18 researchers guaranteed to broaden your definition of the word

13 Jun 2016

Research supported by the Irish Research Council spans a broad, colourful spectrum

Yes, it’s a small sample size, but the results are unmistakable: research spans an incredible range of interests and disciplines, thanks to the broad interests and endless curiosity of those that drive it.

Research Week

If someone described themselves as a researcher, you might imagine them decked out in a white coat and safety goggles, spending hours in a laboratory. And, yes, that’s the right image for some branches of research, but only a portion.

In truth, research spans a full spectrum of disciplines, interests and individuals up to the investigative task at hand. There’s room for all kinds of insight and curiosity in the expanse from arts to zoology.

This week, Siliconrepublic.com wants to celebrate the variety of researchers that make up this vibrant community, starting with this small collection.

Charlotte Blease

A cognitive scientist and philosopher of medicine, Dr Charlotte Blease has established herself as a research fellow in prestigious universities including University College Dublin (UCD) and Harvard Medical School, and has made many public appearances on the subject.

Blease’s work focuses on education and the public understanding of medicine and healthcare, which has included her push for a Philosophy for Children scheme within Queen’s University in Belfast.

Regularly appearing in public and media to discuss her research, Blease will be making an appearance at Inspirefest 2016 as one of the speakers on the Transforming Health panel.

Anna Davies

As a professor of geography at Trinity College Dublin (TCD), Prof Anna Davies works extensively across a broad range of topics, including environmental governance and awareness, waste management, biodiversity, climate change and sustainable development.

Having published her book, The Geographies of Waste, in 2008, Davies was one of seven Irish researchers awarded €2.5m each to further her project, ‘Sharecity’, to assess the practice and sustainability potential of city-based food-sharing economies. Davies was also awarded a portion of the €2m granted to 17 researchers by the Irish Research Council (IRC) in 2015.

Outside of her own research, Davies is an active member of the Future Earth organisation, a global research platform that aims to accelerate global environmental practices.

Aiden Doherty

Dr Aiden Doherty, an Irish winner of the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Award (MSCA), is currently a senior research fellow at the Nuffield Department of Population Health, University of Oxford.

Doherty is putting a BSc in computing science from University of Ulster and a PhD in computing from Dublin City University to good use at Nuffield, researching the development of computational methods to extract meaningful health information from large and complex data sets.

The MSCA win was just the latest achievement by Doherty, who was awarded an Irish Research Council PhD scholarship in 2005, a Marie Curie Postdoctoral Fellowship in 2010, and an Intermediate Transition Fellowship from the British Heart Foundation Centre for Research Excellence late last year.

Doherty speaks globally about his work, and has published more than 50 peer-reviewed research papers.

Porscha Fermanis

Dr Porscha Fermanis is the vice-principal for research and innovation at the School of English, Drama and Film at UCD. Her research area is romantic poetry and historical fiction.

Funded by the European Research Council (ERC), Fermanis’ research looks at the circulation of books in the former British-controlled southern hemisphere in the late 18th and 19th centuries, and how books were produced and consumed in the British Empire, to get a better idea of the cultural life of nation states.

She became an IRCHSS (humanities and social sciences) research fellow in 2009 and a postdoctoral fellow in 2006. She also achieved a €1.5m ERC starting grant for her project work and won the Keats-Shelley Memorial Association Essay Prize, among others.

Eilionóir Flynn

As a senior lecturer at the School of Law and deputy director of the Centre for Disability Law and Policy (CDLP) at NUI Galway, Dr Eilionóir Flynn is a strong advocate of and author on disability law and policy.

One of her largest research projects, ‘Voices’, saw her awarded an ERC grant of €900,000 to sample views of those in care and experts in law, psychology and social sciences to give voice to those with intellectual disabilities and help end the difficulties experienced in Irish care homes.

Flynn has already worked extensively within Europe as a representative of the CDLP, as well as being actively engaged with the UN Open-Ended Working Group on Ageing.

David Hoey

An associate professor of biomedical engineering at TCD, Dr David Hoey leads a multidisciplinary experimental mechanobiology research group, spread between TCD and the University of Limerick.

With a goal of integrating engineering mechanics into the understanding of physiology and disease, Hoey’s research has uncovered mechanisms by which bone responds to biophysical stimuli.

Focusing on the way physical activity kicks mesenchymal stem cells (stem cells that have the potential to form a variety of cell types including bone cells, or osteoblasts) into action, contributing to bone formation and repair, it is hoped that this research will be beneficial in the treatment of orthopaedic diseases such as osteoporosis and osteoarthritis.

Hoey is another Irish recipient of a Marie Skłodowska-Curie Award, receiving his last year for his research in this area, driven in part by his previous funding from the EU’s MSCA COFUND.

Heather Jones

Dr Heather Jones is an associate professor at the London School of Economics and a specialist in World War I studies, with a particular interest in the evolution of wartime violence and the cultural impact of the war in Britain, France and Germany. Her other main research areas are the history of prisoner of war treatment in 20th century Europe; Weimar Germany; and Irish politics, conflict and culture from 1913 to 1923.

Jones is a former IRCHSS lecturer in European history at TCD. Her PhD study on wartime violence against prisoners of war in Britain, France and Germany from 1914 to 1920, which she completed at TCD, was awarded the Eda Sagarra Medal by the Irish Research Council.

She has presented at scholarly conferences and seminars, including at Cambridge, St Andrew’s, France’s School for Advanced Studies in the Social Sciences, the European University Institute in Florence, and the German Historical Institute in Paris.

Suzanne Kingston

Suzanne Kingston in an associate professor of law in the Sutherland School of Law in University College Dublin. Her research focuses primarily on EU law and policy and its interplay with national and international law.

In December 2014, she was awarded a research grant of almost €1.5m from the ERC to investigate how the way we design our laws influences levels of environmental compliance in the EU, and how we might change our laws to make environmental policy more effective. Details about this project can be explored on this dedicated website.

Suzanne Kingston

Suzanne Kingston. Photo via Suzanne Kingston/LinkedIn

Oxford graduate Kingston is a principal investigator at UCD’s Earth Institute, as well as a practising barrister. She has also been published widely in the field of European law and governance, especially in the environmental, competition and economic, and human rights fields.

Jennifer McElwain

Prof Jennifer McElwain is a professor of plant palaeobiology and palaeoecology at UCD. A member of the UCD Earth Institute, McElwain’s research into climate change, and our role within, has seen her present at TEDxUCD on environmental issues.

McElwain has been awarded numerous Irish, European and US research grants in the past and her focus on plant evolution as a key to climate monitoring has positioned her as one of Ireland’s leading environmental scientists.

“The only organism that can curb climate change is us, humans,” she told Siliconrepublic.com last year. The push for a national climate centre in Ireland is something McElwain has been pioneering in 2016.

Maria McNamara

Dr Maria McNamara is a palaeobiologist at University College Cork (UCC), lecturing in geology. McNamara works on projects that aim to reveal pigmentation in fossils – insects and birds, primarily – and how this informs the evolution of communication strategies in animals through time.

A recent piece of research published by McNamara and a team from UCC revealed the colours that once adorned a 10m-year-old fossilised snake when it roamed around Spain.

McNamara originally studied at UCD before becoming a research fellow at Yale University in the US. Her research involves multiple areas of science – geology, palaeontology, evolutionary biology, chemistry and applied physics.

Brian Ó Conchubhair

Associate professor of Irish language and literature at the University of Notre Dame, Indiana, Prof Brian Ó Conchubhair is driven to further the spread of the Irish language.

Ó Conchubhair is currently focusing his research on modernism in Irish-language literature and culture, and the relationship of mainstream modernism to minority languages. He is already extensively published, having released numerous texts – including Fin de Siècle na Gaeilge: Darwin, An Athbheochan agus Smaointeoireacht na hEorpa, among others – devoted to the study of the Irish language.

Since 2006, Ó Conchubhair has been in receipt of US State Department funding to direct annual Fulbright/Institute for International Education foreign language teaching assistant orientations on campus at Notre Dame.

A fellow at the Keough-Naughton Institute for Irish Studies at Notre Dame, Ó Conchubhair is also director of the Notre Dame Center for the Study of Languages and Cultures, and president of the American Conference for Irish Studies.

Roisín O’Shea

Dr Roisin O’Shea is a co-founder and a senior partner with Arc Mediation, dispute resolution and employment law consultants.

O’Shea was an Irish Research Council doctoral scholar from 2009 to 2014 and was awarded her PhD in 2014, which she completed with a thesis that focused on judicial separation and divorce in the circuit court.

O’Shea is passionate about making a contribution to the reform of family law in Ireland and acted as principal investigator on a means-tested family mediation pilot project in the south-east of Ireland, in collaboration with Waterford Institute of Technology.

She has been published in peer-reviewed journals including the international Family Law Journal, and has presented papers at the Access to Justice Family Law seminar, and the Association of Family and Conciliation Courts annual conference in New Orleans. She also regularly appears as a legal expert on national radio shows in Ireland.

Kevin O’Toole

Dr Kevin O’Toole is the co-founder and director of R&D at Exergyn, which is developing technology to convert low-grade waste heat to power. The technology has the potential to significantly reduce fuel bills and carbon emissions across multiple industries worldwide.

Kevin O’Toole, Exergyn

Dr Kevin O’Toole, Exergyn, Photo via Kevin O’Toole/LinkedIn

Exergyn has raised almost €6m, including €2.5m from a grant through the EU’s Horizon 2020 programme. The company has grown from a team of three co-founders to a team of 15 and O’Toole’s R&D team focuses on continually improving the performance of the Exergyn Drive.

O’Toole is an IRCSET (science, engineering, and technology) postgraduate scholar for his work in hand prosthesis incorporating pneumatic air muscles and shape memory alloys.

Trevor Parsons and Viliam Holub

Dr Trevor Parsons and Dr Viliam Holub are the founders of an Irish technology company called Logentries, a massively successful research spinout.

 Trevor Parsons and Viliam Holub, Logentries

Dr Trevor Parsons and Dr Viliam Holub, co-founders, Logentries. Photo via Nick Bradshaw

The IRC alumni pairing founded Logentries in 2010 to collate and analyse data produced by software applications within organisations to help them run their systems more efficiently. Logentries received the NovaUCD Innovation Award in 2013 and, in October 2015, was acquired by US security analytics giant Rapid7 for $68m.

Logentries is now headquartered in Boston, with a talented research and development team based in Dublin. The company serves more than 3,000 customers in over 65 countries across a diverse set of industries.

Clionadh Raleigh

Dr Clionadh Raleigh is a professor of human geography at the University of Sussex, looking at things like ecology, conflicts and political geography around the world.

Clionadh Raleigh

Colonel Charles Bakahumura and Clionadh Raleigh, via Africa Centre/Flickr

Raleigh recently co-authored a paper with the Armed Conflict Location & Event Dataset (ACLED), which she directs. ACLED tracks local conflict events in 50 countries, producing significant tranches of data for macro studies in this field. The paper, Conflict Resilient Investment, looked at the role foreign direct investment plays in regime management in Africa.

Raleigh has previously lectured at Trinity College Dublin, originally earning her PhD in geography from the University of Colorado at Boulder.

Emma Teeling

Previously featured on Siliconrepublic.com’s 2014 Women Invent 100 list, Prof Emma Teeling is renowned in Ireland, and internationally, as a leading scientist in the fields of mammalian phylogenetics and comparative genomics.

Having established the Laboratory of Molecular Evolution and Mammalian Phylogenetics in 2005, Teeling has been recognised numerous times for her achievements. She was awarded the prestigious ERC starting grant in 2012 and recognised with the President of Ireland Young Researcher Award from Science Foundation Ireland in 2006.

Teeling is perhaps best-known for her fascination with bats, as the founding director of the Centre for Irish Bat Research at UCD, as well as having spoken at TEDxDublin about the fascinating mammal and its importance to the global ecology.

Dylan James Trigg

Dr Dylan James Trigg is a Marie Curie Postdoctoral Fellow in the department of philosophy at the University of Memphis. Looking at areas like anxiety, existentialism and the philosophies of space and time, England-born Trigg earned his PhD at the University of Sussex with a thesis on the materiality of memory.

Trigg is currently researching a project called ‘Toward a Phenomenology of the Anxious Body’, a study of anxiety that employs an interdisciplinary methodology involving philosophy, cognitive science and psychoanalysis.

Trigg has received research awards from Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions, The Wellcome Trust, the Irish Research Council and France’s National Centre for Scientific Research.

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18 coloured pencils image via Shutterstock