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Blood, guts and green energy: Scientists get €23m in research funding

They have four years to spend it all (sorry – complete their studies)

(L-R) Minister Seán Sherlock, DCU researcher Aoife Morren, SFI director-general Mark Ferguson.
(L-R) Minister Seán Sherlock, DCU researcher Aoife Morren, SFI director-general Mark Ferguson.
Image: Jason Clarke Photography

MINISTER FOR RESEARCH and Innovation, Seán Sherlock, today announced the 40 scientists who have been given a total of €23m in research grants.

Under two separate grants administered by Science Foundation Ireland (SFI), the Irish-based research projects have been awarded funding ranging from  €456k and €812k each.

Studies on ocean energy, bowel cancer, and the Earth’s crust in Ireland were a few of the diverse projects funded today under the Starting Investigator Research Grant (SIRG) and Career Development Award (CDA).

Announcing the grants today, Sherlock said in a statement:

Funding for researchers at the outset of their careers is an important element of the Government’s strategy for job creation in research and innovation under our Action Plan for Jobs.SFI’s funding schemes for early career researchers help ensure that excellent research with the potential for real economic and societal impact is properly supported in Ireland.Investment like this is important for Ireland’s developing international reputation for excellent research with impact.

Fatima Gunning, from the Tyndall National Institute at UCC, received the largest single award, of €812,153, for her work on optical networks (light detection, in layman’s terms).

Some of the other major projects include a study on “microbial diversity in the gut”, by Orla O’ Sullivan from the Teagasc Food Research Centre in Cork, and an exploration of skin analysis as an alternative to blood sampling in diagnosing diseases, by Aoife Morrin from DCU.

Stephen Dooley from the University of Limerick has been funded for his proposal on harnessing Ireland’s “indigenous biomass” (plant material) as a clean energy source, which could help reduce fossil fuel imports and shape transport technology in the future.

The aim of today’s €23m, four-year investment is not just to reward promising young Irish scientists, however, but also to “persuade top young scientific talent from abroad to base their research efforts here in Ireland,” according to Mark Ferguson, Director General of SFI.

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About the author:

Dan MacGuill

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