Washington DC - 14th March 2024: Taoiseach Leo Varadkar today awarded the prestigious Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) St. Patrick’s Day Science Medal to Dr Eamonn Keogh, Distinguished Professor of Computer Science, University of California, Riverside, and to Mr John Hartnett, Founder and CEO of SVG Ventures|THRIVE, in honour of their exceptional contribution to research and innovation.

The SFI St. Patrick’s Day Science Medal is awarded annually to two distinguished US-based science, engineering or technology leaders with strong Irish connections. This award recognises their support in developing the research ecosystem in Ireland and beyond.

At a celebratory event in Washington DC, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar congratulated the recipients, saying: “On behalf of the Government of Ireland and Science Foundation Ireland, I am delighted to present the SFI St. Patrick’s Day Science Medal to Dr Eamonn Keogh and Mr John Hartnett. This award recognises their outstanding success in data mining and agri-food.

“The Irish Government is backing innovative research that will help us to respond to challenges in changes in society, both in Ireland and globally. Our Research and Innovation Strategy ‘Impact 2030’ is guiding our plans to be a global innovation leader.

“The work of Dr Keogh and Mr Hartnett really demonstrates the quality of research being undertaken by the US-Ireland diaspora. They are driving transformational research and innovation. This work is already helping us to respond to global challenges in areas like climate change, healthcare, and digitalisation.”

Recipient of the SFI St. Patrick’s Science Day Medal for Academia, Dr Eamonn Keogh, holds the position of Distinguished Professor and Ross Family Chair at the Department of Computer Science, University of California, Riverside. Born and raised in Dublin, Ireland, Dr Keogh completed studies at California State, San Marcos, and the University of California, Irvine. He is a world-leading expert in the field of data mining and machine learning and was the first person to apply the power of data mining to the problem of flying insect classification in agriculture. This body of work is being increasingly commercialised worldwide to prevent crop losses by insect pests. He is currently the only person to have won three independent Bill and Melinda Gates Grand Challenge Awards, and the only person to be a three-time Bell Labs Prize finalist. He is co-founder of the Keogh-Yoshii Scholarship for underrepresented students in computer science.

On receiving the award, Dr Keogh said: “I am honoured to accept the 2024 SFI St. Patrick’s Day Science Medal for my work on data mining and computational entomology. I am proud to note that in recent years we have seen my work on computational entomology deployed in a dozen countries, helping to reduce food insecurity by helping to survey and control insect pests. I am pleased to have maintained a connection with my Irish roots, collaborating with Irish colleagues regularly, and engaging with Irish primary and post-primary schools.”

Recipient of the SFI St. Patrick’s Day Science Medal for Industry, Mr John Hartnett, is the founder and CEO of SVG Ventures|THRIVE, a global agri-food innovation and investment platform in Silicon Valley that accelerates, invests and works with entrepreneurs, investors and Fortune 500 corporations to advance the future of food and agriculture globally. SVG Ventures is ranked as the most active agtech investor with over 80 investments in the sector. Mr Hartnett, a Limerick native, is a veteran in the technology industry who supports and mentors companies as they transition from education and research to start-up. Based in California, he founded the Irish Technology Leadership Group (ITLG), a network of global Irish technology leaders that fosters links between the USA and Ireland. In 2014, John launched the ITLG Young Innovators Event to promote the development of leadership and innovation in Irish youth, and to ignite a passion for technology and entrepreneurship.

Receiving the award, Mr Hartnett said: “I am honoured to accept the SFI St. Patrick’s Day Science Medal. At SVG Ventures|THRIVE we care deeply about innovation in the agri-food sector, particularly using technology to advance research. Investment in these areas is vital for ensuring a more sustainable future for food and agriculture. Through my work with the ITLG, I have been delighted to bring delegations of investors and technology leaders to Ireland, increasing collaboration with the USA in the key areas of entrepreneurship, female leadership, young innovators and education.”

Professor Philip Nolan, Director General, SFI, said: “I congratulate Dr Eamonn Keogh and Mr John Harnett on receiving the prestigious SFI St. Patrick’s Day Science Medal. Their significant achievements show the talent and contribution of the Irish diaspora in science, technology and engineering. Their outstanding contributions are recognised today, as are their contributions to research in Ireland, and the development of strong transatlantic research and innovation connections. US-Ireland research collaborations create significant value to both countries, across academia and industry. We look forward to continuing to work together to evolve and deepen these US-Ireland partnerships and harnessing the benefits for our economies and societies.”