New PhD students bring Italian and Greek flavour to research group

We are delighted to welcome two new PhD students to the Plant-Animal Interactions Research Group at Trinity College Dublin this semester: Elena Zioga and Irene Bottero. Both are working on how agricultural pesticides influence plants and pollinators: Elena on the national DAFM-funded PROTECTS project and Irene on the EU-funded PoshBee project.


At their first lab group meetings, Irene and Elena treated us to a honey tasting session and Greek herbal infusion teas

Elena has a B.Sc. (Hons) in Agriculture, Forestry and Natural Environment, and an M.Sc. in Conservation of Biodiversity and Sustainable Exploitation of Native Plants, both from Aristotle University of Thessaloniki (Greece). Her primary interests are botany, apidology, pollination ecology, chemistry of natural products, and environmental chemistry. She is currently undertaking her PhD under the supervision of Prof. Jane Stout (Department of Botany, Trinity College Dublin) and Prof. Blanaid White (Department of Chemical Sciences, Dublin City University) and she is part of the plant-pollinator interactions group at Trinity College. In her PhD project, Elena is evaluating the potential for pesticide contamination of floral resources as a result of translocation from soil. This is a multidisciplinary project and part of the PROTECTS (Protecting Terrestrial Ecosystems Through Sustainable Pesticide Use) programme, funded by the Irish Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine.

Irene has a B.Sc. (HONS) in Natural Sciences and a M. Sc. in Evolution of Animal and Human Behaviour from the University of Turin. In the past she worked for an European project, in order to restore a damaged area of Toce River in Pieve Vergonte (VB, Italy). Her main interests are the ecosystem services, the environment and the conservation of biodiversity and landscape. She is currently undertaking her PhD under the primary supervision of Prof. Jane Stout at TCD, with Prof. Chris Topping (Aarhus, Denmark) and Dr. Cecilia Costa (CREA,Italy). Her PhD is part of the European PoshBee project (, which aims to understand the impact of several stressors (i.e. nutrition, agrochemicals, pathogens) on bee health. The collected data will be correlated with the landscape data from both Ireland and Italy, in order to create a risk assessment and to reduce the negative impact of these stressors on wildlife, pollinators and environment.

Follow Elena @ZioElena and Irene @irene_bottero on Twitter to keep up with their progress.

research group

The Plant-Animal Interactions research group (13 Sept 2018): Back row (L-R) Elena Zioga, James Murphy, Simon Hodge, Conor Owens; front row (L-R) Irene Bottero, Jane Stout, Laura Russo, Maeve McCann, Sarah Gable, Cian White


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