Featured People

Eileen Murphy

Name: Eileen Murphy
Job: Senior Lecturer in Archaeology, Queen's University Belfast

Subjects taken - BSc and PhD in Archaeology

How would you describe a typical day in your current job?

The day to day activities of a lecturer are very varied. I can spend a lot of time teaching and undertaking administrative duties, particularly during term time. But at other times I may be attending a conference in some exotic location, such as Miami, undertaking research in Russia, or teaching students how to survey in County Fermanagh. One of the things I like most about being a lecturer is that you rarely have time to get bored since there is always so much going on!

What made you decide to study your degree subject at university?

As a child I was always interested in archaeology and loved to visit Takabuti, the Egyptian mummy, in the Ulster Museum. I did not really enjoy history, however, so I did not really think of doing archaeology as a career when I was in school. A lot of my paintings were of ancient monuments, particularly old buildings, and once I had completed my foundation course I decided to undertake a degree in archaeology at Queen's. I think archaeology suits me very well since it is a complete mix of science and arts. I have ended up specialising in the study of human skeletons, which makes me a scientific archaeologist, although I also enjoy undertaking fieldwork and researching many aspects of cultural archaeology.

What attracted you to your current job?

I enjoy meeting people, talking about archaeology, travelling the world and undertaking new research. A lectureship seemed to be the career in archaeology that would give me the best chance of undertaking all these activities.

What aspects do you find most satisfying about your current job?

My enthusiasm for archaeology has not diminished since I graduated and I now find it particularly satisfying to see my PhD students and undergraduate students successfully complete their studies. We have also developed a Young Archaeologists' Club at Queen's which caters for young people up to the age of 16 years and I very much enjoy introducing our members to the exciting world of archaeology and palaeoecology.

How did your time at Queen's equip you with the personal and professional skills for your chosen career?

I did both my undergraduate degree and my PhD at Queen's. During my undergraduate degree I gained a solid foundation which enabled me to become an archaeologist. The combination of archaeology and palaeoecology gave me an appreciation of both the cultural and scientific sides of the subject and this has helped me to be a well rounded student of the past.