Partner and INFER Team

From left: Dr. Sita Karki (ICHEC), Kevin French (DkIT), Dr. Jenny Hannafin (ICHEC), Dr. Eleanor Jennings (DkIT) and Dr. Moataz Ahmed (ICHEC) touring the DKIT facilities.

Centre for Freshwater and Environmental Studies, Dundalk Institute of Technology (DkIT)

The Centre for Freshwater and Environmental Studies (CFES) is a vibrant, multidisciplinary research facility which was established in 2005 and is structured to facilitate research and educational activities providing strong basic science training and experience. It aims to carry out cross-disciplinary research investigating environmental issues and evaluating effective solutions which have a regional, national, and international focus. The CFES is currently involved in a range of both large-scale and smaller scale projects, which in addition to contributing to internationally relevant environmental research, provides relevant scientific information for government agencies, policymakers, communities and other interested parties.

The CFES is housed in the Department of Applied Sciences, DkIT. Expertise in the Centre includes lake and river monitoring, palaeolimnology, soil science and agriculture, organic resources management, wetland ecology, safe and sustainable drinking water provision, microbial ecology, molecular biology, and environmental modelling. Research within the centre is organised under three themes: Lake and Catchment Management, Organic Resources Research, and Water and Development.

The Lake and Catchment Management theme is the longest established a in the CFES. The focus of this research theme is on the protection and restoration of surface water, groundwater and aquatic ecosystems impacted by man-made and natural processes, integrated catchment management and source protection. The use of state-of-the-art sensor and modelling tools to monitor current environmental conditions and to predict future change is an integral feature of this research theme.


Dr. Conor Delaney (NUIG)

Dr. Conor Delaney has over 17 years of experience in environmental sector as a researcher, analyst, software engineer and data scientist. He has long experience in the use of summary statistics, regression analysis and geostatistical analysis. Former Senior Research Fellow at the Joint Research Centre of the EU Commission, he is an experienced business analyst and software developer in the maritime and marine sector.  He has worked in designing and developing decision support/geographical data based systems in response to environmental legislation. He has extensive  knowledge in the field of  marine data, atmospheric sciences, earth observation and environmental legislation. Dr. Delaney is an expert on National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)  data sharing technologies, and is an advocate of ERDDAP, NOAA’s data brokering technology for sharing atmospheric and marine spatial data. He is the founder and administrator of the ERDDAP users’ group. He conducted research on trends in the arctic atmosphere based on remote sensing and developed a system to manage and analyse over 39,000 satellite images. He successfully deployed a cloud based data server infrastructure that allowed the European Commission easy access to some of the 20 terabytes of data that the NOAA gathers every day. Dr. Delaney is also a developer of an aquaculture management system for the Irish Government which was featured as a case study by the UN FAO for best practise in the use of geographical information system for sustainable management of aquaculture resources.

Dr. Aaron Golden (NUIG)

Dr. Aaron Golden has over 24 years working experience as a computational scientist, working in domains ranging from the genomics of human disease to the image processing of large scale (i.e. terabytes) radio astronomy datasets in the study of exploding stars. He has over 100 peer-reviewed publications (including articles in both Science and Nature) encompassing the domains of computer science, astronomy, genetics and the mathematical sciences, and currently has a H-index of 28. In addition to acting as project coordinator for INFER, Dr. Golden is involved in two other active EPA Earth Observation awards, “GRAIL: GRACE Monitoring of Groundwater over Ireland” (2018-W-DS-33) and “KelpRes: the diversity and resilience of kelp ecosystems in Ireland” (2018-W-MS-35). Dr. Golden is a full time faculty member of NUI Galway’s School of Mathematics, Statistics & Applied Mathematics.

Dr. Jenny Hanafin (ICHEC)

Dr. Jenny Hanafin pursued a PhD in Meteorology and Physical Oceanography at the Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science in University of Miami after receiving B. Sc. in Marine Science at the National University of Ireland, Galway, She  has extensive experience in many aspects of remote sensing, from operating satellite sensors for EUMETSAT while working as a postdoc at Imperial College London, to developing a system to retrieve atmospheric humidity from the Geological Survey of Ireland network of GPS receivers for use in the Met Éireann forecast model. Most recently, she worked as Earth Observation and Modelling Manager at a leading oceanographic company in Ireland where she was responsible for  producing model and earth observation data products and services for public and commercial users. Since 1996, she has been involved in numerous international oceanographic and atmospheric field campaigns and research projects in the US and in Europe, and has been awarded research grants as an independent researcher. Dr. Hanafin is also an expert evaluator for the European Commission H2020 Framework Programme.

Dr Sita Karki (ICHEC)

Dr. Sita Karki holds a PhD (Hydrogeology) from Western Michigan University and M. Sc (Environmental Science and Geographic Information Science) from Idaho State University. She is a member of the EO team within ICHEC and works on geographic information science (GIS), GIS programming and radar remote sensing. Currently, she works on projects related to earth observation, aquatic remote sensing, radar application, hydrogeology and environmental sciences.

She is interested in studying natural hazards using remote sensing techniques and use that understanding to predict its occurrences. She uses her computational skills to conduct earth observation research at ICHEC. In the past, she developed a technique to detect landslides and debris flows using Sentinel-1 radar data in mountainous regions of Saudi Arabia. She also developed early warning systems for coastal harmful algal blooms using Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) data in Florida.

Dr. Moataz Ahmed (ICHEC)

Dr. Moataz Ahmed works as a computational scientist in ICHEC. He received his PhD from the University of Nottingham specialising in satellite image super resolution using deep learning and data augmentation techniques. He worked as technical lead at several multinational companies such as Syngenta and Geo-Solutions for more than 10 years.

Dr. Ahmed’s research interests include deep learning, data augmentation, GIS and remote sensing applications, data fusion and cloud computing. In 2013, he was a member of Egyptian team who worked on “Africa-Build” FP7 project alongside teams from Spain, Belgium and Mali. Moreover, he served as associate editor of GIScience and Remote Sensing Journal.

Alastair McKinstry (ICHEC)

Alastair McKinstry is Environmental Activities lead at ICHEC with expertise in Environmental Physics. He is responsible for the SPÉIR platform for the EO archive for Ireland and the ESA EVDC archive for Copernicus data validation and processing. He has also been responsible for coupled climate model development, the EC-Earth climate model performance scaling work at ICHEC in the H2020 projects ESCAPE, and ESiWACE.

Dr. Eleanor Jennings (DkIT)

Dr. Eleanor Jennings has research interests in the area of nutrient and carbon cycling, and modelling of catchment and in-lake processes, including climate change impacts and has secured projects valued at €4.3 million in the last four years. To date she has collaborated on over 25 national and EU funded projects. Dr. Jennings is currently Director of the Centre for Freshwater and Environmental Studies, at DkIT. She was Chair of the NETLAKE COST Action (2012-2016) which now continues as a European community for those interested in high frequency monitoring in aquatic systems. She is an active member and was a steering committee member of GLEON (Global Lake Ecological Observatory Network, from 2010-2015, and co-moderator of the GLEON signal processing working group. Dr. Jennings is coordinator of the MANTEL ( MSCA European Joint Doctorate ITN which is training 12 PhDs to investigate the effects of climatic extremes on lakes and reservoirs (2017-2020), and co-lead to the BEYOND 2020 research cluster (contributing to the Burrishoole Ecological Observatory in collaboration with the Marine Institute (2017-2020). Other current work includes research into dissolved organic carbon processing in humic lakes (a Marine Institute Cullen Fellowship), cattle exclusion from watercourses (EPA funded COSAINT project), and application of near-real time modelling to manage lakes and reservoirs as part of the Water JPI PROGNOS project and the Climate JPI funded WateXr project.

Dr. Valerie McCarthy (DkIT)

Dr Valerie McCarthy has over ten year experience in catchment monitoring and research investigating hydrological and ecological process in aquatic ecosystems. Her research interests are primarily concerned with theoretical community and ecosystem ecology in freshwater systems and investigating the linkages between aquatic systems and their catchments. Her current work focuses on how lake and wetland systems respond to perturbations arising both directly and indirectly from human induced impacts such as nutrient loading and climate change. She is a partner on the BEYOND 2020 research cluster (contributing to the Burrishoole Ecological Observatory in collaboration with the Marine Institute (2017-2020) and is is currently collaborating with QUB on a project investigating ecohydrological and biogeochemical processes in groundwater dependant terrestrial wetlands. Previously she was lead researcher on the Wetland Project, which formed part of the Interreg IVA Tellus Border Project, 2011 – 2013 and managed a DoELG funded project assessing the impact of OSWTS on surface water quality. Other projects include investigating the use of Integrated Constructed Wetlands to treat domestic wastewater which was carried out in collaboration with Monaghan County Council and the University of Salford.

Kevin French (DkIT)

Kevin French joins DkIT from Galway Mayo Institute of Technology (GMIT) where he was a PhD candidate at the Marine and Freshwater Research Centre completing a project on the effects of noise on the behaviour and acoustic calls of Sigara dorsali which was funded by the Irish Research Council. In 2014, he graduated with a B.Sc in Applied Freshwater and Marine Biology. Over the course of his undergraduate and postgraduate studies, he has built up a host of skills in field data collection as well as laboratory analysis.

This project is funded under the EPA Research Programme 2014-2020. The EPA Research Programme is a Government of Ireland initiative funded by the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment.

It is administered by the Environmental Protection Agency, which has the statutory function of coordinating and promoting environmental research.

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