Heading up the Multisensory Cognition Group at the Trinity College Dublin, Prof Fiona Newell and her group are investigating how information is shared across the senses and how the brain perceives the objects, faces and places we come across every day. In a cross discipline collaboration, the insights from Prof Newell’s research are informing the computer graphics industry on ways to enhance virtual character realism in gaming technology. Subtle changes to facial expressions, voice intonations or bodily gestures can have a remarkable effect on the avatar appeal and authenticity.
For over 10 years Dr Peter Corcoran from NUI Galway has been involved in the evolution of smartphone technology from red eye reduction to biometric security. He is the co-founder of the company FotoNation and has been inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame. Dr Corcoran’s current research is looking into next generation imaging, looking for innovative solutions to the greater demands being put on smartphones through larger sized images and faster frame rates. With communication becoming increasingly visual, the large data demands can no longer be supported by current processing algorithms necessitating novel approaches being developed by Dr Corcoran and his team.
The existence of a natural 24-hour clock termed the "body clock" is well established, anyone who doubts the existence of our inner biological clock has never experienced jet lag! This clock is also within our immune system and our immune system functions very differently at one time of the day versus another. For example, many people will experience severe cold and flu symptoms in the morning versus the evening. Dr Annie Curtis tries to understand exactly how this timing system works within immune cells and the impact of this system on immune health. Her work has an impact on understanding chronic inflammatory diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis and neurodegeneration and providing medications, including vaccinations, at the right time of day to align with the daily changes in our immune system. Dr Curtis was recently recruited to the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RCSI) through their StAR recruitment programme. Her laboratory will continue to focus into mechanisms underlying the daily rhythm of the immune system.
The research of Prof Rob Kitchin, a European Research Council Advanced Investigator in the Maynooth University Social Sciences Institute, is focused on the development of smart cities. Through the Programmable City project his team are investigating the creation and rollout of technologies designed to manage and control city infrastructure and services. These technologies produce large amounts of data about cities which have been harnessed through the building of the Dublin Dashboard, a hugely useful application that displays everything you need to know about Dublin in one easy to use site. Prof Kitchin and his team are also supporting the translation of their research into governance and policy, working with Dublin’s four local authorities and state agencies.
Laura Tobin a PhD student at the School of Engineering in University College Dublin is researching alternative uses for LED technology. Laura is actively involved in the area of science communication, public engagement and education both on a national and international level. She is an Executive Committee member of WITS Ireland which supports women in STEM to reach their full potential. Laura is also a co-organiser of Dublin Maker, an annual free community event that allows inventors and makers of all ages and backgrounds to showcase their creations in a carnival atmosphere.
Senior Lecturer in Civil Engineering at NUI Galway, Dr Jamie Goggins is working on achieving resilient nearly zero-energy buildings with low environmental impact by considering the built environmental, people and communities. A key focus of this work is retrofitting existing structures to achieve nearly zero-energy buildings. This ambitious endeavour uses data from lifecycle assessments which look at all stages of a build, from production of raw material, the build itself, eventual use, upkeep and repair to disposal or recycling. The project will look to retrofit buildings with innovative technologies allowing them to become more energy efficient, cost effective, healthier to live in and of course comfortable. His multi-disciplinary team of engineers, architect and social scientists, have taken a more holistic approach to reducing energy consumption of buildings, which includes potentially changing the energy-related views and everyday practices of those who inhabit these buildings.
Almost every manmade object from buildings to airplanes to medical devices involves joining two or more components together. Traditionally this involves placing holes in the materials and bolting or fastening them together, these holes inevitably introduce weaknesses to the overall structure. Working in the Bernal Institute & Department of Mechanical, Aeronautical and Biomedical Engineering at UL, Dr Conor McCarthy and his team are researching novel ways to bind components together, exploiting the best elements from bolting and gluing technologies to result in a new joining method where dissimilar components and materials can be assembled and disassembled at the touch of a button. This patent pending technology could one day support virtually every future product where disassembly for recycling, repair or replacement are key design requirements.
With the World Health Organisation warning Ireland is on course to becoming the most obese country in Europe by 2030, there is a knock-on concern about the accompanying rise of type II diabetes. Dr Niall Hyland from UCC and the APC Microbiome Institute is looking at the way dietary constituents are broken down in the gut, potentially by the bacteria which reside there, and the chemicals that are released as a result. By understanding the effects these chemicals have not only on the gut but also on the brain and immune system of obese subjects Dr Hyland hopes to develop targets for intervention in obesity and insulin resistance.