Category Archives: Ireland Study Abroad | IFSA-Butler

Golden Days!

Update from Stranmillis University College:

Five American students arrived at Stranmillis in January 2014 to study on the IFSA-Semester Programme.  Recently they took part in a ‘graduation’ ceremony at Stranmillis.

The students were Brien Behling and Britney Mathieson – Drake University; Caroline Wass – Washington and Lee University; Dominic Cruz – St Martin’s University; and  Alice Bomkamp – Austin College. They selected their study options from a range of taught modules and attended classes with Stranmillis students, adding a significant international perspective to discussion and debate.  In addition to their academic study they had opportunities to undertake placements in local schools and to engage in volunteering with Stranmillis Widening Participation Partnerships.
Continue reading Golden Days!

Embracing every county….bar one!

Megan Madonna | Vanderbilt University | University College Dublin Spring 2014

The Island of Ireland is divided geography into 4 provinces: Ulster, Munster, Leinster and Connaught:

Ireland Proviences

This is further divided into 32 counties – 6 in Northern Ireland and 28 in the Republic of Ireland.

Ireland Counties

Each province and even more so each county of Ireland represents a unique aspect of our nation.

People are different; they speak with different accents, they have different customs and they take pride in their county colours when it comes to Gaelic games.

Places are different; the landscape varies from the rolling waves of the Atlantic to mountain peaks to the bogs of the midlands to the city centres.

Counties and their inhabitants are known by names such as The Rebels (Cork), The Banner (Clare), The Kingdom (Kerry), The Premier (Tipperary), The Royal county (Meath), The Lilywhites (Kildare), The Tribesmen (Galway)….the list goes on! Even for an Irish person, visiting all of the counties on the island is not an easy task to do over a number of years. For a single semester study abroad study Megan Madonna from Vanderbilt University has really seen the length and breadth of the Emerald Isle. Megan has managed to visit in some shape of form every county on the Island – except for one! Fermanagh (Fur-man-a) has escaped her. This however does give her a reason to come back to Ireland and achieve the ultimate goal. From all of us at IFSA-Butler Ireland well done on your fantastic achievement!

The challenge:

Map of Ireland











Here are some pictures of Megan on her travels around Ireland (courtesy of Megan):


Kissing the Blarney Stone
Kissing the Blarney Stone
Galway or Mayo?
Galway or Mayo?


Giants Causeway
Giants Causeway
Inch Beach, Co. Kerry
Inch Beach, Co. Kerry
Cliffs of Moher
Cliffs of Moher

Stranmillis bids farewell to Fall 2013 Students

Special Guests in attendance:                             

  • Gregory S. Burton, Consul General at the U.S. Consulate in Belfast
  • Professor Sir Desmond Rea, Chair of the Governing Body of Stranmillis University College
  • Doreen Bell, Vice Chair of the Governing Body of Stranmillis University College

On December 19th Stranmillis University College, Belfast hosted a celebratory Christmas Lunch and graduation ceremony for the departing IFSA-Butler students from the fall 2013 semester. Sixteen students on the special student teaching programme and seven students on the semester programme were honoured at the event. In her speech at this unique graduation ceremony Stranmillis Principal, Dr. Ann Heaslett, noted that the IFSA programme at Stranmillis has been described as “a gold standard available nowhere else in the United Kingdom.”

Students, families, staff and special guests convened with mixed emotions; sadness about leaving Belfast; joy having spent an amazing time in Northern Ireland; anticipation about what the future holds and excitement about having made great friends and alumni.

Gold was a theme that was woven through the whole event. Each student was presented with a Stranmillis University College golden stole. Dr. Heaslett told the graduating students “I hope this stole serves to remind you of your time with us…this is a symbol of what binds us together, the partnership between IFSA, Stranmillis and all our visiting students who come through the IFSA programmes.” Fittingly, Dr. Heaslett finished by referring to the writings of the Irish author and philosopher Charles Handy – “To plant a golden seed is the most important gift you can give. To plant a golden seed is to identify a talent in someone, something they are good at, and to point it out to them. If they trust you it can give them the confidence to go and achieve something with it. We hope that we have planted golden seeds in your life and hope that you go forward to plant golden seeds in your careers.”


After receiving their stoles the proceedings were handed over to the students. Both groups presented a heart-warming and insightful look at what they had done over the previous weeks and months. The special programme students put across things they had learned from living and teaching in Belfast – one student even pointing out that there is no such thing as too much butter in Belfast!! It was fantastic to see how this experience has been so impactful on the students. The semester students gave a very special and fine rendition of “My Stran” (to the melody of My Girl) – if you have not seen this yet it is a must. Well done on reaching (or not reaching as the case may be) those high notes!!


Congratulations to all IFSA-Butler Fall 2013 Stranmillis students. We look forward to keeping in contact and wish you every success in the future.


Ireland highlighted as one of the upcoming five countries in the world to watch for scientific research excellence

Nature Magazine, the eminent scientific publishing journal, has selected Ireland as a top 5 country for up and coming high level research

20 June 2013: Ireland has received a special mention as one of five ‘Up and Coming’ destinations for high level research based on the quality and quantity of scientific research being carried out in our research institutes.  Nature Magazine, the eminent scientific publishing journal has today released the results of its first annual ‘Nature Publishing Index’. This study is an international ranking of research institutes based on the number of articles published in Nature’s world renowned research journals.

Having reviewed the rankings a special supplement ,written by Nature editors, selected 5 countries for a special mention as up and coming in high level research, one of which is Ireland.

The Nature Publishing Index provides a valuable insight into the quality and quantity of research being carried out by top research organisations across the globe. The publishing rankings recognise the top countries and institutes that have produced quality research during the calendar year 2012. Nature has created a database to derive rankings based on publication, the database is freely available online here

The Director General of Science Foundation Ireland (SFI), Professor Mark Ferguson, welcomed the announcement saying: “Today’s announcement, based on the quality and quantity of research being carried out by top research organisations across the globe, demonstrates Ireland’s respected international profile among the global science community and shows clear value and recognition of the research being funded.”

He added: “Agenda 2020, SFI’s ambitious strategy on the future of science funding in Ireland has set strategic objectives, one of which is to become the best scientific funding agency in the world at creating impact from excellent research. Today’s announcement is a testament to the cutting edge scientific research being carried out across Ireland’s research institutions. Scientists from across Ireland are today recognised internationally by their peers in one of the most respected and revered scientific journals in the world.”

First published in 1869, Nature is a prominent interdisciplinary scientific publication and is widely regarded as one of the few remaining academic journals that publish original scientific research across a wide range of fields


From Science Foundation Ireland –


Spring 2013 Reserach at UCD

IFSA-Butler students Miah Blomquist and Tori Davis have completed the Introduction to Research module at University College Dublin this semester. Miah and Tori were placed in research laboratories which reflected their personal areas of interest. Miah was placed within the School of Biomolecular and Biomedical Science while Tori worked in the Centre for Synthesis and Chemical Biology, School of Chemistry. The module gives students a flavour of life in a research laboratory. Miah and Tori told us how they got on – well done girls on an excellent achievement!


Name:  Victoria Davis

Major:  Chemistry

Project:  Catalytic Oxidation Using Nickel(II) Triazolylidene Complex


Why did you choose to do the Introduction to Research module?

I chose to take this module because it gave me the chance to try different types of research in chemistry while in another country. I have previous research experience working in an organic chemistry lab, and wanted to try working in an inorganic chemistry lab. I was excited not only to be able to study abroad (which is not easy for science majors to do), but I also got to participate in international research.
Can you describe briefly what is involved with the module?
This module is perfect because it is flexible–they know that you are here to travel and experience the culture. You get to make your own schedule that works for you and the assignments are straightforward: keep a lab notebook, regularly update an electronic diary about your progress, and complete two assignments. There is one mid-semester assignment to construct a methods section for your project, and at the end of the semester, you must submit an abstract for your project as well as prepare a poster presentation.
How do you feel you benefited from taking this module?
I got first-hand experience working in another country’s scientific infrastructure–which can be quite different from the US. The Irish call Erlenmeyer flasks “conical flasks”! Though it took some adapting, I learned a lot about the importance of communicating ideas effectively in science. And I solidified my decision to pursue my doctorate degree in chemistry.

Would you recommend doing this module to others? Why?
I definitely recommend this module! This module will prepare you for your senior project or thesis when you return to your home university. It will also give you a taste of what graduate school is like, without the stress. Previous research experience is not required, and you get to meet some pretty amazing scientists from around the world.


Name:  Miah Blomquist

Major:  Microbiology

Project:  Effects of Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA) on an in vitro model of Human Marcophage Differentiation as a Target of the CLA-induced Regression of Atherosclerosis


Why did you choose to do the Introduction to Research module?
I chose this module because I thought it would be a great opportunity to gain some lab experience and integrate more into the UCD community.

Can you describe briefly what is involved with the module?

This module included going into lab weekly and coordinating with your lab supervisor. It was also required to submit weekly learning journals, a mid-term paper outlining the protocols you were using, and a final abstract of your project along with a research poster.

How do you feel you benefited from taking this module?

This module benefited me in a lot of ways. It helped me feel more at home in UCD, and it gave me a lot of great lab experience that can be applied to future endeavours. It definitely helped me land a few interviews for summer research positions.

Would you recommend doing this module to others? Why?

I would definitely recommend doing this module to any students interested in a career in research. It gives you so much experience and teaches you a lot. This module was a huge part of my time here at UCD, and the experience I gained from it is invaluable.

IFSA-Butler student presents research at Univeristy College Dublin

IFSA-Butler student Tram Anh Pham of Franklin and Marshall College recently completed the “Introduction to Research” module at University College Dublin. This pilot module resulted in 8 placements in the UCD Schools of Biomolecular and Biomedical Science, Biology and Environmental Science and Chemistry and Chemical Biology labs and the plan is to broaden the scope in the future to include placements in other areas such as Physics, Geology, Mathematics and Computer Science.

Students were placed in research labs that reflected their personal areas of interest where they spent 6-8 hours a week working in the lab on their own specific research project. Projects ranged from discovering how certain bacteria produce biofilms to the chemical synthesis of fluorescent probes to the effect of new plant species on native insect populations. Students wrote an essay on the methods they used as well as presenting their findings in the format of a Scientific Poster that they then presented to academic members of staff.

Tram Pham carried out her project in the laboratory of Professor Donal O’Shea from the UCD School of Chemistry and Chemical Biology where she worked on the production of compounds which could be used as a precursor fluorescent imaging probes. These probes have a large number of applications including the study of biological processes as well as specific functions such as the detection of tumor cells and the development of therapeutics. Tram successfully synthesised a compound which has the potential to be used as a fluorescent probe and identified possible future modifications which could improve this compound.

“This was a wonderful course which allowed me to improve my research skills and get to know what its like to be a chemistry graduate student”

Spotlight on Dublin!

Ever wondered what it’s like to Study Abroad in Dublin with IFSA-Butler? Well check out our student blogs to get the inside scoop:

University College Dublin

Ariel took her own walking tour of Dublin and headed to Ireland’s west coast. Follow Ariel on her tour of Dublin and Ireland here

Chris catches up, heads to Howth, Co.Dublin and Killary Adventure Centre all the while fitting in medical school applications. Check out how he got on here

Trinity College Dublin

Katie has a run down on everything Dublin and popped across the water to our friendly neighbours, Scotland! Well worth a read here

I left me heart in Killary – along with shoes, shorts…….

…….but it was all so worth it!

October 5th – 7th IFSA-Butler Ireland Students converged from all corners and provinces of the country – Ulster, Munster, Leinster and Connacht! The destination: Killary Adventure Centre, Leenane, Co. Galway.

The craic was MIGHTY! Check out how they got on:

Lydia Kan, National University of Ireland, Maynooth

Joe Dobransky, National University of Ireland, Galway

Kathrine Delesalle, University College Cork


More pictures here

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