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27/07/2021

Two impressive Laois women win scholarships for US universities

Two impressive Laois women win scholarships for US universities

Caroline Dowling and Miriam Keegan

Two successful Laois women have been awarded prestigious educational scholarships for USA universities.

Both awardees were recognised because of their work on environmental sustainability. 

PhD student Caroline Dowling and teacher Miriam Keegan are among 13 Irish scholars to be chosen for the Fulbright Awards this year. They are awarded the Fulbright-Environmental Protection Agency Award (Student) awards.

Caroline Dowling from Errill will be going to Cornell University.

She is is a PhD candidate in plant genetics at the School of Biology and Environmental Science, UCD. She completed her BSc in Plant Biology at UCD which included a semester abroad at McGill University in Montreal, Canada and a research internship at the National Science and Technology Development Agency in Thailand.

Caroline’s doctoral research focuses on the genetic control of flowering time in hemp (Cannabis sativa). Hemp is a highly versatile, sustainable crop and her work could have a global benefit for the migration from cotton to hemp for clothes and other uses.

Miriam Keegan from Portlaoise will be heading to the University of Delaware.

A primary teacher and sustainable designer/educator, she is a graduate of Primary Education from Mary Immaculate College, Limerick. Miriam will complete her Masters in Fashion and Apparel Studies at the University of Delaware, focusing on social responsibility, supply chain management and sustainability. While studying fashion design, Miriam was horrified by the waste and damage the fast fashion industry was inflicting on the environment. The fast fashion industry is one of the largest contributors to climate change and our overconsumption of fast fashion adds to the problem daily. 

In 2020, Miriam launched the online course for primary school teachers Education for Sustainable Development Using Fabric and Fibre, which taught them all about sustainability and the challenges of fast fashion and gave them opportunities and resources to bring it into the classroom. By teaching children how to sew, they are being set up for a more sustainable life as they will know how to mend, upcycle and care for their clothes. This course is approved by the Department of Education. 

In 2021, after a year of buying no clothes, Miriam created the No Clothes Commitment Challenge. This is a climate change movement for people to take in order to meaningfully reduce their carbon emissions and save some money.

Miriam looks forward to continuing her studies in the USA as she plans to provide more awareness, research and further upskill people on the UN Sustainable Development Goals 2030 through the medium in which we are all influenced by and wear on a daily basis -clothing. 

The online award ceremony on June 10 is hoped to include Simon Coveney, USA Ambassador Daniel Mulhall and Chargé D’Affaires, Alexandra McKnight.

This year Fulbright awarded 13 scholars, as well as 13 students awardees and 5 Irish language teachers (FLTAs).

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