53 early-career researchers across Ireland get €28.5m funding boost

29 Aug 2022

Minister Simon Harris at Inspirefest 2018. Image: Conor McCabe

Of the 36 STEM-related projects funded by the SFI-IRC Pathway programme, 21 are led by women researchers.

Funding of €28.5m will go to 53 projects as part of a programme to support emerging research talent in Ireland.

Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science Simon Harris, TD, said today (29 August) that the investment will help researchers in Ireland to advance their work and develop their careers towards becoming “the next generation of research leaders”.

“It is important that we retain and support our emerging talent across all areas of research, from astronomy, cancer, economics, energy, to health and nutrition,” he added.

Funding for the 53 projects – of which 36 are STEM-related and 17 are in the arts, humanities and social sciences – came from the SFI-IRC Pathway programme.

The programme is a new collaborative initiative between Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) and the Irish Research Council (IRC) to support early-career research across all disciplines and to encourage interdisciplinary approaches.

“Crucially, this fund focuses on the representation of female researchers in the higher education system,” Harris added. “We want to continue to increase the number of females participating in research and funds like this are crucial to helping us achieving this.”

Of the 36 STEM-related projects being funded, 21 are being led by women researchers.

Projects range from identifying highly nutritious versions of Irish oats that will be resilient in the face of the climate crisis to studying the impact of plastics on health, and from novel sensors for measuring agricultural emissions to advanced batteries for improved energy storage performance.

One of the funded projects, led by Dr Patrick Kavanagh of the Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies, focuses on understanding the evolution of cosmic dust and star formation using the James Webb Space Telescope.

With nine researchers getting support, University College Dublin emerged as the institution with the highest number of research projects funded. This was followed by University of Limerick and Trinity College Dublin at eight each.

“We are delighted to be able to provide this important support to early-career researchers, enabling them to gain the essential skills and experience to develop their track record and become independent research leaders,” said Dr Ruth Freeman of SFI.

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Vish Gain is a journalist with Silicon Republic