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  Quantifying and capitalising on eco-activism in Irish water sports for planetary health


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  Dr Ruth Quinn, Dr Carmel Heaney, Dr Maria Campbell  No more applications being accepted  Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

This PhD project is part of the Postgraduate Research Training Programme COASTAL CONNECTIVITY, which offers 12 PhD research scholarships to commence in 2024. Each project will include an enterprise placement of minimum 12 weeks duration and a bespoke training package in coastal management and research skills.

Fáilte Ireland's research shows that overseas tourists who participated in outdoor activities in 2019 in Ireland spent €1.7 billion, with water sports such as surfing contributing significantly to local economies annually. However, with water quality declining and water pollution rising, these activities are under threat. Surfers are among the most vulnerable beach-going populations, given the length of time spent in the water and their presence in the sea outside of the regular bathing season, where pollution monitoring is limited. Anecdotal evidence is frequently reported by local communities regarding the smell of foul odours and the presence of waste material and raw sewage in coastal waters with grassroots initiatives such as Surfers Against Sewage in the UK, aiming to draw attention to water quality issues by recording sewer overflows. However, little research has been done in Ireland to examine this further. This research aims to combine health and environmental issues or concerns using a planetary health approach to examine and determine the impact of pollution on the health and well-being of surfers in Ireland and their community's influence on improving water quality. In doing so, we will create collaborative platforms by which we can collect and monitor data and evaluate the impacts of various grassroots initiatives which will improve the health and well-being of our coastal communities.

Objectives of the research project

  1. Explore existing methods and tools for monitoring athlete and environmental health.
  2. Examine the implications of water pollution on the health and behaviours of surfers to understand the extent of the problem and its potential effects.
  3. Investigate the influence of the surfing community on improving water quality through grassroots initiatives. Determine the effectiveness of these efforts and their impact on local ecosystems.
  4. Develop a collaborative platform which monitors and evaluates the impacts of different health and environmental initiatives to create a unified approach towards improving water quality and safeguarding surfer health.

A minimum of 2.1 honours degree (Level 8) in a relevant discipline.

Project Duration:

48 months (PhD)

Preferred Location:

ATU Sligo Campus


Application Form / Terms of Conditions can be obtained on the website:

The closing date for receipt of applications is 5pm, (GMT) Monday 22nd April, 2024.

Only selected applicants will be called for an online interview (shortlisting may apply).

Computer Science (8) Engineering (12) Environmental Sciences (13) Medicine (26) Nursing & Health (27) Sport & Exercise Science (33)

Funding Notes

TU RISE is co-financed by the Government of Ireland and the European Union through the ERDF Southern, Eastern & Midland Regional Programme 2021- 27 and the Northern & Western Regional Programme 2021-27.
Funding for this Project includes:
• A student stipend (usually tax-exempt) valued at €22,000 per annum
• Annual waivers of postgraduate tuition fee
• Extensive research training programme
• Support for travel, consumables and dissemination expenses
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