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Kerry Ryan

Postdoctoral Researcher – SOILGUARD Project

Research Interests

I have a passion for understanding and exploring the environment around us. I completed my undergraduate degree in Plant Science at Trinity College Dublin, where my final year project investigated the diversity of epiphytic bromeliads across altitude and forest type in Cusuco National Park, Honduras. During my education I volunteered twice as a research assistant with Operation Wallacea, conducting ecological, zoological and botanical surveys in Calakmul Biosphere Reserve, Mexico; Turtle Bay, Akumal, Mexico; and Cusuco National Park Honduras.

I developed a keen interest in sustainable agricultural practices, soil ecology, and ecosystem dynamics. This led me to a PhD with the Teagasc Walsh Scholarships’ Programme and NUIG, investigating the effect of multispecies grasslands on the soil microbiome for improving resource use efficiency and climate change resilience. I wanted to know who was there and what they were doing, particularly with respect to nitrogen and carbon transformations.

I also assessed how these microbial communities coped with drought and if by increasing plant diversity, could we optimise the diversity and function of the soil microbiome towards climate resilient grasslands. You can check out my work here. I then perused a postdoctoral position in a similar research area with Teagasc and SOILGUARD, in the hopes of increasing our academic understanding of how soil biodiversity and multifunctionality are impacted by farm management and climate change.

Key interests:

  • Soil microbiome
  • Multi-species swards
  • Diversity interactions modelling

Current Projects

I am currently working on the SOILGUARD project the supervision of Dr. Fiona Brennan and Dr. John Finn. SOILGUARD is funded by the European Union Horizon2020 Research & Innovation programme, and comprises twenty-five transdisciplinary project partners from seventeen countries. Our research aims to develop a conceptual and analytical framework between soil management, soil biodiversity, soil multifunctionality and human wellbeing across biogeographical regions. We aim to achieve this by advancing the sustainable use of soil biodiversity, protecting soil multifunctionality, increasing our understanding of the effects of farm management and climate change on soil biodiversity and ecosystem services, and promoting evidence-based conservation strategies. I am always happy to chat and discuss my work with fellow researchers, farmers and anyone who has an interest!


  • 2022  -  PhD Microbiology, National University of Ireland, Galway
  • 2018  -  BSc. (Hons) Plant Sciences, Trinity College, Dublin