15th July 2019, Dublin, Ireland - Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) today welcomed the announcement of four new awards under the Royal Society-SFI University Research Fellowship scheme, representing an investment of €2.8 million and supporting eight research positions.

Welcoming the announcement, Dr Ruth Freeman, Director of Science for Society in SFI, said: “The Royal Society-SFI University Research Fellowships Scheme, which contributes to Ireland’s international reputation for research excellence, recognises those with the potential to become Ireland’s future research leaders. I am delighted to congratulate the four researchers who have been granted these prestigious awards and wish them every success for the future. We are delighted to work together with our UK partners, the Royal Society, to ensure that young researchers have access to stellar opportunities such as these which will launch their research careers.”

In total, the Royal Society announced the appointment of 43 new URFs for 2019. The researchers will take up their new posts at 24 institutions across the UK and Ireland at the start of October.

The four 2019 Royal Society-SFI University Research Fellows are:


Dr Eimear Dolan (National University of Ireland, Galway, awarded €732,568)

A Soft Robotics Approach to Reduce the Foreign Body Response to Medical Implants

Dr Dolan has developed a proof-of-concept soft robotic implant, which she plans on adapting as a treatment for Type 1 diabetes; Dr Dolan plans on establishing relationships with other research institutes to become the global leader in innovative medical devices.


Dr John Regan (Dublin City University, awarded €685,230)

Seed Black Hole Formation from Environment to Accretion

Dr Regan will track and describe the growth of black holes from their formation up to their maximal size, and in the process identify where in the Universe is most conducive to black hole formation, and how black holes may have formed in the early Universe.


Dr Andrea Droghetti (Trinity College Dublin, awarded €666,290)

Exploring out-of-equilibrium effects and functionalities at hybrid interfaces

Dr Droghetti will study hybrid systems comprising molecules and metals with the goal of designing storage devices integrating other capabilities, e.g. for image displays and energy-conversion, while also creating a natural bridge from classical and quantum information and data storage technologies.


Dr Lewys Jones (Trinity College Dublin, awarded €722,939)

Retrofitting small-scale, high-impact, modular innovations for next-generation transmission electron microscopy (RetroTEM)

Dr Jones will work to develop more sophisticated and refined elements for transmission electron microscopes, thereby improving such applications as chemical fingerprinting sensitivity and imaging performance and resolution. Taken collectively, these innovations will enable the next generation of characterisation and materials science discoveries.


These awards, which are funded by Science Foundation Ireland, are aimed at outstanding early career researchers, providing them with an opportunity to build an independent research career and become future leaders in their fields. Applicants can apply for up to five years’ research funding at an eligible institution in Ireland, with the possibility to apply for competitive renewal for an additional three years.

The scheme is extremely competitive and URFs are expected to be strong candidates for permanent posts in universities at the end of their fellowships, with many alumni having gone on to enjoy significant national or international recognition for their work.

In total, 14 out of the 43 new appointments (33%) were made to women. The 2020 round of the University Research Fellowships will close for applications on the 3 September 2019, find out more here.