DIT Fulbright Scholar Brendan Cleary on life in the Big Apple!


06 January 2014: DIT Fulbright Scholar Brendan Cleary is currently studying at Columbia University in New York. Brendan, who is doing his PhD at the Dublin Energy Lab at DIT, updated us on his time in the Big Apple so far – he still has three months left on his scholarship at the prestigious American university.


After settling into life in New York, I attended the Columbia University football team Homecoming at the Baker Athletics Complex on West 218th Street. Homecoming is the tradition of welcoming back the football team after they have played their away games as part of the Ivy League.

There is a carnival atmosphere at the game with alumni, students, parents and friends gathering to cheer on the Columbia Lions. Unfortunately the Lions were beaten 21–7 to the Penn Quakers but the weather was nice as you can see from the photo above.

Playing rugby for Columbia University

I’m a keen Gaelic footballer but unfortunately Gaelic football is not played at the university. Therefore, I turned to my second sport rugby and joined up the Columbia University rugby club. I instantly made about 35 new friends and got straight into the training regime. Although here in the United States they like to call it ‘Practice’. 

We train/practice every Monday and Wednesday and generally play competitive games on a Saturday. The head coach Dan Kennedy (who has Irish roots) puts us through our paces and we often get valuable advice from New Zealander Marty Veale.  It’s really enjoyable as it provides a break away from my research. Below is a photo of me at the Ivy League sevens tournament held at Princeton University. We made it to the final but unfortunately we were beaten. It was a great day and a solid team effort.



More Football!

This time I went to see the professional footballers play.  Rob van Haaren and I took the short train ride to the Metlife Stadium in New Jeresy to see New York Giants take on Dallas Cowboys. Rob, originally from the Netherlands, is a colleague of mine from the Center for Life Cycle Analysis, he works on solar energy and it was a well-earned break from our research. Metlife is an impressive stadium considering the capacity is similar to Croke Park in Dublin. Unfortunately the Giants were beaten.

Meeting other Fulbrighters and Irish speakers in New York!

As a Fulbrighter, you get invited to various events. One such event was the launch of Christine Kinealy’s new book ‘Charity and the Great Hunger in Ireland: The Kindness of Strangers’ at the Consulate General of Ireland’s residence in Lower Manhattan. I met playwrights, actors and academics including other Fulbrighters.  It was really good to meet Irish people who now live and work in New York.  I also got to speak ‘Cúpla focal’ to many of the Irish speakers in attendance.

Below is a photo of me and Jonathon O’Neill who is also a Fulbrighter and is teaching Irish as a Foreign Language Teaching Assistant (FLTA) to mostly Irish-American students at New York University and Drew University.  I met Jonathon at the book launch and this is a photo of us at Grand Central afterwards.



It is a great opportunity to be on a Fulbright scholarship as it has allowed me to interact and exchange ideas with fellow researchers and Professors in my research field.  I spent the last three months writing a journal paper entitled ‘Assessing the Economic Benefits of Compressed Air Energy Storage for Mitigating Wind Curtailment’. 

The aims of this paper are to estimate the levels of wind curtailment on the 2020 All-Island of Ireland system for various scenarios including with and without compressed air energy storage using power systems simulation software PLEXOS. My host research center; the Center for Life Cycle Analysis are very interested in this research and we hope to collaborate going forward. The Center for Life Cycle Analysis is located in Columbia University campus and it’s great to take a break at lunchtime and walk around the campus to clear your head.


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