Professor Aoife McLysaght is Principal Investigator in the Molecular Evolutionary Laboratory and Lecturer in Genetics, TCD. The thing that I find interesting and exciting: new ideas and trying to figure them out. And that works better when you’ve got somebody to talk about it with. You learn from the experience of working with people who are really good. And even though I’m now a Professor in Genetics at Trinity I still feel that this still goes on, that I learn from other people and I really enjoy the interactions that I have. That’s the difference between doing whatever it is you do at home at a desk
Whether you’re pursuing the arts, medicine, law, science or business, there’s a course in Dublin for you. Dublin is home to several world-class universities and smaller colleges, and in these stories we spotlight their diversity.
In a corner of University College Dublin’s suburban campus, archaeologists are building houses using thousand-year-old methods and casting bronze tools in fire pits using moulds they’ve made themselves. Brendan O’Neill, a PhD student in UCD’s School of Archaeology, has built a wooden roundhouse as part of his research. It took him about thirty days’ work over the course of ten months to complete. He wove hazel rods from a managed forest in the Irish midlands to create walls and a roof, which is topped with heather to help waterproof the structure. Inside the house, there’s a surprising amount of space. A central fireplace surrounded by stones is unlit. O’Neil
Anyone for capoeira? Fancy an evening of food and drink? Or how about spending time with some serious Harry Potter fans? Universities and colleges in Dublin have a strange and eclectic mix of student clubs and societies. Yes, there’s soccer and GAA, but what about caving & potholing or sepak takraw, a type of kick volleyball? Yes, drama and debating are to be expected, but did you know that you can also join student societies with a focus on comedy, animation or meditation? Sam Blanckensee graduated from UCD last year. In his final year, he founded the
Imagine if Dublin had an instrument panel: a set of gauges and graphs that revealed to its residents the precise current state of their home town. Professor Rob Kitchin and his team at Maynooth did exactly that. And they built it, online. It’s called Dublin Dashboard. Dublin.ie: What’s on Dashboard right now that the ordinary person might be interested in? Robin Kitchen (RK): Probably the real time page where you can see how many spaces there are in the car parks or what the sound levels are or what the pollution levels are or how many bikes ar
Creative Writing Postgraduate Programs have long been a staple of the academic world in the United States. Prominent writers, among them Raymond Carver, David Foster Wallace, and Joyce Carol Oates, have worked as creative writing professors since as far back as the seventies. Yet despite Dublin’s literary heritage and wealth of authors, it has only recently come to be recognised as a centre of excellence for such courses; now it attracts scores of hopeful young writers from around the world every year. “You can’t teach people to be creative. You can only accelerate the pace at which people are developing creatively, which is a very different matter.” These are the words of
Folklore: leprechauns, legends and fireside stories, right? Not quite. If you go down to UCD today, you’ll find a very different story. From its origins with Irish folklore collectors who, from the 1920s, scrambled around the country on a mission to record traditions, the National Folklore Collection (NFC) has grown into one of the biggest and most impressive collections of folklore and oral traditions anywhere in the world. The collection itself consists of almost 4,000 volumes of bound folklore, much of it handwritten and a substantial portion of it collected by schoolchildren during a spec
The water wars have begun. The devastating conflict in Syria was sparked by a water scarcity that pushed people into the cities and provoked unrest, the unrest in Yemen is rooted in a water crisis. Large parts of America and Australia are feeling the strain, and experts fear a future war for water between India and China. So, forget oil: the greatest battles and conflicts of the 21st century will be over humanity’s most precious resource. Ireland, with an average of 150 days of rainfall along the east and southeast coasts to 225 days in parts of the west, might seem immune to the problems of water supply, but our policymakers are waking up to the challenge of providing s
Looking for stars? Try BIMM Spotted a famous musician in Dublin recently? There’s a fair chance they were coming out of DIT’s school of commercial music. Situated on Francis Street in Dublin 8, the The British and Irish Modern Music Institute (BIMM) holds regular masterclasses for its students with world-class musicians: Imelda May, Danny O’Donoghue of The Script, Smashing Pumpkins drummer Jimmy Chamberlain and even Hozier have paid surprise visits. US singer-songwriter John Grant offered a songwriting masterclass. U2’s The Edge has attended a BIMM graduation ceremony. All of the tutors at BIMM
Art College is a waste of time, right? Not so: The National College of Art & Design is really punching above its weight and is intent on disproving the lazy stereotypes about art students. Its annual showcase has become an art and design highlight in the city, featuring painting, product design, sculpture, fashion and more. Meanwhile, its fashion students have been awarded top prizes both here and abroad and the college is climbing the QS world college rankings. Luncheonette, their basement café, happens to be one of the best lunch spots in the city, and it’s open to the general public. And the students bring
Ireland has the second highest percentage of people with a third level degree in Europe. Whether it’s family tradition, student life or affordable fees in comparison to our counterparts, our third level system is highly popular. It’s also enticing a lot of international students to the country. Ben Campbell-Rosbrook is originally from Syracuse in upstate New York but has come to Ireland to do his master’s in Trinity College. ‘I’m spending like half or a third of the fees to do my masters here, compared to America’, notes Ben. ‘I think a lot of students in America get the sense that the system is stacked against them.
As Professor Luke O’Neill discovered recently, when you become a fellow of the extremely exclusive and august science club that is the Royal Society, you have to sign their book. Previous signatories include Newton, Boyle, Freud and Einstein (Oh, and superstar astrophysicist Brian Cox). Which makes the process rather nerve-wracking, according to O’Neill, a biochemist at Dublin’s Trinity Biomedical Sciences Institute and one of the world’s leading immunologists. Luke O’Neill: There’s a practice, you don’t want to smudge your name! Dublin.ie: That’s quite some company you’re keeping there - but what do all you science guys have in common? Luke O’Neill: Science is trying to find stuff out. You can call it exploration, you can call it pioneering, frontier stuff because it’s all about making discoveries. We are explorers, that’s our job, that’s what attracted me to it. I wanted to see something nobody’s seen before. And in my case, luckily enough in my lab we probably had three big discoveries that made a big difference: we explored the immune system and saw things there for the first time. The next step is there’s a whole new pathway or process discovered - and of course the thrill would be if that was a dysfunction or a disease because then you might try and correct it. Once you find the enemy, you might be able to design a new medicine that might beat it. Dublin.ie: So you’re a biochemist and not an ordinary one? Luke O’Neill: I’m a bit of a schizophrenic! I was interested in chemistry anyway and biochemistry is chemistry writ large: if you want to understand something you’ve got to understand the chemical basis for things - and biochemistry is the basis for life. If we understand the chemicals of life wouldn’t that be a thrilling thing? One comparison is with genetics: geneticists don’t really go beyond the genes, you know – and I want to know the real fundamentals. Like genes makes proteins, but what do they do? I was always obsessed with true mechanism – the underlying mechanism, the very basics of how things work. I’ve always been obsessed with molecular things in a sense.
Medicine in Trinity College is known as one of the most difficult courses to get into in Ireland. These students will play a major role in the future of healthcare, in Ireland and worldwide. Someday your life might just depend on one. During placement at hospital, some of these students will experience things that most of us will never see. They’ll witness life-changing moments and hear about difficult upbringings and tragic back- stories. “Sometimes I’ve taken a step back and thought, oh I’m very lucky to never have had any of those issues” says Aisling Hickey, a Trinity medicine student. Aisling is currently in fourth year of the course and on placement.