Researcher Masterclass

Physics 300 Researcher Masterclass

Thursday, April 18th 2024

11:30 to 13:00

Physics Lecture Theatre, Fitzgerald Building

An international panel of three expert academics and researchers will share their experience and knowledge on developing a career in research. Our expert panellists are Prof. Kevin Smith (University of Boston), Dr. Nora Dempsey (CNRS) and Dr. Sophie Murray (DIAS). All three are Trinity Physics graduates with a wealth of international experience. A short biography for each panellist is given below. The masterclass will start with a short introduction from each panellist, followed by Q&A from the audience, concluding with informal networking. Register at

Kevin Smith graduated from Trinity with a BA in Experimental Physics in 1983. He subsequently moved to Yale University where he completed a Masters in Applied Physics in 1985 and his PhD in 1988. After a postdoctoral position in the University of Oregon he joined the academic staff in Boston University in 1991, where he is Professor in Physics and Chemistry. He has supervised over 20 PhD students and published over 200 papers. Kevin reviews for many international funding bodies, including the National Science Foundation and the European Research Council. He has received numerous awards over his career including the NSF Career Award and Kevin is a fellow of both the American Physical Society and the American vacuum Society. His interdisciplinary research involves the use of x-ray spectroscopies to study the electronic properties on a wide variety of materials, of both fundamental scientific importance, and technical significance. The experiments involve the use of synchrotron radiation light sources at facilities in California and Sweden.


Nora Dempsey holds a doctorate from Trinity College Dublin. Nora studied for her PhD under the supervision of Prof. Michael Coey. She was recruited by the CNRS in 2001 and has remained at the Institut Néel in Grenoble to date. Nora is internationally known for her work on developing processes for the synthesis of high-performance micro-magnets, whose magnetic structure is controlled at different length scales. Her expertise is put to use in collaborations with companies like Toyota, where her micro-magnets serve as model systems for improving the performance of magnets used in the engines of hybrid-electric vehicles.  In 2013 she patented the use of micro-magnets for molecule capture, exploited by the start-up Magia Diagnostic for medical diagnostic applications. She reported the first magnetic characterization using a Kerr effect magneto-optical system using a patented pulsed magnetic field source in 2016. Nora has led projects dedicated to integrating micro-magnets into micro-scaled motors, actuators and energy harvesters. In 2021 Nora was one of four scientists to be awarded the prestigious CNRS Innovation Medal in recognition of her work related to the fabrication, characterization and use of high performance micro-magnets.

Sophie Murray is a Technical Officer at Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies (DIAS). Following an undergraduate degree in astrophysics at Trinity College Dublin (TCD) and a masters degree in space science at University College London she completed her PhD in solar physics at TCD. After her PhD Sophie worked for several years at the Met Office, the UK’s national weather service. There she worked with scientists, forecasters, policy makers, and industry partners to develop new products for space weather forecasting. She returned to TCD to work as a Research Fellow in the area of space weather, as well as undertaking undergraduate teaching in physics. In her current role Sophie supports research activities across the entire Astronomy and Astrophysics Section at DIAS, including project management of large research grants, developing and maintaining research infrastructures, and organising events at Dunsink Observatory.