Research projects in the areas of maths, pharmaceuticals and composite materials at the University of Limerick have been awarded over €4million in SFI funding it has been announced. The announcement cements UL’s reputation as a center for excellence in translational research, focused on delivering real impact for Irish industry.
UL Vice President Research, Dr Mary Shire: “We are delighted with the recent SFI awards which build on ULs expertise in Engineering and Mathematics. The importance of engineering and mathematics in solving real world problems continues to be a focus for UL. We are working in partnership with companies to enhance their competitiveness and deliver to them graduates with the relevant skills and experience.”
The three projects are led by academics within UL’s Faculty of Science and Engineering:
Professor Gavin Walker: Pharmaceuticals
Professor Gavin Walker (pictured above), Bernal Chair of Pharmaceutical Powder Engineering and his team are working to build Ireland’s reputation for research excellence in the pharmaceutical sector. This industry accounts for over 50% of Irish exports and is responsible for over direct and indirect 60,000 jobs.
By collaborating with industry Professor Walker aims to improve manufacturing competitiveness and enhance the R&D mandate and activity of Irish pharmaceutical manufacturing sites and companies. The team’s aim is to support the transformation of the Irish pharmaceutical sector to establish this country as the global hub of pharmaceutical process innovation and advanced manufacturing.
Professor Andrew Fowler: Mathematics
The microbes, fungi, and plants present in soil, called biomass, are critical enablers of Irish and global agriculture. Biomass controls plant nutrient uptake, and so is crucial for agricultural productivity. The application of fertilisers to agricultural land, or the on-site microbial treatment of septic tank effluent both constitute situations where excess biological growth may occur, and this can lead to environmental pollution.
Professor Fowler’s research will use applied mathematics to study plant, microbial, and fungal biomass growth and its dependence on soil nutrients. The researchers will validate their theories against field and experimental data. This research will provide predictive tools for use in fertiliser application and other areas of agriculture, septic tank installations, and many other situations concerning soil.
Dr Conor McCarthy :Composite Materials
High performance Formula 1 race cars and the latest aeroplanes are made of carbon fibre, a composite material. Composite materials can be stronger, lighter and less expensive than traditional materials. Strong and durable connections between composites and metals are required to create many everyday life items, from the very large (buildings, aircraft, trains and bridges) to the very small (medical implants and electronic devices).
Dr McCarthy’s project studies a new approach to join composites to metals which does not require any mechanical fastening. Such an approach would be highly advantageous to manufacturers, allowing them to make cheaper but higher performing products. The research project will open up new business opportunities for Ireland and worldwide.
“UL has established its research distinctiveness through promotion of a research ethos characterised by the convergence of discrete disciplines working together to achieve fundamental breakthroughs while operating in a translational approach, an innovative alternative mode of research to the traditional basic applied research distinction, which translates research results more rapidly towards commercialisation,” continued Dr Mary Shire.