Monday, September 30, 2013

Free course on moss and lichen identification

Clara Bog Visitor Centre
This is a great opportunity for all aspiring plant scientists. An outdoor workshop for beginners to intermediates on Bog Moss and Lichen Identification is being held at Clara Bog SAC in  Co. Offaly on Saturday 5th October.  This will be led by  George Smith who is a  Consultant Ecologist and County Recorder for the British Bryological Society.

The start time is 10.30 am and it is expected to finish by 3.30 pm.  The meeting point is the Clara Bog Visitor Centre, Ballycumber Rd., Clara, Co. Offaly. The Ballycumber Rd. is on the R436. Parking is available at the Clara Bog Visitor Centre.  As this is an outdoor course you should come suitably dressed and be prepared for bad weather and you should bring your own packed lunch and refreshments.  The course is FREE, but as places are limited booking is essential

Booking and enquiries: please contact Therese Kelly on 057 9368878 or email:


Friday, September 20, 2013

Want to be a research scientist? Hear and meet some of the world’s top natural scientists

Cambodia's forests are under constant threat of deforestation
Every year the School of Natural Sciences run the Evolutionary Biology and Ecology seminar series. This is quite a mouthful but is a once in a lifetime opportunity for freshmen and sophister students to hear about cutting edge research in a whole range of disciplines that make up natural sciences, including of course plant science. This year we have speakers from the Universities of Copenhagen, Exeter, Southampton, Michigan State, Neuchatel (France), Greenwich, Oldenberg, Edinburgh and Macaquarie (Australia); the Royal Veterinary College, Swedish University of Agricultural Science, AgroParisTech, and our own University of Maynooth and Queens.

The first lecture is by Professor Ida Theilade who is Senior Researcher at the University of Copenhagen’s Centre for Forest, Landscape and Planning. She is also a member of IUCN Species Survival Committee on threatened trees. Her talk is on Evergreen forest types in Cambodia: floristic composition, ecological characteristics and conservation status. Even if you are unsure about plants, then this will give you an interesting insight into biodiversity and conservation and the images are going to be fantastic. She also works on the REDD process (reduced emissions from deforestation and forest degradation) with focuses on how to design projects to benefit not only the climate but also biodiversity and forest dependent people. Like many other countries conservation of forests is a very politicized issue, so this will be a very interesting insight into the problems that surround it.

Talks take place every Friday afternoon in the Botany Lecture Theatre at 3 pm starting on the 4th October with tea and cake afterwards. I know you might be a bit nervous about just turning up...but YOU are very welcome to come along and we especially would love to meet and talk to any new students. If you need some more information contact


Tuesday, September 17, 2013

College Foxes Leave Botany

Fox leaving his den under the
 Botany Hut early morning
We are delighted that the temporary portacabins opposite the Botany Building are about to be demolished after over 40 years of use by generations of plant scientists to be replaced with a wonderful new open green space. The Botany Huts, as they are known, also housed the Electron Microscopy Unit in the early days and also for a short period the Environmental Sciences Unit, now the Centre for the Environment. More importantly they have been the home for numerous undergraduate and postgraduate students, as well as our extensive growth cabinets. Our students have been moved into fantastic new labs and offices in the Biotechnology Building. The Botany Huts have also been the home for several generations of foxes. Interestingly they seem to know that their home is about to be demolished and have moved to a new location on campus behind the Luce Hall, so hopefully they will enjoy the new green space as much as the rest of us.

The early shift outside the Botany Building

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Why should I do Plant Sciences at Trinity?

The quick answer is that we need the very best people to become plant scientists in order to address the most serious and challenging problems facing mankind and the global ecosystem.
Plants provide us with food, biofuels, fibre for clothing, and medicines.  They provide us with shelter, buffer us from extreme weather, regulate the oxygen balance in the atmosphere and sustain our global diversity. In fact plants sustain all life on Earth.  The challenges thrown up by global warming and a rapidly developing population, set to hit between 10  to 12 billion by 2050, will be solved largely by plants and that means plant scientists.

Currently we are desperately short of plant scientists and for that reason they are among the top science earners coming after doctors and dentists in terms of average starting salary.

The opportunities are enormous allowing you to specialize in biochemistry, physiology, genetics, systematics, conservation and many more areas, in fact plant scientists are to be found working at the forefront of all science areas.  So whether you enjoy lab work or being outdoors, developing new products, growing food or biofuels, whether its research or business, plant sciences can offer you enormous opportunities. New industrial initiatives using plants include anti-cancer drugs, biodegradable plastics, biodiesel from algae, healthier sugars, that’s not to mention advances in cereal and crop production, as well as forestry, all developed by plant scientists.  Plants offer us sustainable alternatives to feeding the global population and dealing with climate change.  Are you up for the challenge?

If interested why not have a look at this list of 100 important questions that urgently need to be addressed by the next generation of plant scientists.  This list was drawn up by scientists from the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, the John Innes Centre, the Natural History Museum, the Royal Horticultural Society, universities, agriculture and industry.  Perhaps with more plant scientists we really can make a difference and really tackle hunger, poverty and climate change. Have a look at some of our past students or make an appointment to talk to one of us.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

New research starts on Embelia

Embelia schimperi
image copyright
Anne Dubéarnès has just started work on her Ph.D. Project on the genus Embelia under the supervision of John Parnell and Trevor Hodkinson. Her project is part financed by the UK branch of the Trinity Trust. Embelia is a large genus, with over 140 species, of largely Asian climbers that belongs to the Myrsinoideae sub-family of the Primulaceae (the Primrose family). The Myrsinoideae also, surprisingly, now contains the genus Cyclamen. Much remains to be discovered about the phylogeny, taxonomy and biogeography of Embelia and we look forward to hearing more of Anne's work as it progresses.


Friday, September 13, 2013

Bioblitz 2013 results

The results of this year’s Bioblitz have just been released.  Trinity Botany students were very much involved in this years activities.  See the results in the video below presented by Derek Mooney of RTE.  For further information go to the Bioblitz homepage.