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UL researchers receive SFI principal investigator awards

Thu, 21 Sep 2017
Professor Michael Zaworotko of the Bernal Institute
Thu, 21 Sep 2017

Minister for Training, Skills, Innovation, Research and Development, John Halligan TD has announced an investment of €43 million in 26 research projects through the SFI Investigators Programme. The 26 research projects will support 94 research positions over the next five years.

Professor Michael Zaworotko of the Bernal Institute received an award to investigate Green Adsorbents for Clean Energy. Professor  Zaworotko currently serves as Bernal Chair of Crystal Engineering and Science Foundation of Ireland Research Professor at UL. Professor James Gleeson and his team in UL will develop new mathematical models to help revolutionise the understanding of how information spreads online. UL's Dr Sean Fair has also received an award as part of a multidisciplinary group with Teagasc and University College Dublin to revolutionise dairy cattle breeding through the application of state-of-the-art technology.

Minister Halligan said, “This funding recognises some of Ireland’s top researchers and enables them to advance vital research areas in Ireland including health, technology, agriculture and energy.  I am confident that the teams being supported will generate important new scientific breakthroughs.  In addition, today’s investment provides 20 companies with access to invaluable expertise and infrastructure across the country. These collaborations between industry and academia are integral to further enhancing Ireland’s reputation for research excellence.”

Projects that will be supported by the SFI Investigators Programme include research that will:

  • Control the electrical properties of materials and their performance in devices
  • Elucidate the causes of inflammatory diseases, and develop treatments
  • Develop personalised treatment approaches for cancer
  • Find ways to spread important information more quickly on social media (e.g., for health or terrorism alerts), and to control undesirable aspects (e.g., spreading of misinformation)
  • Develop new types of antibiotics
  • Create novel magnetic materials for next generation data processing
  • Develop theoretical and computational tools to mitigate risk and optimise business processes in the financial industry
  • Generate insect-resistant Brassica crops
  • Design, discover and develop a new generation of advanced materials, sorbents, for low-cost, energy-efficient carbon capture and natural gas storage
  • To strengthen and accelerate research in key strategic areas of national interest, Science Foundation Ireland collaborates with several funding agencies and public bodies through the SFI Investigator Programme. Six of the research projects received co-funding worth a total of €3 million from Teagasc, Geological Survey Ireland (GSI), the Marine Institute (MI), and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Along with the 26 research projects that will be funded, the international peer review panel recommended a further 33 scientifically excellent projects for funding. These projects are on a reserve list to be supported if budgets permit later in the year.

Professor Mark Ferguson, Director General of Science Foundation Ireland and Chief Scientific Adviser to the Government of Ireland added, “The Science Foundation Ireland Investigators Programme funds outstanding individuals performing excellent, impactful research. The standard of applications for the SFI Investigators Programme was exceptionally high.  The quality and quantity of excellent projects on the reserve list is clear evidence of the increasingly high standard of research in Ireland.  I have the highest expectations for the projects funded today, and look forward to seeing the benefits to Ireland’s society and economy.”

Under the Science Foundation Ireland Investigators Programme, 26 research projects will be funded through ten research bodies, as follows: Dublin City University (2), Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies (1), National University of Ireland Galway (2), National University of Ireland Maynooth (2), Trinity College Dublin (9), University College Cork (3), University College Dublin (3), University of Limerick (2), Teagasc (1) and Royal College of Surgeons Ireland (1).