Friday, January 21, 2022

My Green Labs @ Biological Sciences Department in UL


Working "green" (environmentally sensitive, resource-efficient, and socially responsible) in laboratories has become the gold standard in both the Biological Sciences department undergraduate and research labs. Together with My Green Labs, all laboratory work carried out within the Biological Sciences department has adopted 'Green Lab' practices and programs. The aim of this initiative is to reduce the departments laboratories' environmental impact in four key areas – energy, water, waste, and chemical use – through a combination of organisational initiatives and behaviour change programs.

The aims of this initiative are to involve scientists in efforts to minimise environmental impacts, build a culture of sustainability in the lab, advance sustainability goals and identify waste-reduction opportunities. The departments Green team are working closely with UL’s Building & Estate department and has signed up to the ‘Optimising Power at work’ initiative at the University of Limerick.

This initiative is run in conjunction with the Office of Public Works and involves monitoring a number of buildings on Campus for energy efficiency. Among some of the new measures we have introduced includes a traffic light system for electrical equipment where, using coloured stickers, equipment is turned off as soon as its not in use. Ultra-low temperature freezers (ULT, -80°C) are one of the most energy-intensive pieces of equipment found in labs and can be operated more efficiently by implementing simple cold-storage management best practices. Among these measures include an increase of running temperature from -80c to -70c. This change in temperature of 10c results in up to 30% less energy consumption.

The Biological Sciences department are the first labs nationally to include the undergraduate labs and students in the initiative and we will introduce the plan to all new students and returning students starting in Semester 2 2022. The sum of these small changes will lead to a large impact on the sustainability of labs going forward and by focussing on behavioural changes we hope to change of mindset to build on this culture within the laboratories.

The Green Team includes:

 Jacqueline Kennedy (Project leader)

Edel Durack (Project leader)

Martina O’Keeffe

Valerie Cliffe

Mary Barrett

Stephanie Brosnan

Etaoin Murphy

Azza Naik

Miriam Stiavnicka

Harishkumar Rajendran

Murali Kumar

Lea Deinert

Elisa DiCarlo

Elizabeth Ryan 

Monday, January 17, 2022

Department of Biological Sciences offers Leaving Certificate Biology Practicals to Students


The Department of Biological Sciences at the University of Limerick welcomed Leaving Certificate Biology students from all over Munster into their state-of-the-art laboratories last week. The Department provided the students with the opportunity to conduct the laboratory practical experiments set on the Leaving Certificate Biology curriculum.  Biology Practical Sessions were first presented by the Department of Biological Sciences at UL over fourteen years ago.

Biology Teachers have described the opportunity to attend the LC Biology Practicals as follows: "This is a great revision opportunity for our students, they get to re-take the practical experiments in the Leaving Certificate syllabus using the state-of-the art facilities.  In addition to preparing students for their Leaving Certificate exam it gives them an insight into life as a university student, creating an added impetus to strive to reach their full potential." 

"Many biology leaving cert students throughout the country do not get the opportunity to actually carry out and practice the experiments included in their course work and a lot of secondary school laboratories simply don't have the facilities to allow this. The Dept of Biological Science’s biology laboratories have the most up to date experimental equipment to facilitate in depth research and experimentation.  It's a great opportunity for secondary school students to practically engage with the University within a laboratory setting".

The department's technical team, teaching assistants as well as post graduate students and final year BSc Ed students who will be qualified as second level biology teachers at the end of this semester, present the laboratories to assist students throughout the week and instruct them in conducting the experiments.

The biology students are also given information on UL programmes offered by the Department of Biological Sciences and the Faculty of Science and Engineering at UL.