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School Research Projects

The School of Geography conducts research on a variety of issues in human and physical geography. School research is diverse but it coalesces around interventions to address real world problems guided by strong theoretical foundations.

Researcher(opens in a new window)Julien Mercille

This project examines the growth of private firms and investment funds in the long-term care sector, i.e. home care and nursing homes. The privatisation, marketisation and financialisation of the sector is evolving rapidly both in Ireland and Europe. The project seeks to identify the key players, processes and consequences of these transformations. The project is currently investigating the situation in Ireland in depth and will proceed shortly to extend its focus to other European countries. Theoretically, the project's approach is rooted in critical political economy.

FunderIrish Research Council

Researcher(opens in a new window)Alun Jones

Much geographical work has highlighted the difficulties of viewing emotion as a universally recognizable phenomenon. This has prompted more recent consideration of emotion as a cultural construct that lends itself to analysis only within the context in which it takes place. This permits emphasis to be placed on the inter-language, inter-cultural and inter-individual contexts of emotion use in geopolitics. Here, I argue, lies the sharper geographical sensibility to emotion, its performance and its effects on others by connecting space with (geo) political process . This spatial grounding of emotions offers a useful way to explore how political representations work out  in everyday life, not least by shifting focus upon the body (ies) as loci at which geopolitical power is made and contested and, crucially, co-constituted with the international. 

Researchers: (opens in a new window)Kath Browne, Aoife Grant, Sarah Foudy, Andrew McCartan, (opens in a new window)Carol Ballantine and Canadian Partner - Katie Young.

This project seeks to move ‘Beyond Opposition’ in the face of increasing social polarisation in the UK, Canada and Ireland. It considers how recent social and legal changes to sexual and gender rights impact different people within these countries. The project focuses on the experiences of individuals or groups who do not support these changes. This includes, for example, people who believe that marriage should only occur between men and women and/or that families should be based on a heterosexual union. It also includes those who are concerned about the legalisation of abortion and/or people who disagree with, or question, transgender inclusion policies. In the latter stages the project will seek to bring together those from differing 'sides', to explore how to engage difference, differently.  

Project website: (opens in a new window)www.beyondopposition.org


Researchers(opens in a new window)Niamh Moore-Cherry, Carla Maria Kayanan and John Tomaney

Cities are key drivers of economic growth and significant contributors to national prosperity. Across the European Union and other parts of the world, well-organised metropolitan regions are being promoted as ‘national champions’ to drive investment and development. This process has accelerated since the economic downturn of 2008 and government policies have actively intervened in support of promoting larger cities through capital investment decisions and governance reform to ensure more coherent metropolitan development. Ireland has come relatively late to these debates on metropolitanisation despite the negative outcomes of previously poor governance and decision-making, which has had significant implications for the quality of life of urban dwellers. In February 2018, the government of Ireland published the National Planning Framework (NPF) to address deficiencies in infrastructure planning, urban governance and to alter Ireland’s increasingly unsustainable development trajectory. As part of the NPF, new Regional Spatial and Economic Strategies to coordinate development will be produced, including Metropolitan Area Spatial Plans (MASP’s) for the five major cities. This research project focuses on the MASP’s and their ability to deliver on some of the strategic national outcomes identified in the NPF including more compact urban growth, enhanced regional accessibility, a strong economy and sustainable mobility. Through collaborative engagement with policy partners, participant observations and interviews with key stakeholders, the potential of the MASP’s as a new approach to planning and their impact on how urban development will evolve is examined. The research will inform wider international debates on how metropolitanisation processes happen in different contexts and will also provide a crucial input to policymaking in Ireland.

Read more about the project here.

Website: (opens in a new window)https://citiesgovernancesustainability.eu/current-projects/ireland-in-the-metropolitan-century/

Twitter: @irelandmetro


Researchers(opens in a new window)Niamh Moore-Cherry with collaborators: Sonia Freire Trigo and Jess Ferm (University College London); Maciej Smetkowski (University of Warsaw) and Zhao Zhang (Zhejiang Normal University)

The concentration of economic growth into large metropolises is widely documented across Europe. Yet, planning of this growth at the strategic metropolitan scale shows significant variation influenced in part by historical development trajectories and public policy choices. This research focuses primarily on European cities including London and Warsaw, but is also relevant to previous and ongoing work in Nanjing, China.

Researchers: (opens in a new window)Niamh Moore-Cherry (UCD), Brian Caulfield (TCD) and Kieran Harrahill (TASC)

The CONUNDRUM project aims to empower communities to adopt more sustainable modes of mobility by demonstrating how shared low-carbon transportation can plug the gap when high frequency public transport might not be available. As well as addressing carbon reduction targets, shared mobility could support community wealth building through the development of novel initiatives that address a community need and reconnect people to their place and each other, contributing to addressing the challenge of isolation that many more vulnerable communities feel post-Covid.

Website: (opens in a new window)https://citiesgovernancesustainability.eu/conundrum/

Funder: Science Foundation Ireland National Challenge Funding

The Cities, governance and sustainability research group addresses some of the major societal challenges of our time. From empowering local communities to create greener urban futures to challenging private sector actors to consider equity and liveability in their planning, our research shapes current thinking and future action in cities, metropolitan areas and regions. We engage in excellent research, funded by a range of organisations and agencies, that focuses on place-based approaches to enhancing quality of life, wellbeing and delivering better environmental outcomes as we move to a lower-carbon society. 

The research group is led by (opens in a new window)Prof Niamh Moore-Cherry (UCD) with students and colleagues within and beyond UCD including Dr Alma Clavin, Dr Dean Phelan, Zikang Ji (PhD candidate), Ruodi Yang (PhD candidate), Dr Carla Kayanan (MU) and Prof John Tomaney (UCL; Visiting Professor at UCD).

Website: (opens in a new window)https://citiesgovernancesustainability.eu/

Researchers: (opens in a new window)Christine Bonnin (UCD Geography) and Inês Raimundo (Eduardo Mondlane University) with Rogers Hansine (UCD Geography), Cândida Bila (Eduardo Mondlane University) and collaborators (opens in a new window)Tobi Morakinyo (UCD Geography), Emilio Magaia (Eduardo Mondlane University) and (opens in a new window)Ainhoa (opens in a new window)González Del Campo (UCD Geography)

Low income and vulnerable households, social groups and communities living in rapidly growing cities across Africa face concurrent challenges of maintaining food security whilst coping with the impacts of climate change. This project aims to investigate co-created, socially inclusive ‘edible Urban Green Infrastructure’ (UGI) as a strategy to support food security and climate resilience in two rapidly growing cities in Mozambique (Maputo and Xai-Xai), a country highly vulnerable to climate risks, including flooding, cyclones and drought. Urban agriculture can help cities address these twin challenges, yet as social inequality is a key issue when it comes to access to quality food, the project will examine not only diverse, multifunctional systems for food provisioning with environmental sustainability and climate-adaptive dimensions, but also ones that enable inclusive participation and outcomes. The project is partnered with local civil society organisations and community groups to understand the necessary conditions to promote edible UGI in vulnerable urban communities, and how it can be designed and used to better meet the needs of these groups.

Funder: Irish Research Council Coalesce (Strand 2B in partnership with Irish Aid)

Researchers: (opens in a new window)Ainhoa (opens in a new window)González del Campo - PI (UCD Geography), David Jordan (UCD Geography), Justin Gleeson (Maynooth University),and Eoghan McCarthy (Maynooth University)

The Environmental Sensitivity Mapping (ESM) Webtool was developed by Ainhoa in collaboration with the All island Research Observatory (AIRO) under Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) funding, grant number 2013-B-FS-4. This is a novel GIS decision-support tool for Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) and planning processes in Ireland. Bringing together more than 140 public datasets, the tool allows planners to examine environmental considerations within their plan area and create plan-specific environmental sensitivity maps. These maps can help planners anticipate potential land-use conflicts, thus informing the identification of suitable development locations while protecting the environment. The ESM Webtool is now publicly available and hosted in the Ordnance Survey Ireland’s Geohive. This funding will ensure that the ESM webtool is maintained and further developed to ensure that data is current, the webtool is fit for purpose and any software updates and bugs are promptly resolved. It will also provide tailored training to local authorities, governmental agencies and consultancies on the effective use of the webtool.

Project Website: (opens in a new window)www.enviromap.ie

Funder: EPA

Researcher: (opens in a new window)Ainhoa (opens in a new window)González Del Campo - PI (UCD Geography), Gloriana Vargas (UCD Geography), and Riki Therivel (Levett-Therivel Consultants)

Public participation is a cornerstone of good plan-making and Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA). It allows local information and concerns to be captured, interested and affected parties to be engaged in the assessment and plan-making processes, and conflict and opposition to plan implementation to be reduced. However, SEA processes worldwide seem to be much better at providing information than at engendering a two-way flow of information that includes public feedback integration. Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) are measurable values that demonstrate how effective an intervention, such as SEA, is in achieving its objectives. In SEA, KPIs can be used to measure inputs such a human and financial resources, activities such as SEA screening, scoping and public participation, outputs such as a quality SEA environmental report and informed planning decision, and outcomes such as environmental enhancement or more sustainable forms of development. The aim of this research project is twofold:

  • Review the extent and effectiveness of public participation in SEA practice and to enhance participation in Irish SEAs by developing a Guidance Note on good practice and a video on how to get involved in the process, piloting a good practice approach within the project timeline if possible; and
  • Review preliminary KPIs for SEA in Ireland, and develop a robust performance framework and associated effective KPIs that will be tested in live SEAs within the project timeline.

Funder: Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

Researchers: (opens in a new window)Ainhoa González(opens in a new window) Del Campo - PI (UCD Geography), Virginia Morejón (UCD Geography), and Debbie Pedreschi (Marine Institute)

The research funds a PhD student who focuses on the following two main goals: 

  • To understand the principal human-environment interactions in Irish coastal and marine waters to inform evidence-based marine planning and decision-making; and
  • To develop and test a suitable GIS-based methodology for Cumulative Effects Assessment (CEA) to support Marine Spatial Planning in Ireland using existing spatial data sources.

Funder: Marine Institute

Researchers: (opens in a new window)Ainhoa González(opens in a new window) Del Campo - PI (UCD Geography), Ben Cave (BCA insights Ltd.), Thomas Fischer (University of Liverpool), and Shiu Fung Hung (UCD Geography)

The overall aim of this project is to review international Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) practice with regards to health impact assessment and, in doing so, identify and examine current international good practice case studies and put forward recommendations for a proportionate and consistent consideration of human health effects in environmental assessment and plan-making through a practitioners’ toolkit for the Republic of Ireland, which will be transferable to other jurisdictions.

Funder:  Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

Website: https://www.ucd.ie/healthsea/

Researchers: (opens in a new window)Ainhoa González(opens in a new window) Del Campo - PI (UCD Geography), (opens in a new window)Arlene Crampsie (UCD Geography), (opens in a new window)Jeremy Auerbach (UCD Geography), (opens in a new window)Tobi Morakinyo (UCD Geography), (opens in a new window)Tasman Crowe (Vice Principal for Sustainability), Kirsten Southard (School of Science), Caroline Mangan (UCD Global), John Fahey (Estates and Services), Erin Hoare (UCD Students’ Union), Ella Cheney (BSc Sustainability), Luka Stojanovic (BSc Sustainability), Lena Turner (School of Geography), Charlotte De Ferrars (School of Geography), Ciara Murray (BSc Sustainability) and Matthew Kirwan (BSc Sustainability).

This is a student-staff partnership to advance the understanding of sustainability within Campus. It will map sustainable physical and human infrastructure and resources, and provide an educational and research basis for students and staff alike.

Funder: Higher Education Authority

Researchers: Kirsten Southard (UCD Science), Dr Paolo Virtuani (UCD Science), (opens in a new window)Prof Tasman Crowe (Vice Principal for Sustainability), (opens in a new window)Assoc Prof Ainhoa Gonzalez Del Campo (UCD Geography), Kendra Paleczny (BSc Sustainability), Laoise Markey (BSc Sustainability), Riya Sunny (BSc Sustainability), and Ellen Curren (BSc Sustainability).

This staff-student partnership will create a toolkit on Brightspace for students to access resources about climate change, sustainability, as well as ways to make positive changes in their own lives and communities.

Funder: Higher Education Authority

Researchers: Karen Keaveney (UCD Agriculture and Food Science), (opens in a new window)Ainhoa González Del Campo - CoPI (UCD Geography), Adwoa Ofori (UCD Agriculture and Food Science), and Dominic Robinson (UCD Geography)

This project brings together established community and co-operative networks in rural areas, current rural development strategies around the Smart Village concept and Community-Led Local Development (CLLD), and emerging or established digital technologies and data exploration to engage citizens in co-design for territorial plans/strategies (county level and below). The project will establish a living lab in a specific study area to test these technologies with specific cohorts, e.g. farmers, small business owners, local officials.

Funder: Irish Research Council (IRC)

ResearchersSojan Mathew and (opens in a new window)Colman Gallagher

This project investigates the shoreline changes, coastal vulnerability and beach dune morphodynamics along County Wexford using a range of remote sensing and geophysical physical techniques.

Researchers(opens in a new window)Colman Gallagher and Sojan Mathew

This project explores the possibilities of generating historic DEMs, orthophotos and orthophoto mosaicss using aerial film negatives (as opposed to contact prints) and its applications in estimating decadal shoreline change rates and beach dune sediment budget.

Researchers(opens in a new window)Arlene Crampsie (UCD Geography) and Conor Murphy (Maynooth University) with Eva Jobbová (UCD Geography), Csaba Horvath (Maynooth University), and collaborators Dr Francis Ludlow (Trinity College Dublin) and Prof Robert McLeman (Wilfred Laurier University)

Drought is an overlooked climate hazard in Ireland. However as Summer 2018 has shown, droughts do occur often with serious consequences for water supplies, agriculture, flora and fauna. Multi-year periods with limited rainfall are historically common and it is likely that the frequency and/or severity of droughts in Ireland will increase in coming decades. This IRC COALESCE funded project aims to reconstruct historic Irish droughts using existing climatic records, tree-ring data, historic documents, folklore records, and the collection of oral histories. It investigates the ways past societies were impacted by and coped with past drought events. We are learning from people’s pasts to help develop new ways to deal with future drought events.

Project websitewww.ucd.ie/droughtmemories

Funder: Irish Research Council Coalesce

Researchers: (opens in a new window)Jeremy Auerbach (UCD), Co-PI Dr Suzanne Linnane (Dundalk Institute of Technology), (opens in a new window)Fiadh Tubridy (Postdoctoral Research Fellow)

Description: Ireland still has lead water pipes supplying residences, including 180,000 public service lines. Public awareness and policy around this home hazard is deficient. As a neurotoxin this is particularly problematic for children. Lead disrupts cognitive development and leads to negative later life outcomes, such as reduced academic achievement, increased antisocial behaviour, and physical health issues. There is no safe level of lead in water for developing children, and many children could potentially be living in homes with lead water levels that are considered safe just because they are under the current legal limit. Removing this pollutant, and thereby reducing the downstream health and social effects of childhood lead exposure, is crucial for a healthy and secure future. The aim of this study is to improve the health of Irish residents by overcoming the barriers to removing lead pipes and improving their home environment. This transdisciplinary project will build off a pilot study from Belfast that found a combination of community-engagement, citizen science, and public awareness campaigns can improve public engagement with home health hazards and influence policy around home lead pipe replacement.

Project Website: (opens in a new window)https://www.sfi.ie/challenges/healthy-environment-all/AMEND/

Funder: Science Foundation Ireland (SFI)

Researchers: (opens in a new window)Rosana Pinheiro-Machado (Principal Investigator), (opens in a new window)Marina Frid (Research Fellow), Jessica Matheus de Souza (Postdoctoral Fellow), Miguel Paolo Rivera (PhD researcher), Rashmi Guha Ray (PhD researcher), Wagner Alves da Silva (PhD researcher)

The WorkPoliticsBIP project investigates the nexus between labour precariousness and authoritarian politics in Brazil, India, and the Philippines (BIP). In the early 2000s, emergent economies were promising global democratic powers. Yet, democratic consolidation faces significant challenges in the face of  BIP nations electing populist authoritarian politicians. The understanding of such a process remains fragmented or limited to a global North repertoire. This project proposes a framework that examines emerging economies’ development contradictions, namely economic growth that fostered new aspirational classes amidst labour precariousness. We will apply an innovative combination of ethnographic fieldwork and quantitative computational approaches to analyze the ideological nexus between precarious digital platform workers’ and authoritarian politicians’ values in the BIP countries. 

Project website: (opens in a new window)https://labdeep.com/projects/workpoliticsbip/

Funder: Horizon Europe, European Research Council, Consolidator Grant, 2023-2027