Dr Katie O’Dwyer

Lecturer and Researcher

I am based at the Atlantic Technological University in Galway, Ireland. Here I lecture on courses in aquatic biology and ecology and I pursue my research interests in ecological parasitology.

My current research involves studying a wide range of hosts, from birds to shrimp. We also work on a diverse suite of parasites, from microscopic single celled protozoa to isopod parasites the size of a finger nail. We are interested in how parasites affect their hosts, including the host’s ability to defend themselves against parasite infections. We also examine the strategies used by parasites to continuously adapt towards successfully infecting their host and getting transmitted between hosts.

In pursuing these research interests, we have searched for parasites in intertidal snails, crabs, shrimp, tadpoles, frogs, fish, birds and mammals, as well as searching their organs and faeces.

Through my ongoing research, my postdoctoral work at Ryerson University in Toronto, and my PhD studies at the University of Otago in New Zealand, I have described new parasites species and discovered some of the peculiar ways they affect their host and manage to complete their life cycles.

I am fascinated by host-parasite interactions in general and enjoy learning more about them every day.

For more on my research check out my research website here.


Fresh mackerel on the market
This collaboration between ATU, BIM and the Marine Institute aims to characterise Kudoa sp. infection in the Irish mackerel fishery using molecular and histological techniques, to identify biological and environmental factors associated with infection and to develop tools for mitigating the impacts on commercial fishing and processing operations.
PhD student Signe Martin is investigating microparasites in order to assess their impact on commercial crustacean species.
In collaboration with Birdwatch Ireland and colleagues in France and the Czech Republic we are investigating parasite infections and overall health of a range of migratory birds.
We are currently working on the common prawn, Palaemon serratus, an important product of Irish shrimp fisheries and host to an isopod parasite. The parasite affects the appearance of the prawn and prevents reproduction, both affecting the fishery.