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Dr. John Breen Bio

Research Interests

Originally in the area of the ecology and taxonomy of social insects, mainly ants, my research interests have widened to include broad-based ecosystem ecology. This includes the multivariate analysis of ecosystem data and environmental ecology, including heavy metals in the environment. While in Thomond College of Education I was quite active in developing relevant teaching materials for Biology and Agricultural Science teaching and I retain this subsidiary interest.

Grant aided projects:

Short study visit (two weeks) to Universities of Würzburg and Tübingen, Ireland / Germany Academic Exchange Scheme, DAAD, August 1987.
British Ecological Society. Small Ecological Grant: £600 towards a study of the ant Tetramorium caespitum in the Ballyteigue Burrows, Co Wexford. 1988.

During 1989 - 1990 I obtained Forbairt Applied Research Seed Funding of £2000 for each of the following projects:

millipedes as domestic pests
heavy metals in biological indicators in the Shannon Estuary (this project expanded into the Ph.D. project of Dr Caitríona O’Leary).

I also obtained £15,000 from the Forbairt Applied Research Programme for research on possible Irish unifloral honeys (this provided the bulk of the funding for the Ph.D. project of Dr Mary Frances Coffey, see section 3).
EU funded project INCO-Copernicus Project No. 97-3193, Health risks of heavy metals in the food chain of industrial areas in central and eastern Europe. Partners University of Gießen (Germany; co-ordinator), Macaulay Land Use Research Centre (Scotland), Krakow University of Agriculture (Poland), Agricultural University Plovdiv (Bulgaria), Agricultural University Iasi (Romania). The UL contribution is to provide advice on the analysis of heavy metals in bioindicators and the funding to U.L. is kECU 15.

Other current projects:

I was recently invited to join the new Clare Island Survey by the Royal Irish Academy to study Aculeate Hymenoptera (bees, wasps and ants) of the island. This is funded on an expenses basis.

My interests in biometrics have led to involvement in the following projects:

(With Dr Richard Moles, Department of Chemical and Environmental Sciences) Analysis of six years’ data on the effect of grazing in the Burren, Co Clare. Funding from the Office of Public Works (Dúchas) to Dr Moles.
(With E. Wall, Dr Á. Cregan, F. Flanagan, Dr C Lyons, Mary Immaculate College) Analysis of data concerning the (possible) effects of an educational initiative in a primary school.
I am an advisor (with Dr N Culleton, Teagasc, Johnstown Castle, Co Wexford) to the Ph.D. project of Ms C Leonard (supervised by Dr G. Mullen, Department of Life Sciences) on The Microbial evaluation of soil productivity and sustainable agriculture (funded by a Walsh Fellowship to Dr G. Mullen). Two conference papers so far.


Post Graduate Research Students