Research Links and Groups
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Aquaculture and Fisheries Development Centre
Established in 1987, the Aquaculture and Fisheries Development Centre (AFDC) is a centre of excellence for aquaculture and fisheries research. Research focuses on the areas of fish biology, shellfish health and disease, molecular genetics, fish and shellfish aquaculture and marine mammals and fisheries research. New and emerging aquaculture species are a major component of our work programme. We have expertise in both inshore and deep-sea fisheries, focussing on the impact of fishing practices on the environment, bycatch and discards, stock assessment and basic fish biology. The AFDC aims to support, stimulate and promote the development of sustainable aquaculture and fisheries in all its forms, thereby enabling this sector to achieve its full socio-economic potential by utilising Ireland's sustainable natural resources. We do this by conducting research related to aquaculture and fisheries, conducting research for industry and providing training in aquaculture.
The AFDC is a embedded within the School of Biological, Earth & Environmental Sciences and is also one of 4 centres of excellence within the Environmental Research Institute (ERI) at UCC. Research expertise and influences from 11 academic departments ensure a multidisciplinary approach to research projects. The AFDC actively coordinates and participates in collaborative R&D projects (national and European) and provides consultancy and training services for both public and private sector clients, nationally and internationally. Research is conducted at the leading edge of aquaculture in collaboration with industry and academic partners, and activities are continually expanding to include developing areas. The AFDC also supports research by undergraduate and post-graduate students, from UCC and further afield.
Over the years, the AFDC has built up a significant public profile and has made a valuable contribution to the development of aquaculture and the sustainability of fisheries, both nationally and internationally, through successful participation in research programmes, regional development and training initiatives. In these activities the AFDC maintains active links with universities and companies in all EU countries and in many other countries worldwide.
Centre for Marine and Renewable Energy (MaREI)
Increased population levels and improved standards of living are putting an ever-increasing demand on global energy supplies. In the face of finite conventional fuel sources and international restrictions on carbon emissions, there is therefore an urgent need for clean, secure and affordable sources of energy, particularly in geographically-isolated locations. In this regard, Ireland is uniquely placed in terms of its enviable marine renewable energy resource, having one of the world’s highest wave and offshore wind resources, together with a favourable tidal regime. The total resource contained in our marine area is substantially greater than current requirements, with interconnection facilitating the wholesale export of excess energy, together with emerging expertise and technologies.
However, systems to harness MRE resources are at an early stage of development, and face significant challenges that will require innovative solutions to reduce time to market, and reduce costs to a reasonable level. These challenges cover all aspects of technology development, including energy conversion and storage, transmission and integration, as well as enabling ICT technologies and environmental considerations. To this end, it is the aim of MaREI to secure Ireland’s position as a global leader in Marine Renewable Energy (MRE) by focussing on technological breakthroughs, delivered through cutting-edge science and engineering research.
Microplastics are plastic particles smaller than 5mm. They are widespread in seas and oceans, and their harmful effects on many different marine animals are well known. In contrast, we know relatively little about the impacts of microplastics in fresh water: its sources, environmental fate, and biological impacts.
Several large scale projects are currently working to develop monitoring technology for microplastics, as well as creating models to explain its spread and build-up for the marine environment. However, microplastics can vary greatly in chemical composition, size, shape and concentration, and may have different toxic effects under fresh water conditions. Therefore, more information is needed to identify those microplastics posing the biggest risk for fresh water species and the freshwater environment.
This project, funded by the EPA, explores the impacts of microplastics on Irish fresh water aquatic organisms and ecosystems. The knowledge gained can inform monitoring programmes and regulatory policy by identifying those microplastics that pose the biggest risks to the freshwater environment.
Environmental Research Institute
The Environmental Research Institute (ERI) is a flagship research Institute at University College Cork, Ireland (UCC) that carries out inter-disciplinary research in the broad Environmental, Marine and Energy area.
The mission of the ERI is to generate new research knowledge for the understanding and protection of our natural environment and develop technologies, tools and services to facilitate a transformation to a low carbon and resource efficient society. The Institute’s core principles are to deliver excellent research, high quality postgraduate training and innovation with impact.
The Institute brings together over 300 environmental researchers from across science, engineering, business and humanities to address complex environmental challenges in a multi-disciplinary approach. The ERI also incorporates a number environmental research centres including Marine Renewable Energy Ireland (MaREI), Aquaculture and Fisheries Development Centre (AFDC) and the Centre for Research on Atmospheric Chemistry (CRAC).
At any one time the Institute has up to 70 research projects underway funded through both national and international agencies. This large volume of expertise and research activity provides fertile ground for high-quality, multi-disciplinary environmental research.
The range of outputs from research at the Institute include new knowledge production, development of new technologies, critically evaluating and inputting to national and international policy and law, capacity-building, training the new generation of postgraduate scientists and engineers and to engage with and inform public debate on key environmental issues.
UNEP GEMS Water
GEMS/Water is a unique global water quality monitoring network operating in 125 countries around the world and providing water quality data to a central database known as GEMStat. GEMS/Water was established in 1978 in response to a recommendation made at the 1972 Stockholm Conference on the Human Environment as an interagency programme under the auspices of the United Nations through the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the World Health Organization (WHO), the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). It was implemented through the WHO at the National Water Research Institute (NWRI) in Burlington, Canada. After three decades the programme still continues to provide data for assessments of status and trends in global inland water quality and has strengthened monitoring capacity and encouraged assessment and management of water resources in developing countries. For 35 years the Government of Canada (Environment Canada) hosted a secretariat and the global database GEMStat at the NWRI. In March 2014, the programme was transferred to back to UNEP and the German Government through its Federal Institute of Hydrology took over support of GEMStat and, in November 2014, the Government of Ireland, through the Department of Environment, Community and Local Government and Irish Aid, took over support for the capacity development element of the programme.
The Capacity Development Centre was established in 2015 and is a Centre of the School of Biological, Earth and Environmental Sciences and Environmental Research Institute of UCC. The functions of the Centre are to promote and support water quality monitoring and assessment on behalf of the United Nations Environment Programme and in co-operation with UN Water and its thematic priority area of Water Quality. A primary objective of GEMS/Water is to ensure compatibility and comparability of data for use in national, regional and global assessments. The Centre encourages a standardized approach to water quality data generation through providing guidance and training on all aspects of water quality monitoring and assessment and quality assurance of monitoring activities. Centre staff liaise closely with the GPCU in Nairobi, the GEMS/Water Data Centre, UNEP Regional Offices and regional GEMS/Water partners to identify capacity needs at regional and national levels, to provide appropriate support, and to develop training for delivery in-situ and on-line in countries all over the world.
Irish Centre for Research in Applied Geosciences (iCRAG)
Ireland has a resource security problem that the Irish Centre for Research in Applied Geosciences (iCRAG) will help resolve. iCRAG will transform applied geoscience research in Ireland, delivering economic impact for a broad range of application areas and industries.
Geoscience underpins the discovery of raw materials, water and energy resources that are critical to the world’s economy. With increasing demand and diminishing supply, focused innovations in geoscience are of paramount importance globally. Ireland is home to Europe’s largest zinc mine, untapped hydrocarbon resources in challenging NE Atlantic deep water environments, and a diverse geological framework with important untapped seabed and groundwater resources. Forming an integrated team of internationally leading researchers and both large- and small-scale industry partners, iCRAG will carry out research to find and harness these resources whilst protecting the environment. iCRAG’s overarching objectives are:
1. To significantly de-risk Ireland’s offshore and onshore hydrocarbon and mineral resource exploration, thereby increasing exploration activities and also increasing the potential of sourcing a secure supply.
2. To ensure safe and secure groundwater supplies and to address geoscience related ‘quality of environment’ issues.
3. To engage with citizens and policy makers to explain the nature of resource related industries and to facilitate the timely progression of identified resources to extraction.
iCRAG was established in 2014 by Science Foundation Ireland with funding of €18m along with an additional €8m from industry partners.
UCC, together with lead partner University College Dublin, Trinity College Dublin, NUI Galway, University College Cork, NUI Maynooth and Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies are proud to be part of iCRAG.
For more information, see the iCRAG website.
Lough Hyne Research Group
Lough Hyne is a semi-enclosed marine lake situated 3 miles west of Skibereen and some 50 miles from Cork City in Southwest Ireland. The lough was designated Europe’s first Marine Nature Reserve in 1981 in order to protect the rich biodiversity that occurs within its depths.
The School of BEES operate a number of research laboratories at Lough Hyne. For full details of current and past research here, see the Lough Hyne research page.
Marine Geology Group
The UCC Marine Geology Research Group (MGRG) are a diverse group of researchers who have a common focus on spatial and temporal marine sedimentology. Their current research areas encapsulate Quaternary to recent sediments from the continental margin and shelf to coastal environments, and have previously worked on mid-ocean ridge settings.
With expertise in seabed mapping, sedimentology and shallow seismic, the group have developed a number of research areas on cold water coral mounds (habitat mapping, sediment transport, processes, development and palaeoarchives), Quaternary stratigraphy and sedimentology (Irish Sea and North Sea). The MGRG also carry out applied research on heavy mineral sands and offshore wind energy (Irish coast and shelf).
For more information on the group, see our website: http://marinegeology.ucc.ie/
UCC Ornithology Group
The Ornithology Group at UCC is made up of staff based at the School of Biological, Earth and Environmental Sciences (BEES), and at the MaREI Centre (part of the Environmental Research Institute).
Zoo Research Group
The BEES zoo research group includes researchers at all academic levels, from undergraduates to PhD students and postdoctoral researchers, who are involved in understanding the behaviour of animals in the captive setting and advancing their welfare. The group conducts much of their research at Fota Wildlife Park in County Cork, but they have also conducted research locally, regionally and globally.
Some of the group's recent projects include research on environmental enrichment, visitor effects, visitor behaviour and education, inspiring pro-conservation behaviour and native species research. The group has published widely in these areas, and they also conduct outreach and educational activities throughout the year.
For further information see the group webpage https://www.ucc.ie/en/zooresearch/