News & Events

UCD Earth Institute Announces Inaugural Journalist-in-Residence Fellowships

Published: Tuesday, 02 April, 2024

The Earth Institute, UCD's Institute for environmental, climate and sustainability research, is delighted to announce our inaugural resident journalists for 2024, freelance science journalists and communicator Claire O’Connell and Lauren Boland, The Journal reporter with a focus on climate.  The scheme is one of the first journalist-in-residence programmes at an Irish university, and the first with a focus on environmental, climate, and sustainability research.  By fostering collaboration between journalists and academics, the scheme aims to amplify public discourse on pressing global challenges, to drive meaningful change through informed dialogue and storytelling, and to support high-quality journalism around environmental research.

In April 2024, Claire and Lauren gave an Earth Institute coffee morning talk about their respective plans for their residencies.

Claire O'Connell profile pictureDr Claire O’Connell holds a B.Sc. and a Ph.D. from University College Dublin and a M.Sc. in Science Communication from Dublin City University.  Claire has been writing for The Irish Times about science, health and innovation since 2005, and she has written for numerous other publications, including Silicon Republic.  She has published two non-fiction books: Catching the Worm, Towards Ending River Blindness and Reflections on My Life (Royal Irish Academy, 2020), written with Nobel laureate Professor William C. Campbell, and Work. Life. Lessons from Leaders (Royal Irish Academy, 2023), a collection of insights from leaders in academia, industry, medicine and politics.

Claire is an experienced conference MC, panel moderator and communications trainer, and she is the host of ADAPT Radio, a monthly podcast produced by ADAPT, the Science Foundation Ireland Research Centre for AI-Driven Digital Content Technology, which explores how AI is impacting life and what we need to do to harness its power for good.  Claire recently edited the Midlands Science guide Making Science Outreach More Accessible.  In 2016, Claire was named Irish Science Writer of the Year.

Lauren Boland profile pictureLauren joined The Journal team in 2020 during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic and has covered many of the world’s rolling crises since then, from Covid-19 and conflicts to, most notably, climate change. She has covered major climate news in Ireland and abroad, penning stories reporting on scientific research and extreme weather events to climate action plans and policy debates. Lauren attended COP27 in Egypt and COP28 in the UAE, where she produced written and multimedia content tailored to an Irish audience. She is the author of The Journal’s monthly climate newsletter Temperature Check and regularly contributes to radio and television programmes to discuss climate and other current affairs.

Lauren is currently in her final semester of a Master’s in Climate Change at Dublin City University. In 2022, Lauren was awarded Newcomer of the Year at the Law Society of Ireland’s Justice Media Awards and was shortlisted in an additional two categories. In 2020, she was shortlisted at the national Mental Health Media Awards.

Prof. Eoin O'Neill, Director of the UCD Earth Institute, expressed his enthusiasm about and support for the journalist-in-residence scheme, stating, “I’m delighted to welcome Claire O’Connell and Lauren Boland as our first UCD Earth Institute journalists-in-residence. This initiative marks a significant milestone in our commitment to bridging the gap between academia and journalism.  By offering journalists first-hand access to research and expertise at UCD, we aim to catalyse informed conversations on pressing environmental, climate and sustainability issues.”

For enquiries about the UCD Earth Institute journalist-in-residence scheme, email

About the UCD Earth Institute

The Earth Institute is UCD’s institute for environmental, climate and sustainability research. The Institute comprises a community of over 400 members in UCD across all career stages drawn from across the University’s six constituent Colleges, and seeks to promote interdisciplinary activity across the sciences, social sciences, arts, humanities, engineering and architecture. Areas of expertise include biodiversity, climate, ecosystems, water, the built environment and sustainable communities.  Based in University College Dublin’s Belfield campus, the UCD Earth Institute fosters multi- and interdisciplinary research and works with stakeholders to address global, regional and national environmental challenges.