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AFGDP – one student’s experience

From the very beginning of my PhD I was encouraged by my peers and supervisors to take any of the AFGDP courses I had an interest in. It was widely known in Teagasc the benefit that these modules would have on an early career researcher who was unsure of who she was and where she was going. Now, just under 2 years on, I reflect on the 4 AFGDP courses I have attended as some of the most worthwhile courses during my PhD so far. Statistics was the first course I attended, about 6 months into my PhD. During these 3 days I learnt so much from the enthusiastic and knowledgeable speaker, Dr. Sean Lacey. Not only were we learning the basics of statistics, means and variances, T-tests and ANOVAS, but we were learning how to apply this knowledge in SPSS so we could analyse our own data. I then attended the Leadership....... read More

Why do we lose muscle as we age?

Guest blog by Caoileann Murphy Caoileann qualified as a dietitian and now works as a Postdoctoral Research Fellow in UCD in the area of nutrition and sarcopenia with an emphasis on personalized approaches to effective treatment and prevention. Caoileann has authored a number of scientific research papers, reviews and book chapters and is a recipient of the TOPMed10 Marie Curie Fellowship. @caoileannmurphy  Although my Grandmother Rosemary (aged 81 years) and I (aged 30 years) have never gone head-to-head in an arm wrestling competition, tests conducted as part of a Healthy Aging Research Study in UCD show that I have more muscle and am considerably stronger than my Grandmother, despite the fact that we are almost exactly the same height. This is not a surprise. Beginning around our fifties we start to lose....... read More

A view from the treetops

Guest blog Ted Wilson is Walsh Fellow doing his PhD in Silviculture with the Teagasc Forestry Development Department, Ashtown Research Centre, Dublin For a forester, there is nothing more mythical than the Black Forest of Germany. Located in the state of Baden-Wurttemberg, the Black Forest is an oblong-shaped mountain range that runs approximately 160 km north-south, and to the east of the River Rhine. Due to its rugged landscape and the relatively poor soils for agriculture, the area has retained much of woodland cover of broadleaves, fir and spruce. For centuries the Black Forest has been a testing ground for much of what we now call sustainable forest management. Generations of foresters from all over the world have travelled to the region to see how forestry works, and to learn how communities live in harmony....... read More

Are cows more than a wee problem for the environment?

Guest Blog – Stuart Kirwan. Stuart is based in the Animal Nutrition Building on the UCD Lyons Research Farm where he is doing his PhD. @kirwanstuart Irish agriculture faces a major challenge in regards to climate change, in how it deals with greenhouse gases (GHG) emissions transboundary gases/air pollutants such as ammonia. In Ireland the agriculture sector was directly responsible for 32.2% of national Greenhouse Gases (GHGs) emissions in 2016, mainly methane from livestock, and nitrous oxide due to the use of nitrogen fertiliser and manure management. The agricultural sector is the largest source of ammonia emissions in Ireland and accounts for 98% of total emissions, of this, the cattle sector accounts for 80%. Ammonia impacts on environmental sustainability as it can lead to eutrophication of nearby water....... read More

Food waste on farms

Food waste on farms Guest blog by Ciara Beausang. Ciara is the second year of her PhD at the School of Biosystems and Food Engineering, UCD. foodsecurity_IE   Food waste is a major challenge for sustainability, as it is estimated that one-third of all food produced globally is wasted. Food waste has been in the spotlight in recent times as five major Irish retailers signed Ireland’s Food Waste Charter, which commits them to tackling food waste in the sector. Ireland, along with 200 other countries have committed to halve per capita global food waste by 2030 as part of the Sustainable Development Goals. There are also significant efforts to reduce household food waste in Ireland through the Stop Food Waste campaign led by the EPA. However, currently very little is known about how much food is wasted at the start....... read More

Removing the Blame from Obesity

Guest blog by Aisling Mangan. Aisling is a  registered dietitian completing a research masters in obesity treatment. @aisling_mangan Currently, 1 in 4 Irish adults are obese1. It is, thus, an issue which affects many of us.  Despite this, the obesity “blame game” continues. Why does obesity come with an element of blame? What can we do to stop this?   Where did the Blame Game begin? Traditionally obesity was viewed as an issue of mere will power. Obese people were blamed for their weight with a common belief that this may motivate individuals to lose weight. Indeed, a study estimated that weight discrimination has increased by 66% in the last decade2. Meanwhile, advances in research have shown that obesity is much more complex than originally believed. Furthermore, organisations like the World....... read More

Controlling hamster cells, the workhorse of biopharmaceutical industry

Guest blog - Ricardo Valdés-Bango Curell @ricardosino Chinese hamsters can be credited with savings thousands of lives per year because the ability of their contribution to producing therapeutic proteins that can used in the treatment of cancer, anaemia, and Multiple Sclerosis amongst other conditions. Most people will never have heard of Chinese Hamster Ovary (CHO) cells but these are one of the main cell factories used by the biopharmaceutical industry to produce these important protein drugs.   Over the last 40 years, Chinese Hamster Ovary cells have been successfully used to produce some ground-breaking therapies such as anti-blood clotting factors (tissue plasminogen activator or tPA) or antibodies for cancer therapy. Research on the field has thrived to obtain fast growing and high productive cells,....... read More

The Important Role of Parents in Healthy Eating For Children

Guest blog Stephanie Rahill PhD Researcher DIT, Kevin Street Numerous healthy food initiatives and interventions have been rolled out across Ireland to promote the consumption of fruit and vegetables in children. Despite this, children are still not meeting the recommended 5-7 portions per day (1) with only 20% of children aged 10-17 in Ireland consuming fruit and vegetable more than once per day (2). You may ask why is this the case and what is preventing children from obtaining a healthy varied diet? Food fussiness may be a possible explanation as to why children refuse to eat particular foods, such as fruit and vegetables. A fussy eater can have many definitions but often parents refer to the fussy child as the one that ‘breaks my heart’, due to the turmoil that occurs during mealtimes. The current standard....... read More

Hidden phenomenon costing our hospitals over €1.4bn per year

Laura Bardon - Guest blog   Although malnutrition may be something you associate with the children from the LiveAid video, it is in fact quite a common issue in Ireland. ‘But I don’t see starved looking people roaming the streets of Dublin’ I hear you exclaim. Well, the term malnutrition incorporates both undernutrition (a lack of one or more nutrient) and overnutrition (too much of one or more nutrient… most commonly seen as obesity). The aspect I am predominantly referring to is undernutrition or specifically protein energy undernutrition. This occurs when an individual (young or old) isn’t consuming adequate amounts of protein (most commonly in meat, fish and dairy products) or energy (calories… all foods contain calories but carbohydrate-based foods such as breads, pastas, potatoes and cereals are our....... read More

Innovation, Commercialising Research and Entrepreneurship

22-24 November 2017 - UCD Are you an agri-food researcher? This November we a running our highly regarded module on innovation and how to describe the research impact of your PhD research. The essential message of what you are doing, for whom, and why? Sounds easy doesn’t it? And yet many researchers struggle with answering this on the first day. Being able to frame your research in such stark terms helps you to understand the landscape you are working in and the relevance of what you are doing and the part your research plays. It teaches invaluable skills not just in focusing on the impact of your research which is such an essential component to any research funding proposal, but also to understand the process of innovation from an industry perspective. Understanding this aspect of commercialisation is cited by many in....... read More