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ENVIRON 2012

The 22nd Irish Environmental Researchers’ Colloquium (ENVIRON 2012) was held in University College Dublin (UCD) from Wednesday, March 7th - Friday March 9th, 2012. UCD last hosted the ENVIRON colloquium in 2006 and were very pleased to welcome the colloquium again to coincide with the year long celebration of Dublin City of Science 2012.

The colloquium was well attended, with almost 300 delegates over the three days. As always, the organisers aimed to keep registration fees affordable. With that in mind, the registration fees included ESAI membership for one year, as has been the tradition. Presenters on waste topics also received free membership of CIWM. ENVIRON 2012 featured a new Student Discount Registration Fee (Group of 10) which was particularly aimed at Undergraduate and Taught Masters Students, who may be interested in deepening their knowledge of environmental issues and perhaps, considering a career in research. This attracted several groups of students through the generous support of the programme co-ordinators.

The theme for ENVIRON 2012 was "Our Environment: Integrating Today’s Research with Tomorrow’s Actions". The theme challenged delegates to consider how ongoing research can influence many overarching areas into the future such as environmental quality, policy, legislation, society and the economy. In order to engage fully with the theme, each presenter was asked to address how their research related to the theme in their abstract submission and concluding slide in their oral presentation.

The conference began on the Wednesday with a series of workshops. Ms. Fionnuala Murphy and Ms. Mingjia Yan of UCD Biosystems Engineering presented an Introduction to Life Cycle Assessment, an interactive session which was aimed at beginner level. Mr. Mark Cumiskey of UCD Career Development Centre hosted a workshop on CV Preparation & Interview Strategy, which was well attended by a cross section of delegates. An Effective Scientific Communication session was then co-presented by Dr. Padraig Murphy of Dublin City University and Dr. Brian Quinn of Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology; it featured various communication means such as oral and written forms and the process of getting a paper published.

Later that evening, a Q&A discussion was held at the conference hotel, Stillorgan Park Hotel, on the theme "Water, water everywhere but not a drop to drink". The panel included Dr. Mary Kelly-Quinn (Senior Lecturer, UCD), Mr. Michael Ewing (Environmental Pillar), Mr. Michael Phillips (Dublin City Engineer), and Mr. Dick Warner (Columnist & Broadcaster). The speakers covered a broad range of issues on sustainable water management including water quality and supply challenges, the need to involve people in governance, and the innate human attraction to water. The session was chaired by Mr. Frank McDonald (Irish Times), who also gave some thoughtful insights. There was an excellent attendance at the event and the audience asked a wide variety of questions, and indeed provided some interesting views of water issues, both current and historic. This was undoubtedly one of the highlights of colloquium and it was particularly pleasing that many members of the public took the opportunity to attend this free event.

The UCD President, Dr. Hugh Brady, officially opened ENVIRON 2012 on the Thursday. He highlighted the importance of the work of the scientific community and wished all delegates well. The plenary session addressed the theme of "Our Environment: Integrating Today's Science with Tomorrow's Actions". The panel included Mr. Michael Hamell (DG Environment, European Commission), Mr. John O'Dea (Dept. Manager, High Potential Start-Ups, Enterprise Ireland), Dr. Laurence Gill (Senior Lecturer & Head of Civil Engineering, TCD), and Dr. Kevin O'Connor (Senior Lecturer, UCD) alongside Chairman, Prof. Frank Convery of UCD Earth Institute. The discussion focussed on how science can be used as the basis of developments in policy and commercial activity. Michael Hamell and John O'Dea emphasised the importance of science at EU policy level and the commercial potential of scientific activity, respectively. Dr. Gill showed how his work on domestic effluent treatment systems led to national guidelines in the area. Dr. O'Connor outlined the steps he took to commercialise his research on biodegradable plastics.

The colloquium dinner took place on the Thursday at the conference hotel, Stillorgan Park Hotel and was followed by a street dance performance and a disco. The ENVIRON 2012 colloquium closed on the Friday afternoon with a prize-giving ceremony and an announcement that the 23rd Irish Environmental Researchers' Colloquium (ENVIRON 2013) will take place at NUI Galway.

Since thanks to all who contributed to ENVIRON 2012 and many congratulations to the prizewinners. Look forward to seeing you at the next colloquium which will be hosted by NUI Galway.

Dr. Tom Curran was the Convenor of the ENVIRON 2012 Colloquium

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Environ 2012 is partnered with Dublin City of Science 2012.