Research 2020-2021

A summary of DCU's Research activities in 2020-2021

In the past year, DCU researchers have continued to focus on creating knowledge that makes a real difference to people’s lives. Across the University’s five faculties, this research addresses a wide range of challenges facing the modern world. The breadth of research is evident from the range of publications, outputs and partnerships, which included everything from a breakthrough in our understanding of star formation, to recommendations on ways to reduce homelessness among people with autism, to a study detailing and analysing all deaths arising from the Irish Revolutionary period, to an investigation of the role of translation in crisis communication policies.

At the DCU Institute of Education, researchers have been investigating ways to make science learning more accessible and fun for primary school children. A key finding was that some parents lack the confidence to take part in science activities with their children. On the theme of Teaching and Learning, research from Fiontar & Scoil na Gaeilge at DCU found that Irish is no more difficult to learn than any other language. The study is the first book written in Irish focused on second language learning theory and practice in more than forty years.

Government and state bodies are increasingly calling on the expertise of DCU researchers to deliver positive impact. DCU School of Communications worked with the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland to create This searchable database provides detailed information on who owns what media properties in Ireland. Meanwhile, DCU’s National Anti-Bullying Research and Resource Centre (ABC) was designated by the government as a new national research observatory on cyberbullying. As part of another ABC investigation researchers made the worrying discovery that almost half of secondary school students have been asked to send a sexually explicit image.

Positive engagement with partners and stakeholders has long been a hallmark of DCU’s approach to research. In the past twelve months, we have seen a number of important agreements reached with industry partners. At DCU Faculty of Engineering and Computing, researchers from I-Form, the SFI Research Centre for Advanced Manufacturing, signed a four-year deal with PBC BioMed, to investigate novel ways to manufacture state of the art medical implants. I-Form researchers also signed an agreement with US company Fort Wayne Metals to collaborate on development of novel 3D printed wires for medical device industry. Another significant research partnership emerged in the shape of a collaboration between DCU’s Water Institute and aid agency GOAL to address issues around sustainable water supplies, sanitation and hygiene in vulnerable communities in a number of countries in Africa.

In the area of human health and human performance, DCU researchers continue to advance our understanding and knowledge. A DCU-led  study found that cervical cancer screening is more effective with increased HPV vaccination rates and this also reduces unnecessary surgical interventions. Another study found that combining strength and aerobic training with whole foods rich in protein as part of a balanced diet can positively impact the physical health of older adults. Another study made discoveries around children’s health, finding that a child’s ability to run, skip and hop contributes to overall healthier outcomes. Meanwhile, DCU research found that progress is being made by food manufacturers to improve public health, while there were less encouraging findings from another study, which found Neonicotinoid pesticide residues in Irish honey.

At DCU Business School, research outputs included a study that looked at father-daughter succession in Irish family businesses, and showed that establishing credibility as the next heir can be particularly challenging for women in this position. A DCU-led consortium also published a report highlighting the gender imbalance in the entrepreneurial sector by providing a cross-cultural comparison of women’s participation in Ireland, Norway, Israel and Sweden.Meanwhile, research in collaboration with the SFI’s Lero Centre, explored the possible introduction of national identity cards. It found that a majority of Irish people favour the introduction of an ID card as well as e-voting from home in future elections and referendums.