Outstanding researchers recognised at 2023 Science Foundation Ireland Awards
Broad range of categories honouring research excellence
Monday, 20th November 2023 (Cork): The winners of the Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) Awards for 2023 were today announced at the Research Summit, a joint Summit hosted by SFI and the Irish Research Council (IRC).
Commending the award winners, Prof. Philip Nolan, Director General, Science Foundation Ireland, said: “Through their innovation, creativity and tireless work, these researchers have striven to improve the world around them. SFI is delighted to recognise their efforts and achievements with these prestigious accolades. I want to offer my sincere congratulations to all the award recipients. I would like to congratulate Prof. Paul Ross, University College Cork, for winning 2023 SFI Researcher of the Year. Paul Ross has been an outstanding researcher in the field of food health and gut health for many years, both in previous roles and in his current position as director of the SFI Research Centre APC Microbiome Ireland.”
This year’s SFI Awards feature ten categories, including an inaugural award for Supporting Green Transition. Full list of award recipients below:
Professor Paul Ross is Director of APC Microbiome Ireland since 2019. He is a widely recognised researcher who has received international acclaim for research on antibacterial compounds. He is a current European Research Council (ERC) Advanced Awardee. His research is in the field of food microbiology, with a focus on physiology and genetics of LAB and their applications in food and pharma.
Commenting on receiving the award, Professor Ross stated: “I am truly honoured and humbled to receive this prestigious research award, it is great acknowledgement of the significance of microbiome research as we are about to celebrate our landmark 20th year here at APC. For me it’s always about the people. I have been just so fortunate to have worked with really brilliant scientists down through the years – great collaborators, researchers and students – and it is really on their behalf that I accept this award. I have always been fascinated by the microbial world in which we live and depend on so much. Most of this world is inhabited by diverse communities of microorganisms or microbiomes, as exemplified by the trillions of bacteria that live in our gut. Our research strives to find microbiome-based solutions to address some of the grand challenges society is facing right now. One example is the build-up of antimicrobial resistance in harmful bacteria; to this end, our lab has had some success in finding antibiotic alternatives. There is huge excitement in our ranks, as we can see that we are at the precipice for what microbes and microbiomes can offer in this huge challenge. Our lab is currently working on a €2.5m European Research Council project exploring the potential for naturally occurring antimicrobial peptide, specifically bacteriocins, for the development of new therapies to tackle infectious disease.”
Dr Guerin is a lecturer in the Department of Physics and a member of the SSPC Research Centre, University of Limerick. Her research focuses on modelling and growing crystals for use in areas such as eco-friendly sensing and pharmaceuticals. Dr Guerin’s research has led to significant breakthroughs with potential for use in medical implants and drug delivery devices.
Professor Steve Kerrigan is the Deputy Head of the School of Pharmacy in RCSI University of Medicine and Health Sciences. In 2021, Prof. Kerrigan founded Inthelia Therapeutics, a spin-out, clinical-stage pharmaceutical company which aims to develop personalised therapeutic approaches to treat patients with sepsis. Sepsis is the leading cause of death worldwide, causing over 15 million deaths globally per year.
Professor Edward Curry is the Established Professor of Data Science and Director of the Insight SFI Research Centre for Data Analytics, University of Galway. Along with his research activities, Edward has shown leadership in developing the European Date and AI Ecosystem. Prof Curry was a key architect in designing and creating two triple-helix European Partnerships between industry, research/academia, and the European Commission on Big Data and AI, Data and Robotics, providing the roadmap for the EU over the last decade.
Munster Technological University’s (MTU) Blackrock Castle Observatory has been championing scientific literacy, communicating STEM through the inspirational themes of astronomy and space for 16 years. Over that time, more than 1.3 million people have visited BCO.
Dr Una Fitzgerald, School of Natural Science, University of Galway and an Investigator in CÚRAM, the SFI Research Centre for Medical Devices, is a leading voice in the national movement of ‘greening’ research laboratories, and her laboratory was the first in Europe to be Green Lab-certified. She also led the Galway Green Labs initiative and is the chairperson for Irish Green Labs, a network of Irish labs that share case studies and best practice in lab sustainability.
Professor Frank Peters has over 30 years’ experience in photonic research, including 12 years in industry, filing more than 80 patents. He has been part of three start-ups including, most recently, Rockley Photonics and the creation of the Irish research division of Rockley.
Prof Anne Marie Healy, School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences,Trinity College Dublin, is a founding member and co-PI in SSPC - The SFI Research Centre for Pharmaceuticals. Prof Healy is one of the Co-Directors of the Centre for Doctoral Training in Transformative Pharmaceutical Technologies, run in partnership between SSPC, University College London and the University of Nottingham. She has graduated 23 PhD students and mentored 27 postdoctoral researchers.
The SignON project aims to bridge the communication gap between Deaf, Hard of Hearing (DHH) and hearing people. The project focuses on development of the SignON communication service that uses machine translation to translate between Sign and spoken languages. It represents a shift in the field of sign language technologies, offering an inclusive, co-created, and ethically responsible solution to the historical challenge of communication between signers and non-signers. Its innovative approach ensures that DHH communities are not just subjects of, but also active participants in the research and development process. This project is based in the ADAPT SFI Research Centre for AI-driven Digital Content Technology and led by Professor Andy Way.
Image title: I C You
Recipient: Elin Strachan, PhD student, University College Dublin
Description: This image displays the head, and specifically the eye, of a five-day-old zebrafish larva. The blue stain shows the cell nuclei, whilst the green labelling are the mitochondria within the animal’s optic nerve, which relays information from the eye to the brain. In this lab, fish are used to better understand inherited diseases of the eye, due to how well developed the visual system is in such early stages of fish development and how closely their eyes resemble our own.