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Farming & Fisheries

Lorna earns Walsh gold medal for pioneering dairy research

June 4th, 2024 1:00 PM

By Michael Stephens

Lorna earns Walsh gold medal for pioneering dairy research Image
Lorna Twomey, winner of the Teagasc Walsh Scholars Gold Medal award 2024 with her mother Mary Twomey.

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A LEAP farmer has been honoured for her research in milking equipment cleaning protocols with particular emphasis on chlorine-free cleaning and how this effects the bacterial quality of milk.

The Teagasc Walsh Scholars Gold Medal was awarded to Lorna Twomey from Teagasc’s animal and grassland research and innovation programme. The Gold Medal, which is the programme’s highest accolade, was presented at an awards ceremony at Teagasc Ashtown.

Jane Kavanagh, head of research development and Walsh Ssholarships at Teagasc with Pat Dillon, director of research, Teagasc; with the winner of the Teagasc Walsh Scholars Gold Medal Lorna Twomey and her mother Mary.


The Teagasc Walsh Scholar Gold Medal Award is now in its 30th year of celebrating scholarly excellence at Teagasc. It is a competitive award for Teagasc Walsh scholars nearing the end of their PhD scholarships.

Lorna’s PhD forms part of vital work by Teagasc in partnership with dairy industry processors to reduce chlorate levels in dairy processing.

Chlorate residues in milk products threaten consumer confidence and the reputation of the dairy industry. As a means of minimising chlorate, a harmful, chlorine-based residue in milk and its derivatives, Irish farmers and milk processors have replaced chlorinated cleaning protocols with chlorine-free alternatives.

Lorna Twomey’s PhD project set out to evaluate the effectiveness of these ‘minimum chlorate technologies’ in terms of dairy product quality and safety.

Lorna is from a dairy farm in Clonkeen, Leap and has many years of experience working on her home farm and has also worked in New Zealand as part of her undergraduate degree. She is currently based in the Teagasc Research Centre at Moorepark in Fermoy.

Teagasc director of research, Prof Pat Dillon said: ‘Lorna met the two key objectives of a very successful PhD – increased the scientific knowledge on reducing chlorate levels in Irish dairy products and increased her skills through learning research methods and collaboration with academic and industry stakeholders.’

Congratulating the finalists for showcasing their exceptional talents and commitment to excellence, Jane Kavanagh, the head of research development and Walsh scholarships at Teagasc, said: ‘The Walsh Scholar of the Year awards ceremony not only celebrates the outstanding achievements of our finalists but also underscores their pivotal role in shaping the intellectual landscape of the agri-food industry. Through their innovative research and dedication, these scholars have not only contributed to advancing knowledge but have also developed invaluable transferable skills essential for their future endeavours.’

Teagasc director, Professor Frank O’Mara, congratulated the other Walsh Scholar finalists. ‘Completing a PhD is a great achievement, and will be a major milestone for all the finalists here. They were all excellent, and I congratulate them on getting to this level. Regardless of what direction the next step of their career takes them, I have no doubt they will make a major contribution, and their PhD will stand to them throughout their career.’

The other finalists were: Sarah Woodmartin; Emily Roskam; Joy Clarke; Yahaya Jebril Amanor; Fatma Koc; Sara Perez Vila; Shefali Pardeshi-Dhokale; Lori-Rae van Laren.

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