Kerry researcher wins MTU Commercial Invention of the Year

31 May 2022

MTU president Prof Maggie Cusack and Dr Joanna Tierney. Image: Domnick Walsh/Eye Focus LTD

Dr Joanna Tierney was recognised for her work on controlling coccidiosis in poultry, while photonics researchers bagged an award for the best technical invention.

Kerry-based researcher Dr Joanna Tierney was presented with the Munster Technological University (MTU) award for Commercial Invention of the Year 2021.

Meanwhile, researchers from MTU’s Centre for Advanced Photonics and Process Analysis (CAPPA) received the award for the Best Technical Invention.

The MTU Invention of the Year awards is an annual event that takes place as part of the university’s innovation and enterprise month. MTU researchers submitted 20 invention disclosure forms to the university’s innovation and enterprise office during 2021.

Each submission was judged based on criteria such as scientific merit, innovative factor, development stage, potential benefit to society, marketability and patentability.

Tierney, who is based at the Shannon Applied Biotechnology Centre and MTU’s Tralee campus, was recognised for her work on the control of coccidiosis in poultry. Coccidiosis is caused by Eimeria protozoan parasites and is an important disease in poultry in animal farming.

Backed by an Enterprise Ireland commercialisation fund, Tierney’s invention employs natural, anti-parasitic, anti-microbial, immune-modulating and anti-oxidant activities as an alternative to the current industry treatments for coccidiosis control.

She said the work is important as poultry is set to become the world’s most consumed meat protein, while poultry producers face increased pressure to control the disease.

“I’m delighted to receive this award, and I’m grateful to Enterprise Ireland, Science Foundation Ireland and MTU for their support over the last few years,” Tierney said.

“I’d like to thank my colleagues at Shannon Applied Biotechnology Centre, the Department of Biological and Pharmaceutical Sciences, and the research office team in MTU.”

CAPPA’s novel optical technology

The Best Technical Invention award went to a group of CAPPA researchers for their Photonic Integrated Circuit Scanner. This patent-pending technology was developed by Dr Chinna Devarapu, Dr William Whelan-Curtin, Dr Uday Gowda and Adarsh Ananthachar.

Five men and one woman standing on grass in front of a university building, with several of them holding awards. They are Dr William Whelan Curtain, Prof Maggie Cusack, Dr Chinna Devarapu, Adarsh Ananthachar, Dr Uday Gouda and Ronan Coleman.

From left: Senior lecturer Dr William Whelan-Curtin, MTU president Prof Maggie Cusack, Dr Chinna Devarapu, PhD student Adarsh Ananthachar, Dr Uday Gouda, MTU commercialisation specialist Ronan Coleman. Image: Michael O’Sullivan/OSM Photography

The team said their technology is based on the resonant scattering spectroscopy technique, which is the first non-invasive system to test the individual components of an optical circuit on a wafer scale

Devarapu said their novel optical technology aims to capture a significant share of the optical test market “by enabling effective testing of optical circuit elements that are fundamental to modern data communication and silicon photonics industries”.

MTU was established last year, bringing together Cork Institute of Technology and Institute of Technology Tralee.

10 things you need to know direct to your inbox every weekday. Sign up for the Daily Brief, Silicon Republic’s digest of essential sci-tech news.

Leigh Mc Gowran is a journalist with Silicon Republic