Fiona Edwards Murphy
Tyndall National Institute, University of Notre Dame, UCC
I am a PhD candidate working in the area of Wireless Sensor Networks (WSN)
University College Cork
I am pursuing a PhD in the area of Wireless Sensor Networks (WSN), which is also known as the “Internet of Things”, this involves allowing a whole range of everyday objects (a fridge, toys, car etc.) to communicate with each other and connect to the internet. The application for this technology which I have chosen is monitoring beehives.
My PhD work is a joint project between the Electrical and Electronic Engineering department and the school of Biological, Earth and Environmental Sciences (BEES) in UCC. The project involves integrating technology into beehives, to monitor the activity of the honey bee colony living inside. A video describing our project
The honey bee is a vitally important animal to humans all over the world, it provides honey and wax, and pollinates a huge portion of our crops. Our project helps beekeepers to quickly check if their hive is healthy using their mobile phone or a laptop, without actually travelling to the hive. This will allow the keeper to respond to problems much faster, helping bee colonies live longer and be more productive.
This is a very interesting project for me because I have always had an interest in the environment and animal welfare, and wanted to use my engineering skills to make a difference in this area. It has also been very interesting to travel around to visit beehives and learn about beekeeping!
My Typical Day
I do simulation, analysis, and development of my project in the lab, some days I travel to the deployment sites of my project, I also supervise student research projects and lab work
What I'd do with the money
I would use it to help fund a student project developing smart robot toys for helping sick children
Smart Toys catching Santa
Video describing the aims of our project
Another Christmas Toys video
This is a project which I started working on while I was an undergraduate, and it has grown massively since then, with two students currently working on it.
We are developing low cost, wireless, interactive toys for children with disabilities, helping enhance their personal development.
With the prize money I would like to buy development platforms and a thermal imaging camera to help us develop another spider robot which can interact with a child while monitoring them for early signs of changes in health.
How would you describe yourself in 3 words?
Enthusiastic, Curious, Responsible
What's the best thing you've done as an engineer?
Designed and developed robot spider toys to help children with disabilities interact with the world around them
What or who inspired you to become an engineer?
My Dad, he is an engineer and he always encouraged me to explore the word around me, I also had several teachers in secondary school who encouraged me to look at engineering as a career.
What did you want to be after you left school?
I’ve always wanted to be an engineer!
Were you ever in trouble at school?
Not really, other than talking too much!
If you weren't an engineer, what would you be?
I love cooking, so a chef!
Who is your favourite singer or band?
Mumford & Sons
What's your favourite food?
What is the most fun thing you've done?
When I was in college I spent 3 months working in a research team at the University of Notre Dame, Indiana, in the USA. It was great to experience the college life in the states!
If you had 3 wishes for yourself what would they be? - be honest!
Happiness, health, and more time to work on my projects!
Tell us a joke.
Two fish are in a tank. One fish says to the other, “I have no idea how to drive this thing!”
My Desk in the lab, where I spend most of my day, doing background research, writing reports & my thesis, writing software for my project, and analysing results:
Another view of my lab, this is where I do analysis and development of the hardware for my project:
My project out in the field monitoring a live beehive, you can see the solar panels which power it, and the antennae which allow the data collected to be transmitted. If you look carefully you can also see the bees at the entrance to the hive on the bottom right.
I often travel to the deployments to update the software and check that everything is operating properly, my laptop usually has to travel out into the wild with me!
Examining bee health with my two supervisors, Dr. Pádraig Whelan (BEES), and Dr. Emanuel Popovici (Engineering).
The full team working on the bee project:
The toy robots I would like to work on with prize money