Monday 13th November 2017 – The winners of the prestigious 2017 Science Foundation Ireland awards were revealed at the annual SFI Science Summit today. Joined by over 350 leading members of the Irish research community, Science Foundation Ireland is celebrating their researchers’ contributions to Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths.

Announcing the award winners, Dr Orlaigh Quinn, Secretary General, Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation, said; “The SFI Science Awards recognise some of Ireland’s top researchers and a number of crucial areas in research and development including industry collaborations, entrepreneurship, communication and public engagement. I am delighted to acknowledge and congratulate the work of these research leaders on their ability to deliver new ideas and innovation, which in turn helps to create high-value jobs and drives economic growth and regional development.”

Director General of Science Foundation Ireland and Chief Scientific Adviser to the Government of Ireland, Professor Mark Ferguson, also congratulated the award winners saying; “The SFI Science Awards present an opportunity to highlight some of the very best outputs and achievements of our research community. I want to congratulate the award winners on their significant achievements, as well as their dedication and determination to realise their research ambitions. I am confident that their hard work and success will be a source of inspiration to their peers and the next generation of researchers in Ireland. Science Foundation Ireland is very proud of the excellent quality and impact delivered each year, enabled by our funding.”

SFI Researcher of the Year 2017

The SFI Researcher of the Year Award recognises the accomplishments of a Science Foundation Ireland funded researcher who has contributed significantly to the Irish research community in their career. The successful researcher has achieved exceptional scientific and engineering research outputs combined with a clear demonstration of the ability to communicate their research.

Recipient: Prof Mike Zaworotko, Science Foundation Ireland Research Professor, University of Limerick

SFI Research Professor Mike Zaworotko is the Bernal Chair of Crystal Engineering in the University of Limerick. Focusing on fundamental and applied aspects of crystal engineering, Prof Zawortoko’s research has many potential applied uses in pharmaceuticals, clean tech and energy.

On receiving the SFI Researcher of the Year Award, Prof Zaworotko said; “The investments that have been made in science and technology funding in recent years mean that there is a rising tide of globally impactful science and engineering research in Ireland. There are many deserving researchers for this prestigious award, which means that I am delighted and honoured to receive the award. I look forward to making further contributions to the "rising tide" of Irish science.” He has recently been announced as the new co-director of the SFI Research Centre SSPC.

SFI Early Career Researcher of the Year

The SFI Early Career Researcher Award recognises outstanding early career research talent.

Recipient: Dr Rachel McLoughlin, Trinity College Dublin

Dr Rachel McLoughlin is recognised internationally as a leading researcher in Staphylococcus aureus host pathogen interactions. Commenting on her delight at receiving the award Dr McLoughlin said; “I am extremely honoured to have been selected for this award and grateful to SFI for their continued support of my research programme. This is a wonderful endorsement of the impact that our work is making. I look forward to continued discoveries that will further our understanding of how bacteria interact with the immune system, to advance treatment strategies that will ultimately help to control the global epidemic of antibiotic resistant infections

SFI Industry Partnership Award

The SFI Industry Partnership Award celebrates SFI collaboration between an academic research group and industry.

Recipients: SSPC & Advanced Biopharmaceutical Technologies - Spokes Project

This project is led by the SSPC SFI Research Centre in partnership with seven leading Biopharmaceutical companies in Ireland and NIBRT. The partnership aims to develop innovative single-use disposable systems for bioprocessing.

SFI Best International Engagement Award

This award recognises the accomplishments of a Science Foundation Ireland-funded researcher/group specifically in the context of their international activities. 

Recipient:  I-LOFAR led by Prof Peter Gallagher, Trinity College Dublin

The I-LOFAR (International Low Frequency Array) telescope is a network of radio telescopes that stretches across nearly 2,000 km across Europe, making it the largest low frequency radio telescope in the world. Opening new frontiers in astrophysics, I-LOFAR also acts as an “ICT telescope”, producing vast quantities of data.

SFI Entrepreneurship Award

The SFI Entrepreneurship Award celebrates an entrepreneurial achievement by SFI supported researchers.

Recipient: Dr Peter Cahill, SFI Research Centre ADAPT

Dr Peter Cahill, former researcher with the SFI funded research centre ADAPT, used his deep scientific expertise in speech technology and natural language processing to develop an innovative AI platform for spoken interaction. Commercialising his work in 2012 to establish Voysis.

SFI Outstanding Contribution to STEM Communication

This award recognises an outstanding contribution to the popularisation of science, where it raises public awareness of the value of science to human progress.

Recipient:  Dr Aoibhinn Ní Shúilleabháin, University College Dublin

Dr Aoibhinn Ní Shúilleabháin an Assistant Professor in the School of Mathematics and Statistics in UCD has shown years of dedication to communicating. A regular contributor to national broadcasts, Aoibhinn has also set up initiatives to promote physics and maths including the City of Physics, and Maths Sparks in UCD.

SFI Best Reported Impact

The SFI Best Reported Impact Award recognises the potential impact of an SFI researcher’s award and their commitment to maximising the impact of their research.

Recipient:  Prof Fiona Newell, Trinity College Dublin

Dr Newell’s research work taps into the growing demand for novel, non‐pharmaceutical solutions to age‐related - as well as incidental -  decline in motor and cognitive function through therapeutic approaches engaging video games.

SFI Research Image of the Year

The Research Image competition celebrates images captured by Science Foundation Ireland funded researchers during the course of their research.

Recipient:  Dr Mark Jessopp, University College Cork

‘Osmotic Shock’ is a pure nature shot of seabirds foraging on marine zooplankton which have been stunned by the freshwater output from glacial meltwater. Climate change has accelerated the retreat of this 50m high glacial wall, providing feeding opportunities for large groups of kittiwakes and fulmar in the Arctic

'Osmotic Shock'