Young researchers
share €4m

20 Sep 2005

Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) is to invest more than €4m in five leading young ICT and biotechnology researchers under its President of Ireland Young Researcher Award (PIYRA) scheme. The five recipients will each receive funding over a five-year period.

PIYRA was launched last year by SFI with the support of President of Ireland, Mary McAleese, to highlight the critical roles played by innovative young researchers in developing contemporary research and education programmes for Ireland.

This year’s winners were selected following international peer review from a group of 41 high-calibre applicants. Three are based at Irish universities and two will relocate to Ireland from the US. The award winners were selected on the basis of exceptional achievement early in their careers in engineering and science disciplines that underpin biotechnology and ICT, and creative research plans that are built on work that has already garnered international attention.

Commenting on the awards, Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment, Micheál Martin TD, said: “The PIYRA scheme is a prestigious award for young researchers from around the world to carry out their research in third-level institutions in Ireland … Ireland’s knowledge-based economy is dependent on attracting young researchers such as these to Irish universities.”

Dr William Harris, director general of SFI, said the aim of the PIYRA was to support the most creative young scientists and enable them to develop careers as internationally recognised researchers.

The winners of the awards, along with their university and research proposals, were: Dr David Finn of NUI Galway and his project Control of Endogenous Analgesia by the Brain Endocannabinoid System: Sites and Mechanisms of Action; Dr Aoife McLysaght, Trinity College Dublin and her project Gene Gains, Losses and Relocations during Vertebrate Evolution; Dr Jarlath Nally, UCLA to University College Dublin (UCD) and his project Characterisation of the Proteome and Transcriptome of Leptospira during Acute and Chronic Infection; Dr Scott Rickard from UCD and his project, Time-Frequency/Time-Scale Analysis, Sparse Signal Representation Theory and Finite Field Theory for Signal Processing Applications; and Dr Jiri Vala, UC Berkeley to NUI Maynooth and his project Topological Phases and Topological Quantum Computation.

By Brian Skelly