UCD professor Robert Gerwarth is IRC Researcher of the Year 2022

6 Dec 2022

From left: Prof Judith Harford, Prof Robert Gerwarth and Dr Edoardo Celeste. Image: IRC

Historian Gerwarth received the top honour, while the Impact Award went to UCD’s Prof Judith Harford and DCU’s Dr Edoardo Celeste was named Early Career Researcher of the Year.

Prof Robert Gerwarth has received the Irish Research Council (IRC) Researcher of the Year award for 2022.

The annual award recognises IRC-funded researchers who have made significant contributions to innovation or society.

An author of several popular history books, Gerwarth is a professor of modern history at UCD and director of the UCD Centre for War Studies. His area of expertise is 20th-century Europe – with a focus on the history of political violence and armed conflict during the world wars.

His research has seen him examine how the Irish War of Independence and Irish Civil War relate to other examples of extreme violence in Europe in the first half of the 20th century.

Gerwarth said that his first IRC award in 2008, won jointly with Prof John Horne of Trinity College Dublin, helped establish the UCD Centre for War Studies. It also led him to bag a European Research Council Starting Grant in 2009 – a first for a humanities scholar in Ireland.

“The Researcher of the Year Awards provide an important opportunity to recognise the very best of the excellent researchers supported by the IRC and to highlight the tangible impact of public investment in research across all disciplines,” said IRC director Dr Louise Callinan.

Prof Maria Baghramian of UCD and Prof John Atkins of University College Cork were also highly commended in the IRC Researcher of the Year category.

Last year’s IRC Researcher of the Year award went to Trinity ecologist Prof Yvonne Buckley, and the year before that it was awarded to Dr Jane Suiter of Dublin City University (DCU).

Impact and early-career awards

Meanwhile, Prof Judith Harford of UCD received this year’s Impact Award. This award is given to current or former IRC awardees making a highly significant impact outside of academia.

A professor of education and deputy head of the School of Education at UCD, Harford’s research focuses on gender, social class and inequalities in education – particularly in the Irish context.

She has applied her research to raise awareness at national level of gender and social class inequalities in education, working with policymakers to achieve greater equity in and through education.

Harford is now leading the Power2Progress project, which is a programme geared towards helping more than 600 senior cycle students across 21 disadvantaged schools nationally. She has also led a study into the participation of girls in STEM subjects in DEIS schools.

The Early Career Researcher of the Year award went to Dr Edoardo Celeste of DCU.

Celeste is assistant professor of law, technology and innovation at DCU, and his research focuses on the emerging field of data law – with a special focus on the impact of the digital revolution on legal systems.

He specialises in the analysis of the rights to privacy and to data protection, and the regulation of mass surveillance and data retention in Europe. One of his projects involved investigating the impact of Covid-19 tracker apps on privacy rights.

“The IRC is very proud to have provided vital support to the work of our awardees at various stages of their research careers,” added Callinan.

“We extend our congratulations to each of our awardees as we acknowledge their significant contributions to the understanding of our shared past, present, and future from a diversity of perspectives.”

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Vish Gain is a journalist with Silicon Republic