Congratulations to the College’s researchers who have recently been successful in achieving research funding and scholarship awards from Science Foundation Ireland (SFI), the Irish Research Council for the Humanities and Social Sciences (IRCHSS) and the Irish Research Council for Science, Engineering and Technology (IRCSET)
SFI, the National Foundation for Excellence in Scientific Research announced funding to be awarded to 29 Trinity research proposals under the Research Frontiers Programme 2005. In total 128 research proposals from the universities and institutes of technology received awards, which support novel research in the biosciences, chemistry, earth sciences, mathematics, computing, physics and engineering. SFI has approved 128 projects overall under this scheme amounting to over €24 million over three years
The IRCHSS has granted 19 Trinity researchers Post-Graduate Scholarship awards for 2005/6 from the departments of Drama, Geography, Modern History, English, French, Economics, Sociology, Classics, Hispanic Studies, Health Policy and Management. The Post-Graduate Scholarships are granted to students undertaking post-graduate research degrees at third-level institutions in Ireland. These Scholarships are tenable for up to a maximum of three years and are worth €12,700 per annum.
The Post-Graduate Scholarship Scheme supports research in the humanities and social sciences, including law and business studies. Researchers funded this year are from a wide variety of areas including Political Science, Management Studies, Education, Economics, Social Policy, Sociology, Law, Psychology, Finance, Globalisation, Environmental Studies, Linguistics and Cultural Studies.
IRCSET had funded 19 Trinity Researchers under its Embark Initiative postgraduate research scholarship scheme. Overall it has offered €8.6 million in support of 147 candidates doing masters and PhD degrees in science, engineering and technology. Students pursuing scholarships must be beginning research for the first time at the start of the new academic year this October. The maximum award is for €19,500 per year, available over three years.
The first comprehensive scientific evaluation of dietary intake in children in Ireland has been completed by Trinity College Dublin and University College Cork. The study which provides direction for the dietary strategies that need to be established to prevent obesity in Irish children was presented at a conference organised by RELAY in Dublin this month.
The researchers surveyed 600 children aged 5-12 years from primary schools throughout Ireland during 2003 and 2004. The study includes direct body measurements on each child and provides accurate data on the extent to which the obesity crisis is affecting Irish children. It also includes essential information on lifestyle, including physical activity, for both the children and their parents.
Dr. Sinead McCarthy, Department of Clinical Medicine, TCD, who co‑ordinated the study, said that the steady rise of overweight and obesity in schoolchildren must be tackled urgently. “The home environment is critical in shaping eating behaviours and physical activity habits in this age group. We need to identify ways to help parents to create a healthier home environment for children”, stated Dr. McCarthy.
The Minister for Agriculture and Food, Mary Coughlan T.D. welcomed the Scientific Study on Children’s Diet stating that the study is very timely given the recent Obesity Task Force report as it provides Irish families with up-to-date information for planning balanced healthy lifestyles. Minister Coughlan added that a major challenge faces the Irish Food Industry which has a significant role to play in tackling the problem and the Minister complemented the Industry for its recent initiative under the Nutrition and Health Foundation
Key findings on food consumption habits in Irish children identified issues that need to be addressed to promote healthy weight in children, including:Low intakes of fruit and vegetables with average intakes well below international recommendations for children. Overall fat intake is higher than recommended – 40% of children exceed the recommendations. Daily salt intake is higher than the levels recommended by the Food Safety Authority of Ireland with processed meats and bread are the main salt sources. The study also found that overweight and obesity in 5-12 year old schoolchildren is relatively high and is increasing:
The study which benchmarks dietary intakes of a nationally representative sample of Irish children was carried out by the Irish Universities Nutrition Alliance) and was funded by the Department of Agriculture and Food under the “Food Institutional Research Measure” and co-funded by the Food Safety Authority of Ireland. RELAY is a national dissemination service funded by the Department of Agriculture and Food with responsibilities for communicating the results of publicly funded research to the food industry.
‘ Living with acquired brain injury during childhood and adolescence: An Irish perspective’, a nationwide study undertaken by TCD’s Children Research Centre, was recently launched by the Minister of Health & Children, Mr. Michéal Martin TD. Commissioned by the National Rehabilitation Hospital, the study is the first of its kind in Ireland.
Road traffic accidents emerged as the predominant cause of acquired brain injury in a census review of all children / adolescents attending the National Rehabilitation Hospital with an acquired brain injury during a 6-year period. Within the road traffic accident group, the most common form of accident involved child pedestrians.
Acquiring a brain injury during the period of childhood or adolescence was a traumatic experience for the young people themselves and their family, according to the research. The children themselves experienced numerous changes in their lives such as changes in physical functioning, academic difficulties and limitations in taking part in activities. Many parents reported that their children suffered from social isolation and a loss of friends in the aftermath of the acquired brain injury. Family members also experienced many adverse consequences following the child’s brain injury. The absence of parents from the home during the period of hospitalisation and the intensive care-giving which the ill child required from parents following their return home had a significant impact on the lives of siblings.
Numerous problems were identified in community service provision. The burden of care typically fell on parents and they frequently had to actively seek services in the community for their child. Many parents and professionals reported insufficient availability of community services and resources to meet the needs of children and adolescents with acquired brain injury. A number of teachers and health professionals reported having little experience of acquired brain injury and had significant training and information needs.
A co-ordinated system of care that is responsive to the needs of individual children and their families is required, the report suggests. As part of this approach there is a need to target the social difficulties which young people with acquired brain injury may experience and to recognise the support and advice required by the primary caregivers (e.g. parents) of children with acquired brain injury.
The research team included Dr. Caroline Heary, Dr. Diane Hogan and Colm Smyth. The study was funded by the National Rehabilitation Hospital, with the assistance of the Eastern Regional Health Authority, The National Disability Authority, St. Vincent de Paul Holy Cross Conference / South Dublin Area Council and the Katherine Howard Foundation.
A team from the Department of Geography is travelling to Kenya in July to research environmental change in the Laikipia Plateau. Led by Prof. David Taylor, Head of the Department, the research is fully funded by the British Academy and the British Institute in Eastern Africa in Nairobi.
The Laikipia Plateau extends northwards from the base of Mount Kenya and is one of the main locations for wildlife conservation and human-wildlife conflicts in eastern Africa.
Students Fiona Kelly, Patricia Kenny, Ruth McKeevar and Anne Marie Ruttledge will join Prof. Taylor and his colleague Tara Nolan to spend three weeks carrying out fieldwork, alongside archaeologists, conservation biologists and sociologists. They will work with a group of Kenyan University students and will camp on the Plateau.
“The research aims to provide an environmental context for archaeological research that is currently taking place on the Laikipia Plateau. The students will collect cores of sediments from perennial springs for analysis in our Departmental laboratories to produce a description of changing environmental conditions on the Laikipia over the last ca. 1000 years or so,” explained Prof. Taylor.
“We will be looking for evidence of past changes in vegetation and climate, especially abnormally dry and wet periods, and evidence of processes such as soil erosion and gulleying during the pre-colonial and colonial periods,” he continued.
The Laikipia is relatively rich in archaeology and several archaeological sites, such as rock shelters and burial cairns, have recently been excavated. These excavations date mainly to the last 1000 years, and to the period of pre-colonial occupation by the Mukogodo. The Mukogodo were hunter-gatherers who became pastoralists during the late 19th century and have now largely been assimilated by the Samburu / Masai. The local pastoralism-based economy was severely disrupted in the late 19th and early 20th centuries by colonial farmers who displaced many of the Samburu / Masai / Mukogodo from their land - with the area subsequently becoming known as the 'White Highlands'. Many of the colonial-era ranches still remain and now are the focus for the ecotourism industry.