Irene O'Callaghan


Following initial studies in Historical Linguistics, Irene read for a BSc (Hons) in Chemistry, during which time she carried out research on the synthesis of novel materials. This was followed by an MSc in Analytical Chemistry from the School of Chemistry at University College Cork.

She joined the School of Biological, Earth & Environmental Sciences (BEES) in 2018 to carry out her PhD studies under the supervision of Dr. Timothy Sullivan, co-supervised by Dr. Dara Fitzpatrick of the School of Chemistry, UCC, in which she was funded by the Irish Research Council and EPA (Ireland) under GOIPG/2018/3351.

Irene is a committee member of the Royal Society of Chemistry's Environmental Chemistry Group (ECG) and a board member of the Irish Naturalists' Journal (INJ). She was also a member of the Scientific Committee for SETAC Europe 2020 and again for SETAC Europe 2023. In March 2022, Irene was named ESAI Postgraduate Researcher of the Year.

Beyond the limits of her formal research, Irene qualified as a Veterinary Technician and Veterinary Physiotherapist, and practices in a freelance capacity. In her free time, she is investigating the effectiveness of Kennel Club health test interventions as part of her SCHIPPERKE project. She can frequently be found training dogs, riding horses, stargazing, searching for cetaceans, or furthering her understanding of the Early West Saxon language.

Irene has now joined the UCC School of Engineering as a Postdoctoral Researcher on the FLEX4FACT project, and she also teaches on the Open University's Environmental Science programme as an Associate Lecturer at the School of Environment, Earth and Ecosystem Sciences.


Research Interests

Irene’s research focus has generally been at the interface of analytical chemistry and environmental science, with a particular emphasis on the use of benthic macroinvertebrates and advanced analytical techniques for the detection and quantification of trace metals and emerging contaminants in the freshwater environment. She has a general interest in research topics that cross-cut into multiple disciplines, animal health, and in making science accessible to the general public.


  • Biomonitoring Solutions
  • Animal Health & Welfare
  • Emerging Environmental Contaminants
  • Veterinary Pharmaceutical Residues
  • Traditional Ecological Knowledge
  • Real-World Applications


Year Citation
2022 O'Callaghan, I.; Fitzpatrick, D., and T. Sullivan. "Improving freshwater contaminant quantification by drawing upon intrinsic bioaccumulative properties." Environ 2022, Belfast, United Kingdom (2022).
O'Callaghan, I.; Fitzpatrick, D., and T. Sullivan. "Intrinsic properties of metallic contaminants govern bioaccumulation behaviour." SETAC Europe 32nd Annual Meeting, Copenhagen, Denmark (2022). 
O'Callaghan, I.; Fitzpatrick, D., and T. Sullivan. "A metric for the relative accumulation of metals in benthic fauna." IFSA Annual Scientific Meeting, Dublin, Ireland (2022). [Details]
Sullivan, T., and I. O'Callaghan"Understanding the Source, Behaviour and Fate of Nanoplastics in Aquatic Environments." in Influence of Microplastics on Environmental and Human Health: Key Considerations and Future Perspectives (Ed. Y. Lang), CRC Press: Boca Raton, FL, USA (2022). [DOI]
O'Callaghan, I.; Fitzpatrick, D., and T. Sullivan. "Thiophilicity is a determinant of bioaccumulation in benthic fauna." Environmental Pollution 294 (2022). [DOI]
2021 O'Callaghan, I., and T. Sullivan. "Uncharted waters: UV filters in the freshwater environment." ENVIRON 2021, Online (2021).
O'Callaghan, I., and T. Sullivan. "Destroyed, not defeated: Ireland's legacy of aquatic pollution." IFSA Annual Scientific Meeting, Online (2021). [Details]
2020 Sullivan, T., and I. O'Callaghan. "Recent advances in biomimetic antifouling materials: A review." Biomimetics 5.4 (2020): 58. [DOI]
O'Callaghan, I., and T. Sullivan. "Modelling the effect of moulting on metallic pollutant accumulation in freshwater macroinvertebrates." ENVIRON 2020, Online (2020). 
O'Callaghan, I., and T. Sullivan. "Shedding the load: moulting as a cause of variability in whole-body metal concentrations." Journal of Crustacean Biology 40 (2020): 725-733. [DOI]
O'Callaghan, I., and T. Sullivan. "Trace metal bioaccumulation in freshwater macroinvertebrates: a comparative approach of lab and field studies." SETAC Europe 30th Annual Meeting, Online (2020).

O'Callaghan, I., and T. Sullivan. "On the micro-structural features of a pollution-tolerant freshwater isopod, Asellus aquaticus." ESA Annual Meeting, Louisville, KY (2019).
O'Callaghan, I.; Harrison, S. S. C.; Fitzpatrick, D., and T. Sullivan. "The freshwater isopod Asellus aquaticus as a model biomonitor of environmental pollution: A review." Chemosphere 235 (2019): 498-509. [DOI]
O'Callaghan, I., and T. Sullivan. "The effects of surfactants on the microbial biofilm associated with the benthic isopod Asellus aquaticus." 17th International Conference on Chemistry and the Environment, Thessaloniki (2019). [Details]
O'Callaghan, I.; Harrison, S. S. C.; Fitzpatrick, D., and T. Sullivan. "The benthic isopod Asellus aquaticus as a model biomonitor for metallic nanoparticle pollution in freshwater systems." SETAC Europe 29th Annual Meeting, Helsinki (2019).
O'Callaghan, I., and T. Sullivan. "Asellus aquaticus as a potential biomonitor of trace metal pollution in freshwaters." ENVIRON 2019, Carlow (2019).
2017 O'Callaghan, I., and T. Sullivan. "The potential of Asellus aquaticus as a biomonitor of heavy metal pollution in freshwater environments." Analytical Arena, Maynooth (2017). [Details]

Professional Activity


Organisation Role From/To
RSC Environmental Chemistry Group (ECG) Committee Member 2021 - Present
Irish Naturalists' Journal (INJ) Board Member 2021 - Present
SETAC Europe Scientific Committee Committee Member 2019 - Present



Organisation Status
British Equine Veterinary Association (BEVA) Student Member
British Veterinary Nursing Association (BVNA) Student Member
Ecological Society of America (ESA) Student Member
Environmental Sciences Association of Ireland (ESAI) Student Member
Irish Whale and Dolphin Group (IWDG) Student Member
Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC) Associate Member
Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry (SETAC) Student Member
The Astronomical League (AL) Member-at-Large
The Crustacean Society (TCS) Student Member
The Kennel Club (KC) Affiliate Member
The Irish Kennel Club (IKC) Lifetime Member
The Society for the Study of Medieval Languages and Literature (SSMLL) Member

Research Grants

Project Funding Body Start/End Dates Award
Government of Ireland Postgraduate Scholarship: Macroinvertebrates as a novel biomonitor for nanoparticles in freshwater systems Irish Research Council / Environmental Protection Agency (Ireland) 01-OCT-18 / 30-SEP-22 €102,124.86
Early Stage Researcher Bursary: Understanding sediment contamination legacy issues in lake and river sediments and the implications for catchment management and drinking water source protection An Fóram Uisce (The Water Forum) 09-OCT-20 /  €5,000.00


Other Links:



Phone: +353 (0)21 490 4622
Mobile: +353 (0)86 2699688

Irene O’Callaghan (PhD Student)
School of Biological, Earth and Environmental Sciences (BEES),
University College Cork,
Distillery Fields Campus,
North Mall,
Cork T23 TK30,



Irene O'Callaghan

Contact Details:


PhD Candidate


Timothy Sullivan


BSc (Hons) Chemistry; MSc Analytical Chemistry

Research Area:

Environmental Chemistry


Past Members

Materials & Environmental Science Applications

Grúpa Taighde d'Ábhair & Feidhmeanna Eolaíocht Chomhshaoil

School of BEES, University College Cork, Cork Enterprise Centre, Distillery Fields, North Mall, Cork, T23 TK30

Funding Sources