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Women in STEM and their unique careers


Niamh Kavanagh

Niamh Kavanagh, a researcher at IPIC, the Irish Photonics Integration Centre, was named the national winner of the FameLab 2016 competition and went on to represent Ireland at the International Finals at the Cheltenham Science Festival in the UK in June. Her national talk, “Illuminating the Invisible”, discussed LiDAR technology which uses laser light to measure distance and more recently air pollution. The technology is currently being used in aviation to allow planes to avoid potential hazards such as ash clouds. Her international talk “Operation Optics” discussed how long-distance surgery can be made possible through the marriage of robotics and super-fast fibre optics. Niamh’s current PhD research is in the area of photonics and fibre optic communications. She is building an optical communications system based on new types of optical fibres that are hollow rather than solid in order to investigate if the theoretical advantages of hollow fibres (such as improved capacity) can be achieved in reality. Niamh's research is funded by the Irish Research Council (IRC).


Professor Madeleine Lowery

Prof Madeleine Lowery from University College Dublin is using engineering methods to understand how the human nervous system controls movement. Using computational models Prof Lowery and her team are investigating how deep brain stimulation can be used to treat Parkinson’s Disease. They are also looking at how the way in which the nervous system controls movement changes as we age, when muscles fatigue, in Parkinson’s disease and following a stroke. Data from these studies could feed into improvements in new medical technologies and rehabilitation therapies.



Professor Tia Keyes 

Professor of Physical Chemistry, Tia Keyes has spent roughly fourteen years working in the fields of supramolecular & interfacial photochemistry at Dublin City Universities School of Chemical Sciences. She is author/co-author of over 180 peer reviewed publications a book and numerous book chapters across these domains and has supervised/co-supervised 26 PhD students to completion to date. Her current research interests are in the design and development of probes for monitoring the dynamic cellular environment where Keyes group have pioneered the implementation of metal complexes bioconjugates as probes for monitoring oxygen, reactive oxygen species and protein and membrane binding within living cell using fluorescence and super-resolution imaging.  A key innovation has been the development of highly versatile cell membrane models based on micro and nanocavity architectures. These platforms, coined MemSense are formed from true lipid bilayers, they maintain the fluidity of the cell membrane and are robust and stable.  Keyes group have demonstrated that Memsense can be exploited for support of membrane proteins, which are important drug targets permitting detailed interrogation of protein and drug behaviour decoupled from the complexity of the cellular environment.  Tia is an academic member of the National Centre for Sensors Research and The Water Institute and is coordinator of the National Biophotonics & Imaging platform at DCU.  


Lisa Helen


Lisa Helen, an Irish Research council funded PhD student in the Tyndall Institute in University College Cork was the 2015 winner of the Technology Innovation Development Award (TIDA). The award, a joint venture of Science Foundation Ireland and Enterprise Ireland provided an opportunity for Lisa to showcase her work with the Smart Needle, a clever new medical technology designed to aid the delivery of anaesthetic nerve block injections. Lisa will also be speaking at this year’s Inspirefest on the 1st of July.




Dr Claire Gormley and Emily Duffy

Dr Claire Gormley and Emily Duffy are recent recipients of the UCD Commercialisation award 2016 for their sports performance analytics platform, Game Changer. Based on statistical modelling, the platform allows management and players to instantly and visually examine match performance statistics, and compare performance to that of previous games. Furthermore, Game Changer provides a bespoke statistical tool to identify key players for team selection or potential recruitment.
Dr Gormley, an Assistant Professor in Statistics in the UCD School of Mathematics and Statistics, and a researcher with the Science Foundation Ireland funded Insight Centre for Data Analytics, worked with Emily to develop the platform as part of her final year BSc Statistics research project.


Professor Catherine Godson

Prof Catherine Godson based in UCD, leads the Diabetes Complications Research Centre, her investigations include identifying genetic factors influencing the development of diabetic kidney disease. Prof Godson’s team are examining different genes that are switched on or off in the diabetic kidney to discover the basis of disease susceptibility and new therapeutic approaches.


Professor Lorraine Brennan

Working in the Conway Institute and Institute of Food and Health in UCD, Professor Lorraine Brennan has seen international success in her recent bid for European funding having secured a European Research Council Consolidator Grant worth €2 million. Her work, will focus on developing new methods to track what we have eaten. By examining small molecules in blood and urine samples the research team aim to develop a method to track exactly what people have eaten.




Dr Sally Cudmore

Dr Sally Cudmore is the general manager of the highly successful APC Microbiome Institute in Cork. She began her career as an undergraduate in UCC studying biochemistry and went on to receive her PhD from the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL) in Heidelberg, Germany. Her scientific research took her to San Francisco and a move to industry brought her back to Ireland working with pharmaceutical giant Elan. In her current role with APC Dr Cudmore oversees more than 250 scientists, 17 industry partners and is the co-founder of a start-up company, Atlantia Food Clinical Trial.