From zombie critters to plant sensors at the School of Natural Sciences showcase

Posted on: 16 November 2017

Researchers and postgraduate students from Trinity’s School of Natural Sciences recently showcased the diversity of their current research during the fifth annual “Lightning Talks” research showcase.

Twenty-four researchers gave two-minute presentations of their work, demonstrating that complex ideas and findings can be clearly communicated to a mixed audience in an engaging and entertaining way, and in a very short space of time.

The talk topics included:

  • Creating model images of compressed fossil animal skulls
  • Mapping the distribution of wealth in Medieval Ireland
  • Developing cryogenic banks of biodiversity
  • Understanding aquatic parasites that turn their hosts into zombies
  • Considering man-made wetlands as potential waste-water treatments
  • Putting a value on peatlands
  • Assessing the role of social media in shaping political upheaval

Director of Research in the School of Natural Sciences, Professor Jane Stout, said: “It was wonderful to see the sheer breadth of research currently being pursued in the school, and the standard of presentations was incredible.”

“Students — including those who only started their PhD work a few weeks ago — gave excellent descriptions of their subjects and approaches, in a very professional way. It was also great to see the academic staff present their work among the students – it’s a great way to foster collaboration and find out what everyone’s doing.”

A panel of judges awarded PhD candidates Andrew Mooney (Banking on DNA), Tadhg Dornan (Hoovering up the Carboniferous) and Maureen Williams (What do Zombies eat?) the first, second and third prizes respectively, while Fionn Ó Marcaigh (Crossing the speciation threshold) got an honourable mention.

Professor of Quaternary Ecology, Fraser Mitchell (Pining xenophobia – righting the wrong), won the staff prize, with Professor Mike Williams (Drop that burger: sustainable diet analysis) gaining an honourable mention.

Very recently, the new research cluster named Nature+ launched, with the goal of better connecting scientific experts in sustainability with industry and governmental partners.

The group will work with and for these partners to accurately quantify and safeguard our natural capital, which underpins the flow of nature-based goods and services on which economic activities depend. You can read more about Nature+ here.

Special prizes for presentations related to Nature+ went to PhD candidate Paula Tierney (Invasive fish. Do they have parasites? Let’s find out…) and Professor of Botany, Jenny McElwain (Making sense of plant sense).

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