Monday, 13 September 2021

Congratulations to Wei Xu who successfully defended his PhD thesis recently. Wei Xu's PhD thesis was titled: Hygroscopicity of Marine Aerosol: Closure, Long Term Observation and Cloud Condensation Potential  ‌ Pictured clockwise (from top left) are: Prof. Colin O'Dowd, NUI Galway (Supervisor), Wei Xu (PhD candidate), Prof. Chaosheng Zhang (inset), School of Geography, NUI Galway (internal examiner), Prof. Martin Leahy (chairperson) and Dr Karine Sellegri, Senior scientist, CNRS / Universite Clermont Auvergne (external examiner).

Monday, 12 July 2021

Congratulations to Teresa Spohn who successfully defended her PhD thesis recently. Teresa Spohn's PhD thesis was titled: Black Carbon and Related measurements from Ireland’s Atmospheric Composition and Climate Change (AC3) Network  Pictured clockwise (from top left) are: Teresa Spohn (PhD candidate), Prof. Colin O'Dowd, NUI Galway (co-supervisor), Dr Marie Coggins, NUI Galway (internal examiner), Prof. Martin Leahy (chairperson) and Dr Aoife Donnelly, Technical University Dublin (external examiner).

Thursday, 8 July 2021

The world’s largest telescope – the Extremely Large Telescope (ELT) – is under construction in Chile. When it captures its “first light”, sometime in 2027 or 2028, Irish adaptive optics technology will be there to ensure it sees further and with greater clarity than any telescope in human history. A team of researchers at NUI Galway, led by Dr Nicholas Devaney (School of Physics), with expertise in adaptive optics are involved in the ELT project as part of a consortium also involving the Grenoble Institute for Planetary Sciences and Astrophysics and the National Institute of Astrophysics (INAF) in Italy. The consortium will design and manage the construction of an instrument on the ELT, called multi-conjugate adaptive optics relay (MAORY), which corrects image distortion due to atmosphere blurring. The NUIG team were invited to join the MAORY project based on their scientific reputation. Further information is available at the following link in the Irish Times Science News section.

Wednesday, 7 July 2021

The School of Physics would like to welcome Dr Liz Coleman to its teaching staff.   Liz has been appointed as part of the Professional Diploma in Teaching Physics, a new programme designed to upskill post-primary teachers in the teaching of physics. It is a nationwide initiative to build capacity in STEM education and to train the next generation of physicists to meet societal challenges. Liz is also a researcher in the Ryan Institute Centre for Climate and Air Pollution studies, with a research focus on climate & air pollution modelling and atmospheric science strategy for policy. Furthermore, Liz is very interested in Education & Public Engagement, and is involved in strengthening links between the university, schools, and the community.  

Tuesday, 8 June 2021

Congratulations to Valentina Giunta and Mohammed Alaswad who successfully defended their PhD theses recently. Valentina Giunta's PhD thesis was titled: Mixing and Mixed Layer Depths in the Ocean.  Pictured from the left (and top to bottom) are: Valentina Giunta (PhD candidate), Prof. Martin Leahy, NUI Galway (chairperson), Prof. Sebastian Swart, University of Gothenburg (external examiner), Dr Miriam Byrne, NUI Galway (internal examiner) and Dr Brian Ward, NUI Galway (supervisor). Mohammed Alaswad's PhD thesis was titled: Radiobiological Modelling of Non-Small-Cell Lung Cancer: A Tumour Control Probability Prospective. Pictured clockwise (from top left) are: Dr Christoph Kleefeld, NUI Galway (supervisor), Prof. Andrew Nisbet,  University College London (external examiner), Prof. Martin Leahy (chairperson), Dr Patricia Scully, NUI Galway (internal examiner) and Mohammed Alaswad (PhD candidate).

Thursday, 18 February 2021

The School of Physics is pleased to be able to announce the recruitment of Dr. Evan Keane to its teaching staff. Evan is a keen radio-astronomer, an expert in the development of the Square Kilometer Array which records data from the very edge of the Universe.

Friday, 4 December 2020

Congratulations to Aedan Breathnach who successfully defended his PhD thesis recently. Aedan Breathnach's PhD thesis was titled: Photoacoustic imaging with clinical, preclinical and quantitative applications. Pictured clockwise (from top left) are: Prof. Walter Gear, NUI Galway (chairperson), Dr Niall Colgan, NUI Galway (internal examiner), Prof. Stanislav Emelianov , Georgia Institute of Technology and Emory University (external examiner), Prof. Martin Leahy (supervisor) and Aedan Breathnach (PhD Candidate).

Wednesday, 30 September 2020

Persistent organic pollutants (POPs) such as brominated flame retardants (BFRs) and perfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs) have been used extensively in applications such as electrical goods, soft furnishings and building insulation foam.   Dr Marie Coggins and Dr Nina Wemken from the School of Physics along with colleagues at the University of Birmingham have been working on the EPA research project, ELEVATE. ELEVATE measured selected BFRs and PFASs in indoor air and dust samples collected  from Irish homes, offices, cars and school classrooms. PFASs were also measured in samples of Irish tap water and bottled water. The same contaminants were measured in samples of human milk donated by Irish mothers. Project data facilitated an assessment of human exposure to these chemicals, allowing comparison with guidelines on human exposure developed by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), the revised European Union Drinking Water Directive. If you would like to learn more about POPs and Irish population exposure to POP-BFR and PFASs please read our project report at:  EPA Research Report 343  

Friday, 31 July 2020

Dr Mark Foley and Marta Fuente Lastra from the School of Physics along with colleagues from the School of Engineering have been working on the EPA research project, OPTI-SDS. The National Radon Control Strategy (NRCS) for Ireland has identified several knowledge gaps, including the optimum specifications for soil depressurisation (SD) systems (active and passive) that take account of Irish building practices. The “OPTI-SDS: an investigation of the OPTImum specification for Soil Depressurisation Systems (active and passive) that take account of Irish building practices” project examined the characterisation of the T1 Struc and T2 Perm specified granular fill materials for SD systems for buildings. If you would like to learn more about OPTI-SDS, please read our project report at:  EPA Research Report 332

Tuesday, 30 June 2020

Soapbox Science is back, featuring the School of Physics’ own Duré Basit, and now it’s online! Soapbox Science is a global public outreach platform for promoting women scientists and the science they do. NUI Galway’s fourth annual Soapbox Science Galway is set to return this weekend when twelve female scientists will take to their virtual soap boxes and talk about their remarkable research in the areas of science, technology, engineering, mathematics and medicine. Soapbox Science Galway ensures that everyone has the opportunity to enjoy, learn from, question, interact with and be inspired by some of our leading female scientists who will share their latest discoveries and answer the science questions people have been burning to ask. Talks this year will be streamed live on Facebook from 12pm-2pm on Saturday July 4th, with the following brilliant speakers and topics: Ms Duré Basit, NUI Galway – “A pencil, some sticky tape and a Nobel Prize” Dr Margaret Jackson, NUI Galway – “What can glaciers tell us about past climate?” Ms Elena Pagter, Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology – “What’s all the commotion? Plastic pollution in the ocean” Dr Nadeeka Rathnayake Kankanamge, NUI Galway – “Freshwater pollutants and how they transform in marine transitional zones” Ms Gillian Murphy, NUI Galway – “Developing a Diabetes Drug Delivery Hydrogel using a Heart-Shaped Protein Ms Maeve Louise Farrell, NUI Galway – “Making Waves: What’s Under the PIER?” Ms Emily O’Dowd, NUI Galway – “How can we help our health service learn from its mistakes?” Ms Aisling Murphy, NUI Galway – “Titanium Bone Plates - Is There an Alternative?” Dr Ananya Gupta, NUI Galway – “The importance of physical activity - being Active is being Healthy” Ms Chloe Walsh, NUI Galway – “Autism-friendly doctor visits: Tips for success” Ms Sandra Brandon, NUI Galway – “Can a lung exercise programme improve my ability to eat, drink and swallow?” Ms Marta Cabello, NUI Galway – “PalaeoExplorers: Sailing back in time to discover how the ocean will affect Ireland's climate future”

Friday, 29 May 2020

The School of Physics held its inaugural PhysiGIST research day on Thursday May 28th. Special thanks to Dr Patricia Scully and Dr Kirsten Fossum for organising this successful virtual event, hosted on Microsoft Teams. This event involved graduate students from the School of Physics giving 10 minute presentations about their research. Dr Kate Pattle and Dr Fiona Kenny also gave overview presentations on current research in the areas of astronomy and applied optics respectively.  Congratulations to all our graduate students. The winning presenters were decided by polling those in attendance. The winners on the day were ... 1st: Aaron Croke - 'Nanostar modelling for uncovering some STEM cell truths' 2nd: Ciarrai O'Toole - 'Secondary exposure to aerosol emitted during respiratory therapy' 3rd: Dure Basit - 'Laser-induced graphene temperature sensors for smart wound monitoring'

Wednesday, 6 May 2020

Dr Christoph Kleefeld, staff member at the School of Physics, is part of a research team aiming to expedite the diagnosis of COVID-19 in a clinical setting using AI (Artificial Intelligence) enabled analysis of CT (Computerized Tomography).  Further details can be obtained at ... NUI Galway COVID-19 Research. 

Friday, 17 April 2020

The School of Physics would like to congratulate Dr Jurgita Ovadnevaite on her recent success in securing a Galway University Fellowship. Welcome to the School of Physics academic team! Brief Biography Dr Jurgita Ovadnevaite leads the Aerosol Mass Spectrometry field at the Ryan Institute’s Centre for Climate and Air Pollution Studies and School of Physics, NUI Galway. Her work is focused on elucidating aerosol production, nature, dispersion and impacts on clouds, climate, air quality and health. She is a PI and/or activity leader on several major National and EU projects.  Jurgita has published her research in high profile international journals, including Nature and Nature family, and also acts as a reviewer. She is a contributing author to the IPCC Sixth Assessment Report, a member of the very high profile international SOLAS (Surface Ocean – Lower Atmosphere Studies) scientific steering committee and also is a member of the International Committee on Nucleation and Atmospheric Aerosols.

Friday, 17 April 2020

The School of Physics would like to welcome Dr Luca Matrà who will be joining the School of Physics academic team in June 2020. We would like  to extend a virual hand of welcome during these challenging times. Brief Biography Dr. Luca Matrà is an expert in exocometary science and mm/sub-mm interferometry. Luca is originally from Italy but calls Ireland his adoptive home, having gone to school here and graduated with a B.A. from Trinity College Dublin. He received his PhD in Astronomy from the University of Cambridge, UK and has a broad international experience, having worked at the European Space Agency in Madrid, Spain and at the European Southern Observatory in Santiago, Chile. Most recently, he held a Fellowship at the Submillimeter Array project, part of the Center for Astrophysics | Harvard & Smithsonian in Cambridge, MA, USA. He is joining NUI Galway in June 2020.

Thursday, 9 April 2020

With the COVID-19 pandemic threatening workplace health and safety, Dr Marie Coggins, lecturer in exposure science at NUI Galway, writes about managing respirators and gloves in the fight against COVID-19.  Dr Coggins writes that over the next few weeks or months many of us will for the first time start using personal protective equipment or PPE. Personal protective equipment includes everything from disposable gloves and masks to ear plugs and gas tight suits. In the workplace we normally refer to PPE as a ‘last resort’ which should only be worn in circumstances when all other controls are unsuitable! Workers typically don’t like wearing PPE, its uncomfortable especially when worn for long periods of time. However, if worn and used correctly PPE can be an effective way of protecting workers. Further information about the article can be found at the following link: Health and Safety Review article by Dr. Marie Coggins. Dr Marie Coggins article on managing PPE in the fight against COVID-19 

Wednesday, 8 April 2020

Study published in Nature’s journal—Climate and Atmospheric Science New research published by NUI Galway’s Centre for Climate & Air Pollution Studies (C-CAPS) has shone light on the impact of clouds on climate change. The study has raised serious doubts of the likely impact of human-led interventions involving methods of cloud ‘brightening’ to counteract climate change. The new study has been published today in the Nature’s journal – Climate and Atmospheric Science. The study looks into clouds, with one of the most important types of elements in clouds thought to be sulphate.  Clouds, which are made of many droplets of condensed water on air particles, cool the climate by reflecting sunlight.  According to recent theories, more air pollution serves as condensation points for cloud droplets leading to more solar reflectance. This has led many to believe that fossil fuel emissions and other air pollutions may off-set global warming through cloud ’brightening’.  The Galway study found the addition of a small amount of sea-salt can dampen the effect of clouds becoming brighter as a result of increased sulphate in the atmosphere. Professor Colin O’Dowd, Director of C-CAPS and Established Chair of Atmospheric Physics, said: “The study backs up our previous thinking that sea-salt will factor out other substances and cause competition between potential nuclei influencing cloud reflectance. This means that recent theories that increased sulphate production can decrease the impact of climate change need to be reconsidered. Science is clearly pointing to the fact that carbon-based human activity is hurting our environment and there’s only one pathway to solve this - less fossil fuel and no interference with nature.” Researchers from NUI Galway joined the Spanish research vessel BIO Hesperides circling Antarctica’s Southern Ocean, known as the world’s cleanest laboratory.  The purpose of the expedition was to examine how the world’s atmosphere is functioning in a pollution free environment.  Lead author Dr Kirsten Fossum commented: “Clouds, particularly those overlying dark ocean surfaces, are the Earth’s key climate regulators, accounting for half of global reflectance. Pollution-induced changes to cloud reflectance, represent the single biggest uncertainty in predicting future climate change.  The large area covered and systematic evidence from the cruise to Antarctica provided the vast sample of clean air needed to conclusively support this study.” The study was funded by SFI through the MaREI centre and the Spanish Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness. The Antarctic cruise that led to this study was organised by the Institut de Ciéncies del Mar (CSIC), Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain. The researchers behind the study run the Mace Head Air Pollution and Climate Laboratory on the west coast of Ireland where they study the cleanest air in Europe and in the northern hemisphere. The team also recently released a unique smartphone app, known as StreamAir, it provides real-time weather forecasting and highlights key drivers of air pollution and climate disruption through air quality indications. To read the full study in Nature's journal – Climate and Atmospheric Science, please follow this link: Sea-spray regulates sulfate cloud droplet activation over oceans. For more information on Mace Head, visit:

Tuesday, 10 March 2020

NUI Galway’s Centre for Climate and Air Pollution Studies (C-CAPS) has launched a new app to provide real-time forecasting data on atmospheric composition which will shine a light on the key drivers of climate change and air pollution and build on its internationally-recognised Mace Head Atmospheric Research station.  The C-CAPS’s Mace Head research centre in Connemara is one of the most important facilities for atmospheric composition observations globally and has been operating as far back as 1958. Executive Dean of Science and Engineering at NUI Galway, Professor Walter Gear, said: “We are very proud of the work we do here and its contribution to European health and to informing measures to protect our planet.  We are now adding this new app, StreamAIR, that will help to raise further awareness about air pollution and climate issues and their implications.” The Centre’s Director, Professor Colin O'Dowd said “The StreamAIR app is an extension of the Mace Head real-time data system, designed to fuse together real-time observation and forecast data on multiple platforms including mobile devices.” Through StreamAIR, NUI Galway and Mace Head not only provide current real-time data to a range of agencies and networks, the Facility has generated some of the most important long-term observation datasets of greenhouse gases (GHGs), such has carbon dioxide, methane, and ozone, and ozone depleting substances such as CFCs, along with Particulate Matter (PM), such as sulphate haze producing acid rain.   Mace Head is a member of a number of regional to global networks, contributing data and analysis to a wide range of atmospheric problems.  In particular, it is a World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) Global Atmosphere Watch (GAW) atmospheric composition and climate research station, and a European Monitoring and Evaluation Programme (EMEP) supersite with the aim of solving transboundary air pollution problems under the United Nations Convention on Long-range Transboundary Air Pollution (CLRTAP). Professor Colin O'Dowd added, “These long-term trends have underpinned successful policy development and intervention in acid rain and ozone depletion issues, but a lot of work still remains for GHG warming agents, driving global warming.  In fact, ozone is a double agent  - while it is critical to have (stratospheric) ozone high in the sky to protect us from the sun’s harmful UV rays, at the surface, (tropospheric) ozone is a harmful air pollutant, causing premature deaths and mortality, and also a short-term warming agent (i.e. its lifetime is much shorter that CO2) in terms of global warming. The StreamAIR app brings the polluting agents and global warming agents together into the palm of everybody’s hand, emphasising that both types of agents must be reduced through co-benefit observations, research, and policy development.” Dr Liz Coleman, the Principal Researcher on the project, funded by the SFI MaREI Energy, Climate and Marine research centre, said that the app has the potential to identify the sources of air pollution, as well as the toxicity level of air pollution episodes. This information can be combined with exposure data to better inform the public of the potential risks from a national level to a European scale. This enables users to protect their health by taking necessary precautions when a pollution event is forecasted on the app.    The app can be downloaded from the App Store. For more information, please visit or watch a video on "Understanding the Atmosphere" by the Centre for Climate and Air Pollution Studies (C-CAPS) at NUI Galway.

Friday, 17 January 2020

Congratulations to Majed Alharbi and Cerine Lal who successfully defended their PhD theses recently. Majed Alharbi's PhD thesis was titled: Optical fibre dosimetry in external beam radiotherapy: Measurements and Monte Carlo simulation. ‌‌‌‌Pictured from the left are: Dr Mark Foley, NUI Galway (supervisor), Majed Alharbi (PhD candidate), Dr Annika Lohstroh (external examiner),  Dr Christoph Kleefeld, NUI Galway (internal examiner). Cerine Lal's PhD thesis was titled: Advancements in structural and functional imaging using Fourier domain OCT. ‌ Pictured from the left are: Dr Alexander Goncharov, NUI Galway (internal examiner), Prof. Adrian Podoleanu (University of Kent, Canterbury), Cerine Lal (PhD candidate), Prof. Walter Gear (chairperson) and Prof. Martin Leahy, NUI Galway (supervisor).

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