iCRAG is pleased to welcome five new Funded Investigators who have joined the Centre recently.
Dr Claire Harnett is Ad Astra Fellow and Assistant Professor at UCD's School of Earth Sciences
Claire joined the School of Earth Sciences in 2019 as an Assistant Professor. She previously earned her BSc in Geological Hazards from the University of Portsmouth, followed by her PhD in Volcanology from the University of Leeds. Claire's research now focusses primarily on numerical modelling of volcanic hazards, particularly instability of lava domes and flanks, as well as caldera subsidence. Claire's background is in rock mechanics, and so she is keenly interested in the intersection of volcanology with geotechnical engineering.
Prof. Paddy Orr is Associate Professor in UCD School of Earth Sciences
Paddy joined UCD School of Earth Sciences in 2003 and currently holds a position as Associate Professor. Previously, he was a lecturer in NUI Galway and before that held postdoctoral positions at the Universities of Bristol and Oxford, NUI, Galway, and a temporary lectureship at the University of Bristol. His principal research areas have been the taphonomy of exceptionally preserved fossils (those in which the tissues that usually decay quickly after death are preserved); the skeletal taphonomy of biomineralised tissues, in particular the remains of fossil vertebrates; and, how study of trace fossils and ichnofabrics (the structures produced by organisms as they burrow into sediment) helps us understand the ecology of palaeoecosystems. A growing area of interest is the application of conservation palaeobiology to improve understanding of the impact of recent environmental change of anthropogenic origin on shallow marine ecosystems in the northern Atlantic.
Dr. Silvia Caldararu is Assistant Professor, Department of Botany, TCD
Silvia joined the Botany department in Trinity College Dublin in the summer of 2022 as an assistant professor. She studies how plants are affected by climate change and how this in turn impacts the world's carbon cycle and feeds back to the climate. She uses land surface models to understand current plant and ecosystem observations and make predictions about the future. Silvia completed her PhD at the University of Edinburgh in 2013, where she built a global model of leaf phenology. After that, she spent 2 years at Microsoft Research Cambridge in the Computational Ecology lab, looking at general models of crop growth. From 2015 to 2022 she was a researcher at the Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry, where she contributed to the QUINCY model and started looking at ecosystem nutrient limitation and effects of elevated CO2 on plant physiology.
Dr Aaron Potito is based at the School of Geography, Archaeology & Irish Studies in the University of Galway
Aaron joined the School of Geography, Archaeology and Irish Studies at the University of Galway in 2006 and served as Head of School from 2013-2022. He previously held a research position at Ohio State University after completing his PhD at UCLA and his masters/BA at University of Colorado. His research focuses on the use of biological indicators in sedimentary records to reconstruct past environments. Current research interests include temperature reconstruction of late Pleistocene and Holocene climates, assessment of historic and pre-historic human impacts on natural systems, and impacts of recent climate change on lake ecosystems. Much of his research focuses on using chironomid (non-biting midge fly) subfossils in lake sediments as a palaeoenvironmental indicator. His work has been based in the United States, Ireland and China.
Dr Carla Harper is Assistant Professor of Environmental Science, Department of Botany, TCD
Carla joined the Trinity College Dublin Botany Department as an Assistant Professor of Environmental Science in 2020. She is a paleobotanist with a specialization in paleomycology, the study of fossil fungi. After she completed her Ph.D. at the University of Kansas on studying the diversity of Permian and Triassic fungi from Antarctica and she received an Alexander von Humboldt Postdoctoral Research Fellowship to work in Munich, Germany at the Bavarian State Collection for Paleontology and Geology (BSPG) to study fungi from late Paleozoic ecosystems, including the world famous Rhynie chert from Scotland. Carla then had three postdoctoral positions with the US National Science Foundation (NSF) ZyGoLife, NSF Office of Polar Research Antarctica, and the German Research Foundation (DFG) at the BSPG, all focused on studying fossil fungi. Her studies have permitted her to conduct fieldwork all over the world, including Antarctica. Her current research concentrates on the biology and ecology of microorganisms and biotas in Permian (~270 Ma), Triassic (~240 Ma), and Jurassic (~180 Ma) ecosystems of Antarctica and late Paleozoic of Europe (~400 Ma and 330 Ma); symbiotic systems through time, as well as the biology, geochemistry, and evolution of fossil microbes.