Dr Robert Leigh

Biology, Human Health Institute

Antimicrobial Resistance and Microbiome Research Group

Biosciences and Electronic Engineering Building
(01) 708 3247


Dr. Robert Leigh is Senior Postdoctoral Researcher with the Antimicrobial Resistance and Microbiome Research Group under the mentorship of Professor Fiona Walsh. During his time with this Research Group, Rob has been working on microbiomic (metagenomic) modulation of the avian GI tract using non-antibiotic supplementation. Specifically, Rob is interested in reducing the bioburden of infectious agents and antimicrobial resistance genes whilst increasing microbial population diversity and the survivability of beneficial symbionts by using dietary supplementation. Rob designs bespoke software for bioinformatic and biostatistical analyses and has spent some time tackling the problem of rampant variability often observed between samples from the same source, leading to the development of a novel machine learning application for this task. Additionally, Rob investigates the prevalence and mechanism of resistance plasmid evolution.

Prior to joining the Antimicrobial Resistance and Microbiome Research Group, Rob undertook a Ph.D. in Bioinformatics and Molecular Evolution at Maynooth University (under the supervision of Dr. David Fitzpatrick (Maynooth University) and Prof. James McInerney (University of Nottingham)) and a B.Sc.(Hons.) in Microbiology at University College Dublin. Since joining the Research Group, Rob has completed an M.Sc. in Innovation at National University of Ireland, Galway (now University of Galway) and a Specialist Diploma in Artificial Intelligence & Machine Learning at the University of Limerick.

Peer Reviewed Journal

Year Publication
2023 Corrigan, A.; Leigh, R.J.; Walsh, F.; Murphy, R. (2023) 'Microbial community diversity and structure in the cecum of laying hens with and without mannan-rich fraction supplementation'. Journal of Applied Poultry Research, 32 . [Link] [DOI]
2022 Smyth C.; Leigh R.J.; Delaney S.; Murphy R.A.; Walsh F. (2022) 'Shooting hoops: globetrotting plasmids spreading more than just antimicrobial resistance genes across One Health'. Microbial Genomics, 8 (8). [DOI]
2022 Leigh R.J.; McKenna C.; McWade R.; Lynch B.; Walsh F. (2022) 'Comparative genomics and pangenomics of vancomycin-resistant and susceptible Enterococcus faecium from Irish hospitals'. Journal of Medical Microbiology, 71 (10). [DOI]
2021 R.J. Leigh; R.A. Murphy; F. Walsh; (2021) 'statSuma: automated selection and performance of statistical comparisons for microbiome studies'. Biorxiv : The Preprint Server For Biology, . [DOI] [Full-Text]
2021 R.J. Leigh; R.A. Murphy; F. Walsh; (2021) 'uniForest: an unsupervised machine learning technique to detect outliers and restrict variance in microbiome studies'. Biorxiv : The Preprint Server For Biology, . [DOI] [Full-Text]
2021 Leigh R.J., McKenna C., McWade R., Lynch B., Walsh F (2021) 'Comparative genomics and pangenomics of vancomycin resistant and susceptible Enterococcus faecium from Irish hospitals across 20 years'. Biorxiv : The Preprint Server For Biology, . https://doi.org/10.1101/2021.11.22.469549 [Full-Text]
Certain data included herein are derived from the © Web of Science (2023) of Clarivate. All rights reserved.

Professional Associations

Description Function From / To
Royal Society for Biology Full Member 03/04/2017 -
Royal Statistical Society Fellow 03/04/2017 -

Honors and Awards

Date Title Awarding Body
01/06/2023 Kentucky Colonel Governor of Kentucky
13/04/2023 Registered External Examiner Royal Society for Biology
01/04/2021 Chartered Biologist Royal Society for Biology
01/04/2021 Peace Commissioner Department of Justice


Committee Function From / To
Athena SWAN Member 01/02/2021 -
Department of Biology (faculty meetings) Postdoctoral Representative 06/03/2023 -
Kathleen Lonsdale Institute (faculty meetings) Postdoctoral Representative 06/03/2023 -


Employer Position From / To
Maynooth University Senior Postdoctoral Researcher 26/08/2022 -
Maynooth University Postdoctoral Researcher 01/09/2019 - 26/08/2022
Maynooth University Doctoral Candidate 01/03/2015 - 28/02/2019


Start date Institution Qualification Subject
01/09/2014 University College Dublin B.Sc.(Hons.) Microbiology
01/10/2014 Maynooth University Prof.Cert. Teaching & Learning
02/03/2015 Maynooth University Ph.D. Bioinformatics & Molecular Evolution
04/01/2021 University of Limerick Specialist Diploma Artificial Intelligence & Machine Learning
01/10/2019 National University of Ireland, Galway M.Sc. Agricultural Innovation

Editorial / Academic Reviews

Amount Role From / To
Microorganisms Guest Editor 01/01/2022 -
Applied & Environmental Microbiology Reviewer 05/02/2023 -
Genome Research Reviewer 01/11/2021 -
Nucleic Acids Research Reviewer 24/03/2021 -