Prof. Vincent O'Flaherty

Head of Microbial Ecology Lab, Prof. of Microbiology

With over 25 years of experience in microbial ecology and biofilm research, Vincent is an internationally recognised leader in his field and currently holds a position as Senior Lecturer, and Professor of Microbiology in NUI Galway.

Over the course of his research, Vincent has published over 300 scientific communications, including 95 papers in leading international peer-reviewed journals. He has successfully and consistently secured research funding of €10.5 million from national and international bodies.

His main research areas focuses on: anaerobic biofilm reactor technology for biorefining, energy production and wastewater treatment; control of biofilms in infectious disease settings and the microbial ecology of anaerobic biofilms and soil ecosystems.

Vincent is also a co-founder and Chief Scientific Officer of the companies Westway Health and GlasPort Bio; and lead inventor of low-temperature AD (LtAD) technology at NVP Energy.

Vincent received his 1st class honours undergraduate degree, Bachelor of Science, Microbiology, and PhD from the National University of Ireland, Galway.

Dr. Therese Mahony

Senior Postdoctoral Research Fellow

Therese's role currently is working on the Enterprise Ireland (EI) funded Dairy Processing Technology Centre project. She has over 25 years experience in the area of anaerobic digestion, and has been funded through several national funding agencies, including EI, Science Foundation Ireland, and the Environmental Protection Agency Ireland.

Therese was awarded her BSc and PhD in Microbiology from NUI Galway, Ireland.

Dr. Corine Nzeteu

Postdoctoral Researcher

Corine's current work is on the selective production of valuable medium chain carboxylates from biomass using anaerobic fermentation technology. She holds a strong academic role in supervising students and interns and their projects during their time in MEL.

Corine was awarded her BSc in Biochemistry and BSc in Biotechnology from Université de Yaoundé I, Cameroon and Athlone Institute of Technology, Ireland respectively; followed by an MSc in Biotechnology and PhD in Microbiology from NUI Galway, Ireland.

Dr. Tania Palmeiro-Sánchez

Marie Skłodowska Curie Postdoctoral Fellow

Tania received her PhD in Chemical and Environmental Engineering from the University of Santiago de Compostela (Spain) in 2017. Her thesis, entitled “Saline wastewater valorisation: a challenge for the obtainment of bioproducts”, tackled both issues of the treatment of saline wastewaters and their feasibility to produce value-added products. Her PhD was awarded with a mention Cum laude and also an international mention. She has participated in national and international conferences, published in international peer-reviewed journals, and also collaborated in book chapters. 

Currently, her work is focused on the valorisation of wastewater from the dairy industry to produce bioplastics (i.e., Polyhydroxyalkanoates). This research involves the design of a feasible valorisation system as well as the understanding of the microbial communities and their role in the process.

Dr. Anna Trego

Postdoctoral Researcher

Anna's role involves the use of advanced ecological modelling on process and microbial community datasets to gain deeper insights into the development and of engineered microbiomes with the aim of producing strategies for management and operation. She is skilled in the analysis and interpretation of 16S amplicon sequences and is currently exploring the wolderful world of shotgun metagenomics and transcriptomics. 

Anna received her BSc in Environmental Science from University of Arizona, her MSc in Sustainable Resource Management: Policy and Practice from University of Limerick and NUI Galway, and was awarded her PhD in Microbiology from NUI Galway, Ireland.

Jasmine Connolly

PhD Researcher

Jasmine joined the Microbial Ecology Lab in 2016. She began researching phosphate cycling in anaerobic digestion and in Archaea with the aim to reuse phosphate from wastewater. She has since moved onto researching the effect of a novel anti-microbial, developed by Westway Health, on Archaea. Jasmine's research is funded by Science Foundation Ireland.

Jasmine received her BSc in Microbiology from NUI Galway, Ireland.

Claribel Buenano

PhD Researcher

Claribel started her PhD with MEL by examining low temperature anaerobic digestion of high salinity wastewater. Her PhD is jointly funded by SENACYT Panama and Science Foundation Ireland for the Dairy Processing Technology Centre project.

She has a BSc in Civil Engineering from the Technological University of Panama and an MSc in Urban Water and Sanitation with specialisation in Sanitary Engineering from IHE-Delft, Netherlands. 

Fabiana M.B. Coelho

PhD Researcher

Fabiana's role involves the use of grass and slurry as feedstock for the production of butyric and caproic acids through anaerobic digestion using mixed cultures. Her PhD research is funded by Science Foundation Ireland.

Fabiana received her BEng in Chemical Engineering and her MSc in Technology of Chemical and Biochemical Process from the Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Yuchen Liu

PhD Researcher

Yuchen  joined VOF lab at the University of Galway in 2019. He came from China where he received his Bachelor degree at China Agricultural University. He obtained his Master degree at Wageningen University & Research, Netherlands focusing on the medium chain fatty acids production from food waste. He worked as research associate at the Southern University of Science and Technology before he moved to Ireland.

His PhD work aims to apply the low-temperature anaerobic digestion (LTAD) technology in treating the dairy wastewater with lipids and understand the microbial ecology of the process. He is also interested in use pretreatment technology and conductive materials to improve the process efficiency. Yuchen loves traveling, photography, hiking and a good pint besides work.

Shaun Connolly

PhD Researcher

Shaun's research looks into the effect of a novel antimicrobial amendment, developed by GlasPort Bio, on cattle slurry greenhouse gases (GHG) and ammonia emissions. From this he will examine it's effect on slurry storage, land-spreading and anaerobic digestion in order to reduce the agri-sector's role in climate change. This project is carried out in association with Teagasc (Johnstown Castle, Co. Wexford) and is funded by the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland.

He worked as a Research Intern for a summer in MEL before embarking on his PhD with the lab. Shaun received his BSc (Hons, 1st class) in Microbiology from NUI Galway, Ireland.

Caroline O'Donnell

PhD Researcher

Caroline's PhD research is focused on the mitigation of methane emissions from ruminant livestock through dietary feed additives. This project looks at the effects of oxidizing methane inhibitors, developed by GlasPort Bio, on enteric methane emissions, the rumen microbiome, and other production variables. This research includes in vitro studies using the Rumen Simulation Technique (RUSITEC), and in vivo sheep trials.

This research is funded by Science Foundation Ireland. This project is also carried out in collaboration with Teagasc, and the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM) funded Meth-Abate project.

Caroline received her BSc (Hons) Biology from the National University of Ireland, Maynooth (NUIM) and her MSc in Renewable Energy Systems from Dundalk Institute of Technology (DIT).

Alison Graham

PhD Researcher

Alison joined the Microbial Ecology Lab as a Research Assistant in October 2019, with a background in Molecular Biology and Environmental Remediation. They are currently undertaking a PhD, focusing on reducing enteric methane (CH4) emissions from sheep and cattle via the diet, by way of a controlled feed additive. Their work is in collaboration with Glassport Bio and Teagasc. 

Alison is passionate about the promotion of science communication and has been actively volunteering with the CELL Explorers science outreach programme at NUI Galway since 2015.

Alison was awarded her BSc (Hons) in Microbiology from NUI Galway, Ireland.

Emma Davis

PhD Researcher

Emma Davis is a PhD research student working to optimize the anaerobic co-digestion of silage and slurry. Funded by a Teagasc Walsh Scholarship, her ultimate objective is to design and implement at pilot scale a novel anaerobic digestion system for use on Irish farms. She is currently investigating two-stage AD systems, and how they may be optimized to digest high solids feedstock at low temperatures. 

She is originally from Tacoma, Washington in the United States and has worked previously as a water quality microbiologist. 


PhD Researcher

Pooja is doing her PhD on UProtein project- a joint research project between NUIG and Teagasc Research Centre. Her research work involves the  investigation of valorisation of plant based non-protein biomass waste to renewable food and non-food products through microbial fermentation.

Dr. Alejandra Carolina Villa Montoya

Research Assistant

Alejandra C. Villa is a microbiologist, with MSc in Agricultural Microbiology and Ph.D in Sciences emphasized in Sanitary Engineering. Her research experience has focused on topics related to the biological production of hydrogen and methane, fermentation, wastewater treatment, lignocellulosic waste, characterization of microbiomes using molecular tools, the microbiology of aerobic and anaerobic systems, and degradation of inhibitory and toxic compounds.

Members in Industry

Dr. Camilla E. Thorn

Postdoctoral Research Associate

Camilla works with GlasPort Bio and comes from a background in microbial ecology, with experience using high-throughput molecular methods to investigate the effects of various stresses upon mixed microbial communities.

Her role at the company involves investigating the potential of chemical treatments for the abatement of ammonia and GHG emission from stored animal wastes.

Camilla was awarded her PhD in Microbial Ecology from NUI Galway, Ireland.

Dr. S. Chui Sang Lee

Postdoctoral Research Associate

Chui Sang (Sam) started at GlasPort Bio examining the diverse microbiota of the bovine rumen, and investigating the effect of enhanced feed-additives in that community to explore methane and other GHG inhibition strategies. Her current research is in the R&D of novel treatments that can enhance value of animal waste in industry such that it can be used as a richer fertiliser and anaerobic digestion feedstock.

In the past, she has worked in a national Irish agency as part of a quality team and is familiar with the dynamics of an ISO 9001 and 17025 accredited lab, and helps implement those practices and quality systems to the team environment.

Chui Sang was awarded her BSc in Genetics and Cell Biology from Dublin City University, Ireland and her PhD in Microbiology from NUI Galway, Ireland funded by EPA Ireland.

Dr. Stephen Nolan

Research Associate

Stephen’s role revolves around innovation in agriculture-based anaerobic digestion, with a view to improving methane yield and reducing greenhouse gases (GHG) and ammonia losses through feedstock and digestate stabilisation. His research is funded by Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland.

Stephen received his BAgrSc in Environmental Science from the University College of Dublin, Ireland, and his MSc in Renewable Energy Systems from Dundalk IT, and an MA from Bangor University, Wales.

Sandra O'Connor

Laboratory Technician

Sandra brings over 17 years of industrial experience to the NVP team in her position as a Microbiologist and Environmental Chemist. She has a strong knowledge of ISO 9001 and 17025 standards and is highly skilled in environmental compliance, sustainability, sampling, water quality and laboratory skills.

In previous roles, she has working experience in laboratory management, developing analytical methods, validation, and research for development.

Sandra holds a Post Graduate Diploma from Sligo Institute of Technology, Ireland in Environmental Protection. In addition, she currently holds a level 5 Health and Safety Representation Qualification. 

Andrew Bartle

Research Assistant

Andrew started working in MEL under Dairy Processing Technology Centre (DPTC) as a Research Assistant. His primary role involves setting up and supporting lab-scale experiments, sampling off-site at large scale bioreactors and in-house support for equipment maintenance. His recent work examines the viability of anaerobic processing of saline wastewaters at ambient temperatures as part of the ongoing DPTC-SFI (Science Fondation Ireland) projects in the lab.

Andrew was awarded his BSc (Hons) in Biotechnology from NUI Galway, Ireland.

B. Conall Holohan

Chief Technology Officer

Conall is an environmental microbiologist working on resource recovery in industrial and municipal wastewaters from lab through to full-scale.

His research experience to date has revolved around anaerobic digestion and the microbiology underpinning it, specifically focusing on its potential for high-rate treatment of lipids / FOGs in dairy wastewater.

He currently works with NVP Energy as Chief Technology Officer as they are commercialising the first low-temperature anaerobic treatment technology for sewage (“AMBI-ROBIC®), a technology patented by the O’Flaherty Laboratory. 

His role also includes expanding AD wastewater treatment across industrial wastewaters such as Distilling and high-saline Dairy, working with the O’Flaherty Lab closely in this capacity.

Conall received his BSc in Biochemistry from NUI Galway, along with his Higher Diploma san Gaeilge. 

Previous Lab Members

LIVE - Our People.pptx


The O'Flaherty Lab is proud of its past members and the effort they put into their research, careers and most importantly themselves. We are pleased to introduce some of our family here!

Keep in touch!

As a previous member of MEL we welcome your news any day (and tea and biscuits if you swing by the lab). If you'd like to add/update your details here please do not hesitate to contact our web team below!