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Dr Saorla Kavanagh


Saorla graduated from TCD with a first class degree in Botany in 2012. She has recently completed her PhD at DCU, on “Honey chemical constituents from apiaries in different landscapes in Ireland”, supervised by Dr Blanaid White and co-supervised by Jane Stout. Her research was the first to profile phenolic content of Irish honey, and to investigate the relationship between the phenol composition of honey and hive location, land cover composition and harvest season. The relationship between land-use and pesticide residues in honey, specifically neonicotinoids was also assessed.  Results confirmed that physiochemical properties and TPC total phenolic content varied according to the floral origin of the honey and hive location. Irish heather honey had similar physiochemical characteristics to Manuka honey. Seventeen phenols were identified and quantified in Irish honey.  The results suggest that anthropogenic land-use and harvest season are the main indirect drivers of the phenol composition of honey.
Saorla is now working on the EPA-funded POLLIVAL project, which involves developing and assessing methodologies to evaluate pollination services in an economic context. Assessing ‘natural capital’ and the ecosystem services which flow from it are key national environmental research priorities for the EPA. By understanding and communicating the total value of key ecosystem services, such as pollination, the research will develop a better appreciation of natural capital for policy and planning decisions at many levels and across several sectors.

See: Kavanagh et al. (2019) Physicochemical properties and phenolic content of honey from different floral origins and from rural versus urban landscapes. Food Chemistry 272: 66-75