SFI reveals 20 researchers to receive €10.8m research grant

15 Jan 2019

From left: Cristina Trujillo, TCD; Amanda Sosa-Avendano, UCD; Fiona McDonald, UCC; Sinéad McParland, Teagasc; Maria Prencipe, UCD; and Rebeca Garcia Lopez, DIAS. Image: Jason Clarke

In one of its first major announcements for 2019, SFI has revealed 20 researchers set to receive €10.8m under the Starting Investigator Research Grant.

At a launch event in Dublin this morning (15 January), Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) revealed a number of projects set to be funded to a total of €10.8m, across areas including energy and environment, food, and medical.

The Starting Investigator Research Grant (SIRG) supports the development of postdoctoral researchers, and others who have yet to hold an independent research post, in taking the initial steps towards a fully independent research career.

Lasting a duration of four years, researchers are provided with experience towards a full-time academic position, including supervision of a postgraduate student who is funded through the award to work on the research project. It provides the researcher with a contribution towards the salary of the starting investigator, who will work with an associated mentor.

The highest single award recipient was named as Dublin City University’s (DCU) Konstantinos Gkrintzalis, who was awarded €425,000 to research the assessment of pollution and its impact in aquatic ecosystems. The project focus will be on freshwater ecosystems, using an organism called Daphnia magna to better understand the impact of pollutants and novel materials.

Jointly announced with the SIRG awards was SFI’s plan for 2019, which included the launch of a new individual researcher programme, SFI Frontiers for the Future. Launching in the first quarter of this year, the programme will support researchers for both short- and long-term projects, with a focus on greater representation among women and minority researchers.

Speaking of today’s funding, SFI director general Prof Mark Ferguson said: “The SIRG awards help early-career researchers develop the essential skills and experience necessary to lead Ireland’s future research in areas such as health, energy, materials and technology.

“Having passed through a rigorous competitive international merit review process, these projects continue to advance Ireland’s international research reputation and I wish each awardee every success.”

The other 19 funded researchers include:

  • Joseph Byrne, NUI Galway (€419,585)
  • Gediminas Juska, Tyndall National Institute (€422,593)
  • Hugh Geaney, UL (€424,873)
  • Chris Mark, UCD (€419,926)
  • Amir Pakdel, TCD (€424,944)
  • Steve Campbell, TCD (€400,373)
  • Colm Browning, DCU (€421,505)
  • Sinéad McParland, Teagasc (€375,873)
  • Cristina Trujillo, TCD (€402,788)
  • Meadhbh Brennan, TCD (€417,516)
  • Gerard Brien, TCD (€423,816)
  • Fiona McDonald, UCC (€424,913)
  • Sudipto Das, RCSI (€424,989)
  • Maria Prencipe, UCD (€424,910)
  • Nicholas Payne, TCD (€419,559)
  • Gary Brennan, RCSI (€419,472)
  • Amanda Sosa-Avendano, UCD (€403,167)
  • Aine Hennessy, UCC (€424,896)
  • Rebecca Garcia Lopez, DIAS (€408,873)

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic