Waterford Institute of Technology
Recent publications
Jockeys are unlike other weight-making athletes as the sport of horse racing requires strict weight management to meet the racing stipulations, protracted working hours and an extended racing season with limited downtime. Several studies have reported on the body composition and bone status of male and female professional and retired jockeys, yet the variety of assessment techniques, lack of standardised testing protocols and classification inconsistency make interpretation and comparison between studies problematic. This review aimed to appraise the existing body composition and bone health evidence in jockeys and evaluate the assessment methods and classification criteria used. Dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA) has been used most frequently in jockey research to assess body composition and bone status, while various generic skinfold equations have been used to predict body fat percentage. Evidence indicates flat jockeys are now taller and heavier than the data reported in earlier studies. Absolute fat mass has steadily increased in male jockeys in the last decade. The bone status of male jockeys remains a concern as constant low bone density (BMD) is evident in a large percentage of young and experienced professional jockeys. Due to limited studies and variations in assessment methods, further research is required to investigate bone turnover markers in male and female jockeys. A standardised testing protocol using internationally recognised assessment guidelines is critical for the accurate interpretation and evaluation of body composition and bone health measurements. Furthermore, establishing jockey-specific BMD and bone turnover reference ranges should be considered using existing and future data.
Efficient cell lysis is critical for the extraction of DNA from difficult-to-lyse microorganisms such as Gram-positive bacteria and filamentous fungi. A bead-beating (BB) step is usually included in DNA extraction protocols to improve cell lysis. However, there is no consensus on the duration of BB that is necessary for complete lysis of the microbial communities present in complex microbial ecosystems, but which will still maintain the integrity of DNA released from easy-to-lyse microbes. Another consideration is that most protocols are tailored to one particular target group of microbes, typically either bacteria or fungi, in a given sample matrix. In this study, we investigated the impact of five BB durations (0, 3, 10, 15 and 20 min) during DNA extraction with the QIAamp® Fast DNA Stool Mini Kit, on the bacterial and fungal communities of single pig faecal and liquid feed samples, extracted in triplicate, with the objective of determining a suitable ‘catch-all’ method. Both sample types were subjected to the BB durations in triplicate, followed by 16S (bacterial) and ITS2 (fungal) rDNA amplicon sequencing. The performance of the different BB durations was assessed based on the quantity of total DNA extracted, alpha- and beta-diversity analyses of the resultant microbial communities and differential abundance of bacterial and fungal taxa. Our results suggest that 20 min of BB is most appropriate for maximising the lysis of difficult-to-lyse bacteria and fungi in both pig faeces and liquid feed, while minimising the negative impact on easier-to-lyse microbes. Total DNA yield increased with BB duration for both sample types; however, the yield from faeces decreased after 20 min of BB. Despite this, DESeq2 analysis indicated that changes in the differential abundances of the dominant taxa at this point were limited, which was supported by the Shannon diversity results. Maximising the BB duration appeared to be necessary in order to obtain a representative profile of the Gram-positive bacteria, particularly in liquid feed, and of the filamentous fungi present in both sample types. However, considering the small sample size, along with the reliance on differential as opposed to absolute abundances to validate increases or decreases in taxa, a larger-scale study is necessary to verify the findings of the present study.
Managing a tourism destination is fraught with complexity, with a general consensus that no single entity can manage the comprehensive multiplicity of stakeholders and offerings involved. In this study we take a unique approach by examining tourism destination management through a strategic net lens, where the Destination Management Organisation (DMO) is an intentionally developed strategic net involving a restrictive group of stakeholders, which coordinates and manages the value creating activities of actors in the destination. Our empirical findings are based on the investigation of three strategic net case sites within the Irish tourism industry. We identify net partnering, net visioning and net orchestration capability, which generate and modify operating routines, by integrating, building, and reconfiguring the resources and capabilities of network actors. These dynamic capabilities are developed through the co-evolving learning processes of experience accumulation, knowledge articulation and knowledge codification. Our study contributes to a better understanding of how strategic nets operate, the dynamic capabilities required for the net to function, and the learning processes which underpin them.
The use of additive manufacturing (AM) has grown exponentially in recent years and has many advantages, including feasibility, over other conventional processes in many current applications. The use of a second process, for example, machining, improves the surface finish and in this case, the use of two processes is known as hybrid manufacturing. Heat treatments are often performed on parts generated by the AM process, mainly to relieve the residual stresses generated, but for some materials, this can decrease the pitting corrosion resistance of the parts. The objective of this study is to analyze the effect of hybrid manufacturing (AM + machining) on residual stresses and pitting resistance corrosion, which can bring advantages to piece properties without the use of heat treatment. 316L stainless steel parts are generated by direct laser metal sintering (DLMS), with subsequent milling using a complete factorial planning for the design of the experiments. The cutting speed, feed rate, cutting depth, use of the cutting fluid and laser power in the DLMS process are all varied. Residual stresses are measured by X-ray diffraction and the blind hole method, with polarization curves raised by a potentiostat. The results show that it is possible to reduce the residual surface stresses in the parts, even for compressive stresses, and to improve the pitting corrosion resistance, when compared to the part without milling, depending on the cutting parameters used.
There have been many initiatives to involve citizens in the development of smart cities. The aim is to enhance the quality of life for the citizens of these cities by providing better services to them. There are various concepts and platforms discussed in the literature to support citizen’s feedback in smart city development. However, there is a lack of studies that guide how to utilize citizens’ feedbacks to improve the quality of life for the citizens of the city. This paper provides an overview of existing platforms and concepts which are associated with the involvement of the citizens in the smart city domain. The smart city framework has been adapted to classify the existing literature from different architectural layer’s perspectives. Moreover, this study proposes key concepts for service and context layers for an adapted smart city framework based on the conducted case study and a literature review. These key concepts can assist city authorities in better decision-making of designing effective services that meet citizen’s requirements based upon their feedback.KeywordSmart city frameworke-parking serviceService layerContext layerCitizensSmart service
Trypanosoma vivax is a unicellular hemoparasite, and a principal cause of animal African trypanosomiasis (AAT), a vector-borne and potentially fatal livestock disease across sub-Saharan Africa. Previously, we identified diverse T . vivax -specific genes that were predicted to encode cell surface proteins. Here, we examine the immune responses of naturally and experimentally infected hosts to these unique parasite antigens, to identify immunogens that could become vaccine candidates. Immunoprofiling of host serum shows that one particular family (Fam34) elicits a consistent IgG antibody response. This gene family, which we now call Vivaxin , encodes at least 124 transmembrane glycoproteins that display quite distinct expression profiles and patterns of genetic variation. We focused on one gene ( viv-β8 ) that encodes one particularly immunogenic vivaxin protein and which is highly expressed during infections but displays minimal polymorphism across the parasite population. Vaccination of mice with VIVβ8 adjuvanted with Quil-A elicits a strong, balanced immune response and delays parasite proliferation in some animals but, ultimately, it does not prevent disease. Although VIVβ8 is localized across the cell body and flagellar membrane, live immunostaining indicates that VIVβ8 is largely inaccessible to antibody in vivo. However, our phylogenetic analysis shows that vivaxin includes other antigens shown recently to induce immunity against T . vivax . Thus, the introduction of vivaxin represents an important advance in our understanding of the T . vivax cell surface. Besides being a source of proven and promising vaccine antigens, the gene family is clearly an important component of the parasite glycocalyx, with potential to influence host-parasite interactions.
Global change in the Anthropocene has modified the environment of almost any species on earth, be it through climate change, habitat modifications, pollution, human intervention in the form of mass drug administration (MDA), or vaccination. This can have far-reaching consequences on all organisational levels of life, including eco-physiological stress at the cell and organism level, individual fitness and behaviour, population viability, species interactions and biodiversity. Host-parasite interactions often require highly adapted strategies by the parasite to survive and reproduce within the host environment and ensure efficient transmission among hosts. Yet, our understanding of the system-level outcomes of the intricate interplay of within host survival and among host parasite spread is in its infancy. We shed light on how global change affects host-parasite interactions at different organisational levels and address challenges and opportunities to work towards better-informed management of parasite control. We argue that global change affects host-parasite interactions in wildlife inhabiting natural environments rather differently than in humans and invasive species that benefit from anthropogenic environments as habitat and more deliberate rather than erratic exposure to therapeutic drugs and other control efforts.
This paper is a survey of standards being used in the domain of digital cultural heritage with focus on the Metadata Encoding and Transmission Standard (METS) created by the Library of Congress in the United States of America. The process of digitization of cultural heritage requires silo breaking in a number of areas—one area is that of academic disciplines to enable the performance of rich interdisciplinary work. This lays the foundation for the emancipation of the second form of silo which are the silos of knowledge, both traditional and born digital, held in individual institutions, such as galleries, libraries, archives and museums. Disciplinary silo breaking is the key to unlocking these institutional knowledge silos. Interdisciplinary teams, such as developers and librarians, work together to make the data accessible as open data on the “semantic web”. Description logic is the area of mathematics which underpins many ontology building applications today. Creating these ontologies requires a human–machine symbiosis. Currently in the cultural heritage domain, the institutions’ role is that of provider of this open data to the national aggregator which in turn can make the data available to the trans-European aggregator known as Europeana. Current ingests to the aggregators are in the form of machine readable cataloguing metadata which is limited in the richness it provides to disparate object descriptions. METS can provide this richness.
The AI and Society discourse has previously drawn attention to the ways that digital systems embody the values of the technology development community from which they emerge through the development and deployment process. Research shows how this effect leads to a particular treatment of gender in computer systems development, a treatment which lags far behind the rich understanding of gender that social studies scholarship reveals and people across society experience. Many people do not relate to the narrow binary gender options of male or female, and many people express their gender identity in much richer ways than the sex/gender binary female/woman and male/man Boolean terms will allow. We ask: are “born-digital” gendered datasets in digital systems experienced as marginalising by those who express their identity beyond the male/female binary? Case Study: Ireland. To answer this universal question, this paper presents the findings of an empirical case study of people in Ireland with diverse gender identities and expressions, and their experiences with public data systems and new technologies. In spite of great social changes in Ireland which have led to constitutional change in favour of LGBTQI + people, born-digital systems were experienced by respondents as embodying socio-cultural values which were no longer accepted in society at large. For many of the respondents, digital technologies routinely marginalise them in all kinds of ways. These systems keep alive violence and oppression long after civil rights have been enshrined in constitutional law. This study is just one example of the way assumptions about digital are disengaged from society-at-large. It is a call to arms to all who are passionate about socially-responsible technology.
Digital scholarship is ubiquitous, where even the most Luddite of scholars use some form of digital technology in their research. Differences in the level of technology use have become a question of degree not kind. Currently in the second wave of Digital Humanities, Presner (2010) argues that Digital Humanities 2.0 introduces entirely new-born digital paradigms, methodologies, and publication models not derived from print culture. This new wave is “deeply generative, creating the environments and tools for producing, curating, and interacting with knowledge that is ‘born digital’ and lives in various digital contexts” (Presner 2010, para. 13). Using the case study of a Digital Humanities project called “The Waterford Memories Project”, this paper will consider both the role of born digital survivor testimony in confronting a difficult and disputed past in Ireland and, more broadly, how we create and access knowledge in this contested space. The Waterford Memories Project is an oral history driven study in digital humanities, publicly documenting survivor narratives of the Magdalene Laundries and Industrial Schools in the South-East of Ireland. The last Magdalene Laundry in Ireland closed in 1996. These institutions formed part of a system of coercive confinement, which incorporated a wide range of historical institutions used to confine both children and adults whose “crimes” were to act against the strict and punitive moral codes of the period, poverty, or mental illness. This paper will examine the role of born digital data in public humanities (in the form of the audio-recorded survivor oral histories), and frames the Waterford Memories digital humanities project in the technoculture and minimal computing literature, emphasising the overall need for a human-centred approach to technology at all stages of the research. Cultural stories can become fossilised and continue to perpetuate the silencing of survivors; it is therefore essential to consider how the openly available digital testimony contributes to the framing of cultural discourse around our history of coercive confinement in Ireland.
The most important aspect of sustainability in manufacturing is the preservation of energy and natural resources. For modern production, optimized processes that minimize negative impacts on the environment are becoming increasingly important. This can be achieved by increasing energy efficiency through low, clean, and renewable energy consumption. There are many ways to produce less pollution, emissions, and waste in machining: by using more environmentally friendly cooling methods; by applying methods that reduce or eliminate the need for utilization of cooling lubrication; improving the energy efficiency of machining operations; determining the optimal cutting conditions that save resources by increasing machining productivity or reducing the metal removal rate (MRR); minimizing power consumption; and reducing carbon dioxide emissions. This article gives an idea of modern manufacturing with a focus on analyzing the current state of machining operations in terms of saving production resources and ensuring more environmentally friendly production using greener cooling methods of machining such as Dry, Conventional cooling systems, Minimum quantity of lubricant (MQL), Minimum quantity of cooling lubrication (MQCL), Nanofluids, Biodegradable Vegetable Oils, Cryogenic Lubrication, and High-Pressure Cooling (HPC). Finally, the important modern trends of providing resource-saving and environmentally efficient technologies in modern sustainable manufacturing are discussed in this paper.
Biocomputing systems based on engineered bacteria can lead to novel tools for environmental monitoring and detection of metabolic diseases. In this paper, we propose a Bacterial Molecular Computing on a Chip (BMCoC) using microfluidic and electrochemical sensing technologies. The computing can be flexibly integrated into the chip, but we focus on engineered bacterial AND Boolean logic gate and ON-OFF switch sensors that produces secondary signals to change the pH and dissolved oxygen concentrations. We present a prototype with experimental results that shows the electrochemical sensors can detect small pH and dissolved oxygen concentration changes created by the engineered bacterial populations' molecular signals. Additionally, we present a theoretical model analysis of the BMCoC computation reliability when subjected to unwanted effects, i.e., molecular signal delays and noise, and electrochemical sensors threshold settings that are based on either standard or blind detectors. Our numerical analysis found that the variations in the production delay and the molecular output signal concentration can impact on the computation reliability for the AND logic gate and ON-OFF switch. The molecular communications of synthetic engineered cells for logic gates integrated with sensing systems can lead to a new breed of biochips that can be used for numerous diagnostic applications.
microRNAs (miRNAs) are a class of non-coding functional small RNA composed of 21–23 nucleotides, having multiple associations with liver fibrosis. Fibrosis-associated miRNAs are roughly classified into pro-fibrosis or anti-fibrosis types. The former is capable of activating hepatic stellate cells (HSCs) by modulating pro-fibrotic signaling pathways, mainly including TGF-β/SMAD, WNT/β-catenin, and Hedgehog; the latter is responsible for maintenance of the quiescent phenotype of normal HSCs, phenotypic reversion of activated HSCs (aHSCs), inhibition of HSCs proliferation and suppression of the extracellular matrix-associated gene expression. Moreover, several miRNAs are involved in regulation of liver fibrosis via alternative mechanisms, such as interacting between hepatocytes and other liver cells via exosomes and increasing autophagy of aHSCs. Thus, understanding the role of these miRNAs may provide new avenues for the development of novel interventions against hepatic fibrosis.
Background Systems approaches have been used in recent years in addressing complex public health problems such as obesity and physical inactivity. Depicting these ‘wicked' problems through systems maps has helped system actors better understand the entire systems in which these problems exist. Like physical activity (PA) promotion, there are multiple sectors and organisations who have a stake in the promotion of walking. However, their efforts are seldom combined, and stakeholders often work in conceptual silos when tackling the same problem. Walking has been described as a ‘best buy' for public health (Bull and Hardman, 2018). However, walking promotion requires efforts across the entire ecosystem if population-level PA goals are to be reached. The purpose of this study is to generate a systems map of the factors that influence walking in Cork. Methods Participants of the workshops all work in Cork, Ireland. Participants remotely attended two online Zoom workshops to develop the systems map. The Australian Systems Map for Physical Activity (Bellew et al., 2020) was used as a framework in the development of the map. Semi-structured interviews (n = 5) were used to supplement the online workshops. A third online workshop is planned for October 2020 to discuss identified interventions. Outcomes The systems map provided stakeholders with a new perspective on the complexities of the system and provided a platform to network with organisations outside of their sectors. Semi-structured interviews helped identify barriers and facilitators to working collaboratively and explored the political and commercial environment of the system. Furthermore, 19 potential interventions were identified from the workshop discussions. A selection of these will be discussed in detail in a third workshop in October 2020. Conclusions The systems map alone will not increase walking levels across the entire system. However, it will provide stakeholders with a common visual language of the structure of the system. Thus, enabling them to identify where they sit within the system and potential leverage points they can influence. Furthermore, understanding the entire ecosystem of walking in Cork through a systems map may prove useful in other contexts when approaching the complex problem of population-level walking promotion.
Background Organisations operating at multiple levels of the physical activity and outdoor recreation ecosystem in Ireland collect data pertaining to recreational trail use, yet despite its potential utility, there is no centralised surveillance system for Irish walking trails. Due to the little effort to collate data, recreational walking trail usage in Ireland during the COVID-19 pandemic is unknown. The aims of this study are twofold. Firstly, this study aims to compare trends in footfall count data on Irish trails prior to, and during, the period following the outbreak of COVID-19. Secondly, this study aims to triangulate findings from footfall count data with openly available mobility data. Methods This descriptive study analysed changes in footfall counts gathered from passive infrared sensors on 33 of Ireland's walking trails between January 2019 and December 2020. The relationship between Google Community Mobility Report (GCMR) data and footfall counts was analysed to corroborate trends in footfall data. Results Overall, total footfall increased by 6% (p = 0.024) between 2019 and 2020 on trails included in this analysis. Notably, mean trail usage was between 26% and 47% higher (p = 0.002) in October-December 2020 than during the same period in 2019. On average, trails >2km from an urban area had higher footfall during all periods of movement restrictions. Conclusions The conclusions of this study are twofold. Firstly, recreational walking trail use increased during the COVID-19 pandemic, especially on trails closer to urban areas. The increase reported here poses questions relating to the potential positive legacy which the pandemic period may have had on recreational trail use. Secondly, combining multiple data sources can provide trail managers with more detailed representations of trail usage. However, there are currently little efforts to harmonise data. Future research should examine the multi-level determinants of trail use to inform context specific trail promotion campaigns. Furthermore, investigating novel ways to coordinate heterogeneous datasets pertaining to recreational walking may prove fruitful for the fields of outdoor recreation and physical activity research.
Community-based health enhancing physical activity (PA) initiatives often lead to important mental health and wellbeing outcomes beyond improvements in physical activity levels. However, identifying what outcomes to measure and how to measure them is a challenge in community-based work. There is a lack of practical guidance on how to strengthen mental health and wellbeing outcomes within the context of PA initiatives. This presentation will share the work on a project with community based practitioners and mental health/physical activity experts which is being led by the HEPA Europe Working Group on HEPA promotion in socially disadvantaged groups, supported by WHO Europe. The presentation will engage participants in discussions around the following questions: What are the most important mental health and wellbeing outcomes of community-based health enhancing physical activity initiatives in Europe, and how can these best (i.e., adequately, and pragmatically) be assessed for evaluation purposes? What are the needs of practitioners (from physical activity sectors and mental health sectors) working in communities to promote mental health through physical activity?
Background Sheds for Life (SFL) is a ten-week health and wellbeing programme delivered in the community setting of Men's Sheds in Ireland that uses gender-sensitive approaches to engage typically hard-to-reach men (?Shedders') with health. SFL consists of a health check, core modules of physical activity (consisting of a walking programme or chair-based exercises for older adults), mental wellbeing, healthy eating and other elective wellbeing components. SFL is implemented across two phases with four regions per phase. The purpose of the research is to evaluate SFL using an implementation science approach to assess programme impact and implementation effectiveness with a view to enhancing its sustainability and scalability while also informing gender-sensitive strategies that engage hard-to-reach men with health and wellbeing. Methods This study is a hybrid typology ?effectiveness-implementation? design. A community-based participatory research, and mixed methods approach has been adopted to measure the effects of the SFL intervention on Shedders across implementation phases and identify and monitor implementation barriers and facilitators that can inform future sustainability and scale-up of SFL. Central to effective implementation of SFL is a partnership approach between the Irish Men's Sheds Association (IMSA) and other health-related partner organisations (POs). This research engages key stakeholders (at individual (Shedder), provider (POs) and organisational (IMSA) levels) and prioritises implementation outcomes. Purposive sampling is used to recruit a diverse sample of participants (Shedders n = 420 and SFL providers n = 20). Results Findings from phase 1 will inform phase 2 implementation. Preliminary physical activity outcome results from phase one across four regions (baseline to ten weeks) suggest days active per week increased from 3.07 to 4.32 days (p =.00) days walking increased from 4.29 to 5.28 days (p=.00) minutes walking per day increased from 33.31 to 38.15 (p=.005) Conclusions Preliminary findings highlight the potential of the SFL initiative to address the increasing calls for gender-specific health promotion programmes that target lifestyle and health behaviour change in men. Shed settings are unique and effective in attracting men from more marginalised male subpopulations, reaching men who would typically not engage with health services. This study is funded by the Irish Research Council (ID: EBPPG/2018/256)
Agriculture 4.0 is characterized by the use of data to improve agricultural efficiency and provenance or transparency of food supplies. Data are created both by sensors in automated systems such as milking parlors and by humans performing animal husbandry and veterinary tasks. In farm conditions, the means of reporting complex data such as the diagnosed animal health conditions and the associated thousands of treatment names and methods of application mitigate against accurate data recording. An old adage of computing is GIGO, and inconsistencies in spelling and lags between treatment and data entry mean that much farm saved data are unsearchable and thus unusable for monitoring and control purposes. We describe here the new market paradigms that create the need for systems such as distributed ledgers to give transparency to data flows. We also describe the development of the VirtualVet methods that reduce the amount of data needed on farm to five items of animal treatment, and these can be collected by messaging app methods in the milking parlor or animal treatment area. Farms benefit by automated treatment records and supply chain can audit treatment data remotely thus reducing travel times.
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Miguel Ponce de Leon
  • Telecommunications Software & Systems Group
Siobhan Walsh
  • Department of Chemical & Life Sciences
Steven Davy
  • Department of Computing, Maths & Physics
Damian Connolly
  • Department of Chemical and Life Sciences
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