University of Limerick researchers, Dr Ciara Breathnach and Professor Kevin M Ryan were among the recipients of the Irish Research Council’s Laureate Awards. The awards were announced on March 22 and were made up of two streams: Starting Laureate Awards, supporting early-career researchers; and, Consolidator Laureate Awards, funding mid-career researchers with an established track record. Professor Ryan and Dr Breathnach were both recipients of Consolidator Laureate Awards.
Dr Breathnach is Lecturer in History and a member of the Health Research Institute. Her research will examine the relationship between historical death registration data and burial data to explore the history of power in Ireland from 1864 to 1922. The project will employ two IRC Laureate Fellows drawn from computer and data sciences and two IRC Laureate Scholars in humanities. This interdisciplinary team will create a digital platform and a linked dataset of civil registration, parish level data and coronial court records to further understand the evolution of power structures, the relationship between registered deaths and burials, cause of death and the prevalence of disease in Ireland.
Kevin M Ryan is Professor of Chemical Nanotechnology at the Department of Chemical Sciences and the leader of the Nanotechnology Research Group at the Bernal Institute. His research project will focus on using electric fields to organise functional nanomaterials into specific ordered arrangements that can lead to innovative properties that go beyond the capabilities of conventional materials. For example, a chequerboard arrangement of nanostructures of two different types can deliver properties that are not possible with these materials on their own and will open the door to major innovations in photonics, batteries, photovoltaics and thermoelectrics.
The Laureate Awards were announced by Richard Bruton TD, Minister for Education and Skills, and John Halligan TD, Minister of State for Training, Skills, Innovation and Research and Development and involve a €29.6 million investment by the Irish Research Council thirty-six “frontier research” projects.
In total, 36 researchers will receive funding under the Irish Research Council’s new Laureate Awards to conduct ground-breaking research in the life sciences, physical sciences and engineering, and the arts, humanities and social sciences. Projects to be funded under the inaugural Laureate Awards range from research into age-related vision loss to sustainable food production.
Announcing the awards, Minister Bruton said: “Frontier basic research is very much at the cutting edge of new knowledge. It is research that is daring, that pushes boundaries, and that moves beyond the frontiers of our current understanding.
“Innovation 2020, Ireland’s five-year strategy for science and technology, research and development, identified a significant gap in the Irish research and innovation landscape in the area of frontier basic research. The Laureate Awards scheme was designed specifically to address this gap, and the Irish Research Council has, through the programme, identified a wealth of clearly talented researchers with brilliant ideas. Investing in cutting-edge, world-class research will strengthen our knowledge base and enhance Ireland’s international reputation, taking us further along our journey to becoming the best education and training service in Europe by 2026,” he said.