Environmental Science

Environmental sciences; Water Quality Research Group

Poor water quality and availability comprises one of the foremost environmental crises facing the world, impacting directly or indirectly on the lives of billions of people. With the increasing severity of climate change, the race to develop innovative, sustainable solutions to address the challenge of water quality will be of the highest priority.  

Research by the Water Quality group in the School of BEES is directly aligned with the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the associated Sustainable Development Goals, in terms of improving drinking water, reducing water pollution and eutrophication, safeguarding of water supplies and training of future water experts. The Water Quality group has acquired a deep insight in the management of water resources and water quality through the integration of chemical, physical, biological, and geological expertise, and through strategic collaborations locally, nation-wide, and globally. Work is of an internationally recognised quality, and has attracted funding from the EU, the Irish EPA, DAFM, Science Foundation Ireland, the Irish Research Council, Geological Survey Ireland, the Marine Institute, and the Water Forum.

An important aspect of Water Quality research in BEES relates to integration with teaching activities, and especially the close link with the UNEP GEMS/Water Capacity Development Centre which provides global capacity development in water quality monitoring and assessment.

The Water Quality group is made up of staff from throughout the School of BEES, and the Environmental Research Institute. Key staff are shown below.

The Water Quality team is happy to explore potential collaborations. Please feel free to contact:

Dr Jean O’Dwyer (Jean.ODwyer@ucc.ie) or Prof Marcel Jansen (m.jansen@ucc.ie)

Dr Simon Harrison

Expert on the ecology of streams, rivers, wetlands and lakes; freshwater biomonitoring; ecology of salmonids; restoration ecology; catchment management; links between agriculture and freshwaters.

Further details here.


Prof. Marcel Jansen

Expert on water remediation using aquatic plants, especially duckweed species, as part of a circular economy approach to wastewater valorisation.

Further details here.

Paolacci, S., Stejskal, V., Toner, D. and Jansen, M.A.K, 2022. Wastewater valorisation in an integrated multitrophic aquaculture system; assessing nutrient removal and biomass production by duckweed species. Environmental Pollution, 302, p.119059.

Mateos-Cárdenas, A., von der Geest Moroney, A., van Pelt, F.N., O'Halloran, J. and Jansen, M.A.K, 2022. Trophic transfer of microplastics in a model freshwater microcosm; lack of a consumer avoidance response. Food Webs, 31, p.e00228.

Walsh, É., Cialis, E., Dillane, E. and Jansen, M.A.K, 2022. Lemnaceae clones collected from a small geographic region display diverse traits relevant for the remediation of wastewater. Environmental Technology & Innovation, 28, p.102599.


Dr Michelle McKeown

Expert on understanding long-term environmental change in mid-latitude and tropical regions. I am particularly interested in applying biological indicators as tools for monitoring and assessing lake and peatland integrity, reconstructing past climate conditions, along with establishing environmental baselines.

Further details here.

Terry J., Singh, K., McKeown M. M. In press. Lake Tagimoucia montane lake as a potential Late Holcene environmental archive in Fiji’s volcanic highlands. Pacific Science.

Swindles G.T., Morris P.J., Mullan D.J., Payne R.J., Roland T.P., Amesbury M.J., Lamentowicz M., Turner T.E., Gallego-Sala A., Sim T., Barr I.D., Blaauw M., Blundell A., Chambers F.M., Charman D.J., Feurdean A., Galloway J.M., Galka M., Green G., Kajukalo K., Karofeld E., Korhola A., Lamentowicz L., Langdon P., Marcisz K., Mauquoy D., Mazei, Y.A., McKeown M.M., Mitchell E.A.D., Novenko E., Plunkett G., Roe H.M., Schoning K., Sillasoo U., Tsyganov A.N., van der Linden M., Valiranta M., Warner B. 2019. Widespread drying of European peatlands in recent centuries. Nature Geoscience, Vol. 12, pp 922-928.

McKeown M.M., Wilmshurst J.M., Duckert C., Wood J.R., Mitchell E.A.D. 2019. Assessing the ecological value of small testate amoebae (< 45 microns) in New Zealand peatlands. European Journal of Protistology, Vol. 68, pp 1-13.


Dr Jean O'Dwyer

Expert on environment and health with a focus on water quality, waterborne disease, and the impact of climate change on human health and wellbeing.

Further details here.

Andrade, L., Boudou, M., Hynds, P., Chique, C., Weatherill, J. and O'Dwyer, J., 2022. Spatiotemporal dynamics of Escherichia coli presence and magnitude across a national groundwater monitoring network, Republic of Ireland, 2011–2020. Science of The Total Environment840, p.156311.

O'Dwyer, J., Chique, C., Weatherill, J. and Hynds, P., 2021. Impact of the 2018 European drought on microbial groundwater quality in private domestic wells: A case study from a temperate maritime climate. Journal of Hydrology601, p.126669.

Chique, C., Hynds, P., Nyhan, M.M., Lambert, S., Boudou, M. and O'Dwyer, J., 2021. Psychological impairment and extreme weather event (EWE) exposure, 1980–2020: A global pooled analysis integrating mental health and well-being metrics. International Journal of Hygiene and Environmental Health238, p.113840.


Dr Tim Sullivan

Expert on the interface between marine and aquatic chemistry, analytical chemistry and materials science. Tim is interested in novel bio-inspired (and biomimetic) materials, climate change and the marine environment, and the use of sensors in environmental monitoring. He has worked on aquatic microbial communities, biofilms and benthic diatoms, and development of novel materials for prevention of biological growth on materials, including nano-material based coatings, micro and nano-topographically structured surfaces and omniphobic materials.

Further details here.

Quinlivan L.; Chapman D.V.; Sullivan T. (2020) Applying citizen science to monitor for the Sustainable Development Goal Indicator 6.3.2: a review. Environmental Monitoring and Assessment, 192 (4)

O’Callaghan, Irene and Sullivan, Timothy (2020) Shedding the load: moulting as a cause of variability in whole-body metal concentrations. Journal of Crustacean Biology, 40 (6)

Sullivan T; O'Callaghan I (2020) Recent Developments in Biomimetic Antifouling Materials: A Review. Biomimetics (Basel, Switzerland), 5 (4)

Quinlivan, Lauren; Chapman, Deborah V.; Sullivan, Timothy (2020) Validating citizen science monitoring of ambient water quality for the United Nations sustainable development goals'. Science of The Total Environment, 699


Dr John Weatherill

Expert on water quality, contaminant hydrogeology, quantitative risk assessments and remediation of legacy groundwater pollutants in hydrogeologically complex settings.

Further details here.

School of Biological, Earth and Environmental Sciences

An Scoil Eolaíochtaí Bitheolaíocha, Domhaneolaíocha agus Comhshaoil

Distillery Fields, North Mall, University College Cork, Ireland , T23 N73K.