Christopeh Silien
Bernal researcher Dr Christophe Silien
Tuesday, May 10, 2022

Researchers at University of Limerick are to receive grants to support frontiers research, it has been announced today.

The researchers, all of whom are based at UL’s Bernal Institute, have been awarded €2.26m under the SFI Frontiers for the Future Programme announced by Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science, Simon Harris this Tuesday.

UL-based principal investigators Professor Usel Bangert, Professor Vivek Ranade, Dr George Barreto and Dr Christophe Silien were among 76 grants valued at €53.7 million to support frontiers research across ten Higher Education Institutions announced today.

The UL research will investigate areas such as traumatic brain injury, manufacturing, microscopy and nanoelectronics.

In line with SFI’s gender strategy, the programme seeks to provide opportunities to address gender imbalance and to provide support for investigators returning to research after a period of leave. 42% of the research grants supported will be led by female researchers and 32% by emerging investigators early in their research careers.

The programme is run in collaboration with Geological Survey Ireland and the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) who are co-funding a number of the grants.

Commenting on the SFI Future Frontiers Programme, Minister Harris TD, said: “Congratulations to all the researchers who have received funding today as part of the SFI Frontiers for the Future Programme. I am delighted to support this programme which funds individual-led research, with an emphasis on fundamental research at the cutting edge of science and engineering which will help us build a better future for Ireland through discovery, innovation, and impact.

“Not only will these grants support research in important areas for Irish society, they will also fund 216 people in varying research positions across 10 Higher Education Institutes to further develop their research careers. We are investing in talent. I would like to offer my thanks to the Higher Education Institutions for their support in delivering this programme again this year.”

Luuk van der Wielen, Director of the Bernal Institute said: “I am delighted to see the continued support of SFI for our researchers in general and for the just granted projects that focus on our strategic commitment to health-related and other grand challenges.

“The four projects range from fundamental physics, biology and molecular mechanisms and their interactions to the development of new manufacturing processes for personalised health related products.

“All four projects are exciting new examples of what multidisciplinarity of science and engineering under a single Bernal roof can bring.”

Professor Philip Nolan, Director General of SFI, said: “After the success of the first SFI Future Frontiers Programme in 2020, I am delighted to see 76 research grants awarded. The research programmes are wonderfully diverse, but they have one thing in common: they ask fundamental questions and will lead to important scientific breakthroughs, with important applications in areas such as climate action, biodiversity, human and animal health and digital transformation, with real and lasting benefits to our society and economy. 

“The SFI Frontiers for the Future Programme is a key element of SFI’s new strategy – Shaping Our Future providing support for excellent research.

“It is really encouraging to see that 42% of the research grants are led by female researchers for the second year running. SFI is committed to addressing the gender imbalance evident in areas of Irish research and this is another example of that commitment in action.”

Bernal Chair in Process Engineering Vivek Ranade has been awarded €988,667, for his project ‘Factory in a Box’ for Personalised Products based on Emulsions (FabPRO).