Dr Deirdre McClean

EPA funded post-doctoral research fellow working on a 5-year climate assessment for Ireland.

I am an EPA funded post-doctoral research fellow working on a 5-year climate assessment for Ireland. In particular, I am working on Volume 1 of this assessment, “Science; Ireland in a changing world”, working to synthesise and communicate the ongoing research into climate change in Ireland, projected impacts and mitigation strategies across multiple sectors. This work complements the Sixth Assessment cycle of the global IPCC report, translating the global findings into a national context.

I am a community ecologist and epidemiologist using a range of experimental systems and large datasets to understand the dynamics of communities under stress. I am especially interested in applying ecological principles to understand the evolution, spread and maintenance of antibiotic resistance in pathogenic bacteria across humans and animals. Climate change and antimicrobial resistance are two of the most significant chronic challenges to our societies globally. The intersection of these fields is where much of my research interests lie.

I obtained a BA(Mod) in Zoology from TCD, where I studied speciation in island bird populations in Indonesia. Following this, I pursued a PhD in TCD Zoology with Dr Ian Donohue working on the ecological stability of communities and ecosystems underdoing disturbance. During this time, I combined fieldwork on freshwater macroinvertebrates and laboratory experiments on model microbial communities. I worked briefly as a lecturer at Dublin Business School, teaching statistics through R in for ‘Business and Big Data’ before moving to Edinburgh as a Wellcome Trust post-doctoral fellow. I worked with numerous researchers and groups, including; Dr Luke McNally, Prof. Nick Colegrave, Prof. Mark Woolhouse and Dr Helen Alexander. Here I shifted my focus to the impact of ecological interactions on the evolution of antibiotic resistance in pathogenic bacteria. In tandem with experimental work, I examined the potential efficacy of global antimicrobial stewardship strategies. I also worked on a large collaborative project with the Institute for Livestock Research in Kenya, looking at the risk of urban livestock keeping for transmitting bacteria and their antibiotic resistance genes.

I am passionate about teaching (particularly in the field) and science communication and outreach. When not science-ing, I am usually happily wandering around a wood looking at bugs, plotting trips to see exotic animals, or drinking wine and cuddling my cat!

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