2016 ESAI Winter newsletter
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Welcome to the ESAI Newsletter
November 2016

Welcome to the latest edition of the ESAI newsletter. Please forward to other colleagues who may be interested in receiving this quarterly newsletter by subscribing using the instructions below or on our web site

We were pleased to receive a good number of high quality applications for the 2016 ESAI Postgraduate Researcher of the Year award, and will announce our winner in the coming weeks. Well done to the awardees in the
ESAI Grassroots Workshop Support Scheme kindly funded by the EPA, and thanks to ESAI Council members for assessing the applications for the awards above.

Our offer of free membership of ESAI is now open to undergraduates on courses listed on our ESAI courses page. We are grateful to our ESAI Liaisons for promoting this message in each college.

Preparations are well underway for
Environ 2017 (April 10th-12th) at Athlone Institute of Technology.
The event is being co-ordinated by Dr Andy Fogarty and Dr Sile O’ Flaherty with their local committee along with the support of ESAI Council. We look forward to seeing you there next April. 

I would like to take this opportunity to thank Dr Tom Curran for his work and all his contributions as chairperson of the ESAI during 2014-2016. I took over this role in March 2016 and will proudly chair the ESAI until 2018.

Professor Frances Lucy,
Department of Environmental Science,
Institute of Technology, Sligo

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Environ 2016

Environ 2016, hosted by the University of Limerick, opened on the evening of 22nd March 2016 with a public lecture by author and journalist Paddy Woodworth entitled ‘Pricing the Planet: The economic and environmental benefits of accounting for natural capital and ecosystem services’. 
The colloquium was formally opened on the morning of Wednesday 23rd February by Professor Don Barry, President of UL followed by four keynote speakers from academia and industry: Prof John O’Halloran (University College Cork), Ms Katy Tsesmelis (Manager of the International Aluminium Institute), Prof Dave Goulson (University of Sussex) and Mr Martin Fennell (Rusal Aughinish). 
Four concurrent sessions were held on Wednesday and Thursday morning. These sessions spanned 11 environmental topic areas, with a total of 92 oral presentations including a new theme in the Environ series, "Novel applications in sustainability and research innovation". There were also 62 posters on display, covering a spectrum of sessions displayed alongside a wide range of exhibitors from environmental agencies, organisations and suppliers.
A post event survey filled in by 27%of attendees indicated very high levels of satisfaction with the event.
Award Winners at Environ 2016
The standard of presentations delivered at Environ 2016 were scored highly by our judging committed. We wish to thank and congratulate all presenters for the delivery of high quality talks thus ensuring all sessions were interesting engaging.
The student award winners were as follows:

ESAI Best Overall Oral Presentation
Daryl Gunning (UCC) 'Commercial and experimental scale IMTA research'.

ESAI Best Overall Poster Presentation
Paul Buckley (UCC)  'Sources of particulate matter in small rural towns in Ireland'.
Best Water Based Presentation
Derek Higgins (UL) 'Use of constructed wetlands to treat alakaline leachates'.
Best Waste and Resource Management Presentation
Tom Wallace (UCD) 'Review of fat, oil and grease (fog) waste utilisation trends'.
Best Soils Presentation
srael Ikoyi (UL) 'Influence of different rates of inorganic phosphorus fertilizer on soil biological properties in a soil-biota system'.
Best Biodiversity Presentation
Tara Dirilgen (UCD) 'What controls the abundance and diversity of soil animals? - a manipulation study using mesocosms in a controlled laboratory setting'.

A synopsis of the research projects for each of the award winners is available to read on the website or simply click here.

Articles and Interviews

ESAI/EPA Grassroots Workshop Support Scheme
The ESAI with the support of the EPA announced the Grassroots Workshop Support Scheme at Environ 2015. The aim of the scheme was to assist early stage researchers with the delivery of workshops. Postgraduate and postdoctoral researchers were encouraged to organise a workshop in their research area and use this opportunity to draft their first grant application and also improve networking skills.

Postgraduate and postdoctoral researchers who are both members of the ESAI and and conducting research relevant to the EPA remit were eligible to apply.

Three successful workshops have been funded through this scheme:
(i) ‘Green Shoots v Green Transport’ by Richard Manton (NUIG)
(ii) 'A (free) Citizen Science and GIS Training School' by Sean Lynch (NUIG)

(iii) 'Ladybirds – Citizen Science' by Gill Weyman (UCC)
For further information on the Grassroots Workshop Scheme and past workshops click here.

Leave No Trace Workshop February 2016

Leave No Trace Ireland, inspires responsible use of the outdoors through research, education and partnerships. It teaches people how to enjoy the outdoors responsibly.  

In December, 2015, ESAI, partnered with Leave No Trace Ireland, and held a social media competition. The competition ran over a period of 4 weeks and attracted positive attention from ESAI, and Leave No Trace, network members.

In January, the winner was announced. ESAI member Sarah McInterney, won a place on a leave No Trace, awareness course. This workshop was held at The Irish Museum of Modern Art Dublin, on February 2nd, 2016.


The workshop provided a visual and interactive 6 hour course aimed at developing participants understanding of Ireland’s plants and animals, as well as the understanding on how to protect the Irish countryside. For more information on leave No Trace Ireland, please visit or contact Maura Lyons, Manager by emailing or phone: +00353 1 9059009

Sharing science through story: Fergus McAuliffe at TEDxDublin
Interview with Dr Fergus McAuliffe - Past Presentation Winner at Environ

Dr Fergus McAuliffe is a science communicator and researcher based at iCRAG, the Irish Centre for Research in Applied Geosciences. Fergus holds a PhD in environmental science, and has wide-ranging experience of science communication through TV, radio, print and digital media and live talks.

Fergus attended Environ 2016 as an invited speaker. He gave kindly of his time to answer questions on his career progression and provide some tips and insight for postgraduate students as they approach completion of their research.

1. What impact did receiving the award at Environ have on your communication skills and confidence in presenting your work?
I presented at Environ for two years in a row. It is a great confidence builder for postgraduate researchers to get experience in presenting to a scientific audience. Furthermore, as each Environ is themed, it challenges researchers to view their work in relation to the theme. Sometimes it is good to think of the bigger picture! I had done quite a number of public-facing talks and presentations before that particular Environ. However, communicating to specialists is slightly, but not completely, different. Many of the same things still apply: speak at a nice pace, make eye contact, only include necessary information on the slides etc. The main difference is the level of complexity that you can go to and the level of knowledge that you can assume that your audience has. This leads to the challenge of still explaining your complex research in a way that is clear to the specialist audience. Having successfully presented at Environ gave me the confidence that I can explain my research in a clear way on a peer-to-peer basis and gave an added pep in the step when I next returned to the lab knowing my research was on the right track.
2. You are now involved with scientific communications through your role at iCRAG and through various other roles. What has been the most unexpected reward of these roles (either professionally or personally)?
Bizarrely, I think the most unexpected reward of taking part in many science communication activities during my PhD training, is that I actually ended up making a career out of it! While initially entering competitions and writing popular science articles was a welcome distraction from the lab/field/desk (depending on the time of year!), after a while I began to really enjoy it. From the enjoyment, stemmed a train of thought that perhaps I could make a career out of communication and public engagement with science. Then, about a year ago, iCRAG - the Irish Centre for Research in Applied Geosciences - was established, and a position in communications and public engagement was advertised. At the time, there was a limited number of positions in Ireland in full-time science communication. So for me, it was time to throw my hat in the ring and see where science communication could take me. Alongside those, the additional activities that I have been involved, for instance 10 Things to Know About/The Science Squad on RTE1, Futureproof on Newstalk and also FameLab Ireland have been very rewarding and have allowed me to further my own science communication skills and to deliver coaching to the next crop of science communicators.
3. You have recently submitted your thesis, what advice would you give researchers in the final year of postgraduate research?
There is only one piece of advice to give: finish it. Little else matters. If that means staying in late, then stay in late. If it means coming in early, then come in early. If it means both of the above, then do both. Set yourself a realistic target and just get it done! Some things that I found helpful:
- Get into a good routine. This is an enormous cliché, but if you get it right, it can be a big help. In my last year each day I would try to get an hour of writing in first thing in the morning. Come in, open the computer, don’t look at emails, just write. After that, I would go about the field/lab work and stick at that for the rest of the day. Just the routine of knowing that the first thing to do each day was to write was a big help as I knew that no matter what happened during the rest of the day, I was already a little bit closer to a finished thesis.
- Keep in contact with your supervisors. Try and meet face to face at least once a month, and give yourself a lead in time to these monthly meetings. Knowing that you will be meeting your supervisors each month, will keep you focussed on getting the necessary done before the next meeting. Keep getting the tasks done: tick, tick, tick.
- Make an exit plan. This means deciding what is necessary to finish, timeline it, do it. Agree on this exit plan with your supervisors. Even getting them to call it an exit plan will help!
4. What are your top three advice tips for post-graduate students when deciding avenues to promote themselves?
A. Key to any job is your ability to communicate, be that with specialist or non-specialist. During your time as a postgraduate student there are plenty of opportunities to improve your ability to communicate, whether that be through entering competitions, writing blog articles, speaking at departmental seminars etc. These are safe environments in which to hone your skills. So, if an opportunity arises - take it! If an opportunity doesn't arise, make it happen: organise a series of public postgraduate talks, a research club etc. It is surprisingly easy to do.
Not sure of competitions to enter? Here are some:
- FameLab Ireland
- Thesis in 3
- Making an Impact Competition
- Institution specific competitions e.g. UCC Science for All, and UCC Doctoral Showcase
- Wellcome Trust Science Writing Prize
B. Having some sort of social media presence is a big help. When it comes to interview stage, everyone is googled in advance. Make sure something positive comes up about you. For industry jobs, a strong LinkedIn profile will help. For postdoc jobs, a strong ResearchGate profile is perhaps more relevant, as well as an up to date webpage on your current department’s website.
C. Think about what you want to do next. The time to do that is now. About halfway through my PhD I had an inkling that science communication was for me. I then took any opportunities that arose to further my credentials in this field. If it is a postdoc that you want to do next, the concentrating on producing papers may be more appropriate. Indeed, learning about the funding calls e.g. MSCA, well in advance is a good thing to bear in mind. These application processes are lengthy and require a lot of groundwork well in advance. Learning about them well in advance will be a big help should you decide to pursue one.

Read more about ENVIRON 2017 here

Environ Green Career Expo
The ESAI are proud to announce the return of the Environ Green Career Expo to Environ 2017.
The expo will take place on Tuesday 11th April at Athlone Institute of Technology.

This is a unique event, being the only career expo in Ireland focusing specifically on the green sector. Attendees will have the opportunity to meet with representatives from a range of public and private sector organisations to discuss career opportunities including jobs, internships, research and volunteering. The expo is free to attend and open to the public.
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