The Geography Department at Maynooth enjoys a vibrant and varied research culture that often transcends the boundaries between the natural sciences, the social sciences, arts and humanities. Geographers explore these diverse worlds through multidisciplinary engagement, informed by our own research perspectives, and operating at several different spatial scales.
The strength of Geographical research in the Department has led to the formation of two University Research Institutes: the National Institute of Regional and Spatial Analysis (NIRSA) and the National Centre for Geocomputation (NCG). A further vibrant research centre, the Irish Climate Analysis and Research Unit (ICARUS) is based within Geography, along with the Environmental Physics Research Unit, and the Centre for Health Geoinformatics.
Human Geography at Maynooth consists of a community of researchers interested in the study of reciprocal relationships which exist between social relations and spatial structures. Our research investigates these theoretically, methodologically and substantively. Among the key research areas are the social, political, economic and cultural causes and consequences of the Celtic Tiger economy; society and nature interactions; migration and diaspora; historical and cultural geographies, urban geographies and creative cities. This group benefits from its relationship with NIRSA, whose remit is to undertake fundamental, applied and comparative research on spatial processes and their effects on social and economic development in Ireland. In conjunction with colleagues in both NIRSA and the NCG, Maynooth has one of the strongest clusters of health geographers in Europe, researching both global and local health and healthcare themes.
The Irish Climate Analysis and Research Units, founded in 2000 and building on decades of experience in climate research in the Department of Geography is the leading centre for climate change research in Ireland, conducting fundamental, applied and policy relevant research in the broad area of climate and environmental change. Research at ICARUS is structured around a number of key strands including Paleoclimate Analysis, Climate Analysis and Regional Climate Modelling, together with integrative cross cutting themes including mitigation, impacts and adaptation. The growth of integrative strands over recent years has led to considerable capacity in the assessment of climate change impacts and policy in the areas of water and catchment hydrology; urban climates; biodiversity; agriculture, pests and diseases; and coastal environments. Within the Palaeoclimate strand ICARUS hosts ISCORF, a national research facility for the analysis of sediment cores, while staff are also involved in developing regional climate modelling capacity in Ireland through the use of the Weather Research and Forecasting model WRF. Members of ICARUS are recognised both nationally and internationally as having made significant contributions to knowledge and policy in the area of climate change.
The GIS and Remote Sensing group originated from Dennis Pringle's pioneering work in introducing GIS into Ireland, and Paul Gibson's establishment of an Environmental Geophysics group in the Department. Activity was strengthened by subsequent appointments in both NIRSA and the NCG. We have the longest established GIS and remote sensing master's course in Ireland. Groundbreaking techniques utilising satellite imagery to assess the environment have been used to help humanitarian relief efforts in disaster zones, as well as improving agricultural techniques and water sourcing. As key players in the prestigious Discovery Programme, our remote sensing specialists have also discovered previously unknown settlements underground, using pioneering techniques which have informed archaeological research.