An RTÉ Brainstorm Photoessay

Expose your research

DCU research students were invited to capture their research in a single image. Here are some examples of their work.

Keeping things colourful

In spite of their glaring infrastructural deficiencies, slum areas are often vibrant hubs of micro-commerce. Here, in Mukuru in Nairobi, Kenya, one of the most sought-after retail locations skirts along a stretch of path that is rendered near-impassable during the bi-annual rainy season. Despite sitting inches from the mud, the colourful assortment of housewares on display at this shop are kept pristine.

Photo: Philip O’Donnell, Business School

Research in motion

This image captures the vibrant and dynamic nature of my research into the biomechanics of running injuries. This image displays my experimental protocol set up, with a colourful overlay to communicate the innovative and exciting approach we take to answer the long-standing question of why runners get injured

Photo: Sarah Dillon, School of Health and Human Performance

All of the lights

A fluorescent microscope (Nikon Eclipse Ti) on the left is operated via the computer to image fluorescently-labelled antibodies which stain specific target proteins in the cells. The room is in complete darkness to protect the light-sensitive antibodies from fluorescence quenching. To capture this photo, an eight second exposure was employed, with the only light sources coming from the computer and the microscope.

Photo: Charles O’Doherty, School of Biotechnology, National Institute for Cellular Biotechnology

The rainbow bear with too many cares

Members of the sexual minority community experience social anxiety at heightened levels compared to their heterosexual counterparts. This image shows a withdrawn and isolated rainbow-coloured teddy bear surrounded by a blank canvas. Shedding light on what led to this state will help our rainbow teddy get back on their feet and out of the shadows.

Photo: Conor Mahon, School of Nursing and Human Sciences

The classroom of the future

A secondary school science student interacts with a virtual skeleton in an interactive virtual learning environment, while a real world traditional science classroom skeleton looks on in the background. This photo seeks to convey this evolution, from traditional 20th century science education – the static skeleton - to technology advanced immersive and interactive classrooms of the 21st century.

Photo: Simon Creane, International Centre for Innovation and Workplace Learning

Mergers and acquisitions

Businesses acquire smaller enterprises for various reasons, including maximum utilisation of resources. On a similar note, here we see my Taiwanese friend sharing a bike ride with his friend from Hong Kong to avoid paying the hourly fee of renting another bike. Would my Taiwanese friend have cycled faster if he wasn’t carrying another person? And does the money saved by not renting another bike compensate for the time lost and energy spent in riding a bike with increased weight?

Photo: Anish Tiwari, DCU Business School

Confess or I'll do it for you!

My research explores the relationship between power, sex and knowledge and what is accepted as truth in the pornography debate. This image represents that battle for control in the discourse but also the impact of unethical research that affects the subjectivity of the researched person.

Photo: Caroline West, School of Applied Language and Intercultural Studies

The whole of the moon

The photo here shows some cancer cells growing in size over several days. It is presented in the same manner as the different phases of the moon or “selene” the Greek word for moon, often depicted to incorporate the idea of using selenium in cancer research.

Photo: Ali Coyle, National Institute for Cellular Biotechnology

Colours of life

The photo shows several colourimetric sensor arrays composed of many dyes of different colours. These undergo a colour change when they chemically react with gaseous compounds present in the air. Dyes can be synthesized in a laboratory, but they can also be found naturally, derived mostly from plants. Leaves are green, and blood is red because of dyes present in their chemistry.

Photo: Jessica Gunnoo, School of Chemical Sciences

Flexing your muscles

My research focuses on understanding muscle plasticity and its remarkable ability to adapt to stress. Muscle fibres are unique in their structure and I hope this image conveys how complex and beautiful our muscles are, inside and out.

Photo: R. Sambhavi Priyadarshini, School of Health and Human Performance & National Institute for Cellular Biotechnology

Life in virtual reality

My research focuses on visual access to lifelog data, namely any data pertaining to a person’s life or life experience. We see the image of a woman using a VR headset and a stream of lifelog images overlaid on top of her, reflecting the life she is exploring within her virtual environment.

Photo: Aaron Duane, Insight Centre for Data Analytics

Comrade Santo Gopalan Memorial Library and Reading Room

In Kerala in India, reading rooms were used successfully by the Communist Party to spread social and political awareness among the masses. Today, reading rooms have ceased to be the vibrant political spaces that they once were. Television, the internet and smartphones mean that news is “consumed’ in the 21st century and not engaged with.

Photo: S. Harikrishnan, School of Law and Government

No-one home

This image represents the impact that contemporary attitudes towards the everyday photographing of children is having upon the practice itself. The absent child has been unphotographed as a consequence of potential rebuttal infringed upon the photographer as a result of the contemporary moral panic that occupies contemporary Irish society.

Photo: Glenn Doyle, School of Communications


My PhD research examines teaching Chinese as a foreign language for beginners, with a focus on one of the most alien and complicated aspects of learning Chinese, namely the characters. Preliminary results from my research suggest that repetition and use of colour are most beneficial to beginner learners in the acquisition and memorisation of character composition."I chose to embody the Chinese character for female (女 - nǚ), as the female body in itself is an enigmatic entity."

Photo: Caitríona Osborne, School of Applied Language and Intercultural Studies

Supporting mammies in research

This photo describes my typical day as both a mammy and a full time PhD student.

Photo: Sinéad Nic Aindriú, Institute of Education