Research in the College
Research has been a major activity of the six schools in the College for over thirty years. Over the last few years the six schools have responded emphatically to the national strategic goal of increasing the number of highly trained PhD graduates needed to underpin Ireland’s knowledge fuelled economic growth. They continue to carry out a large fraction of the postgraduate research work of the Institute as a whole. The schools have had a sustained growth of postgraduate research activity over the last seven years with research student numbers growing from 35 in 2000 to 156 in 2010. Likewise the number of postdoctoral researchers has grown over the last ten years. This growth was facilitated by the construction of the stand alone 2,400 m2 Focas Research Institute which resulted from a €10.6 million grant from the prestigious Programme for Research in Third Level Institutions (PRTLI) of the HEA in 1999.
Focas Research Institute
The Focas Research Institute mainly involves researchers within the College of Sciences & Health and the College of Engineering & Built Environment and aims to:
- consolidate and develop existing expertise;
- nurture developing research activities within DIT;
- support a range of undergraduate and postgraduate research;
- promote interdisciplinary collaboration within DIT and with national and international bodies;
- provide a support service for national industry.
The Focas Research Institute has as its core a number of shared laboratories which supply a broad range of spectroscopic techniques, both steady state and transient, and conventional and scanning microscopies. Additional, more specialised, facilities are provided through the associated research groups namely:
- Materials Synthesis & Applications
- Biomedical & Environmental Sensing
- Medical Ultrasound
- Holographic Photopolymers
- Communications Network Research Institute
- Radiation & Environmental Science Centre
- Centre for Research in Engineering Surface Technology
- Dublin Energy Lab
- Physics Education Research
The Environmental Health Sciences Institute (EHSI)
As well as the Focas Research Institute the College was successful in July 2010 in leading a bid under PRTLI Cycle 5, which included the Health Service Executive (HSE) and Dublin City Council (DCC) as devolved partners, for €12.49 million for the construction of an Environmental Health Sciences Institute (EHSI). The Environmental Health Sciences Institute (EHSI) is a dedicated research institute for inter-disciplinary environmental health sciences research. It integrates scientific and technical expertise with planning, policy and regulatory capability and relevant industry partners to bridge the science-policy-innovation gap. The overarching mission and vision is to achieve "Healthier Lives for Children, the Elderly and Vulnerable Populations". The inter-disciplinary research teams pursue seven specific areas of research focus:
- Lifestyle and Policy
- Water Quality
- Air Quality
- Radiation and Noise
- Food Safety and Quality
One of the aims of EHSI is to establish work-based projects for HSE/DCC staff and currently nine HSE staff are registered at DIT for PhD awards.
The College also supports seven inter-disciplinary research centres which concentrate and consolidate the research capabilities and capacities of the college researchers into research teams. The centres are:
(i) The Centre for Industrial & Engineering Optics (CIEO): researching areas such as holography & holographic recording materials, interferometry, photogrammetry. Holographic gratings and data storage.
(ii) The Radiation & Environmental Science Centre (RESC): researching areas such as radiobiology, environmental toxicology and biospectroscopy.
(iii) The Centre for Research into Engineering & Surface Technology (CREST): researching areas such as surface coatings, corrosion control, surface analysis, fundamental & applied industrial research, failure investigations, specification, type approval and material inspection.
(iv) Inorganic Pharma & Biomimetic Centre researches novel materials for applications as diverse as molecular recognition, biomimetic chemistry and supramolecular chemistry.
(v) Nanolab has expertise in state of the art nano material characterisation and the analysis of the interaction of nanomaterials with biological systems, both mammalian and aquatic (fresh and marine water) systems.
(vi) Food & Health Research Centre, researches six thematic areas including functional foods and nutraceuticals, post-harvest and non-thermal technologies, food product development and culinary innovation, food safety and diagnostic tools, small molecule biotechnology and human health and nutrition
(vii) Applied Intelligence Research Centre which researches the application of computational intelligence technologies to real world problems. The core competencies of the AIRC include machine learning, language technologies, intelligent agents and data analytic.
The College also accommodates to the Marine Research Group and the Physics Education Research Group. The Mathematical Modelling Centre (MMC) brings together expertise in mathematical and statistical modelling to pursue interdisciplinary modelling projects which have the potential to contribute to healthcare and industrial processes amongst other sectors. The Statistic Advisory Unit (SAU) was set up to offer training and advice to all staff and students across the Institute on experimental design and the statistical analysis of data.
The College is also home to the National Optometry Centre (NOC) which is a dedicated building of 720 m2. Although the NOC is not a dedicated research facility, it further enhances the specialist training capabilities of the faculty and will also help to attract significant research funding moving forward
A number of key areas of research expertise have emerged across the six schools
- Biological Sciences: biomedical science, food science, safety and biotechnology, nutrition, dietetics; marine and veterinary science;
- Chemical and Pharmaceutical Sciences: analytical chemistry, environmental chemistry, inorganic supramolecular and materials chemistry, medicinal and pharmaceutical chemistry, education research, forensics;
- Computing: applied intelligence, bioinformatics, software quality assurance, networks, computer security, computing for healthcare, assistive technology, E-Learning;
- Mathematical Sciences: mathematical & industrial modelling, mathematical physics, fluid and solid mechanics, spectral theory, differential equations, quantum field theory, nonlinear dynamics, quantum chemistry, high energy physics, statistics, algebra, cryptography, geometric complex analysis, algebraic and geometric topology, discrete optimisation, operations research;
- Physics: optics, medical physics, environmental science, biophysics, physics of molecular materials, energy research, acoustics, spectroscopy, nanotechnology, nanotoxicology, surface science, physics education research, metrology, optical sensing, vision sciences, clinical measurement science.
- Food Sciences and Environmental Health: environmental health, food technology, pharmaceutical technology, nutraceuticals.
DIT has always been conscious of its role in impacting directly on Irish industry which is reflected in its associations with the sector. Industrial sectors involved in this work include medical instrumentation and diagnostics, pharmaceutical products, environmental products, food processing and product development, analytical method development and process evaluation, and semiconductors.
Other highlights of the development of research at DIT was the further allocation of €7.8M to DIT under PRTLI Cycle 4 in 2007 for inter-institutional collaborations on nanotechnology (Nanoteire) and the National Biophotonice & Imaging Platform (NBIP). Under PRTLI Cycle 5 the college also secured €839K for Graduate programmes in chemistry (in collaboration with TCD and UCD) and €309K as part of the National Graduate Education Programme in Nanoscience and Nanotechnology (in collaboration with UCC, Cork IT, DCU, NUIG and UL) Food Institutional Research Measures FIRM
- Last date modified: 24 January 2013
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