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Emily Gleeson, meteorologist

Published on: 28 Mar 2024

Emily Gleeson is from Thurles in Co. Tipperary. She has a degree in physics and chemistry and a PhD in physics. At university she worked on a project that measured remnant radiation from the Big Bang. She now works as a meteorologist with Met Éireann, studying the weather and climate, using data from the land, sea, and atmosphere. She's on her second course of professional Irish. She loves to travel, especially to the Arctic. Here she talks to the Institute of Physics.


Emily Gleeson in the Arctic. (Courtesy: IOP)

Can you tell us what first got you interested in physics?

Learning science in secondary school! I always liked maths and then got into science and physics. The school I went to had great labs and all the equipment. My teachers definitely inspired me to study science.

How did you get into your current job?

Another student told me about jobs in Met Éireann. I love extreme weather, so I applied. And here I am.

Do you still use the physics you learned in secondary school?

Of course! Physics is problem solving, so the methods can be applied to any scientific or technical task. I now lead a team in Europe who develop the physics of the weather model that we use for operational weather forecasting. I specialise in solar radiation, radiation-aerosol interactions and surface physiography – so both surface and upper-air physics. My job requires lots of different skills. Problem solving, definitely, but also communication, adaptability, teamwork and patience.

What do you like best about your role?

I love my job because it’s also my hobby. Every day is different and there are so many different aspects to the job. And so many opportunities within the organisation! I work with so many fantastic people in Ireland and all over Europe.

Do you have any advice for someone who’s considering studying physics

To steal a line from Dr Seuss, "you can steer yourself in any direction you choose"! I’ve gone from sub-millimetre astronomy, to engineering in Intel, to weather forecasting, to climate change modelling, to short range numerical weather prediction model development. There are so many different paths.

Interview taken from Limitless magazine from the IOP.