The Royal Irish Academy/Acadamh Ríoga na hÉireann champions research. We identify and recognise Ireland’s world class researchers. We support scholarship and promote awareness of how science and the humanities enrich our lives and benefit society. We believe that good research needs to be promoted, sustained and communicated. The Academy is run by a Council of its members. Membership is by election and considered the highest academic honour in Ireland.

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Helen Shaw


I am an Assistant Professor in Biogeography and Palaeoecology in the Department of Geography at Maynooth University and a member of ICARUS. I have a wide background in environmental change and management and am interested in how our understanding of long-term change can assist us in planning for the future. My primary research area is palaeoecology. 
I graduated with a PhD from Stirling University, which explored the palaeoecological history of the fantastic Glen Affric pine woods in Scotland. This research was applied to the management planning for the future of the pine woods, an area which forms an exemplar of rewilding for future forest sustainability.
I then worked as a researcher at the International Centre for the Uplands in Cumbria, where I gained interdisciplinary experience and developed my interest in social-ecological systems and resilience. The work was focused on the sustainable management of upland systems via information flow between research and land managers. Whilst working at the centre I developed conferences on sustainable upland management, resilience in the uplands and adaptation to climate change as well as workshops on various themes including barriers to innovative planning in national parks.
I then developed a research project, with Professor Ian Whyte at Lancaster University and funded by the Leverhulme Trust, investigating upland landscape change in the north-west of England. In this project we examined post-medieval landscape change via palaeoecology and history and applied this to ideas of sustainable landscape management for the future. It is important to realise that traditional land management was always shifting and the layers of history still impact on the present ecology.
This was followed by teaching posts at Liverpool John Moores University and in Wales, where I enjoyed developing and teaching a range of modules across conservation and environmental science. 

Tabhair tacaíocht do thodhchaí an léinn in Éirinn

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