Dr Heather Lally

Senior Lecturer and Researcher in Freshwater Ecology and Biology
+353 (0)91 742484

I graduated with a BSc (Hons) and PhD in Environmental Science from University of Galway (2005 & 2011 respectively) and went on to complete a 2 year postdoctoral research position in University College Dublin (2011-2013) before joining the lecturing staff on the BSc (Hons) in Applied Freshwater and Marine Biology at ATU as an assistant lecturer in freshwater ecology and biology.

My expertise lies in wetland creation and habitat monitoring, water chemical analyses, phytoplankton monitoring, freshwater pollution management, lake management and conservation, and the application of drones to conduct water sampling. Since joining ATU, I have become an established researcher in the MFRC and have participated in and led several research projects.


Project profile
This project, along with its multi-disciplinary team, is looking at assessing the use of Uncrewed Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) to monitor MPAs and provide best-practice advice on their use. This includes the investigation of UAV flyover methods to monitor fishing activities, evaluating the abundance and distribution of biological features of interest, and quantifying the nature and extend of anthropogenic activities within selected case studies. This work aspires to generate novel approaches to monitoring, complementing the objectives of the National Marine Planning Framework by outlining how human activities interact with each other in MPAs.
This NPWS funded research project (2023) is led by ATU Galway City. The aim of this project is to identify differences in desmid (a type of phytoplankton) community composition among dystrophic lakes impacted by different land-uses (grazing, peat cutting, forestry and unimpacted). This information will be used to develop desmid species lists to indicate whether a lake is in a favourable or unfavourable conservation status to help inform the EU Habitats Directive.
Lake surrounded by Conifer forest
This research will determine a baseline list of biological communities, comprising aquatic and semi-aquatic plants, invertebrates and vertebrates of dystrophic lakes and pools within Nephin Forest using eDNA.
Wild Nephin 2
This Marine Institute funded research project led by ATU Galway City aims to gather and assess baseline habitat composition and structure, and bird population data in Nephin Forest within Wild Nephin National Park
This EPA funded research project (2020-2023) is led by ATU Galway City and aims to gather and assess baseline data on oligotrophic lakes
This collaborative research project, funded by the EPA, is informing the development and implementation of policy by improving understanding of microplastic (MP) sources, pathways and environmental fate in freshwater systems in Ireland and making recommendations for monitoring of MPs.
This research is funded by the Environmental Protection Agency and runs from 2020-2023. It is conducted in collaboration with Institute of Technology Tralee, The Environment Agency (UK), Environmental Research Associates (UK).
Drone, pod and boat
This EPA funded research assessed the potential of using unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) to monitor water quality in Ireland.
This project assessed the conservation status of the white-clawed crayfish, Austropotamobius pallipes, in all fifteen Special Areas of Conservation (SACs) in Ireland