Sean has been a science journalist since the mid 1990s. He has worked as an editor, journalist, radio presenter and researcher, TV reporter, science blogger and popular science author.
Sean’s parents were both scientists. His mother was Fiona Duke (neé Herr), a biology teacher in Scoil Dara, Kilcock Co Kildare, and his father was Prof Eamonn Duke, Head of Zoology, UCD (both deceased, may they R.I.P.).
He has a B.Sc. from UCD, where he graduated in 1987 after specialising in Zoology, Geology and Botany in his final year. He followed that up with a Masters in Scientific and Environmental Journalism from New York University’s renowned Science, Health & Environmental Reporting Program (SHERP).
He returned to Ireland from in 1993 after completing his Masters degree in New York and worked initially as a substitute Biology and Science teacher at a secondary school in Co. Kildare.
In 1996, he took a Higher Diploma in Education from UCD, and this opened up the possibility of a career in teaching.
However, all through his time working in teaching, he maintained his interest in journalism and was contributing articles to his local Liffey Champion newspaper and other titles.
In 1998, a position as a senior reporter came up in the Champion. Sean applied for it, and got the position. Thus, began Sean’s 17-year career as a full-time journalist, specialising in science, medicine and technology.
At the Champion, which covered the huge population centre of west Dublin and north Kildare, Sean covered all kinds of stories, from business to local politics and sport. However, science still got a look in, and he set up the paper’s first science page, covering research developments at Maynooth University (then called NUI Maynooth).
He began contributing regularly to Technology Ireland, the magazine published by Enterprise Ireland, which was the only technology magazine in Ireland at the time.
In 2000, he was asked to join Technology Ireland, which he did, initially as a Joint Editor. Then two years later he was appointed Editor.
In 2003, he set up Ireland’s first popular science magazine Science Spin along with two journalistic colleagues.
As a co-founder and editor, he played a crucial role in fund raising for the magazine, and ensuring its survival as a title right through the years of the economic collapse.
Science Spin, which is published six times per year, has steadily grown its readership and recently entered its thirteenth year of publication.
As well as co-editing Science Spin, he wrote regularly on a freelance basis for The Sunday Times (Irish edition) and Science – one of the world’s most influential science publications, which is published by the American Association for the Advancement of Science.
In 2008, he began to get interested in radio, and following regular contributions to many shows, on RTE Radio 1 and Newstalk, he set up his own show in 2008.
Science Spinning was a weekly show broadcast on 103.2 Dublin City FM, and covered the latest happenings in science in Ireland and overseas. It was Ireland’s first science show on radio and rant for three and a half years.
Also in 2009, he set up his popular Blog, also called Science Spinning featuring print features, news, thought provoking opinion pieces, radio interviews, hosted shows, and television appearances.
In 2010, he also began to host a regular science slot on TV3’s Ireland AM. He suggested the content to be featured, did the background research, and provided supporting media for the 7 to 8 minute slot.
This regular Ireland AM slot ran for two years, after which Sean moved to RTE’s The Daily Show, where he did a regular science slot during 2012, featuring many of Ireland’s scientific greats and topical scientific issues.
In 2013, his first book, ‘How Irish Scientists Changed the World’ was published by Londubh. It reached number 2 in the bestseller list at Hodges Figgis bookshop, Dublin.
The following year, 2014, saw him make his first outing as a presenter on RTE Radio 1, as co-host with Colette Kinsella of the exploratory science series ‘What’s It All About?’.
This series won the silver award for specialist speech radio at the 2014 PPI Radio Awards.
In 2015 was co-presenter and researcher for a new series for RTE Radio 1. This was a 13-part ethics series, called ‘Life Matters’, featuring science-related topics such as genetic screening and assisted reproduction, and much else.
In 2016 he began to regularly contribute as a science and environmental reporter to Today with Sean O’Rourke on RTE Radio 1, while in 2017 he became a regular correspondent for Drivetime, also on RTE Radio 1.
He is also currently working on his second book. This will be a work of historical fiction based on real historical events, involving code breaking, Ireland and WWII.
Sean is 51, and lives in Terenure with his wife Maria and their three children.