Siobhán McDonald captures landscapes at tipping points - The Boglands Are Breathing exhibition

'Siobhan McDonald communicate complex science in a visual way — reaching out to people with their heartstrings’

Siobhán’s latest exhibition – ‘The Boglands Are Breathing’ blends scientific and creative processes to make sculptures, videos, works on paper, paintings and sound pieces. The exhibition gathered numerous collaborators, bringing together scientists, conservators, musicians, philosophers, perfumers and celestial phenomena, all of whom collectively take part in the evolution of the work. Our shared boglands are positioned as the protagonists of an unseen drama, and this work makes visible the collective memory that is held in the rich repository that exists within the thin layer between the soil and the rocks.  An installation entitled ‘A library of lost smells,’ consisting of plant species, gathered from numerous bog sites across Ireland acts as a slow distillation of deep time created from plants and mineral-rich bog waters, that explores links between smell & memory. The installation holds an assortment of hand-blown glass bottles containing scents from eight of the most important notes. Some of the vessels contain scent-infused remnants that were buried deep in a bog for over 20 years alluding to the low oxygen levels and unusual smells derived from the preservation conditions.

Find out more about Siobhán’s exhibition, which took place at Model Arts Centre in Sligo, from the Irish Times article.

Click below to see the short documentary on the exhibition.

Second year of the monitoring program at Trinity College Botanic Garden

Trinity College Botanic Garden successfully run the second year of its long-term monitoring program

Trinity College Botanic Garden successfully run the second year of its long-term monitoring program. From the 26th to the 30th of June visiting researcher Midori Yajima, Dr Christos Chondrogiannis and research assistant Orla Banting daily measured trees’ physiological parameters in the garden, to add to the growing dataset to be used to assess tree responses to climate change in the long run. Lab analyses of trees’ ability to intercept particulate pollution are also underway, thanks to the collaboration with the iCRAG lab, and herbarium specimens are in the making for the year 2023, to be hosted in Trinity College Herbarium for future research questions. After the first year of testing the monitoring is growing into being a well-established project, attracting the interest from realities within and outside College.

Following the ethics of open science, all the resources for the monitoring have been published online in an accessible way, including protocols on the platform, accessible through management in the database DMP online, and datasets in the Dryad database, accessible through, and will be regularly updated.

Antonietta Knetge Attends Specialised Training at University Claude Bernard

Antonietta Knetge Attends Specialised Training at University Claude Bernard

A member of our lab, PhD researcher Antonietta Knetge, has recently returned from two weeks of training with Prof. Bernard Gomez at the University Claude Bernard 1 in Lyon, France. 

From the training, she learned cuticle preparation techniques on Cretaceous fossil material. The training covered: the extraction of plant material from water-soluble sediment, sorting of dried plant material by taxa, chemical preparation, and dissection of foliar cuticle for light microscopy and SEM analysis. 

All materials prepared were from Cretaceous localities in France with a principal focus on gymnosperms and particularly the conifer Frenelopsis, to determine its habit and ecology.

The 33rd Environmental Sciences Association of Ireland

The 33rd Environmental Sciences Association of Ireland

The 33rd Environmental Sciences Association of Ireland, Environ Researchers Colloquium took place from 3 – 5 April 2023. The focus of the conference was ‘Evidence and Plans Towards a Transitions to a Sustainable Future’. Over 200 researchers attended, with a diverse suite of talks and workshops featured over the few days. The conference was kicked off with workshops in sustainability careers, career development and a trip to Glenveagh National Park. The jam packed schedule of presentations was kicked off by plenary speaker Prof Rick Relyea who spoke on ‘Understanding, predicting, and mitigating human impacts for a sustainable future’. There were a large number of focused groups of presentations on topics such sensor technologies, outreach and public engagement, education, policy, marine, climate in balance, wetlands and energy solutions to name a few.
Katie O’Dea of the Plant Climate Lab presented a poster on how the TERRAFORM weathering experiments will contribute to climate sciences, particularly the application of silicate weathering as a negative emissions technology (NET).

Environmental Monitoring Program at Trinity College Botanic Garden

Environmental Monitoring Program at Trinity College Botanic Garden

It’s been a year since Trinity College Botanic Garden laid the foundation of its first long-term (>30 years) environmental monitoring program, as part of its ten-year renovation strategy. The monitoring centres around the assessment of i) key physiological performances and ii) particulate pollution interception in some of the trees held at the garden – selected for their botanical, ecological, and cultural value – to address gaps in climate change and urban green research. The program ranges from using yearly research-level to student-gathered data, and a big part of the past year of work consisted in ensuring best practices in terms of FAIR principles and making online-available data management plans, protocols, and data. Future research developments were also taken into account with the production of vouchered herbarium specimens from the trees, to be used as a historical archive and a pedagogical tool. As the garden is getting closer to its second year of monitoring, a dedicated website section and links to tree trails on the ground are also under development, to couple the monitoring itself with community engagement on plant science and climate change.

The 66th Irish Geological Research Meeting - Belfast 2023

The 66th Irish Geological Research Meeting

The 66th Irish Geological Research Meeting (IGRM) took place from 3 – 5 March 2023. The event was hosted at the Ulster Museum at the Botanic Gardens in Belfast. Over 150 individuals attended the conference. Keynote talks were featured by Professor Andy Gale who discussed the reconstruction of a Cretaceous greenhouse world and Professor Adrian Jones who discussed his work on diamonds and the carbon cycle.   

Terraform’s master’s student, Ms. Bea Jackson gave a presentation on her work on estimating Devonian paleo-atmospheric COconcentrations using fossil plant traits. Team members, Dr William J. Matthaeus, Dr Christos Chondrogiannis, Ms Antonietta Knetge and Ms Catarina Barbosa also attended to present a joint team poster on how the Terraform project will employ modern trait ecology to expand the horizons of paleo-botany and further uncover the science behind biogeochemical cycles in deep time.  

The programme for the 66th Irish Geological Research Meeting is available here.  

The 12th annual TCD Botany-Zoology Post-Graduate Symposium

The 12th annual TCD Botany-Zoology Post-Graduate Symposium

The 12th annual TCD Botany-Zoology Post-Graduate Symposium took place from 2-3 March 2023. The two-day symposium gives post-graduate students within the departments of Botany and Zoology the opportunity to showcase their work. It’s an excellent opportunity for staff and students from the TCD School of Natural Sciences to engage with the varied array of research that takes place within the two departments.  

 22 post-graduates from across the two departments presented their research projects. The topics spanned from natural capital accounting to visual processing in animals, heatwave effects on parasites to the understanding of the role of urban wild spaces in maintaining mental health. Ms. Bea Jackson of the Plant-Climate lab was an organizer of the event. Bea also presented her work on estimating Devonian paleo-atmospheric COconcentrations using fossil plant traits. Ms. Antonietta Knetge gave a talk on the use of traits to uncover abiotic stress in Mesozoic flora. Congratulations to Mr. Ian Clancy of the Botany Department for winning the overall best talk for his presentation on understanding the carbon sequestering potential of Irish grasslands.  

We were delighted to host two excellent keynote speakers for the event. Dr Sandy Hetherington, a paleo-botanist, travelled from the University of Edinburgh to give an engaging talk on the origins of plant complexity. Dr Aidan O’Hanlon, an entomologist at Dublin’s Natural History Museum, gave an excellent presentation on the museum itself as well as its collections and how they can be utilized in biodiversity research. 

The book of abstracts for the 12th TCD Botany-Zoology Post-Graduate Symposium can be found here.

The Future of Ireland's Peatlands: Science, Engineering & Just Transition

iCRAG’s Future of Ireland's Peatlands: Science, Engineering & Just Transition

iCRAG’s Future of Ireland’s Peatlands: Science, Engineering & a Just Transition workshop took place on Tuesday 21st February at Abbeyleix Manor Hotel. The event was attended by over 145 and included stakeholders from research, community groups, industry, and state and semi-state agencies.

The all-day workshop explored a broad range of research related to Ireland’s peatlands from restoration and monitoring to the just transition and engineering considerations on post-peat land use. Attendees were also guided on a walk through Abbeyleix Bog by Chris Uys and other volunteers from the Abbeyleix Bog Project where they saw the very successful restoration works that have been undertaken by the local community. Dr. Sate Ahmad from PCI also attended the event.

IRC New Foundations Award to study Irish Peatlands

Dr. Sate Ahmad receives IRC New Foundations Award to study Irish peatlands


Dr Sate Ahmad has been awarded funding from the Irish Research Council’s ‘New Foundations’ program for a year-long project. The New Foundations program supports civil society organizations and government departments in developing evidence-based policies and strategies. This week, the Irish Research Council announced 67 New Foundations projects addressing various societal challenges and government policy issues. Dr Ahmad’s project, called “Dive2Store: Vegetation diversity, water balance, and carbon storage in Irish fen peatlands: Revealing spatial patterns and processes for climate mitigation,” aims to investigate crucial ecosystem processes in a degraded and drained fen and compare them to those of a near-natural fen. This information will be used to develop sustainable restoration and management strategies for fen peatlands in Irish catchments.

iCRAG 2022

iCRAG 2022

Professor Jennifer McElwain and Dr Sate Ahmad presented at the iCRAG Conference 2022 on the 1st of December 2022 at Croke Park, Dublin. Professor McElwain gave an overview of research under the Earth System Change pillar of the Irish Centre for Research in Applied Geosciences (iCRAG) in the context of Ireland’s declaration of a climate and biodiversity crisis. Dr Ahmad talked about how elevated CO2 in the future may change ecohydrological response through changes in plant physiology. In total, 200 participants attended the event, several of whom were from the Botany Department.