Dr Ian O’Connor

Head of Dept Natural Resources and the Environment

I am the Head of Department of Natural Resources and the Environment at Atlantic Technological University, Galway. Prior to that I was the Head of Dept of Graduate Studies and Professional Development. I have ~20 years experience in higher education.  I was a lecturer in the School of Science and Computing in and I have lectured to all years of the BSc Hons in Applied Freshwater and Marine Biology. I have also lectured on the MSc in Conservation Behaviour, MSc in Applied Marine Conservation,  International MSc in Marine Biological Resources (IMBRSea – www.imbrsea.eu). My research interests include organism response to stresses such as disease and pollution. I have received research funding from a broad range of national and international funding agencies; supervised numerous research postgraduate students to completion and mentored several postdoctoral scientists.


Funded by the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI), U-AVES is an industry/academic partnership between ATU, BlueWise Marine, A-TechSYN, and Energia Renewables.  The project aims to investigate the use of a long endurance fixed wing vertical take off and landing (VTOL) uncrewed aerial vehicle (UAV) to conduct large scale, offshore ecological surveys for seabirds and marine mammals.
Photo by John Smith
Ireland’s breeding wader populations have suffered dramatic declines in population size and national breeding range. Remaining breeding populations are teetering on the brink of extirpation, functional extinction, or both. The primary objective of this EIP-Agri project is to tackle the multifaceted causes behind the significant declines in breeding wader populations, including changes in land use practices and policy. Central to achieving the project’s goals is the enhancement of productivity within these populations. The project will establish connections with landowners, stakeholders and communities to foster a comprehensive understanding of the breeding waders’ requirements within the landscape. By recognising, valuing, and protecting these species, the EIP-Agri project is promoting a range of ecosystem services that are of benefit to the whole of society.
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.
InEVal Logo
The InEVal project aims to develop realistic value-added, innovative products and services from echinoderm bio resources. Focussing on value and sustainability at every step along the full value chain, these resource uses will contribute to zero-waste and circular economies driving a competitive blue bio economy in Europe.
baseman photo
This project aimed at establishing standardised operating procedures for environmental matrices laboratory processing targeted at microplastics
Humpback, Dingle Bay Nick Massett
Humpback whales in Irish waters: a partnership with the IWDG
As part of a strategy to protect seabirds, we need to identify offshore areas that are ecologically important for them.  Identifying these areas is challenging, seabird species have a variety of foraging ranges, strategies and habitat preferences. Our team analyse aerial and ship-based survey data in order to predict the distribution/abundance of selected bird species in the Irish EEZ.  The results will inform decisions on conservation or management actions for species where a site-based approach is appropriate.
Cropped image for project website
This project consists of a literature review of the impacts of microplastics in the marine environment and on the proposal of mitigation and/or reduction policy recommendations to address this global environmental issue. 
the 2nd tunasia conference october 13-16, 2019 khon kean thailand-10
The TUNASIA-project focuses on the modernization and development of curricula for the qualification of students in a transdisciplinary education system in a network with companies, research institutions and stakeholders in Vietnam and Thailand.
Nephrops on board
This project is investigating the potential of Nephrops norvegicus as a flagship species for plastic pollution in the deep sea.
MicroplastiX (JPI-Oceans) aims to overcome knowledge gaps concerning microplastic weathering, degradation and fragmentation processes.