€21m awarded to nearly 300 new research projects in Ireland

23 Oct 2020

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The Irish Research Council’s Government of Ireland programme will fund early-career researchers across all disciplines.

Almost 300 new research projects at institutions around the country will receive funding under the Irish Research Council’s latest Government of Ireland programme.

More than €21m will be invested in early-career researchers across all academic disciplines, with 209 postgraduate scholarships and 87 postdoctoral fellowships.

Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science Simon Harris, TD, said the funding will help develop “the next generation of research leaders”.

“Across higher education, enterprise, civil society and the public sector, expert knowledge and skills is a critical need for our present and our future. The awards announced today support a pipeline of research talent which will be at the forefront of addressing the many challenges and opportunities we face.”

He added that these challenges include the Covid-19 crisis and its long-term social, economic and cultural impacts.

‘Critical pillar’ of the research ecosystem

The scholarships and fellowships will fund research into topics ranging from cancer therapy and solar cell development, to bullying in the education system and the role of cities in driving national growth.

This year’s postgraduate scholars include Gustavo Fehrenbach (Athlone IT), who will be developing UV light tech for safeguarding consumer health and the seafood industry; Kathryn Dane (Trinity College Dublin), who will investigate gender bias in sports injury research; Cliona Curley (University College Dublin), who will study the movement of far-right extremists to alternative tech platforms; and Andrew Dorman (Dublin City University), who will be studying the Irish military experience in the 18th century.

Postdoctoral fellows include Mariana Alves (Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland), who will be identifying new therapeutic targets for treating neonatal brain injury; Tian Yu (Maynooth University), who will study the electrochemical detection and removal of pesticides in water; and Stephanie Robinson (University College Cork), who will research health and disease in Ireland during the transition from Stone to Bronze Age.

Peter Brown, director of the Irish Research Council, said that these awards form a “critical pillar” within Ireland’s research and innovation ecosystem.

“The two programmes, addressing postgraduate and postdoctoral research, are the only ones of their kind in Ireland, funding excellent research across all disciplines, and are highly competitive, nationally and internationally.”

Sarah Harford was sub-editor of Silicon Republic