Roisin O'Sullivan, UCD PhD student, pictured wearing a white lab coat outside UCD's institute of food and health.
Róisín O' Sullivan. Image: UCD

UCD and California university to offer new PhD fellowship programme

14 Dec 2021

The first beneficiary of the part-funded fellowship, Róisín O’ Sullivan, will travel from Dublin to California for six months’ study and placement.

University College Dublin (UCD) has teamed up with a California university to establish a new fellowship programme for PhD students.

The programme will be based at University of California, Davis (UC Davis) in its Innovation Institute for Food and Health (IIFH). It will enable UCD graduate students as part of their PhD studies to experience the food and health innovation taking place at UC Davis, along with the entrepreneurship ecosystem in San Francisco through an immersive residency programme.

Researchers at IIFH work with academic and industry partners to incorporate metabolic design into the foods and beverages that people consume daily in a bid to allow them to live healthier lives.

This year’s International Innovator Fellowship pilot will see UCD PhD student Róisín O’ Sullivan travel to California for six months, where she will carry out research in a UC Davis laboratory and complete a three-month residency at a venture capital firm in the San Francisco Bay Area.

O’ Sullivan is currently pursuing her PhD in the UCD School of Agriculture and Food Science. Her research focuses on the authentication of milk and dairy ingredients using stable isotope ratio analysis.

The fellowship programme, which is part-funded, aims to provide her with an opportunity for experiential learning in the agri-food and health-tech industry and an immersive experience in the venture capital space.

Prof Orla Feely, VP for research, innovation and impact at UCD, said the programme represents “a very exciting extension of the lasting partnership” between the two universities, which already have “well-established connections and collaborations, particularly in the areas of agriculture, food and health, which both universities spearhead globally”.

Feely added that it would “provide the fellow with an outstanding insight into the role of venture funding in one of the most innovative regions of the world”.

IIFH faculty director and associate professor of chemistry, biochemistry and molecular medicine at UC Davis, Dr Justin Siegel, said: “We see this as an incredible opportunity for global cross-cultural collaboration to tackle some of the most pressing food system challenges and deploy breakthrough innovations that will improve human and planetary health.”

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Blathnaid O’Dea
By Blathnaid O’Dea

Blathnaid O’Dea worked as a Careers reporter until 2024, coming from a background in the Humanities. She likes people, pranking, pictures of puffins – and apparently alliteration.

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