Irishman bags international agriscience award in US

26 May 2016

The 2016 Alltech Young Scientist graduate winner Richard Lally thanking Alltech for his award from Dr. Aoife Lyons, director of education at Alltech, and Victoria Liu, Alltech Young Scientist program manager. Lally received a fully funded post-doctorate position and $10,000

A Kildare man has landed one of the largest agriscience awards going, picking up $10,000 for his biofuel plant-growing discovery.

IT Carlow post-grad Richard Lally has scooped the top prize at the Alltech Ideas Conference in Kentucky, the Alltech Young Scientist Graduate, with his discovery, which found that three strains of plants enjoy key growth-promoting capabilities.

Lally’s work investigated three potential plant-growth-promoting Pseudomonas fluorescens strains (L321, L111 and L228) for application in Brassica napus, an important food and biofuel crop.

The results showed that the three strains contained important genes used in the role of plant growth promotion that could be important for use in agriculture.

Lally’s discovery led to him being the crowned the EMEA winner of the competition earlier this year, before yesterday’s news of his top global billing.

In return for his hard work, Lally has won a $10,000 prize and a two-year fully-funded postdoctoral contract with global biotechnology company Alltech.

Richard Lally pictured with Dr. Patricia Mulcahy earlier this year, via IT Carlow

Richard Lally pictured with IT Carlow president Dr Patricia Mulcahy earlier this year, via IT Carlow

Lally said he was “thrilled” just to make it to the US, following his EMEA win earlier this year, with this outright win “just incredible”.

“It’s a remarkable achievement for our research group. I’m so delighted and thrilled,” he said.

The winning entry, Plant growth promoting Pseudomonads, their colonisation dynamics and agricultural potential, is based on research Lally carried out under the supervision of IT Carlow’s Drs David Ryan, David Dowling, Kieran Germaine, Andrew Lloyd and Thomaé Kakouli-Duarte.

“I congratulate Richard and must also say ‘well done’ to Dr David Ryan, Richard’s supervisor, who encouraged him to enter this competition, the outcome of which will now provide such excellent prospects for him,” said Kakouli-Duarte.

While Lally won the graduate award, University of Kentucky student Alonna Danielle Wright won the undergrad prize of $5,000 and a fully-funded PhD position for her investigation into biological control of pests.

Gordon Hunt was a journalist with Silicon Republic