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Rebecca holds a BSc (hons) in Zoology with Cell and Molecular Biology from University College Dublin (UCD). She has a particular interest in the study of mammals and her PhD research involves using DNA analysis to help inform the best approaches to help conserve and manage wildlife.

Rebeccas' research involves two species, the native red squirrel (Sciurus vulgaris) and the invasive North American grey squirrel (S. carolinensis), the latter of which has a negative impact on red squirrel populations due to competition for food and habitat and the spread of diseases such as the squirrel pox virus. The aim of this research is to use genetic tools to help understand and inform best practices for the management and control of invasive grey squirrels, and the conservation, restoration and recovery of native red squirrels. The work on grey squirrels involves the use of DNA analysis to understand how they move throughout the landscape to recolonise areas from where they have previously been removed as part of on-going efforts to help conserve and restore red squirrel populations. The genetic work on red squirrels involves assessing the number of red squirrels living in a particular woodland and using genetic data to provide information related to their overall health to inform management plans for their long-term survival. This work is important as it is contributing towards the implementation of the European Union Regulation (No 1143/2014) on the prevention and management of the introduction and spread of invasive alien species, and to support Irish and British government commitments to the restoration and conservation of red squirrels at national levels.

Rebecca began her postgraduate study journey in the Department of Science at Waterford Institute of Technology (WIT) in 2019 where she works in the Molecular Ecology Research Group, part of the Eco-Innovation Research Centre with Dr Denise O’Meara and Dr Catherine O’Reilly. Rebecca has worked and collaborated with a variety of academics, conservation practitioners and stakeholders throughout her time in WIT including Dr Colin Lawton from the National University of Ireland, Galway; Dr Allan McDevitt, University of Salford, Manchester; Dr David Tosh, The Ulster Museum, Dr Josh Twinning, Cornell University, Dr Craig Shuttleworth, Anglesey Red Squirrel Trust, Wales and colleagues at Ulster Wildlife and Newry, Mourne and Down District Council.  

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being

Education/Academic qualification

Bachelors Degree, University College Dublin

16 Sep 201318 May 2017

Award Date: 11 Sep 2017


  • QL Zoology
  • QH426 Genetics
  • QH301 Biology


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