The EU articulates an engaging vision of the future to 2050 in the 7th Environment Action Programme ‘Living Well, within the Limits of our Planet’. Physical and life scientists, engineers, educators, and social scientists must work collaboratively to understand environmental systems that, partly owing to human activity, may be approaching thresholds for irreversible change. This ethos forms the foundation for the Ryan Institute’s mission in the area of Environmental Research.

There are three main thrusts to our environmental research which are: Environmental Technologies, Climate Change, and Environment and Health.

Environmental Technologies are 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 such as sensor development, waste treatment, and energy efficient technologies – areas that can be applied to almost all aspects of Environmental, Marine and Energy research.

Climate Change research is organized into four main sub-themes – Atmospheric Composition and Emissions, Air Quality and Pollution, Ocean-Atmosphere Exchange, and Climate-Ecosystem Interactions – and has been consolidated into an integrated Centre for Climate and Air Pollution Studies (C-CAPS). C-CAPS aims to quantify key atmospheric processes and transport emission inventories. These data will be fed into predictive systems such as a coupled ocean-atmosphere model and marine ecosystem models that are crucial to accurate climate change scenarios.

Environment and Health. We talk much more about disease than we talk about health. What passes for discussion on health is mostly about the prevention of disease, the detection of disease and the treatment of disease. An overwhelming preoccupation with disease is an expensive and inefficient way to pursue health. Health is achieved and sustained through our interaction with the world around us – air, water and food, the people, the footpaths, the hurling pitches, night clubs and countryside. The Centre for Health from Environment (CHE) recognises the dependence of human health on our environment, and it promotes the concept that health and well-being is the most important resource that we derive from our environment.


Dr. Florence Abram is the director of the Functional Environmental Microbiology laboratory, which focuses primarily on microbial adaptation to ecological niches. Her expertise lies in the application of proteomics and metaproteomics to investigate microbial behaviour within their natural ecosystem.

Dr. Barry is the principal investigator of the Molecular Diagnostics Research Group (MDRG) at NUI Galway, which has 20 years experience and an international track record of achievement in the development and application of molecular diagnostics tests for microbial species detection in the clinical, food and environmental sectors. The MDRG has developed a suite of platform technologies, based on proprietary nucleic acid sequence targets, for the detection and identification of bacteria and fungi. The research group has also successfully worked with commercial partners to develop molecular diagnostic products for infectious diseases based on these technologies.

Research interests include: (i) atmospheric composition and climate change, (ii) atmospheric oxidation efficiency, (iii) atmospheric aerosols: gas-to-particle conversion, gas-particle interactions, (iv) potential health effects of trace gases and aerosols, (v) mass spectrometry and its applications to atmospheric and environmental analysis.

Research Interests : Host-pathogen interactionsToxins and Effectors of Type III Secretion SystemsVibrio parahaemolyticusIdentification and characterisation of bacterial adhesins and invasinsDisruption of the intestinal barrier function by gastrointestinal pathogensManipulation of eukaryotic cell signalling pathways and cell activities by bacterial effector proteins

Prof. Brown is the Director of the Ryan Institute, and is the Project Manager for the €3.1M Griffith Biogeoscience Project. His research interests include: (i) investigating the structure of the crust (ii) electromagnetic induction methods (iii) acoustic, and seismic, imaging and classification of sediments (iv) marine habitat mapping using remotely operated vehicles.
Click here to listen to an interview with Professor Colin Brown on our Itunes podcast channel:
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Research interests include assessment (through measurement and modeling) of human exposure to environmental and occupational airborne contaminants; including radioactive particles from nuclear accidents, tobacco smoke particles, vehicular emissions.

Click here to listen to an interview with Dr. Miriam Byrne on our Itunes podcast channel:
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Nature conservation, biodiversity, impacts of human activity on habitats and species, behavioural ecology, high nature value farming, sustainable development and mitigation practices, connectivity.

Dr. Liam Carr is a critical environmental geographer examining marine resource management, with a focus on how policy decisions impact communities and economies dependent upon the health of those natural resources. He began at NUI Galway in 2015 as a visiting US Fulbright Scholar, and has since joined the faculty in the Discipline of Geography as Lecturer and Coordinator for the MSc in Coastal and Marine Environments. His NUI Galway experience includes examining stakeholder perspectives on Ireland's salmon aquaculture industry while expanding research interests on tourism impacts to rural communities along Ireland's Wild Atlantic Way. He teaches both under- and post-graduate Geography modules on marine spatial planning. Originally from New London, Connecticut, Liam has traced his paternal ancestry to the village of Kilcar, County Donegal. He earned his PhD in Geography from Texas A&M University in 2012, where he incorporated local knowledge of Virgin Islands fishing communities to evaluate the effectiveness of fishery regulations.

Research area: Radiative properties of amospheric aerosol, chemical composition of size-segregated aerosols, sampling and analytical techniques of aerosols.

Research interests include measurement of environmental and occupational hazards. Currently working with the Pharmaceutical industry on the development of chemical control and containment designs.

Prof. Maire Connolly



Irish Place Studies; Philosophies of Space and Place; Irish Historical Cartography; Colonial and Postcolonial Geographies; Sense of Place in Irish Culture and Writing; Irish Literary Geographies.

Dr. Collins is Director of the Microbial Ecophysiology Research Group, which is concerned with linking the identity (ecology) and in situ function (physiology) of yet-to-be cultivated microbes. Focus is on populations from natural systems and from engineered biofilms, by adopting a Systems Biology approach. One of his main research interests is the microbial populations underpinning waste-to-bioenergy systems.

Prof. Cormican is leader of the Environment and Health priority thematic area. He is a Professor of Bacteriology, Clinical Vice-Dean of NUI Galway’s Medical School, and also works as a Consultant Microbiologist with University College Hospital, Galway.

Click here to listen to an interview with Professor Martin Cormican on our Itunes podcast channel:
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After graduating with first class honours in chemistry Peter joined the laboratory of Prof. G. W. Canters at Leiden University, The Netherlands. Working with his advisor Prof. M. Ubbink, he used NMR spectroscopy to study transient protein interactions involved in electron transport. This research was summarized in an invited paper in Accounts of Chemical Research.

Kevin Davison currently researches and publishes in the areas of: gender and education; masculinities, bodies, boys and literacies, science outreach; as well as research methodologies in the postmodern condition. In addition to serving as guest co-editor on four special theme issues on boys, masculinity and education for The Journal of Men's Studies (2), The Canadian Journal of Education, and The McGill Journal of Education, he is the author of several publications including the following two books: Negotiating masculinities and bodies in schools: The implications of gender theory for the education of boys (2007, Edwin Mellen Press) and Masculinities and schooling: International Practices and perspectives (2007, Althouse Press).

Dr Tom Doyle is a marine biologist with expertise in gelatinous zooplankton (jellyfish) ecology, foraging ecology of leatherback sea turtles and animal biotelemetry (satellite tracking). He is author of 36 scientific publications and has a h-index is 13 (Web of Science). He is internationally recognised in the field of gelatinous zooplankton, with expertise in the broadscale distribution and abundance of key gelatinous groups (inc. scyphomedusae, hydromedusae, siphonophores and ctenophores), sampling techniques for monitoring gelatinous zooplankton (inc. plankton hauls, MIK net, fisheries by-catch data and visual surveys), diet and trophic interactions of scyphomedusae and socio-economic impacts of jellyfish (e.g. especially aquaculture interactions). He has deployed satellite tags, data loggers and acoustic tracking devices on various species (jellyfish, sunfish, blue sharks and leatherback turtles) to determine animal movements and dive behaviour.

Dr. Duggan’s interest is in policy modelling to investigate the feedback interactions between economical and energy policies and the environment. He is lead investigator with the System Dynamics Research Group at NUI Galway, and specialises in the design of computational methods to model complex social systems.

Frances is the Head of Geography in NUI Galway. She completed her Geography and Sociology degree and Ph.D. in the Department of Geography, Trinity College Dublin. Frances formerly worked as an EPA Post-Doctoral Research Fellow in Geography, NUI, Galway and as a Lecturer in Human Geography in the School of Environmental Sciences in University of Ulster before joining Geography, NUI Galway as a Lecturer in November 2008.

Dr. Farrell’s research interests are in sediment transport processes in coastal and river environments. His research relies on the design and implementation of instrumented field experiments and, many times, in partnership with coastal research groups around the world. A driving motivation of his research is the conviction that informed decision making must be based upon empirical data as we try to predict how natural systems operate in response to (un)natural and human forcing.
Click here to listen to an interview with Dr. Eugene Farrell on our Itunes podcast channel:
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Maura's research background is in Rural Geography, with a primary focus on the nature of agricultural change and rural development. Additional areas of interest include rural return migration, rural gender studies, land use, with a particular focus on forestry and family farming. Maura's research agenda includes both a national and international focus.

‌Dr. Gerard Fleming

Microbial Oceanography Research Unit, Microbiology

+353 (0)91 493562


I lead the Microbial Oceanography Research Laboratory and have a particular interest in studying microbial diversity of the water column. A key component of these studies is the linking microbial diversity with function in the Deep Sea. The group also examine the response of benthic microbial assemblages to the input of organic matter using culture-independent molecular techniques and culture-based methodologies under conditions of deep sea pressure.

Brendan Flynn was appointed within the School as a lecturer in 1998. He has studied at the University of Essex for his Masters and PhD degrees, his doctoral thesis having the title: "Subsidiarity and the Evolution of EU environmental policy", with Prof. Albert Weale, as his supervisor. He has taught a wide variety of undergraduate courses on topics in the areas of Irish politics, introduction to politics, and European Politics. He has also offered specialist third option courses in Environmental Policy and EU policy. His primary research interests include comparative environmental policy, with a special focus on EU and Irish developments. He also retains an interest in wider EU policy and European politics developments. He is the author of The Blame Game: Rethinking Ireland’s Sustainable Development and Environmental Performance (2007, Dublin: Irish Academic Press).

Research in the Applied Ecology Unit primarily deals with the management and conservation of a wide range of terrestrial habitats including woodlands, turloughs (disappearing lakes), wet grasslands, machair (rare coastal habitat), callows (flood meadows), riparian habitats, peatlands, stonewalls and HNV (High Nature Value) farmland. Members of the research team have a particular interest in the effects of management on terrestrial invertebrate and plant communities. In addition, the development of sustainable stocking densities for grazed ecosystems using questionnaires to determine past/current grazing practices and using direct animal observation and GPS collars is of particular interest. Another area of research is the use of invertebrates as biological control agents of agricultural pests and diseases. Considerable expertise has been developed in the Applied Ecology Unit in the use of sciomyzids (Diptera) as biological control agents of snail-borne trematode diseases and of horticultural slug species.

Dr. Grehan is a Senior Research Fellow in the discipline of Earth and OceanSciences, School of Natural Sciences, at the National University of Ireland, Galway. Dr. Grehan obtained his PhD in Zoology in Ireland before undertaking post-doctoral studies at the Université Pierre-et-Marie-Curie, Paris VI (Laboratoire Arago, Banyuls) and at the Université du Québec in Rimouski and Montreal, Canada. This work primarily focused on benthic mapping/monitoring and environmental assessments of estuaries, embayments and coastal seas, and of hydrothermal vent and seep areas, in the deep-sea.

Dr. Hartnett is the Research Director of the Marine Modelling Centre. Activities within the centre include: deep ocean water circulation modelling; estuarine and coastal circulation modelling; nutrient modelling; water quality modelling; biological modelling; heavy metal modelling; wave climate modelling; and modelling air-sea interfaces.

Tiernan Henry graduated with a BA (Mod) in Natural Sciences from TCD in 1986. In 1993 he graduated with an MSc in Water Resources Management (Hydrogeology) from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. During that time he worked on several US EPA-funded water management projects in the Great Lakes area. He taught hydrology & hydrogeology at UCG as part of the Department of Engineering Hydrology before taking a consultancy position.

Dr. Mark G. Healy is a Chartered Engineer, a Fellow of Engineers Ireland, and is a lecturer (above the bar) in Civil Engineering at the National University of Ireland, Galway. Dr. Healy’s research work is primarily in the area of experimental environmental engineering and soil erosion. He has published 2 book chapters and 45 peer-reviewed, national and international journal papers. To date, with collaborators, he has successfully competed for research funding awards in excess of €3.4 million. Recent and on-going research projects on which Dr. Healy is PI include projects funded by EPA/COFORD, Teagasc , DAFF and IRCSET. His research interests include: surface and subsurface processes with a particular interest in erosion and surface runoff of nutrients, solids and metals, and leaching of nutrients through soil; greenhouse gas emissions; soil fertility; constructed wetlands; sand filtration; sequencing batch reactors; biosolids; composting; and the effects of forestry activities, such as clearfelling, on the environment (nutrient loss, use of buffer zones, greenhouse gas emissions to the atmosphere).

At the Ryan Institute, Pádraic has worked with government departments, state agencies, research groups and industry on cross-sectoral environmental policies involving energy (renewable gas in particular), transport, agriculture, marine resources, climate change and emissions.

He has worked in EU projects focused on resource efficiency and the circular economy such as BioBase N.W.E., ReNEW, BioBase4SME and national projects the Irish TCBB and BioÉire. This has included policy research and stakeholder engagement with key government departments, researchers and industry on the introduction of the minimal rate of excise duty for renewable, biogas vehicle fuel in the Finance Act 2014. Pádraic has a depth of experience of public policy development, state regulation and stakeholder engagement both within government departments (including at the Dept. of the Environment) and in the private commercial sector.

Carleton Jones is a lecturer-above-the-bar in Archaeology at NUIG. Dr. Jones received his Ph.D. from the University of Cambridge in 1997, and his MA (1992) and BA (1986) from California State University Long Beach. Dr. Jones’s research is concerned with investigating the organization and dynamics of prehistoric societies in Ireland with a focus on the Neolithic, Chalcolithic, and Early Bronze Age periods. To that end, he directed a long-term field project surveying and excavating on the Burren in western Ireland which was supported in part by the Heritage Council and the Royal Irish Academy.

Paul Kavanagh received his BSc in Pure and Applied Chemistry from Dublin City University, Ireland in 2002. He obtained a PhD (2006) in chemistry from National University of Ireland Galway, focusing on the synthesis and characterisation of redox polymer films for application to DNA biosensors and biofuel cells. His research activities include bioelectrochemistry, bioanalysis, microfluidics, transition metal complex syntheses and computational chemistry.

Rónán Kennedy is a member of the Law School at NUI Galway and teaches courses in environmental legislation, information technology law and intellectual property (principally copyright). He is also the co-ordinator of the new LL.M. in Law, Technology and Governance. He has published in the areas of planning law and environmental law, and is currently researching Irish climate change law and policy.

The main focus of my current research is on the interrelationship between nature conservation and other human land use, with particular focus on tourism. My current research project aims to establish the impacts of tourism on coastal sand dune systems, to asses the management of tourism with in coastal SACs containing such dune systems and to establish how SACs can be managed for conservation while allowing for other activities such as tourism to take place. This involves assessing the direct impacts of tourism on the habitats in coastal conservation areas, recording and comparing the current ground level management practices and stakeholders’ opinions on current the current situation, with the aim to compile a list of good practice management methods for use in other sites.

Dr. Su-Ming Khoo

School of Political Science & Sociology

+353 (0)91 493643


Current research interests include contested meanings of development and globalization; development alternatives from the perspectives of sustainability, rights and citizenship; The Right to Development and Right to Health; global citizenship, public advocacy and public goods; development education and the globalization(s) of higher education.

My main research interest is in the field of mammal ecology. I have worked on a number of squirrel ecology projects, with particular reference to red and grey squirrel competition, their distribution, red squirrel conservation and the management of grey squirrel populations. The most recent work in the Mammal Ecology Group has investigated the use of translocation as a conservation tool for red squirrels. The ecology of small mammal populations, the control of pest species, the ecology of invasive species, mammal monitoring techniques and their applications and mammal parasitology are other areas of interest.
Click here to listen to a radio interview with Dr. Colin Lawson on our Itunes podcast channel:
Ryan instatute Podcast Channel

Dr. Leech is the Director of the Biomolecular Electronics Research Laboratory. Environmental diagnostics research in the laboratory focuses on the preparation and characterisation of electron-transfer catalysts and modified electrode surfaces. A recently awarded sensor technology projects is the SFI-funded “Metals In the Marine Environment” (MIME) project, for the development, validation and deployment of autonomous electrochemical instrumentation for analysis of metals in the marine environment.

Valerie completed her BA at NUI, Galway and then moved to the United States, where she received her MA in geography from the University of Colorado, Boulder. Upon graduating, she moved to Los Angeles and worked in the urban programme of the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), an environmental action organisation.

Prof. Kevin Leyden

School of Political Science & Sociology, Whitaker Institute Member

+353 (0)91 492848


Professor Leyden’s teaching and research interests include social capital, public policy, public opinion, elections, interest groups, health policy, energy policy, land-use & transportation planning and issues of sustainable development. His research has been published in the American Journal of Public Health, Environmental Health Perspectives, The British Journal of Political Science, Political Research Quarterly, Legislative Studies Quarterly, American Politics Quarterly, American Journal of Health Promotion, American Journal of Preventive Medicine, Presidential Studies Quarterly, and Policy Studies Journal, among others. His current research focuses primarily on the relationship between the community design, social capital, health, and climate change.

Dr. Lynch’s research interests are in the field of coastal geomorphology and integrated coastal zone management. He is primarily involved in field–based research of beach-dune systems, with the aim of elucidating links between short-term variables and longer-term morphological development.

Research Interests: Numerical analysis of singularly perturbed differential equations. Finite element and finite difference methods. Layer resolving meshes. Numerical linear algebra.

Veronica McCauley, PhD is a lecturer in science education at the National University of Ireland, Galway. Her primary degree is in science education, which instigated doctoral research in the areas of self-directed and technology-based learning. Within the sphere of science education, she has carried out research in initial teacher education, interactive learning environments, mentoring, STEM outreach activities and the effective use of technology in teaching and learning at the University of Limerick (Ireland), Harvard University (Cambridge, USA) and at the National University of Ireland, Galway (Ireland).

Molecular phylogenetics & population genetics of marine invertebrates with particular interest in sponges and echinoderms; taxonomy, classification and evolution in general; biodiscovery & biotechnology using Irish marine resources; molecular evolution of viruses.

John graduated with a BA (Hons) and MA (Hons) from NUI and was awarded a University Scholarship to pursue his PhD at Bristol University in the UK. At Bristol, John studied under Professor Paul Cloke and after completion of his PhD, obtained a permanent lectureship post at University College Northampton. During this time, he was appointed subject leader for an interdisciplinary module on Development while also delivering courses on rural geography and land resource development.

Dr. Melvin’s research interests include Real-Time Systems, Energy Informatics, Internet Multimedia, Time & Timing Systems and Wireless Technologies. He is a member of the Performance Engineering Laboratory research group, a distributed group of researchers, based out of UCD and DCU but with a presence in other Irish institutions including NUI,Galway.

Nature conservation, biodiversity, impacts of human activity on habitats and species, behavioural ecology, high nature value farming, sustainable development and mitigation practices, connectivity.

Research interests in the area of environment and health include the bioavailability, mobility, biomonitoring, and toxicity of metal contaminants in the environment. Current research includes biogeochemical investigation on elevated concentrations of metals from natural and anthropogenic sources in drinking water supplies. Dr. Morrison established and manages the Chemical Monitoring Facility at the Ryan Institute, NUIG.

Graduate of University College Dublin (1984); Masters degree 1986;Awarded NUI Travelling Studentship 1987; Director Discovery Programme Tara Survey 1992-96. Currently co-director (with Dr Mark Stansbury - Classics NUIG) of the Columbanus: life and legacy Project (PRTLI4 and Andrew Mellon Foundation) and member of the International Scientific Committee of Making Europe: Columbanus and his legacy. Conor's research contribution to this project apply in the fields of art-history and landscape archaeology


Niall Ó Brolcháin (Male) is a researcher in the eGovernment group at the Insight Centre for Data Analytics at the National University of Ireland Galway (formerly known as Digital Enterprise Research Institute – DERI). Mr. Ó Brolcháin has over 20 years of experience in the ICT industry. He graduated in Business and Computer studies and holds a postgraduate diploma in Digital Media, Project Management and Marketing.

Prof. O’Flaherty is the director of the Microbial Ecology Laboratory. Main interests are in the areas of anaerobic biofilm and microbial ecology research, focused on: anaerobic biofilm reactor technology for energy production and wastewater treatment; and the microbial ecology of anaerobic biofilms and soil ecosystems. Click here to listen to an interview with Professor Vincent O’Flaherty on our Itunes podcast channel:
Ryan Institute Podcast Channel

Dr. Conor O’Byrne is a lecturer in Microbiology in the School of Natural Sciences. He is director of the Bacterial Stress Response Group, whose research focuses on the molecular responses of bacterial food-borne pathogens to environmental stresses (eg. limited water activity, reduced temperatures, low pH). The group has attracted more than €5 M in research funding since its inception in 2000 and has published extensively on food-borne pathogens. Dr O’Byrne worked as a post-doctoral researcher with a multinational food company in the UK for 4 years and so has strong appreciation for the potential damage that food-borne pathogens can cause to a food business. Much of the group’s recent research has focussed on Listeria monocytogenes, with an emphasis on understanding the regulatory mechanisms that underpin the responses to food-related stress. Dr O’Byrne was elected onto the Prokaryotic Division of the Society for General Microbiology in 2010.

Dr. Diarmuid O’Donovan

Health Promotion and Director of Public Health HSE West

+353 (0)91 493923


Dr. O’Donovan is Senior Lecturer in Social & Preventive Medicine at NUI Galway and Director of Public Health in the Health Service Executive (HSE West, Galway). He is a Project Leader in the Health Promotion Research Centre. His research interests include equity in health, health policy, communicable disease control and environmental health, health and human rights, and global health and development.

Prof. O’Dowd is the leader of the Climate Change priority thematic area. He is also the Director of the Centre for Climate and Air Pollution Studies (C-CAPS), and Director of the Mace Head Atmospheric Research Station. Research interests include atmospheric aerosol formation, transformation and climate effects, air quality, climate-air quality interactions, air-sea exchange, bio-geochemical cycling, as well as measurements and modelling of aforementioned themes.

Click here to listen to an interview with Professor Colin O’Dowd on our Itunes podcast channel:
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The fundamental processes that have enabled plants to colonise and adapt to life on land are amongst the most exciting questions in evolutionary biology. The primary cell wall performs many essential biological roles (including tissue cohesion, defence, ion exchange, the production of oligosaccharins and the regulation of cell expansion) placing it at the frontier of evolutionary processes. Indeed, the demands placed on the cell wall, and therefore its optimal composition, have changed during periods of rapid evolution. Notable changes in cell wall composition are associated with plant terrestrialisation and vascularisation. Work in this lab aims to characterise cell wall composition to enable improved insight into the mechanisms of plant terrestrialisation and vascularisation.

Research in the Applied Ecology Unit primarily deals with the management and conservation of a wide range of terrestrial habitats including woodlands, turloughs (disappearing lakes), wet grasslands, machair (rare coastal habitat), callows (flood meadows), riparian habitats, peatlands, stonewalls and HNV (High Nature Value) farmland. Members of the research team have a particular interest in the effects of management on terrestrial invertebrate and plant communities. In addition, the development of sustainable stocking densities for grazed ecosystems using questionnaires to determine past/current grazing practices and using direct animal observation and GPS collars is of particular interest. Another area of research is the use of invertebrates as biological control agents of agricultural pests and diseases. Considerable expertise has been developed in the Applied Ecology Unit in the use of sciomyzids (Diptera) as biological control agents of snail-borne trematode diseases and of horticultural slug species.

Dr. Quinlan’s research interests are in fluid dynamics; with applications to the characterisation, analysis and design of renewable and conventional energy conversion systems. His group uses particle image velocimetry and computational fluid dynamics, and are developing novel computational approaches which are particularly suited to marine applications.

Dr. Raghavendra’s received his PhD degree from the Jawaharalal Nehru University in New Delhi. His doctoral dissertation was a study on the dynamics of Economic growth and Income distribution in the traditions of Michael Kalecki and John Maynard Keynes, and his subsequent research is focused on a variety of themes in Macroeconomic theory, Financial economics, Political Economy, and Complex Systems. His current research is in the area of monetary macroeconomics with a particular focus on the impact of financialisation on the wider economy.

Research Interests: Molecular microbial ecology of natural and engineered ecosystems with particular emphasis on the biogeochemical cycling of nitrogen in coastal zones, drinking water microbiology and the geomicrobiology of fluid inclusions.

Dara is lecturer in Plant Ecology at NUI Galway. She is interested in biodiversity and ecosystem services, agroecology, landscape ecology, human impacts on biodiversity, plant reproductive biology, the structure of ecological communities, behavioural ecology and conservation biology. She has a special interest in the interactions between plants and pollinating insects. Some recent work includes investigating effects of pesticide use on pollination services delivered by bumblebees in the UK, the impacts of growing novel crops on biodiversity and ecosystem services in Ireland, and the structure of plant-pollinator communities in species rich grasslands in South Africa.


Dr Stengel is Head of Botany and Plant Sciences and leads the Algal BioSciences Research Cluster at NUI Galway.

Expertise and interests: algal biology, ecology and biotechnology.

Research interests include the sustainable utilisation of algae (seaweeds and microalgae), and the role of algae in marine ecosystem functioning and climate change research (e.g. ocean acidification; ocean-atmosphere interactions; iodine cycle).

Research concentrates on ecological and metabolic responses of algae (seaweeds and microalgae) and seagrasses to their environment (climate change; anthropogenic influences such as harvesting; water quality), the targeted cultivation of macro- and microalgae for the optimised production of seaweed and algal biomass, and primary and secondary metabolites of commercial interest.

Recent and current projects include NutraMara (Marine Functional Foods Research Initiative), and several Marine Institute, EI, EPA and DAFM-funded projects (e.g. Pro-SeaVeg, SMART-Food, AsMara), an SFI-investigator project on seaweed iodine, and projects on seaweed biomass assessment. Dr Stengel also currently leads a Marine Biotechnology ERA-net project (‘Neptuna’).

Research Interests: The Plant Systems Biology Lab aims at understanding how green organisms cope with the fluctuating environmental conditions they encounter in nature, i.e. understand what are the genetic/physiological bases of robustness in sessile green organisms.

Dr. Tuohy is director of the Molecular Glycobiotechnology Group and has over 15 years experience in the Enzymology, carbohydrate biochemistry, plant biomass conversion and microbial fermentation. Our aim is to harness the full potential of fungi to recover the full energy and biorefinery potential of plant biomass and carbohydrate-rich wastes.


Akke Vellinga is an epidemiologist. She started working for the NUI Galway in 2005. She now divides her time between two half time positions; a senior lectureship in primary care and a lectureship in bacteriology (epidemiology).

Dr. Brian Ward has received two US-Ireland grants through SFI for sensor development. The first deals with the development of a gas detector for air-sea fluxes of greenhouse gases. The second is a microfluidics device to be developed for an Argo float to measure carbon in the ocean. Other technology development is the autonomous profiler ASIP, and a diamond-coated micro-sensor for temperature and conductivity in the oceans in collaboration with the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.

Dr. Zhan’s research interest is to develop a sustainable agricultural industry by studying the environmental and energy issues: (i) biofuels production from agro-industrial wastes and crop by-products (ii) advanced technologies for nitrogen removal from wastewater (iii) development of adsorbents and nanomaterials for water supply, wastewater treatment and biofuel production.


Dr. Chaosheng Zhang teaches Geographic Information System (GIS) and statistics courses at School of Geography and Archaeology of the University. Dr. Zhang’s academic background covers both GIS and environmental geochemistry. His research interest focuses on spatial analyses of environmental variables, especially heavy metals in soils and soil organic carbon, using GIS, geostatistics and other spatial statistical techniques. One of the current research directions of Dr. Zhang is spatial analyses of environment and health. Dr. Zhang has published more than 80 peer-reviewed papers. Current projects include:

  • Interactions of soil hydrology, land use & climate change, and impacts on soil quality
  • Characterising spatial variation of heavy metal pollution in urban soils
  • Spatial variation of phosphorus in grassland soil
  • Historic global atmospheric