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Tyndall Hidden Talents: Meet this week’s HIDDEN TALENT at Tyndall, Anya Curran, Taekwon Do Champion and Tyndall PhD student

Posted on: 16 Dec 2020

Tyndall Hidden Talents: Meet this week’s HIDDEN TALENT at Tyndall, Anya Curran, Taekwon Do Champion and Tyndall PhD student

Sometimes it’s not what’s on our CVs or our academic qualifications that give us the ‘X Factor’ which propels us to success – it’s the ability to adapt, grow, have the confidence to take risks and creatively apply our hidden talents.

Tyndall’s goal is to attract and nurture people with diverse talents and excellent skills, enabling all to reach their full potential.

Meet this week’s hidden talent at Tyndall, Taekwon Do Champion and Tyndall PhD student Anya Curran. Anya’s outstanding hidden talent has today been recognised in the UCC Sports Star Awards.

Anya Curran, Taekwon Do Champion and PhD student
Materials and Devices

Taekwon do is a Korean martial art which I have been training in since I was only 7 years old. I have achieved a third degree black belt (there are a maximum of nine degrees to a black belt). There are a few different sides to Taekwon do, mainly patterns (forms or kata in other martial arts), self-defence, and my favourite - sparring. This is the sporting side of the martial art and is the style of Taekwon do that most people practice in Ireland which looks similar to kickboxing. Currently, I hold the European title for sparring in the lightweight division (won in Cork, July 2019), and came third in the world championships (Buenos Aires, August 2018).

My hobby was well established by the time I joined Tyndall. One of the main benefits of being a postgraduate researcher is the flexibility the PhD schedule offers. This is especially important when preparing for, or attending big competitions. I am also lucky that the UCC Taekwon do Club offers a free training facility for students. The coach, JB McCarthy is one of the best, and has really encouraged me and enabled me to perform on the world stage. I think it’s amazing that this world class coaching is available at zero cost, and only a 10min walk from Tyndall!

The discipline I have learned through martial arts has crossed over to other areas of my life. Taekwon do is an individual sport yet at the same time is similar to the workings of a research team, in the sense that you have a team who you work with and who support you, but you are essentially responsible for your own performance and achievement of your own goals. It also teaches people to be assertive, giving you confidence to stand up for yourself when you need to. I have also found it to be helpful in public speaking. I have literally been beaten up in front of crowds, so I will never be embarrassed in making a small mistake in a presentation!

For anyone inspired to take up a new hobby for the new year, a lot of clubs have recommenced training. Individual training is allowed under level 3, which means an instructor and pods of one can be present. Cork offers several great clubs to choose from. For anyone who prefers to train from home, is a beginner or who has become a little rusty like myself, I'd also recommend youtube for pre-recorded training sessions.

Anya’s PhD is focused on low temperature grown III-V semiconductors, and investigating their properties and application in devices. The objective of Anya's research is to progress towards achieving 3D integration of integrated circuits which would increase performance and the functionality density. Anya is supported by her supervisor Paul Hurley.