Cullen Scholar - Aileen Kennedy

The Marine Institute is highlighting the postgraduate students completing projects as part of the Cullen Scholarship Programme. The programme builds national marine research capacity and capability and equips graduates with the skills and expertise in raising awareness about our ocean, as well as Ireland's rich marine biodiversity and ecosystems.Aileen Kennedy - Photo credit Andrew Downes, Xposure

Aileen Kennedy

Title of Research: Fisheries Data Integration and Analytics

Higher Education Institution: National University of Ireland, Galway

Supervisors: Jim Duggan (NUI Galway), Enda Howley (NUI Galway) and David Currie (Marine Institute)

What is your area of research?
My research focuses on analysing and integrating data in the fisheries domain. Data in the fisheries domain includes the volume and value of fish caught by fishermen and the sample and survey data. Sample and survey data can include data such as number, length, weight, sex and age of species in a given location. There is more and more data being produced and new methods are needed to efficiently and effectively manage the data to elicit useful information. Initially my research looked at different ways to manage the data, using cutting-edge advances in data technologies. Different sources of data will be linked up to provide a richer source of information and knowledge to marine scientists and other users. The new technologies will make it easier and more intuitive for end-users to access and use the information. I am also looking at harnessing the power of machine learning techniques to analyse the data and discover new insights. All this research is aimed at supporting decision makers and allowing them to make more informed decisions.

Why is your research important to Ireland's marine sector?
The aim of the research is to provide data integration and analytics tools so that fisheries data can be utilised more proficiently to produce added insights. This is important to Ireland's marine sector as it will provide opportunities to enhance support for decision makers, in relation to managing fish stocks. This may include determining the total allowable catch, maximum sustainable yield and prediction of population size.

What has been the benefit of being part of the Marine Institute's Cullen Scholarship Programme?
I have benefited in a number of ways from being part of the Marine Institute's Cullen Scholarship Programme. Coming from an IT background, the programme has allowed me to interact with other PhD students in different areas of the marine domain.
The programme has also afforded me the opportunity to attend conferences and other training sessions. During my first year I attended an international conference in Barcelona, where I presented my work. I have also presented my work at an online conference. Being part of the Cullen Scholarship has also enabled me to attend a number of training sessions at the Marine Institute.
The Cullen Scholarship Programme provides a lot of support to its students. The Marine Institute has hosted annual Open Days where every student has the opportunity to present their current work. This provides a great opportunity to gain exposure to other research that is being undertaken at the Maine Institute and to meet with other Cullen researchers.

What have been some of the memorable experiences during your Cullen Scholarship?
The most exciting and challenging experience so far has been presenting at a conference in Barcelona. This was the first conference I had attended, so it was a very exciting opportunity to be able to present my work and to meet with other experts in a similar field.


Editor's Notes:
The Cullen Scholarship Programme has provided grant aid to the value of €3 million supporting 31 PhD and three MSc students from 2014 to 2020. The research addresses a number of the 15 research themes identified in the National Marine Research & Innovation Strategy 2017-2021. This scheme is funded by the Marine Institute under the Marine Research Programme with the support of the Irish Government.