Dr. Abigail Rooney 

Phone: +353 1 4027907
Email: abigail.rooney@dit.ie

Position:

Research Technical Officer - Health and Safety Officer

Bio & Qualifications:

In 2006 I graduated with a Bachelor of Engineering (Hons) from University College Dublin. After working as an engineer for 3 years, I subsequently undertook a Ph.D. in geology at Trinity College Dublin and was awarded my doctorate in 2014. I joined the FOCAS Institutes technical team in January 2015.

Principle Responsibilities:

Risk assessment, health and safety advice and keeping safety records and statements up to date. Represent the FOCAS Research Institute on the School Health and Safety Committee. Chemical laboratory management, procurement and instrumentation support. 

Research Interests:

The aim of my doctorate was to investigate global climate changes that took place in the Late Devonian (>360 million years ago), through the analysis of stable nitrogen isotopes within bulk marine shale and extracted fossil algae.

Ocean and atmospheric chemical changes can be recorded in the nitrogen (δ15N) and carbon (δ13C) isotopes preserved in the tissues of plants and animals in sedimentary rocks. These organisms have their own distinctive isotopic signal as a product of their surrounding environment, their trophic level within an ecosystem, and the biochemical pathway used to synthesize nutrients. As conditions and nutrient availability vary over geologic time, organisms record these changes in their stable isotope ratios. As nitrogen is typically the limiting factor for growth in natural ecosystems, it can be a reliable indicator of change within a biological system. Bulk samples, containing a mixture of inorganic and organic N, are commonly used in stable isotope studies to infer climate changes. However, due to uncertainties in the composition of the bulk samples, and the inconsistency of diagenetic alteration throughout the ocean, the isolation of specific sedimentary N fractions has become more significant as research on nitrogen isotopes progresses. My research investigated the δ15N value of bulk organic residues and extracted algae from Kentucky shales, to gain a greater understanding of baseline δ15N changes within documented Late Devonian – Early Carboniferous (~ 360 Ma) glacial / interglacial cycles associated with mass extinction.

Additional research included experimental thermal maturation and chemical treatment, the trace element analysis of extracted algae, and further investigation of the natural affinity of an enigmatic Late Devonian fossil (Protosalvinia spp.).