A picture of UL VPR Professor Norelee Kennedy
UL’s Vice President of Research Professor Norelee Kennedy
Thursday, March 16, 2023

University of Limerick has been awarded eight highly prestigious Marie Skłodowska-Curie Postdoctoral Fellowships by the European Commission.

The University’s success rate in this programme is 45%, double the EU average.

UL is among the top performing universities in Ireland in terms of numbers of fellowships awarded in this highly competitive funding call.

Of the eight fellowships awarded to UL, three are Global Fellowships awarded to recent UL graduates and fellows to fund them to work for two years across the world and a third-year return phase in UL.

In addition, UL has been awarded five European Fellowships, which will fund incoming researchers for two years based at UL. The awards combined are worth €1.93m to UL.

All the awardees scored greater than 96.8% in the competition and ranked in the top tier in their panels.

The Faculty of Education and Health Science will host four fellowships while the Faculty of Science and Engineering receives three and the Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences hosts one fellow.

The number of Marie Skłodowska-Curie Fellows at UL has increased steadily since 2018 with a total of 101 Fellows at postdoctoral and postgraduate level.

Welcoming the announcement UL’s Vice President of Research Professor Norelee Kennedy said: “UL’s success rate of in this year’s competition demonstrates the talent and hard work of our postdoctoral scholars, their mentors and support from the Office of the Vice President Research and the faculty offices.

“The University has concentrated resources on developing the talent of our own young researchers as well as attracting incoming talent. Three fellows will each work at University of Zurich, Curtin University Australia, and Pontifical University of Chile while researchers from Tokyo University Medical School and the universities of Erlangen and Nottingham will join UL.”

“Initiatives such as the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Awards help to attract first-class researchers to Limerick and achieve the objectives of our research strategy Wisdom for Action as we continue to conduct leading edge research and tackle global challenges in an innovative way.”

Meet the MCSA fellows:

Eanna Fennell

Dr Éanna Fennell gained his IRC-funded PhD in Biomedical Engineering from UL in 2020 and is currently completing an IRC postdoctoral fellowship in UL on the role of the Epstein-Barr virus in the development of blood cancers. As part of his MSCA Global Fellowship, Éanna will extend his work on EBV to look at its contribution to the pathogenesis of Multiple Sclerosis (MS) at the University of Zurich, Switzerland for two years before returning to the School of Medicine at UL. Éanna said: “I am delighted to receive a Marie Skłodowska-Curie global fellowship to study how the Epstein-Barr virus contributes to MS development, an incurable debilitating neurological condition. After completing my bachelors, PhD and postdoctoral research at UL, this fellowship will provide me the opportunity to gain new technical and transferable skills at the University of Zurich, Switzerland before returning to UL. The support of the research office, especially from the faculty of Education and Health Sciences (EHS), was essential to a successful MSCA application.”

Dr Sarah Josefine Schaefer graduated with a PhD in English at the National University of Ireland Galway in 2020 and will join UL from the University of Nottingham. Dr Schaefer will investigate how journalists working for youth radio stations in ethnically diverse urban spaces in Germany respond to the challenges and opportunities of social difference. With a score of 98 percent, her project proposal was among the top-rated submissions in the social sciences and humanities. Dr Schaefer will work with Prof Helen Kelly-Holmes at the School of Modern Languages and Applied Linguistics and the Centre for Applied Language Studies, whilst also undertaking fieldwork at a German media organisation. Dr Schaefer said: “I am excited to have the opportunity to conduct my research project at UL with the support of this prestigious fellowship. The work I will undertake at UL will create knowledge that will support media practitioners to engage more meaningfully with increasing social diversity and will allow me to position myself as an expert in my field. Many thanks to my mentor, Professor Kelly-Holmes, and to the MSCA Officer at UL for their excellent support throughout the application process.”

Dr Sarah Josefine Schaefer
Dr Sven Messing

Dr Sven Messing will research on policies to promote physical activity and co-design a toolkit with key policymakers from EU member states. He gained his PhD in Political Science and moves to UL from the WHO Collaborating Centre for Physical Activity and Public Health at FAU Erlangen-Nuremberg (Germany). Sven will work with Prof Catherine Woods at the Department of Physical Education and Sport Sciences. His two-year fellowship at UL will be followed by a six-month placement at the WHO Regional Office for Europe. He said: “This fellowship is an excellent opportunity to conduct innovative research at the intersection of public health and political science; it also aims to provide an added value for policymakers in the field of physical activity promotion. I am grateful for all the support I received from UL until now and look forward to the future collaboration with all organizations involved in this fellowship.”

Dr Elaine Smith obtained her PhD from the Department of Psychology at UL, where she currently works as a postdoctoral researcher. Elaine will spend the first two years of her global fellowship in the School of Psychology at the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, researching how support for indigenous rights movements is mobilised among the public through social normative influences prevalent on social media. She will return to the Department of Psychology at UL for the third year, under the mentorship of Professor Orla Muldoon. Dr Smith said: “I am delighted to accept a Marie Skłodowska-Curie Global Fellowship and to be joining the Social Psychology Lab at the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, led by Professor Roberto González, with whom I had the pleasure of working in 2019 during a short internship. The success of this application would not have been possible without the support of Professors Muldoon and González, and the EHS Research Funding Officer at UL.”

Elaine Smith

Dr Arvind Singh Chandel completed his PhD in Biological Science (2018) from AcSIR-CSIR-CSMCRI Bhavnagar Gujarat India. He was awarded the prestigious JSPS postdoctoral fellowship (2019-2021) to examine and develop a postoperative peritoneal adhesion barriers. He has also been awarded the MK Bhan Young Researcher Fellowship Program 2020-21 by DBT India. Currently, he is working as an Assistant Professor (Tenure Track) at the School of Medicine, The University of Tokyo, Japan. Arvind will undertake his two-year fellowship working with Professor Maurice Collins in the School of Engineering. They will develop a treatment strategy for arthritis using the co-delivery of gold nanoparticles (AuNPs), and AuNPs conjugated siRNA alternative coating with cationic and anionic biopolymers. He explained: “This fellowship will provide me with excellent opportunity to work with Dr Collins’s world class research team across interdisciplinary research areas and gain international experience at University of Limerick.”

Dr Charlotte Lund Rasmussen was successful in her Marie Curie Global Fellowship application to work with Prof Leon Straker at the Curtin University Australia and Prof Alan Donnelly at the Department of Physical Education and Sports Sciences UL, in the third year of the fellowship. In the meantime, Charlotte has accepted a research post in Curtin University, and we wish her the very best in her career.

A file image of Dr Fahad Al-Zubaidi at UL

Dr Fahad Al-Zubaidi gained his PhD in 2021 from University Carlos III of Madrid (UC3M), Spain where he is currently based. Dr Al-Zubaidi will spend the two years of his fellowship at UL investigating different technologies and solutions to expand mobile front-haul capabilities to support 5/6G infrastructure developing relatively low-cost, high-capacity and low-latency communication links with Professor Michael Connelly at the Dept of Electronic and Computer Engineering (ECE). Dr Al-Zubaidi said: “I am grateful to be awarded the prestigious MSCA Postdoctoral Fellowship. This remarkable achievement would not have been possible without the support and guidance of Prof. Connelly and the invaluable assistance provided by the Research Office of UL. I am delighted to have the opportunity to join UL. This Fellowship granted me the privilege of becoming a part of a distinguished academic community. Pursuing this position in UL will enrich my personal and professional experience with many valuable skills.”

Dr Shahid Husain graduated with a PhD at Aligarh Muslim University in February 2018 where he is currently based. He was awarded the prestigious EuroTechPostdoc2 fellowship (2022) to pursue research at Eindhoven University of Technology (TU/e) and Maulana Azad National Fellowship (2012) to pursue his PhD. Dr Shahid will spend two years of his fellowship at UL working on the Development of a Novel Machine Learning-based model for Multiphase flows under the supervision of Professor Michael Vynnycky at the Department of Mathematics & Statistics (MS), UL. Dr Pepijn van de Ven, Senior Lecturer, Department of Electronic & Computer Engineering (ECE), UL, will act as co-supervisor. Dr Husain said: This fellowship is an excellent opportunity to conduct innovative research with Prof. Michael Vynnycky’s world-class research team across interdisciplinary research areas and gain international experience at University of Limerick. I appreciate the support I have received from the UL Research team and I eagerly anticipate future collaboration with all the organizations participating in this fellowship.”

A file image of Dr Shahid Husain

Interested in applying in 2023?

We would like to hear from interested candidates and potential mentors. Early preparation is essential.

The 2023 call opens on April 12 and closes on September 13, 2023.

For more, see https://www.ul.ie/research/marie-sklodowska-curie-postdoctoral-fellowships.

Apply for the 2023 masterclasses by April 7.