Four Ireland-based researchers to share €10m in ERC funding

31 Mar 2020

Gerardine Meaney, director of the UCD Centre for Cultural Analytics and an ERC Advanced Grant recipient. Image: UCD

The ERC has announced 185 winners of its Advanced Grants, worth €2.5m each, including four researchers based in Ireland.

Four researchers in Ireland have been awarded a total of €10m to further their work investigating areas ranging from genetics to Victorian-era immigration.

A total of 185 winners were announced by the European Research Council (ERC) for its Advanced Grants, with recipients sharing a total fund of €450m. As a result of this funding, approximately 1,800 research positions will be created for postdoctoral fellows, PhDs students and research staff.

The four researchers based in Ireland are:

Daniel Bradley, Trinity College Dublin

Bradley’s AncestralWeave project will investigate the ancient genomes of cattle, sheep and goats, with the goal of better understanding when and where selective breeding, agricultural practices and periods of ancient human innovation shaped the breeds.

Gerardine Meaney, University College Dublin

Meaney is set to embark on a five-year study of almost 36,000 books to study migration and culture in Victorian Britain. The study will use big data to address a key unanswered societal question: how does migration impact on the cultural identity of both migrant and host communities in the historical long term?

Orla Muldoon, University of Limerick

Muldoon’s Social Identity Model of Trauma and Identity Change (SIMTIC) project will investigate a novel theory of post-traumatic stress, resilience and growth.

Michael Zaworotko, University of Limerick

Zaworotko’s team will embark on a project entitled Synsorb, standing for ‘synergistic sorbents’. Zaworotko has been featured a number of times on, with projects including the discovery of a potentially revolutionary material that could help give fresh water to millions. This material can produce water from air, even in the most remote locations.

‘Senior research stars’

Speaking of her new funding, Meaney said: “I am delighted to have been awarded this ERC Advanced Grant, which will allow me and the team to identify the long-term impact of immigration on Victorian culture and the influence of Victorian attitudes in the 21st century.”

“The project will address these questions through analysis of a very large-scale dataset, but it is ultimately concerned with the potential of literature to create a shared culture, to allow us to reimagine and rewrite the stories we tell ourselves about who we were, who we are and who we might become.”

A total of 1,881 applications were filed for the grant across Europe. The ERC said that women researchers submitted 19pc of the proposals, with 21pc of the grants awarded going to women.

ERC’s president, Prof Mauro Ferrari, said: “These senior research stars will cut new ground in a broad range of fields, including the area of health.

“I wish them all the best in this endeavour and, at this time of crisis, let me pay tribute to the heroic and invaluable work of the scientific community as a whole.”

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic