About CSci

  • Padraic Mulroy
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Padraic Mulroy
Featured Profile: 
At A Glance
Licensed Body: 
First Degree: 
B.Sc. (Microbiology)
Environmental Consultant/ Managing Director
Works For: 
Myself - Mulroy Environmental
BSc, MSc
Pet Hates: 
Labelling of environmentally conscious people as tree-huggers; Green Party and environmental groups lack of ability to connect with the farming community
Burning Ambition: 
Secure the future of my company
To read people’s minds.
Big Picture
When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up? 
I wanted to be vet. I used to love the TV programme “All Creatures Great and Small”.
Who or what inspired you to become a scientist? 
I knew I was good at science so it seemed the natural way to go. One person that stood out was a professor of Environmental Microbiology at the National University of Ireland, Galway. She was a very good lecturer and she helped me to go on and do a Masters in the States
What do you love about your job and being a “scientist”? 
The variety of the work. There is always a new challenge around the corner. It’s not repetitive
What would you change? 
The lack of an Irish equivalent of the Science Council in the UK. There are a lot of environmental scientists in Ireland that are in limbo. We have the ESAI – the Environmental Sciences of Ireland Association – but no one has really taken responsibility for us and there’s a bit of vacuum. I wouldn’t classify myself as a pure scientist; I’m more of a scientist/engineering hybrid. If you’re not a pure scientist you can fall through the gaps
Why did you choose your first degree subject? 
I got a BsC in Microbiology at the National University of Ireland, Galway
Do you have a Masters or PhD? If not, was it difficult to demonstrate Masters-level equivalence in order to achieve CSci? 
I got a Masters at the University of Florida majoring in Soil and Water Science and minoring in Environmental Engineering. I did my thesis on the Degradation and Remediation of Tetraethyllead in Leaded Gasoline Contaminated Soil.
How do you describe your job when you meet people at a party? 
I tell people I’m an environmental consultant. I’m a scientist but I’m a scientist/engineering hybrid – I work at applied engineering and a hodge podge of things. I tell them the range of things I do. For example, I work on contaminant land site investigations and do risk assessments. I supervise the clean-up and make sure it’s validated at the end. I also do work in waste licensing and permitting
What is ‘cutting-edge’ about your work? 
I work with computer modeling to determine risk. I use a software package called RBCA which has a contaminated land exposure assessment model which is updated regularly. It allows you to assess the risk of a contaminated site (i.e. petrol station) to things like the soil and groundwater. This information helps you to know the risk for the onsite operatives, the people who work there or visit the site, and the risk to other properties. The software will give you a level or a number that tells you at what level the risk is negated.
What are the biggest implications your work will/could have in the future? 
I get to obtain planning permission for a development that may or may not have a large impact on the environment. For example, a hazardous waste transfer station, a quarry, waste facility, industrial site, or large residential properties.
Describe some of the highlights of your average day. 
Sitting down to a good cup of coffee. If I’m trying to get planning permission for a project it can take two years, so the big highlights can take some time
Describe briefly how your career has progressed to date. 
After I graduated with a Masters from Florida, I came back to Ireland to seek work. I got a job with Dames & Moore Environmental Consultants (now URS) and worked there for three and half years doing contaminated land site investigation and remediation. I left and went to work for Tobin Consulting Engineers. I spent seven years there as a staff scientist and project management. I moved into waste licensing and environmental impact work. I did a lot of work in the quarrying sector (mineral extraction etc.). I also worked on wind farms, residential land, commercial developments, and waterway service stations
How is your job cross-disciplinary? 
The best illustration of how my job is cross-disciplinary is the production of EIS, or environmental impact statements. If you’re collating and producing an EIS you have to liaise with the local authority’s environment section, and if you’re producing a waste license you have to liaise with the EPA plus other regulators. It can also involve liaising with engineers, architects, developers, air and noise specialists, agricultural specialists…the full gamut. Not to mention town planners!
What’s the most unexpected thing about your job? 
The most unexpected thing with the planning process is the planning board APB. When you have an appeal it goes to the APB and a lot of the time you have no way it’s going to come out…it’s often the opposite of what you expect
What’s the biggest achievement of your career so far? 
Starting my own company
Would you say you have a good standard of living/ work-life balance? 
Yes, no commuting! My office is right beside my home (a detached office). I used to spend about four and a half hours in the car.
What do your friends and family think about your job? 
They think I have an interesting job. They know I like what I’m doing so they think I’m lucky. Privately they probably think I’m a tree-hugging nerd
What kind of hobbies or extracurricular activities do you do to relax? 
Sports (rowing, rugby, sailing) and reading historic novels. Spending time with my family. I have two kids, six and two, a boy and a girl
Why did you choose to apply for CSci and what do you value most about being a Chartered Scientist? 
I applied to be a Chartered Scientist because of the void in Ireland. I also worked with a lot of chartered engineers. Guys I spent day in and day out with were chartered. I was mutating into an engineer and I didn’t feel comfortable with that
What is the value of professional bodies? 
Professional bodies ensure a minimum standard of education and experience
How important is CPD? What do you think of the revalidation process in ensuring that CSci is a mark of current competence? 
Imperative. Professionals need to be staying up to date and keeping abreast of legislation and European directives. I enjoy attending training workshops and conferences.
Advice & Reflection
What words of wisdom would you give someone interested in getting into your field? 
Make sure that you have a genuine interest in it. If you have interest, it’s much easier to get into it and dedicate yourself. I’ve worked with people who are not interested in what they do and they’re not happy. Make sure it’s not a passing interest. You need a voracious appetite for information. The bigger your appetite for information the better you will do. It’s no good copying and pasting text into a report – you need a reasonable understanding of your area. You don’t have to be an expert on everything but you need to be a bit of a control freak to get into the higher levels of consultancy.
How important is the mentoring process in your field and to you personally? 
The mentoring process can be productive provided the mentor knows how to mentor properly, which can be a problem. Mentors need to give encouragement as well as constructive criticism. I’ve witnessed destructive mentoring processes where someone doesn’t know when to stop criticizing. You can’t mould someone to be just like yourself. Thankfully, most of the people I’ve worked with do know how to bring juniors on and I’ve come across people who have also helped me. My mentor was a former member of the University of Florida Professor David Hubbell who was on my supervisory committee. He passed away before I finished my research after picking up a rare disease in Panama doing volunteer work. He helped me to get over my fear of public speaking…to get over those fears and rationalize them. I loved classical music and he also nurtured that in me. Some people have the ability to mentor really well.
How would you define “professionalism”? 
The number one thing is being conscientious and valuing your reputation. My motto is delivering a quality product for a fair price. Regardless of the size of the job – whether a client is paying you 500 or 50,000 Euros – the standards don’t change. You either give a crap or you don’t – it’s not good enough to copy and paste. I’ve come across people who spend no time on things, don’t proof read them or get them peer-reviewed
What would you do differently if you were starting out in your career now? 
I’d have more faith in my own ability and intuition.
What would you like people to remember about your life as a scientist? 
That I was conscientious, hard working, knew my field, had a high standard of work and hopefully had a good sense of humour while doing it
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