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Lab members

Dara Stanley

Dara is an ecologist interested in biodiversity, conservation, sustainable agriculture, and ecological interactions involving insects and plants. She has worked extensively in Ireland, UK, South Africa and East Africa. From 2016-2018 she was a Lecturer in Plant Ecology at the National University of Ireland Galway, and is now a Lecturer in Applied Entomology at University College Dublin.


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Christine Coppinger

Christine completed an MSc in Ichthyology and Fisheries Science at Rhodes University and the South African Institute for Aquatic Biodiversity after which she worked as a Field Officer for The Endangered Wildlife Trust for two and a half years, initiating and managing a conservation project in the Amathole Mountains in the Eastern Cape, South Africa. She subsequently consulted on a number of projects in Zambia, conducting biological and sociological research on important fisheries in the country. Christine is currently working towards a PhD on pollinators and forest utilisation in the North Western Province of Zambia through University College Dublin (supported by the Irish Research Council and the Trident Foundation), after conducting preliminary research in this field between 2018 and 2019, funded by the Rufford Foundation (see here). Her goal is to inform sustainable forest utilisation, helping to secure long-term benefits for rural communities while also conserving forests.


Twitter: @Killifish5


Richard Boakye

Richard graduated with BSc. Natural Resources Management from Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) in Ghana and taught Integrated Science and Core Mathematics at Jachie-Pramso High School in Ghana for two years. In March 2004, he got employed by Ghana Forestry Commission on a full time where he has been till date. During this period, Richard has been involved in protected area planning and management, human/wildlife conflict management, conservation education on radio, in local communities and schools, community-based natural resource management and the development of alternative livelihood schemes for resource-dependents and in the process has worked across three protected areas namely Ankasa Conservation Area, Mole National Park and Bia Conservation Area. Between 2009 and 2018, Richard succeeded in training and setting up 151 local residents around Bia Conservation Area in beekeeping for honey production as alternate source of income generation. In 2013, Richard graduated with MSc. Development Policy and Planning from KNUST where he conducted a research on “Promoting Beekeeping as a Livelihood Option for Communities around Protected Areas: The Case of Bia and Mole National Parks”. In 2013 Richard was awarded a scholarship by the British Council under the Tullow Group Scholarship Scheme to pursue MSc. (Agr) Environmental Resource Management at UCD in Ireland during which he conducted a study on “Analysis of Nutrients of Forest Biomass: The Case of Lodgepole Pine (Pinus contorta var. latifolia)”. Richard is currently an Irish Research Council funded PhD student in the Stanley Ecology Lab at UCD working on “Cocoa and Biodiversity: The interactions between pollinators, cocoa production and rural livelihoods in Ghana”. Professionally, Richard seeks to combine ecological science with the interplay of both traditional and conventional perspectives and tools from other disciplines in the pursuit of conservation solutions.  


Lydia Thompson

Lydia graduated from the University of St. Andrews with a B.Sc.(Hons) in Zoology in 2019. In 2020, she completed an MSc in Biodiversity and Conservation at Trinity College Dublin. During that time she completed her thesis “European Agri-Environmental Schemes do no Adequately Protect Solitary Bee Species.” Lydia is currently an Irish Research Council funded PhD student in the Stanley Ecology Lab at University College Dublin, studying the impacts of results based agri-environmental schemes on rare and common bumblebee populations, with a focus on the Great Yellow Bumblebee. Her main research interests include:

·       Pollinator ecology and conservation

·       Sustainable agriculture

·       Agri-environment policy 


Gone but not forgotten...

Tara Dirilgen

Tara is an ecologist with interests spanning many areas which centre around biodiversity. She worked on an Irish Research Council funded Postdoctoral Fellowship project titled "'From Roots to Pollinators: How above- and below-ground organisms interact through plants" from 2021-2023. She was a Research Assistant and later a Postdoctoral Researcher on the SFI funded SUSPOLL (Sustainable Pollination Services in a Changing World) project from 2019-2021. Tara graduated from University College Dublin with a BSc in Zoology in 2013 and a PhD in Ecology in 2018. Her research to date has focussed on biodiversity in soil, looking at community assembly processes across spatial scales, to better understand the enigma of high species diversity and abundance exhibited by soil mesofauna. Fully aware that the belowground terrestrial sub-system is linked with it’s above-ground counterpart, Tara is keen to explore how biodiversity belowground influences plants and pollinators above-ground and vice versa. And how these interactions play out under anthropogenic pressures such as agricultural practices.


Research profile:

Twitter: @taradirilgen

Sarah MacQueen

Sarah received a B.A. in Mathematics from Reed College (Portland, Oregon, USA) in 2011, a M.S. in Environmental Systems from Humboldt State University (Arcata, California, USA) in 2015, and a PhD in mathematics from The University of British Columbia (Kelowna, BC, Canada) in 2020. During her PhD, she studied how the pollination services provided by bumblebees to blueberry crops are affected by the landscape geometry and the behavioural decisions of the bees. She developed a stochastic individual based model that uses biased random walks, correlated random walks, and Brownian Motion to simulate bee movement throughout a landscape and track their flower visits.

As a member of the SUSPOLL project, Sarah modelled thermoregulation in bees to determine how the weather affects the bees’ activity and the pollination services they provide to crops. 


Twitter: @Sarah_MacQ

Arrian Karbassioon

Arrian graduated from the University of Connecticut (U.S.A.) with a B.S. in Environmental Science in 2014. In 2017, he graduated from the University of Oslo (Norway) with a M.Sc. in Ecology; his thesis, “Pollinator Activity along an Environmental Gradient,” investigated the effects of climate on pollinator activity to wild raspberry and the resultant fruit set. In the summer of 2017 he worked as a field assistant for the Norwegian Institute for Nature Research on a survey of plant and pollinator species in the greater Oslo area. In the summer of 2018 he assisted the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station in New Haven, Connecticut, with a variety of projects: a statewide pollinator checklist, a study of ornamental attractiveness to pollinating insects, as well as beekeeping and sampling of hive pollen at nurseries. Arrian was a PhD in the Stanley Ecology Lab at University College Dublin on the SFI funded SUSPOLL project researching the effects of climate on the activity of wild and managed bees from 2018-2022. His main research interests include:

  • Identifying the variables that drive/hinder movement of pollinator species between metapopulations and at broader scales

  • Integrating remote sensing and predictive modeling to assess the future viability of pollination

  • Wild pollinator conservation and ecosystem services


Twitter: @a_karbassioon

Linzi Thompson

Linzi graduated from Keele University (UK) with a BSc in Applied Environmental Science with Physical Geography in 2017. She then expanded into the world of insects through MSc Entomology at Harper Adams University, in 2018. She has actively participated in entomological outreach, to help inform the public about insects and reduce the stigma surrounding them, as well as participating in citizen science projects on insect population recording. Linzi was a PhD student at University College Dublin on the DAFM funded PROTECTS project from 2018-2022, studying the impact of fungicides and herbicides on bumblebee behaviour and colony persistence. Her main research interests include:
● The sublethal impacts of pesticides on bees
● Sustainable pesticide use and pollinator conservation
● Insect behaviour

Twitter: @BombusThompson

Alison O'Reilly

Alison graduated from Trinity College Dublin with a B.A. in Plant Sciences in 2017 and since graduating has gained experience working in the field. In January 2018 she spent 10 weeks working with the ‘Save the Elephants and Bees Project’ in Kenya as a research intern. She then spent the summer of 2018 working as a bumblebee field technician with the Institute for Bird Populations, where she conducted floral and bumblebee surveys in Eldorado National Forest in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Alison was a PhD student in the Stanley Ecology lab in University College Dublin on the SFI funded SUSPOLL project researching the impacts of insecticides on the pollination services that bees provide to Irish crops from 2018-2022. Her main research interests include;

  • Plant-animal interactions

  • The economic and ecological value of pollination services provided by wild bees

  • Sustainable agriculture and pollinator conservation



Ed Straw

Ed is an ecotoxicologist interested in how to protect wild pollinators from pesticides. His work focusses on applied research, answering questions and generating data that can be used by policymakers to effectuate change. Ed graduated from the University of Bristol (UK) with an MSci in Biology in 2018, and later completed a PhD (still pending his viva) at Royal Holloway University of London (UK) where he worked on the EU project Poshbee. Ed was part of the PROTECTS project studying what options are available to farmers to reduce the impacts of pesticides on pollinators. He was also looking to understand what attitudes and behaviours prevent the adoption of alternative crop protection measures to pesticides.


Twitter: @EdStrawBio

Katie Burns

Katie graduated from Wheaton College (USA) with a B.A. in Environmental Science, Biology concentration in 2015. From 2014-2017, she traveled around the United States to work with native insect pollinators as a research assistant and community outreach facilitator on five different conservation-focused research projects. She has worked most closely with Yellow-Faced Bumblebees (Bombus vosnesenskii) and Monarch Butterflies (Danaus plexippus), but has participated in a number of general native pollinator and plant surveys as well. In 2016, while working at Archbold Biological Station in Florida, USA, she conducted an independent study entitled, “The multi-scaled habitat preferences of the Blue Calamintha Bee.” Katie finished her Irish Research Council funded PhD entitled "Contrbutions and conservation of Irelands insect pollinators" in 2021.

Twitter: @kburns_buzz


Michelle Larkin

Michelle graduated from her undergraduate degree in undenominated science (Zoology) from the National University of Ireland Galway in 2013. Before graduating with an MSc in Ecological Assessment from University College Cork in 2015 she was a research assistant with the Applied Ecology Unit, National University of Ireland Galway working with a PhD student on the potential biocontrol of pestiferous slugs using Tetanocera elata larva (2013). Michelle was a PhD student in the Stanley Ecology Lab based at NUI Galway studying the ecology and conservation of plant-pollinator interactions in semi-natural grasslands, funded by the Irish Research Council, and she graduated in 2021. She now works for the National Biodiversity Data Centre on the "Protecting Farmland Pollinators" project. 

Twitter: @MichelleALarkin

Fergus Chadwick

Fergus was an intern working in the Stanley Lab in 2017. He led the building of a comprehensive pollen library for the highly diverse Burren region of Ireland which will be called “The Eva Crane Pollen Reference Collection”. 

Twitter: @FergusJChadwick

Emmeline Cosnett

Emmeline was an intern currently working in the Stanley Lab over summers 2016 and 2017. She is an environmental science undergraduate at NUI Galway interested in anything Botany related as well as Entomology and Ecology. She worked on a BES funded project looking at pollinators as part of a results based agri-environment scheme on High Nature Value farmland in County Leitrim, and on the Eva Crane Pollen reference collection project.

Twitter: @Ecostnett

Jamie Maxwell

Jamie graduated from his undergraduate degree in Marine Science from the National University of Ireland Galway in 2017. He worked as an intern in the Stanley Lab, in collaboration with Dr Caitriona Carlin from the Applied Ecology Unit, for the summer of 2017 before departing for Portugal to start a Masters in Marine Biology in the University of Algarve. While here he was compiling data on the biodiversity of the NUI Galway campus and producing a campus biodiversity trail, audio tour and information leaflet ( He was funded through the Community and University Sustainability Project (CUSP).

Twitter: @morroghmax

Aoife Delaney

Aoife is an ecologist with an interest in how human activities affect natural ecosystems and biodiversity.  She was a post-doctoral researcher with PROTECTS from 2018-2019, a large project investigating the effects of pesticide use on pollination and soil processes.  Her responsibilities include documenting best practice and current pesticide usage in Ireland and characterising the Irish landscape in terms of crop types, soil types and pesticide usage to inform design of future experiments and the development of risk assessment scenarios. Before coming to UCD Aoife graduated with a Botany degree from Trinity College (2005) and a Masters in Biodiversity and Conservation from Leeds University (2006) before working in ecological consultancy for six years.  She returned to education in 2013 to undertake a PhD examining the ecology and hydrology of freshwater wetlands in Irish sand dunes.  In 2016 – 2018 she was a post-doctoral researcher with Trinity College and the RSPB and investigated the relationship between plant and landscape diversity and the pollination ecology of shea (Vitellaria paradoxa) in the agroforestry system of Burkina Faso (West Africa). Aoife now works as a coastal specialist in the National Parks and Wildlife Service.

Twitter: @Ifa_dee

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