NUI Galway Researcher Wins Irish Research Council’s Early Career Researcher of the Year Award

Pictured during a research diving trip, Dr Kathryn Schoenrock, postdoctoral researcher, Ryan Institute, NUI Galway. Photo: Kathryn Schoenrock.
Dec 10 2020 Posted: 10:03 GMT

Dr Kathryn Schoenrock, a postdoctoral researcher from the Ryan Institute in NUI Galway is this year’s winner of the Irish Research Council’s Early Career Researcher of the Year award.

The award for Early Career Researcher of the Year is given to a current or former Irish Research Council awardee who is at an early stage in their career. They must be currently working in research in an academic institution and have demonstrated an exceptional level of achievement in their field at this stage in their career.

Dr Schoenrock’s research focus is kelp forest ecology along the coastlines of Ireland, which looks at how they house and provide food for the marine animals in their ecosystem. Kelp forests are known to be a habitat for hundreds to thousands of marine species and recently, they have been highlighted as an important blue carbon repository that may buffer climate change impacts to marine habitats by sequestering the increasing concentrations of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

As a postdoctoral researcher in Ireland, Dr Schoenrock led an intensive kelp forest monitoring effort over the past three years, which is the first effort of its kind. Her ground-breaking work in this field has made her the authoritative voice on Irish kelp forest ecology, and the productivity and biodiversity of these systems in nearshore waters.

Professor Ciarán Ó hÓgartaigh, President of NUI Galway, said: “I’d like to congratulate Kathryn on winning this year’s Irish Research Council Early Career Researcher of the Year award. We are very proud of her work. Research defines us as a university and defines the excellence of NUI Galway. Kathryn’s work is inter-disciplinary, openly drawing on many different perspectives to increase our understanding of the marine environment which, given our location, is particularly important to our university. Awards such as this sustain the next generation of excellence in research so it is wonderful to see the quality of Kathryn’s research being respected and acknowledged in this way. Congratulations to her and we wish her every future success.”

Speaking about her award, Dr Kathryn Schoenrock, Ryan Institute, NUI Galway, said: “I’m very honoured to receive this award and that this particular field of research is being commended. What’s really nice is that this research could be applied to many technologies and pharmaceuticals. While this is basic natural history, I’m delighted it’s being recognised as essential for our understanding of the natural world, which is very encouraging for our future.”

Director of the Irish Research Council, Peter Brown, said: “Our annual Researcher of the Year awards are about recognising the very best and brightest of the Council’s current and former awardees. The standard this year was exceedingly high, and the judging panel found it difficult in many cases to choose a winner, which is a testament to the high calibre of researchers we have here in Ireland.

“We launched our five-year strategic plan this year and supporting excellent ideas and talent across all disciplines is at the heart of the Council’s mandate. Having a vibrant research community, and fostering public support for research is vital, as we continue to see the positive impact it has on society, the environment, and the economy.”

To hear more about Kathryn’s research, watch the following short video:


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