Current graduate researchers

Our graduate researchers are an important part of the School community and play a key role in supporting undergraduate students, hosting visiting staff, participating in seminars and a range of other School events. We pride ourselves on providing a high quality learning and research environment to our graduate researchers and supporting intercultural awareness and diversity in our graduate community. Our recent and current graduate students have joined us from UCD and other Irish institutions, China, Iran, Saudi Arabia, and Italy and have research interests that span the breadth of the subject. To find out more about our graduate researchers and their interests, please click below:

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Saeed Alharbi, a PhD candidate in UCD School of Geography, got his BA degree in Geography from the University of Umm Al-Qura in Makkah. Afterward he worked as a Geography teacher in Saudi schools, then as a supervisor on teachers of the same field. Through that period, he was awarded the MA degree in Geography and climate, studying rainfall characteristics on western Saudi Arabia from King Abdulaziz University, Jeddah.

PhD thesis:

The study will explore the effects of urbanization on flood management in arid environments. It will examine the effect of unregulated urban expansion in arid areas on the ‘flash flood’ regime and, the principles of urban planning and design that would protect life and property under current and projected climate conditions? It will explore these ideas using the case study of Jeddah city and the Qous Valley in Saudi Arabia.

Supervisor: Dr Gerald Mills

PhD Thesis:

The achievement of good chemical and ecological status of all surface water bodies has been the Water Framework Directive’s (WFD) primary requirement for all EU member states. However, in order for a water body to achieve the EU’s desired status, the hydromorphological conditions also need to be taken into consideration. The importance assigned to hydromorphological conditions is due to the WFD’s recognition that physical habitat is of critical importance to the functioning of a vibrant aquatic community
(Elosegi et al. 2010). The issue that Irish rivers have been extensively regulated over the centuries due to the construction of bridge structures, dams, culverts, sluices, and weirs continues to pose a considerable risk to the hydromorphological status of our rivers due to the pressure these structures have on the movement of fish species, organic matter, suspended sediment and bedload material. Where they occur naturally or have been in place for centuries river morphology has had an opportunity to adjust to their impacts and establish equilibrium. With the recognition that man made barriers/obstacles have resulted in Irish rivers diverging hydromorphologically from natural conditions and subsequently ecological conditions, any attempt at their removal could greatly affect the lateral, longitudinal and vertical geometries of river bodies while the system attempts to reestablish equilibrium (Roni et al. 2002). Working between both the School of Geography and the School of Civil Engineering, my research question primarily centers on (1) ascertaining what the geomorphic and hydromorphological impacts of barrier emplacement are, and (2) the predicted geomorphic and hydromorphological responses that the removal or modification of a structure would incur on the channel. The impetus behind my research is to contribute to the EPA funded ReCONNECT project that seeks to form a validated methodology for prioritizing the selection of barriers/obstacles for removal or modification in an effort to significantly improve the
connectivity of our freshwater systems.

Supervisors: Dr. Jonathan N. Turner and Prof. Michael Bruen

 

Commencing my university education in Trinity College Dublin, I entered into the Natural Sciences degree programme. The first two years of the degree programme laid foundations in geography, geology, biology and mathematics. Thereafter I specialised in geology and graduated in 2010. Since then, my involvement in earth science research has included working as a Core Analysis Technical Assistant in the UCD School of Geography for one year. Subsequently, I completed an MSc in GIS and Remote Sensing at Maynooth University, gaining a first class honours result. I have returned to the School of Geography in UCD, where I am now a PhD candidate, researching sedimentary archives in fluvial and lacustrine environments.

PhD Thesis:

The aim of this project is to reconstruct Holocene flooding beyond the hydrometric record and develop tools for supporting flood risk management under the EU Floods Directive (2007/60/EC). Since 2007, all EU member states have been obligated to assess flood risk in coastal areas and inland waterways through the creation of flood risk maps. Currently, extreme flood magnitudes are derived using extrapolation of hydrometric datasets that are rarely more than 60 years in length and often much shorter. With flood magnitudes now required for floods up to and including the ‘1000 year event’, this inevitably leads to imprecision and error. This project will explore the potential for augmenting these techniques using evidence of past flooding obtained from the sediment records of river floodplains and lakes, employing palaeohydrological methods.

The study will target flood sediment ‘archives’ from selected river catchments, integrating flood records from lakes, floodplains, and abandoned channels. The methods under-pinning this study have been successfully demonstrated in the UK and Europe, but have not been applied in Ireland beyond preliminary testing under the Marie Curie INFER (Innovations in Fluvial Environmental Research) project at UCD.

Supervisors: Dr Jonathan Turner and Dr. Colman Gallagher

In 2005 I received my MA in Oriental Languages and Civilization (Arabic) from university ‘L’Orientale’ in Naples, Italy. In 2007 I obtained my post-graduate Diploma in Editorial and Literary Translation from Arabic into Italian at the ‘Scuola Superiore Mediatori Linguistici’ in Vicenza, Italy. As part of my academic training, I travelled extensively to Syria and Lebanon where I also volunteered with a number of international organizations that promote social justice for refugees and other vulnerable people. In 2014 I was a Research Affiliate at the American University of Beirut and the Notre Dame University-Louaize in Lebanon. 

PhD Thesis:

Since its outset in 2011, the Syrian conflict has contributed to the inflation of the number of refugees worldwide, making it a phenomenon of unprecedented proportions. As the refugee crisis deepens, ‘the commodification of suffering’ continues, propped up by the media and the relief industry through manifold representations of pity-seeking women holding their emaciated children. Considering the efforts of refugee women to survive and resist despite the horrors of the war and the constraints of exile, these depictions appear misleading and not fully reflective of reality. Drawing from my interests in migration, gender and the Middle East, and inspired by the necessity to expand knowledge in this areas, my research explores survival and coping strategies put in place by Syrian refugee women to face the challenges of exile in Lebanon and to deal with trauma, memories and feelings of loss. By focusing only on women, the study intends to pursue the analysis of conflicts through a gender lens in order to give voice to women, as they are often silenced by male narratives. In so doing, this work illustrates women’s understanding of the power structures affecting their lives and the ways they identify to navigate or circumvent them.

Supervisors:  Dr. Christine Bonnin and Dr. Julien Mercille

I began third level study with a multimedia degree, but made a change to geography via an MSc at the University of Edinburgh. I subsequently worked in a number of agriculture related roles (from policy advocacy to growing vegetables) before making the decision to pursue a PhD in geography.

PhD thesis:

I am chiefly interested in the geographies of resource governance. My PhD looks at agricultural governance under the Common Agricultural Policy, and the spaces that emerge in the process of policy implementation.  In particular, the research focuses on how agri-environmentpolicy interacts with collective management amongst farmers on collectively owned land, or commonage, in the Republic of Ireland. The emphasis of the project is on how farmers experience policy measures, how they (mis)align with practices and values, and the process of on-farm decision making. This project aims to add to understandings of the processes through which particular practices and outcomes of agricultural governance emerge.

Supervisor: Dr Christine Bonnin

I graduated (Summa cum Laude) in International Cooperation, and Development at University of Bologna, Faculty of Statistical Science in 2012. My dissertation dealt with the role of regional policies for innovation and growth in EU. Part of my research was conducted at LSE (research grant by UniBo). During this period I acquired a strong experience in using tools to deal with economics and policy analysis issues, both quantitative and qualitative tools. I improved my skills with statistical and econometric software. In July 2011, I was selected to attend The Coimbra Group Development Master Intensive Programme, a summer school on the topic of Industrial Delocalization and Local Development in EU, organized by and located at Università degli Studi di Padova, Universitatea de Vest Vasile Goldis in Arad, Universitatea de Vest din Timsoara.

PhD thesis:

The creation of novel technical knowledge is a cumulative and path-dependent process. Theory argues that place-specific characteristics shape the innovative and competitive potential of regions.  The research objective is to assess which type of networks support innovation activities in Europe, and what kind of relationship exists among the several dimensions of regional proximity and the effectiveness of linkages in favouring innovation. Patent data are employed as a proxy for regional knowledge production. The scope of the analysis is NUTS2 level regions of the 15-EU member countries, plus Norway and Switzerland, and the timeframe is 1981-2010. The patent database will support the construction of regional technology-specific indicators concerning the composition (relatedness) of sectors, and these will be complemented by regional socio-economic data in order to control for structural differences, aiming to unravelling local characteristics affecting the rise and the maintenance of knowledge linkages. The concept of proximity (closeness) is helpful in the identification of such characteristics. These place-specific indicators will be included in the KPF along with the derived regional network measures of knowledge linkages, which also consider non-local interactions. The effectiveness of the knowledge diffusion among regions is investigated, assessing whether its extent varies in time and space or according to the technological sector.

Supervisor: Dr Dieter Kogler

I started my PhD in September 2012 having completed an MA in Geography (Geopolitics) in UCD the previous semester. Prior to this I received a Postgraduate Diploma in Education from Maynooth and a BA in History and Geography from UCD. I have worked as a teaching assistant on various undergraduate and postgraduate modules over the past three years. I have a keen interest in understanding how political and economic power operates at the global and national level, particularly in the context of the recent economic crisis. 

PhD thesis:

My research is concerned with understanding the role interest groups have played in shaping fiscal policy during the economic crisis. The research empirically demonstrates the variety of mechanisms through which interest groups seek to influence fiscal policy. Premised upon a basic distinction between instrumental and structural dimensions of political power, the thesis undertakes a process tracing analysis of the fiscal policies pursued in Ireland since the beginning of the crisis using a range of case studies. It focuses on the pursuit of policy preferences within a framework of improving competitiveness, reducing current expenditure and shaping the taxation system. Besides making several empirical contributions to the literature on interest groups political power, the thesis also develops theoretical ideas relating to the precise mechanisms of cohesion and the dynamics that exist between interest groups at the national and transnational level.

Supervisor: Dr Julien Mercille

My third level education started in NUI Maynooth, where I studied a BA in Geography and History, followed by an MA in Geography at UCD. My master’s thesis focused on the contested relocation of a central marketplace in a highland town in northern Vietnam, and the livelihood impacts of this project on ethnic minority (Hmong and Dao) and ethnic majority (Kinh) market traders.

PhD Thesis:

I am currently a PhD student in Geography, and hold a UCD College of Social Sciences and Law Research Scholarship (2016-2020). Building upon my interests in livelihoods and Southeast Asia which developed during my MA, my doctoral research investigates informal livelihoods in a more urban context. Drawing on the entrepreneurial and revanchist city literature by Harvey (1989) and Smith (1996), I am examining how street and sidewalk ‘improvement projects’ financed by private capital in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, are affecting fixed and mobile street traders. Through this lens, I will assess the potential role that private finance plays in the Vietnamese authorities’ urban order and civility policies which directly affect street traders, as well as how street traders may contest these policies using everyday resistance (Scott, 1985) and everyday politics (Kerkvliet, 2005).

Supervisor: Dr Christine Bonnin

I graduated (Summa cum Laude) in International Relations and European Studies at University of Florence (Italy), Faculty of Political Science in 2013. My dissertation thesis dealt with the control of Euphrates and Tigris watercourses by Turkey. Then, I was awarded by national award “Premio Sema” for young researchers in geopolitics and military history. As award, the Gorizia-based LEG Publishing published my thesis “The new Turkish geopolitics and the case of the Euphrates-Tigris basin control”. After my graduation I worked for some Italian and British think tanks, focusing my research on Turkish foreign policy. Also, I attended a summer school in Global Energy Politics at King’s College, London, UK, and some other post-grad courses and workshops on global politics and geopolitics. In 2016 I was awarded with a scholarship for a study trip in Turkey, funded by Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs. 

Ph.D. Thesis:

The aim of this research project is to understand the processes that integrate natural resources into states’ geopolitical imagination and foreign policy, within a neoliberal context. The case study is an evaluation of how accumulation, privatisation and commodification of freshwater resources in Turkey shape and influence Turkish foreign strategies in order to achieve geopolitical goals. The principal argument is that the neoliberal state has to adapt its foreign strategies to market rules in order to use “national” resources in foreign markets. The novelty of this research lies in linking the emerging approach of resource geography with the formation of a state’s geopolitical imagination and its consequent foreign policymaking. It does so by examining how the processes of freshwater resources management in Turkey shape its foreign policy and regional leadership objectives. Following the path of state-resource nexus, this research will demonstrate how Turkey makes use of, and is influenced by, neoliberal politico-economic processes to reach geopolitical goals. It will be argued that the entire process of accumulation and commodification of water is fused with the political ambition of establishing the state’s regional leadership. The geography of natural resources is therefore developed by a political logic, which relies on market techniques. Through multiscalar analysis, this research will show that the process of resource territorialisation through accumulation ends up to resource regionalisation through commodification. This process unfolds within state’s defined geopolitical interests. Particularly interesting is the influence of resource marketisation upon political thinking and the resulting use of market tools in foreign policymaking. It will emerge a constant and reciprocal adaptation between political goals (the states) and economic interests (the market) built upon water resources.

Supervisors: Julien Mercille, Alun Jones

My name is Adam Whittle and I am a PhD researcher. In 2012, I was awarded a B.A. in Geography and English and, in 2013, I was awarded an M.A. in Geopolitics and the Global Economy from UCD. Before starting my Ph.D. I held an internship (9 months) as a policy analyst for Forfàs, now the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation. I currently hold two research scholarships. The first is a PhD Teaching Assistantship Scholarship funded by the School of Geography, UCD (Sep 2014 – Sep 2018). The second is the Government of Ireland Research Scholarship, in Science Policy and Innovation funded by Irish Research Council (Sep 2015 - Sep 2018).

PhD thesis:

My research interests are primarily as an evolutionary economic geography. Accordingly, I’ve developed a niche understanding of topics regarding; knowledge production/circulation, knowledge transfer mechanisms, network dynamics and the technological evolution of regional economies. My Ph.D. started in September 2014 and since then I’ve divided my time between the conceptualizing the geographies of knowledge production/diffusion as well as developing a quantitative and statistical skillset to carry out my research. The primary aim is to create an Irish Knowledge Space based off patent co-classification and technological relatedness measures. My analysis is carried out on a NUTS3 level by means of a recently realized European Patent Office (EPO) database (1980-2010) through PATSTAT. Grounded in an evolutionary framework my research approaches the knowledge space from two complementary viewpoints. Firstly, it focuses on the actual types of knowledge produced within space as well as the systems that lead to its production. Secondly, it examines the mechanisms and processes that enable this knowledge to be diffused and circulated between firms.

Supervisor: Dr Dieter Kogler