Winning research – Zoology storms the Lightning Talks


Earlier this month, postgraduate students of the Zoology department compete in the fourth annual ‘School of Natural Sciences Lightning Talks’ alongside students and staff from Botany and Geology.

We all presented 120-second snapshots of our research and were judged by a panel. Judges included the Head of the School of Natural Sciences Professor Fraser Mitchell, Science Gallery’s Aine Flood and Trinity’s press officer for the Faculty of engineering, mathematics and science, Thomas Deane.

Zoology had two winners on the night, Darren O’Connell (@oconned5) for his presentation on ‘Character release in the absence of a congeneric competitor’ and myself, Rachel Byrne, on my research titled ‘Parasites of badgers in Ireland- an untold story.’


I am about to embark on a four-year quest to discover if Irish badgers have worm infections. Badgers are infamous as they are able to become infected with bovine tuberculosis (bTB) and are potential sources of outbreaks amongst herds. As badgers are a protected species here in Ireland the current culling control program is an interim until a viable vaccine can be produced. However, before we can begin to control bTB in badgers we must first consider the possibility that they are hosts to other parasites. Being co-infected with more than one parasite is common and it can have a serious impact on the hosts immune system.

The image above is my favourite from the presentation as it illustrates the potential ability for worm infections to indirectly protect bacteria such as bTB from the immune system and its ability to reduce the effectiveness of vaccines.

We are now all looking forward to the upcoming Postgraduate Symposium, held by the Zoology and Botany departments, on Thursday 2nd March 2017.

Author: Rachel Louise Byrne @RLB_1

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