Social media and online data is one of the key areas of scholarship for Dr Gwen Bouvier, lecturer in Media Studies, who has also expertise in civic debate, journalism, discourse and social semiotics. She has made thoughtful contributions to the #MeToo debate and participated in RTÉ radio discussions on the role of social media in public debate.
Prior to coming to Maynooth University in 2017, she was an Associate Professor and head of the MA Journalism Connected at Orebro University, Sweden, and has previously taught at Metropolitan University, University of South Wales, Leicester University, UK and Zayed University, UAE.
Dr Bouvier is the head of second year in Media Studies, and she is the co-ordinator for the MA and the departmental PhD programme. Her teaching in the second year considers qualitative research methods, with a special focus on social media and online data. Her third year module presents and introduction to media theory, and in in third year, her module, Social Media and Digital Storytelling, connects changes in journalism to social media and technologies, such as Artificial Intelligence.
Miriam Fitzsimons is changing the face of Irish Society
What impressed Miriam Fitzsimons on her first day at Maynooth was the signage in Irish and English throughout the campus. It was an early marker for the 17 year old that she would feel very much at home.
Now studying for a Master’s in Modern Irish after graduating with a degree in Modern Irish and Media Studies in 2018, Miriam is focused on pursuing her postgraduate studies through the medium of Irish.
A native of Letterkenny, Co Donegal, she is researching the theme of emigration in short stories, through the medium of Irish in the MA Nua Ghaeilge.
“Emigration is a problem that has been troubling the people of Ireland for centuries. Everybody in Ireland has some experience of emigration. You need to be focused and very committed but, if you love the language and you are able for the work, you’ll be grand.
“The special aspect of the Master’s is the freedom that you have. You really can choose whatever you like as your thesis topic and steer your Master’s in a particular direction depending upon your own interests.”
In linguistic and literary terms, she has found that her Irish language skills have improved enormously and her next plan is to extend her Master’s to a doctorate.
Biomedical Engineer Sinéad Barton has just competled her PhD focussing on developing next-generation hospital software to support more accurate diagnoses, particularly for cancer.
A native of Wicklow and an MU alumna, Sinéad graduated with a Bachelors in Electronic Engineering in 2013, progressing to the field of biomedical engineering for her PhD.
“The structured PhD at Maynooth encouraged me to try a lot of things I may not necessarily have tried before. One of the opportunities was to do a teaching exchange with one of our sister universities in Changzhou University. I never thought I would be a lecturer and I enjoyed it quite a lot.”
Having completed her doctorate degree, Sinéad is busy adding value to her CV, achieving certificates in Professional Teaching and Learning, Innovation and Research Commercialisation, and completing a LabVIEW coding course run by the Department of Physics.
“This is a vibrant field of research and I would encourage anyone who thinks they might be interested to go for it. I have thoroughly enjoyed my time as a PhD student.”
An expert in privacy and surveillance, Dr Murphy is on the legal frontlines of technology and data protection. When she’s not teaching information privacy law to Master's students or civil liberties law and media law to undergraduates in the MU Law Department, she's busy probing the latest questions facing EU lawmakers around the intersection of privacy law and technology.
In fact, she's working on a book titled, Language, Power, and Surveillance, which questions how the language used to describe surveillance measures to the public – through (deliberately?) ambiguous and complex legal language – can allow politicians, companies and governments to "facilitate the quiet appropriation of power."
"I'm particularly interested in thi ntersection between law and technology, and what role human rights might play in that interaction," Maria says. "Technology offers us many, many benefits, but also risks, so we need to calculate those in a way that best helps the core golas of democratic society."
Graduates from her classes, meanwhile, are taking what they’ve learned to law firms like Matheson's, to newly created corporate posts as data protection officers, and to governments.
The MU Department of Law PhD scholar recently completed a research project with a topical scope: public procurement processes in Ireland. Her research found that small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are disproportionately underrepresented in public contracts, and social enterprises and innovative startups in particular are virtually excluded from the Irish government’s public procurement processes. And yet, Emma says, it’s those very types of businesses that play an important and valuable role in effecting change in the public services, “making the state more effective, more inclusive, and sustainable.”
Emma’s research comes amid a highly public debate over the procurement process for the National Children’s Hospital. It is for reasons like that, she says, that’s she’s bound and determined that her PhD research won’t sit on a shelf when it’s done. In fact, in may help her transition into a career in the public sector, where she’s intending to make change not just nationally, but even on the global level.
Dr Sarah Arnold of the MU Department of Media Studies is pushing to make sure new technologies—whether they be video games or streaming service algorithms—aren’t designed for men alone. Whether it’s VR (virtual reality) headsets being made to fit only male heads, or the proliferation of maledecision-makers in the tech companies designing such products, or content pushing based on the consumer’s gender, Sarah’s research is challenging the media and tech industries to think differently.
Seamus Taylor is changing the face of Irish Society
Seamus is currently undertaking doctoral research on hate crime policy making and practices. He has worked in the social research division of the ESRI, Dublin, Social Worker at the London Irish Centre, Senior Policy Advisor and Head of Policy, Equality and Diversity at Haringey Council, Director of Strategy at the Commission for Racial Equality (Britain) and Director of Equality and Diversity at the Crown Prosecution Service (England and Wales).
Seamus' research interests include; the analysis of hate crime policy and practice with a current focus on Disablist Hate Crime, issues of equality and diversity in the criminal justice system, analysis of legal and policy approaches to addressing equality in the public sector, analysis of the social policy making process and exploring the linkages between redistribution and recognition based inequalities. His publications are in the areas of equality and diversity policy making and practice, critical analysis of hate crime policy and practice, racist crime and race equality policy and practice in the criminal justice system.
Seamus has involvements with a range of organisations in the NGO and statutory sectors in Ireland and Britain. These include serving as a trustee of the Runnymede Trust (Britain) think tank on race equality and cultural diversity, serving as a commissioner on the independent Commission on the future of Multi Ethnic Britain which reported in 2000, chairing the Irish community census campaign in Britain in the lead up to the 2001 census which included an Irish ethnic group question for the first time. He is currently independent chair of the London Hate Crime Scrutiny and Involvement Panel (CJS) and chair of the Irish Penal Reform Trust.
A native of India, Dr Abhinay Puvvala came to Maynooth after finishing his PhD to take the EU-funded role of Marie Skłodowska-Curie Fellow in one of the most cutting-edge research groups in Ireland (and, indeed, internationally).
The Maynooth University Technology Adoption Group, led by Professor Brian Donnellan and based in the Innovation Value Institute and the Maynooth University School of Business, is pioneering new approaches to the adoption of technology. Outdated approaches that don’t take into account how humans interact with technology, how a business model might actually seize or market the technology, or the ethical challenges it may pose mean poor adoption of the technology and unrealised value for the organisation, full stop.
"It feels like technological innovation is overrated," Abhinay says. "Companies focus on it but it’s often the business model that gets the value out of it, or doesn’t. You can always reverse engineer the technology."
Abhinay is working directly with a multinational semiconductor company Analog Devices Inc. (ADI) on just this challenge--helping guide it through a business model transition by looking at the processes and competencies needed to capture value from technological innovation.
"It’s not something a researcher typically gets to see from such close quarters. I can see the evolution of where they (ADI) were 12 months ago and where they are today. You don’t get access like that very often.” Other projects the group is taking on relate to Autonomous Vehicles, Organicity – Living Lab, and Smart Cities.