Associate Professor Denis O'Carroll
A warm welcome to Associate Professor Denis O’Carroll. He comes to us as an ARC Future Fellow and for four years he will be focusing on his research into nanoparticles and groundwater remediation. After that period Denis will become an Associate Professor at CVEN. He is here to stay and has been here before. Denis spent a sabbatical at The Water Research Laboratory four years ago. This relationship proved so fertile that he was encouraged to apply for an ARC fellowship. Despite the intensely competitive nature of these grant applications he was successful and so has returned to continue and deepen his relationship with the School.
What drew him to CVEN initially was its “significant research strengths and its global potential” as demonstrated in its willingness to engage in the “novel” field of nanotechnology. Denis sees his ARC grant as a significant opportunity, allowing him to fully focus on research in this nascent field. For example, the field work to be conducted by Dr O’Carroll and CVEN’s Dr Martin Andersen from the Connected Water Initiative will investigate how naturally occurring nanoparticles scavenge groundwater contaminants. Research such as this has the potential to set new horizons for other researchers and marks CVEN as a leader in nano-knowledge.
Associate Professor O’Carroll brings with him an impressive academic and industry resume, an international reputation, extensive experience and the courage to work in an emerging field that is, at times, regraded with scepticism as well as excitement. He has journeyed across the seas because he knows he will be supported here, able to contribute his strengths to the pool of expertise that already exists in CVEN, where he has become an integral part of the Connected Waters Initiative team.
As current particle transport models have failed to accurately predict nanoparticle transport in groundwater, this lack of basic scientific understanding leaves a gap in industry knowledge. While Denis will miss teaching, he is excited to concentrate on research over a prolonged length of time. This focus will allow him and his collaborators to regularly publish leading edge work in top journals, leading the science and creating viable new knowledge in groundwater remediation and the fate of engineered and naturally occurring nanomaterials.
When we go out to a site and we inject our nanoparticles, that we have spent years developing in a lab, and we come back a year later and we see significant contaminant degradation, that’s amazing, I love that.
Nanotechnology is open vista of possibilities. Industry is currently investing billions of dollars in an attempt to revolutionise electronics and discover the economic potential of nanomaterials. Meanwhile Denis and his CWI compatriots will look at the fate of a range of products that emit nonparticles and asking where do they go? What effect do they have? Are they dangerous? This is another case of industry and academia working symbiotically.
It is always through team work that Denis believes the best results are achieved. It is one of the things he most loves about his work: that it is not done in isolation but in connection. His passion to protect the environment is also made real and effective by another connection: between laboratory and field. “When we go out to a site and we inject our nanoparticles, that we have spent years developing in a lab, and we come back a year later and we see significant contaminant degradation, that’s amazing, I love that.”
While Denis is here, his unique knowledge will be passed on to the post graduate students he will mentor and supervise, deepening the nanoparticle expertise of the School. We at the School look forward to getting to know Denis better and to seeing his research unfold and yield results.