The Ryan Institute

The Ryan Institute has been established in 2010 from a merger of the Environmental Change Institute and Martin Ryan Institute for Marine Science. It promotes interdisciplinary excellence in environmental, marine and energy research with a commitment to international collaboration, the educational mission of NUI Galway and support for a regional, national and EU sustainable development agenda.


The Ryan Institute is conducting a wide range of research projects in the following areas:

Climate Change

Climate Change research has a long history within NUI Galway, with the internationally important Mace Head Atmospheric Research Station recently celebrating its 50th birthday.  At the Ryan Institute, Climate Change research has been consolidated into an integrated Centre for Climate and Air Pollution Studies (C-CAPS), with research organized into four main sub-themes:
  • Atmospheric composition and emissions
  • Air quality and pollution 
  • Ocean-atmosphere exchange 
  • Climate-ecosystem interactions

Environment and Health

This thematic area is focused on research that contributes to national and  international aims for enhancement of human health through environmental stewardship. It has sub-themes:
  • Air Quality and Health
  • Water Quality, Sanitation and Health 
  • Health from Environment and Public Policy 
  • Soil, Land, Food and Health


In 2007, the Energy Research Centre (ERC) within the Ryan Institute was formed to reflect the societal and strategic importance of this research area, and to provide researchers with the strongest possible platform for sharing ideas and sparking innovation. Ongoing and planned research organised into four sub-themes:
  • Renewable resources
  • Bioenergy
  • Energy efficient technologies
  • Energy and society

Marine and Coastal Processes

Research into the marine environment of Irish coastal waters has a long history at NUI Galway, with strong early inputs from the old Departments of Zoology, Botany, Oceanography, Microbiology and the Applied Geophysics Unit.   Many of these activities have been assimilated within the Ryan Institute into the Marine and Coastal Processes thematic area, and are organized into the following sub-themes:
  • Biogeochemical Processes
  • Ecosystem Health 
  • Marine Pathways 
  • Changing Coast

Biodiversity and Bioresources

This cluster is concerned with the distribution of species, habitats and ecosystems, and the services provided by natural resources, broadly organized in the Ryan Institute as:
  • Functional and Evolutionary Biology
  • Environmental Management and Conservation 
  • Biodiversity: Patterns and Processes 
  • Aquaculture, Biotechnology and Biodiscovery

Sustainability and Built Environment

The research in this cluster is designed to support more sustainable, economically feasible and socially beneficial ways of developing and operating buildings and infrastructure, and is organized into following sub-themes:
  • Materials
  • Design and Life-Cycle Analysis
  • Water
  • Sustainable Urban Environment

Modelling and Informatics

Modelling and Informatics is a cross-cutting activity in the Ryan Institute, and is a field that is critical to Environmental, Marine and Energy research, where data needs to be generated, processed, and visualized.  Modelling complements field based marine and terrestrial research by providing predictions of complex systems and processes such as:
  • Marine processes: hydrodynamics; biogeochemical cycling; surges and coastal flooding
  • Water quality modelling: radionuclides; heavy metals; phytoplankton; public health
  • Energy systems: marine renewables; smart buildings
  • Mathematical, statistical and physical scale modelling
  • Climate change modelling: global modelling; dynamic downscaling; Air-sea gas exchange
  • Waves and associated sediment transport
  • Deep ocean, estuarine, and coastal circulation

Environmental Technologies

Environmental Technologies is a cross-cutting activity in the Ryan Institute, and is about directly or indirectly improving our marine and terrestrial environments, our health and quality of life, and the sustainability of our urban spaces and lifestyles.  Researchers in this field are working on areas that can be applied to almost all aspects of Environmental, Marine and Energy research such as:
  • Sensor development
  • Waste treatment and mitigation
  • Energy efficient technologies

Socio-Economics and Policy

This cross-thematic activity includes researchers in innovation, socio-economics and public policy who can anticipate the regulatory drivers, impacts of organisational structures and opportunities in areas like environmental and health protection, energy and marine resources. Socio-economics and policy is regarded as a key ’technology’ to deliver EU policy objectives for the environment and energy.

GIS Facility

The GIS facility, located in the Orbsen Building on the main NUI Galway campus, has the capability to process, manipulate, analyse and display spatial information. Using the latest software for spatial data and imagery processing, researchers can manipulate geographical information to obtain results in new and exciting ways.  Possibilities include: radiometric preprocessing, georeferencing, image processing and GIS integration, geospatial analysis and interpretation, time-change analysis, web application support and development, and bespoke application tools. We provide training in GIS and Remote Sensing applications and software.

Carna Research Station

 The Carna Research Station is the Ryan Institute’s base for large scale, exploratory aquatic investigations, and both applied and basic research, on existing and novel species for aquaculture.  This site also acts as a shore base for many research groups within the Ryan Institute to undertake active research and field training programmes on the West coast of Ireland: several large scale aquatic experimental projects are based here.

Carron Field Research Station

The Máirín de Valéra Carron Field Research Facility was established by University College Galway in 1975 as a base for groups involved in research on the Burren.  The site was extensively renovated in 2004, and is now open throughout the year. While its main objective is to provide facilities for research personnel at NUI Galway, visiting parties are also welcome to use the facility.  On-site services include:
  • Dormitory accommodation for groups of up to 2
  • Separate accommodation for up to four supervisory staff
  • Cooking and dining areas
  • Meeting rooms
  • Fully serviced teaching laboratory

Mace Head Atmospheric Research Station

The Mace Head Atmospheric Research Station in Carna, County Galway offers westerly exposure to the North Atlantic ocean (clean sector, 180 degrees through west to 300 degrees) and the opportunity to study atmospheric composition under Northern Hemispheric background conditions, as well as European continental emissions when the winds favour transport from that region. The facilities at the site consist of three laboratory buildings, one at ~300m and two at ~90m from the shore (~50m from high water), 23m and 10m aluminium walk-up towers and a converted 20 ft cargo container laboratory.  A wide range of aerosol, gas, and meteorological and profiling instrumentation is housed on-site.

Orbsen Building 

The Orbsen building was completed in September 2003 and is situated on the North East side of the NUI Galway campus near the River Corrib.   This building contains the GIS and Poster Printing Facilities, several research laboratories, a 16-seater boardroom, dedicated study space for postgraduate and postdoctoral researchers, and is the base for many of the Institute's core support staff.

Martin Ryan Building 

The Martin Ryan Building was established by the University in 1992 by means of matching funds from a generous private donation by the late Dr. Tony Ryan, founder of Guinness Peat Aviation and Ryanair, and by the European Union STRIDE Operational Programme for Ireland (Regional Development).  The funding enabled the purchase of equipment for marine science and the construction of a neoclassical building, opened in May 1993 by the Hon. Bruce McMillan, then EU Commissioner for Regional Affairs.  It is now a protected structure. NUI Galway was subsequently funded under the Irish Higher Education Authority’s Programme for Research in Third-Level Institutions to construct an Annexe to the building.

For current research vacancies within the Ryan Institute please visit 

Please visit our jobs section for a complete list of current vacancies.

Find out more