school?

Either physics or music – hard to choose!

What's the best thing you've done as a scientist?

In my PhD I did experiments where we used lasers and sound to move cells around – that was really cool!

What or who inspired you to become a scientist?

Mostly my parents, who always watched science shows with me and played with science kits. Also watching sci-fi shows and thinking ‘I wonder if they could make lightsabers and hyperdrives in real life?’

If you weren't a scientist, what would you be?

I think I would be a musician, touring the world in a band! (Or so I like to think anyway)

If you had 3 wishes for yourself what would they be? - be honest!

Apart from the obvious ‘more wishes’, I think… a T.A.R.D.I.S, so I could go anywhere and anywhen I wanted! Also, I’d wish to forget some of my favourite books and films so I could experience them for the first time again, and I would wish that everyone in world would be a bit more tolerant of each other and get along better.

Tell us a joke.

Why cant you hear a pterodactyl go to the toilet? Because the P is silent

Other stuff

Work photos:

This is a picture of our photophysics lab. It’s where we do lots of different experiments with measuring and calibrating light sources – we have to have all the cabinets and walls painted black so that it doesn’t reflect light!