Prof. Dearbháile Morris

PIER Principal Investigator

Dearbháile is Professor of Antimicrobial Resistance and One Health at NUI Galway’s School of Medicine and Director of the Ryan Institute Centre for One Health. She leads the Antimicrobial Resistance and Microbial Ecology research group within the Discipline of Bacteriology. Dearbháile has over 20 years’ experience performing research on antimicrobial resistant bacteria and other potentially harmful bugs. She is particularly interested in investigating how these bugs spread between humans, animals and the environment. She is an advocate for the One Health concept and believes that the health of humans is closely linked to the health of animals and that of their shared environment. Dearbháile also leads the AREST project – Antimicrobial Resistance and the Environment, which identified the most worrying type of antimicrobial resistant “superbugs” in natural bathing waters around Ireland. 

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Dr. Liam Burke

PIER Co-Investigator

Liam is Lecturer in Bacteriology at NUI Galway’s School of Medicine and Communications Officer for the Ryan Institute Centre for One Health. His research interests include antimicrobial resistant bacteria and zoonotic pathogens and he has a particular interest in E. coli. His research involves investigating the genes that bugs use to become resistant to antibiotics, and tracking how they spread between bacteria that colonise and infect humans and those that live in the natural environment. Together with Dearbháile, he directs the research and manages the overall progress of the PIER project. He is also an Investigator on the DESIGN project, which aims to identify risk factors and ways to predict the presence of pathogenic E. coli called VTEC in private drinking water wells. 

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Dr. Sinéad Duane

PIER Post-Doctoral Researcher

Sinéad is a Lecturer in Marketing and Researcher in the Whitaker Institute and the Ryan Institute Centre for One Health. She has a PhD in social marketing and expertise in systems thinking research methods. She uses a social marketing approach to design interventions that can lead to lasting systemic and behavioural changes. Her role in PIER is develop a systems map of the interacting factors that limit our use on recreational water environments. This map will be used in the future to inform policy and intervention development. To develop the map, Sinead designed the #BlueSpaces survey, which over 1500 water stakeholders completed. The survey identified the barriers that prevent people from using our natural waters for recreation and relaxation and a model-building workshop with stakeholders will be taking place to develop the map. She also carries out in-depth interviews with stakeholders in the natural recreational water system and will analyse the data gathered using systems thinking methodology.

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Ms. Maeve Louise Farrell

PIER PhD Researcher

Maeve is a qualified veterinary nurse and is now doing her PhD in Bacteriology and antimicrobial resistance on the PIER project, under the supervision of Dearbháile and Liam. She is responsible for carrying out the laboratory work for the colonisation study and for organising and sending out packs to PIER study participants. She identifies antibiotic resistant bacteria present in participant samples and in the future will analyse their genome sequences to see if there is a link between those colonising humans and those circulating in hospitals or in the natural environment. She will also analyse colonisation study survey data to identify risk factors for superbug colonisation. Maeve contacted the majority of the 1000 plus people who registered to take part in PIER to check their eligibility. She is the main point of contact for PIER colonisation study participants. She recently completed a review of the literature that identified the potential threat of waterborne organisms not currently tested for to recreational water users.

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Ms. Alexandra Chueiri

PIER Research Assistant

Alex is the newest member of the team and joined the PIER project in 2021. Her role is to lead the persistence study in the laboratory and to assist Maeve with the laboratory and survey analysis work for the colonisation study. Alex is experienced in molecular biology and has a Masters in Biomedical Science, which she will put to good use on PIER by helping to identify antimicrobial resistance genes in participant samples. Before joining PIER, Alex worked on the One Health European Joint Project “WorldCOM” where she helped design new rapid diagnostic tests suitable for detecting antibiotic resistant bugs in environmental samples “on site”.