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Dr. Denise  O'Meara

Title:

Lecturer in Molecular Biology

School/ Department:

School of Science & Computing - Dept of Science

Room Name/ Num:

337 1969 - Main Building

Campus:

Main Campus

OrcID Number:

https://orcid.org/0000-0003-1372-5505

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My Biography

I graduated with a PhD in Molecular Ecology from Waterford Institute of Technology in 2015. During my PhD research, I studied red squirrel (Sciurus vulgaris) populations using non-invasive genetic techniques. In 2008, I was awarded a BSc Hons in Applied Ecology from University College Cork. 

My research in the Molecular Ecology Research Group (MERG)  involves the use of remotely obtained DNA from hair or faecal samples to study wildlife populations. The DNA can be used to inform the presence of rare species, dietary analysis, and to provide population based information to provide insights on conservation, management and the geographic origins of a species. Some of the mammals I have studied include pine marten, otters, badgers, squirrels, bats and a variety of small mammals. 

I supervise a range of undergraduate final year projects in the Molecular Biology and Biopharmaceutical Science and the Agricultural Science programmes. Current undergraduate research projects range from the molecular sex identification of small mammals from barn owl pellets to the genotyping of genes of interest in beef and dairy cattle to improve efficiency in animal breeding programmes. 

Postgraduate supervision:

Thomas Curran: Development of eDNA methods for the surveillance of mosquitoes in Ireland. Funded by the EPA and WIT PhD CoFund. 

Rebecca Synnott: Bridging the gap between conservation genetics and squirrel management. Funded by the IRC PhD Scholarship.

Anthony Murphy: Investigating the prevalence of genetic based resistance to rodenticides in the Irish rodent population. Funded by CRRU Ireland and WIT MSc CoFund.

Nicole Keohane: Investigating non-antibiotic approaches to improve udder health in Irish dairy cows. Funded by the IRC Employment based PhD Scholarship with AHV. 

Research

Journal Articles

https://scholar.google.com/citations?user=riL3kt4AAAAJ&hl=en

Guerrero J, Byrne AW, Lavery J, Presho E, Kelly G, Courcier EA, O'Keeffe J,  Fogarty U,  O'Meara DB, Ensing D,  McCormick C,  Biek R, Skuce R,  Allen A (2018) The population and landscape genetics of the European badger (Meles meles) in Ireland. Ecology and Evolution, 00, 1–14. 

Dooley‐Cullinane TM, O’Reilly C, Aslam B,  Weiner DP, O’Neill D, Owens E, O’Meara D, Coffey Lee (2018) The use of clade‐specific PCR assays to identify novel nitrilase genes from environmental isolates. MicrobiologyOpen, 1 – 7.

O'Meara DB, McDevitt AD, O'Neill D, Harrington AP, Turner P, Carr W, Desmond M, Lawton C, Marnell F, Rubalcava S, Sheehy E, Sleeman DP, Tosh DG, Waters C, O'Reilly C (2018) Retracing the history and planning the future of the red squirrel (Sciurus vulgaris) in Ireland using non-invasive genetics. Mammal Research, 63, 173 -184. 

Sheehy E, O’Meara DB, O’Reilly C, Smart A, Lawton C (2014) A non-invasive approach to determining pine marten abundance and predation. European Journal of Wildlife Research, 60, 223-236.

O’Meara DB, Sheehy E, Turner PD, O’Mahony D, Harrington AP, Denman H, Lawton C, MacPherson J and O’Reilly C (2014). Non-invasive multispecies monitoring: Real-time PCR detection of squirrel and small mammal prey DNA in pine marten (Martes martes) scats. Acta Theriologica (Mammal Research), 59, 111-117.

O’Meara DB, Turner PD, Harrington A, Williamson K, McGuirk J, Sleeman DP (2014) Records of badgers (Meles meles) in the Comeragh Mountains, Co. Waterford. Irish Naturalists’ Journal, 33,141.

White S, O’Neill D, O’Meara DB, Shores C, Harrington AP, O’Reilly C, Weyman G and Sleeman DP (2013) A non-invasive genetic survey of otters (Lutra lutra) in an urban environment: a pilot study with citizen scientists. IUCN Otter Specialist Group Bulletin. 30/02.

O’Neill D, Turner PD, O’Meara DB, Chadwick E, Coffey L and O’Reilly C (2013).Development of novel real-time TaqMan PCR assays for the species and sex identification of otter (Lutra lutra) and their application to non-invasive genetic monitoring. Molecular Ecology Resources, 13: 877–883.

O’Meara DB, Turner PD, Coffey L, O’Reilly C (2012) TaqMan assays for species identification of the red squirrel (Sciurus vulgaris) and the grey squirrel (Sciurus carolinensis). Conservation Genetics Resources, 4, 603-604.

O’Meara DB, Edwards CJ, Sleeman DP, Cross TF, Statham MJ, Mcdowell JR, Dillane E, Coughlan JP, O’Leary D, O’Reilly C, Bradley, DG, Carlsson J  (2012) Genetic structure of Eurasian badgers Meles meles (Carnivora: Mustelidae) and the colonization history of Ireland. Biological Journal of the Linnean Society, 106, 893-909.  Featured on RTE Radio One, the Irish Times and Ireland’s Wildlife.

Book Chapters

O’Meara DB and O’Reilly C (2016) Advances in mammal studies using genetic analysis. The Mammal Atlas of Ireland. Editors: Liam Lysaght and Ferdia Marnell.

PhD Thesis 

O’Meara DB (2014) The DNA Toolbox: Development and optimisation of molecular techniques to identify red squirrels (Sciurus vulgaris). PhD Thesis, Waterford Institute of Technology.

General Science Writing and Communication

O'Meara D (2018) Practical Application of Genetic Technology in Mammal Research. Theme: Genetic Techniques and Technologies. In Practice Magazine. 

O’Meara D (2015) Travel Writer, Oregon: “The steers are lively, and make the young cowboys earn their rodeo stars” The Irish Times.

Harrington A and O'Meara D (2015) Waterford Squirrels: The Secrets Revealed. The Woodland Trust, Spring Edition. 

The MISE Magazine: Fostering Community Involvement in Mammal Conservation (2015)

McDevitt A and O’Meara D (2014) Are Irish badgers a distinct subspecies? Ireland’s Wildlife.

O’Meara D and Harrington A (2014) The history of the red squirrel in Ireland. Ireland’s Wildlife.

O’Meara D (2013) New study provides insight into the history of the Killarney shad. Inshore Ireland. October/November issue, p.8.

Morris C, O’Reilly C, Turner P, Halliwell L, O’Meara DB and Sheerin E. (2013) A novel non-invasive method for detecting the harvest mouse (Micromys minutus). Mammal News – Autumn 

O’Meara DB (2013) Wildlife Detective. Walton Magazine, Issue 4. This article also appeared in Junior Scientist, Issue 1.

O’Meara DB, Turner PD, O’Neill D, Coffey L, Harrington A, O’Reilly C (2012) The genetic toolbox for squirrel surveys. Mammal News – Autumn.

Teaching

  • Food Traceability and Bioanalysis
  • Forestry and the Environment
  • Animal Breeding and Genetics
  • DNA Biotechnology and Bioinformatics
  • Food Microbiology for Culinary Arts
  • Undergraduate Research Projects 

Professional

Peer reviewer for the following academic journals: Ecology and Evolution, Journal of Mammalogy, Mammal Research, Biological Journal of the Linnean Society, European Journal of Wildlife Research, Mammalian Biology, BMC Evolutionary Biology, Fungal Biology, Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society and multiple book chapters.