Researchers from five universities awarded prestigious Lero Director’s Prizes
Eight researchers from five leading Irish universities were awarded Lero Director’s Prizes at its online ceremony.
Awards were presented to academics, researchers and support staff from NUI Galway, University College Dublin, University of Limerick, Maynooth University and Dublin City University.
Now in its second year, the Lero Director’s Prizes are presented by Lero, the Science Foundation Ireland research centre for software. Established to honour members working across its 11 academic partner institutes nationwide, the awards were presented at the annual gathering of Lero members, which was held online this year for the first time.
PhD students Abeba Birhane of University College Dublin and Mairead O’Connor of NUI Galway were presented the Lero Director’s Prizes for Diversity and Inclusion at the online event. The Lero Director’s Prize for Entrepreneurship was awarded to Dr Paul Clarke of Dublin City University. Prizes for education and public engagement were awarded to Dr Darragh Mullins of NUI Galway and Professor Markus Helfert and his team at Maynooth University.
The Prof Rory O’Connor Prize for Outstanding Service to Lero was presented, in memory of the late Lero and DCU researcher. “The Prof Rory O’Connor Prize for Outstanding Service to Lero is a highlight of the Lero Director’s Prize programme and we are very grateful to the family of our late colleague Rory for allowing us to name this prize in his honour,” said Prof Brian Fitzgerald, director of Lero.
“Such was the strength of nominations in this category, we decided to present two awards – one to Lero Principal Investigator Professor Kieran Conboy of NUI Galway and a second to Dara O’Connor, a member of the centre’s support team based in University of Limerick.”
The Lero Director’s Prize for Research Excellence was awarded to Dr Jim Buckley of University of Limerick. Earlier this summer, Dr Buckley received a Science Foundation Ireland Covid-19 Rapid Response Funding award for COVIGILANT, a research project with colleagues in UL and NUI Galway to gather evidence informing and optimising Ireland’s digital contact-tracing strategy and practice.
Winners were selected by a specially constituted awards committee, which is chaired by Prof Fitzgerald.
Closing the conference, Prof Fitzgerald told members that their resilience and dedication has meant that Lero has continued and, in many cases, expanded its ground-breaking work despite the Covid-19 pandemic.
“I am constantly impressed by the women and men who are the backbone of our world-leading research centre. Their resilience, ingenuity and ambition to provide research-based solutions and insights to resolve problems, have not been derailed by a pandemic that has transformed so many other facets of modern living.
“Today we recognise the resilience and ingenuity of Lero’s academics and researchers in providing scientific and technological solutions to global issues,” added Prof Fitzgerald. “We also acknowledge their dedication to the centre, to engaging the public and industry and to diversity and inclusion in our work and in our world.”