Minister Harris announces €21m funding for 300 research projects

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Irish Research Council Government of Ireland awards will fuel the pipeline of early-stage researchers across all disciplines



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27 October 2020 | 0

Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science, Simon Harris, has announced funding for 209 postgraduate scholarships and 87 postdoctoral fellowships under the Irish Research Council’s Government of Ireland programmes.

The awards represent an investment of over €21 million in early career researchers across all academic disciplines.

The recipients will conduct research into a multitude of topics ranging from cancer therapy and solar cell development, to bullying in the education system and the role of cities in driving national growth. This year’s postgraduate scholars include:



  • Gustavo Fehrenbach, who will join the team in Athlone Institute of Technology to develop innovative ultraviolet light technology for safeguarding consumer health and the seafood industry from the winter vomiting bug outbreaks (norovirus) with possible implications for Covid-19 interventions
  • Ulster Rugby player of the year Kathryn Dane, who will swap her boots for a lab coat in Trinity College Dublin to investigate the gender bias in sports injury research and the resulting impact on safety in senior women’s rugby
  • Cliona Curley from University College Dublin, who will study the movement of far-right extremists to alternative technology (alt-tech) platforms, and the resultant impact on their ability to spread misinformation, incite violence and radicalise others
  • Dublin City University’s Andrew Dorman, who will conduct a pioneering study of the Irish military experience in the eighteenth century, analysing themes such as army-societal relations, masculinity, and discipline

Amongst this year’s postdoctoral fellows are:

  • Mariana Alves, based in the RCSI University of Medicine and Health Sciences, who will be identifying new therapeutic targets for treating neonatal brain injury
  • Tian Yu, of Maynooth University, whose research will study the electrochemical detection and removal of pesticides in water
  • Stephanie Robinson, based in University College Cork, who will delve deep into the past to look at health, disease and trauma in Ireland during the transition from Stone to Bronze Age

Irish Research Council director Peter Brown, said: “The Irish Research Council Government of Ireland awards form a critical pillar within Ireland’s research and innovation eco-system. The two programmes, addressing postgraduate and postdoctoral research, are the only ones of their kind in Ireland, funding excellent research across all disciplines and are highly competitive, nationally and internationally. Awardees benefit greatly from having obtained a research award in their own name, demonstrating world-class potential in their chosen field from early-career stage.

“Through this and other IRC programmes, the council continues to deliver the best and brightest research talent for Ireland. Working hand-in-glove with our research-performing organisations, awardees will expand the frontiers of knowledge and generate the research and innovations that will help to address national and global societal challenges.”

Welcoming this year’s awardees, Minister Harris said: “The Covid-19 crisis alone has demonstrated the importance of investment in expertise across all disciplines, whether in the form of advice on public health, the development of vaccines and treatments within industry, or, crucially, in working through the many longer term social, economic and cultural impacts of the crisis. It can be seen today how Ireland is benefiting from investment in basic research made some years ago, and this will be the case in the future with ongoing support for the pipeline of excellent researchers. I wish the many awardees starting their new projects the very best.”

Each year the Government of Ireland Programmes collaborate with strategic funding partners to run themed calls. A number of this year’s awardees are supported by the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Foreign Affairs. The 2021 calls are now open on the IRC website and offer new collaborative funding opportunities with additional themed calls from the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation, Met Éireann and the Department of Rural and Community Development.

For more information about the programmes, visit:

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