A Certain Chemistry

As an analytical chemist, Dr Blánaid White Lecturer, School of Chemical Sciences and Principal Investigator, National Centre for Sensor Research and DCU Water Institute is outstanding in her field; quite literally, as her work involves her looking at levels of organic matter in soil and how it affects the quality of crops.

“I’m part of a big new project called Farming and Natural Resources: Measures for Ecological Sustainability (FARM-ECOS), which is being led by Teagasc. “There’s a big drive in Ireland to put a value on our natural capital, so this project is looking to measure what happens when we take steps to increase biodiversity.” To produce foods with a higher nutritional value, pollination is key, and much of Dr White’s research focuses on the role of bees.

As part of the Irish Bee and Pollinator Network, she has set up hives in DCU in order to discover whether particular types of flowers affect the quality of the honey produced. Her research has found that honey from Ireland is particularly rich in phenolic acids: antioxidants that are thought to be beneficial to human health. “I used to be fascinated at how the bees would go mad for the honeysuckle and now I am able to understand that and I’m researching how bees and landscapes interact. Having a job that lets you do that is amazing.”

These days, it seems, chemistry has a real buzz to it. To find out more about the School of Chemical Sciences in the Faculty of Science and Health, visit www.dcu.ie/chemistry