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Earth Institute Strategic Priority Projects 2021

Published: Tuesday, 28 September, 2021

The Earth Institute is delighted to announce the three new strategic priority projects for 2021 supported by the Earth Institute Strategic Priority Support Mechanism (SPSM). The SPSM encourages interdisciplinary activity across the Earth Institute, UCD, and beyond, across environmental and sustainability research and related disciplines.

UCD-MRG: UCD Mountain Research Group

Mountains are a key, but often overlooked, landscape type in Ireland, Europe and globally. These landscapes sustain rich, complex, ecosystems and forms of human activity and provide deep-time records of the same. Mountains are essential to global sustainability as an important source of biodiversity, freshwater, energy, food, and cultural values. The overall aim of UCD MRG is to  highlight the importance of mountain landscapes and the value of interdisciplinary study of mountains to many of the goals of the Earth Institute. The group will establish networks of researchers and relevant agencies within and outside of UCD and will support the development of grant applications and capacity building within UCD. MRG will raise broader awareness within and beyond UCD of dynamism of mountain landscapes, especially in the context of the climate crisis and their role in the Sustainable Development Goals. The project also aims to contribute to development of policy in relation to mountain landscapes. 

UCD MRG is led by: Graeme Warren (Archaeology) with co-applicants Sam Kelley (Earth Sciences), Christine Bonnin (Geography).


Sustainable wellbeing: humans, environment, and liveability (SWHEL)

Despite the importance and increased concern for sustainability, there is no agreed definition of sustainable well-being. UCD has research expertise in many dimensions of sustainable well-being but at present this is fragmented and dispersed across a range of schools and disciplines. This Strategic Priority (SP) initiative will establish an interdisciplinary network on sustainable wellbeing within UCD to facilitate collaboration and build capacity and community on the topic. The network will forge links with relevant academics and other stakeholders at local, national and international levels. Core tasks will be to develop interdisciplinary conceptual and operational maps of sustainable wellbeing, identify gaps in research and form teams for future projects. The initiative will also act as a platform to communicate with stakeholders, including government and mass media, so that interdisciplinary research and expertise on this topic will impact on relevant decisionmakers and the general public. 

SHWEL is led by Nessa Winston (Social Policy, Social Work and Social Justice)  with co-applicants Jennifer Symonds (Education), Finbarr Brereton (Architecture, Planning & Environmental Policy), Orla Kelly (Social Policy, Social Work and Social Justice), Conor Buggy (Public Health, Physiotherapy & Sports Science), Leonard Lades (Architecture, Planning & Environmental Policy)


SAPBio: Stakeholder Attitudes and Perceptions of Biostimulants and Biopesticides 

The EU Farm to Fork strategy and Biodiversity Strategy 2030 seek to reduce pesticide and fertiliser use. Currently research at UCD is developing biostimulants and biopesticides while assessing; the efficiency, environmental impacts and costs compared to conventional pesticides and fertilisers.  However, stakeholder perceptions of these biobased products have not been explored in Ireland and limited knowledge exists for Europe, particularly for public attitudes. Mapping and engaging stakeholders via workshops and surveys will allow this to be assessed. Findings will form the basis of an infographic, paper and policy document for the purpose of science-policy interface and facilitate a European Innovation Partnership for Agriculture Productivity and Sustainability (EIP-AGRIS) Focus Group. The knowledge gained will be a useful basis for further research in perceptions of sustainable agriculture.

SAPBio is led by Angela Feechan (Agriculture & Food Science) with co-applicants Aparajita Banerjee (Business), Geertje Schuitema (Business), Rainer Melzer (Biology and Environmental Science), Saoirse Tracy, Agriculture & Food Science), Kevin McDonnell (Biosystems and Food Engineering), Fiona Doohan (Biology & Environmental Science), Grace Cott (Biology & Environmental Science), Tomás Russell (Agriculture & Food Science),Carl Ng (Biology and Environmental Science).