I live with my husband in a settler's log cabin, built in 1854. It's a bockety place. Irish readers will understand the meaning of that word, but for the rest of you, it means unsteady or wobbly. The cabin is in Mazomanie, near the Wisconsin River, about 20 miles from the university town of Madison. The land around it is green and hilly and it reminds me of Ireland.
I emigrated from Ireland in 1976. I had just finished a PhD in Zoology at University College Dublin and was ready to conquer the world! Most of all, I was ready to see what life outside Ireland was like. I fetched up in Amherst, Massachusetts as a postdoctoral fellow at the university there working with two wonderful scientists, Drs. Vincent Dethier and Henry Hagedorn. America suited me - the endless freedom. I could do anything, and best of all, my mother wouldn't know about it the next day! The anonymity of the United States can be alluring after quarter of a century living on an island of 5 million people where you always know someone.
At that time there was a reciprocity agreement between Ireland and the USA such that I would have to return to Ireland after a year and 'pay back' my time away. Ireland had recently joined the European Union which enabled me to fulfill the agreement in any of the EU countries. So I spent a year in Holland doing research with Dr. Louis Schoonhoven at the university in Wageningen. But at the first opportunity I returned to the USA, this time to Madison, Wisconsin. I was lucky to be in the right place at the right time. A new School of Veterinary Medicine was opening at the university and they hired a large number of junior faculty, including me.
For the next 30 years I taught neuroscience to Veterinary students, established a research laboratory and trained lots of MS and PhD students. My research speciality was neuroanatomy: how the nervous system is wired. It was a thoroughly wonderful career from which I retired in 2012. I am now an Emeritus Professor at the university, and enjoy following the careers of my ex-students.
You might enjoy an interview I gave as part of the Oral History Program at the University of Wisconsin in 2005.
I've always loved to write. During my six years at boarding school I had to write a letter home each week. I also had to write a composition in each of the languages we studied: Gaelic, English, French and for a while, German. So I got used to writing at an early age. There's a lot of writing in science: preparing lecture notes, research manuscripts, administrative documents, etc. Often I curl up on the couch at home, imagine a friend sitting opposite me, and have a chat—with pen and paper!
Besides reading, spending time with friends, and doing lots of exercise, I love to travel. Here are a few pictures from recent trips to Guyana, Cambodia, and of course Ireland.