'Don't force students to focus on a specific career'
SHE was the youngest professor appointed at Trinity College Dublin where she discovered a new human gene that does not survive in any other species, but scientist Aoife McLysaght believes teens should not be forced to focus on a particular career.
The professor of genetics argues against teaching for the test and maintains when she left school 20 years ago genetics and computers – now key elements of her job – were both in their infancy.
"The most exciting and valuable careers of 20 years' time probably don't exist yet so you can't take a specific training course for them," said the 38-year-old mother of two.
"When I was a student I had no idea what I was going to be doing 20 years into the future.
"I enjoyed a lot of different things: art, history, English, science, maths, writing and constructing an argument. I certainly didn't know I was going to be a scientist."
Prof McLysaght studied science in Trinity, earning a degree and PhD, before continuing her studies in California and returned to teach in Trinity at the age of 27.
She believes that had a 16-year-old her worked towards a career in science she would have missed learning key skills.
"I wouldn't have realised that being in the school play and arguing a point in English class would be very important for my career as a scientist, in some ways just as important as the science subjects," she said.