Exceptional individuals’ receive NUI Galway President’s Awards for Research Excellence as university marks €100 million

The President’s Awards for Research Excellence 2020, were awarded to: Top l-r: Dr Eimear Dolan and Dr Jane Walsh Bottom l-r: Professor Ines Thiele, Dr Eoin Whelan, Professor Dearbháile Morris and Dr Thomas McDermott.
Dec 18 2020 Posted: 15:28 GMT

NUI Galway announced the recipients of its annual President's Awards for Research Excellence while also celebrating the performance of its researchers in European research funding programmes.

As the current European Commission research funding programmes (2014-2020) draws to a close, the university acknowledged the success of its researchers across a range of competitive funding programmes. Over €100 million has been awarded to NUI Galway researchers over the last seven years by the EU, leading to its researchers participating in over 180 projects, and partnering with research institutions, companies and community groups in more than 30 countries.

Speaking at the online Research and Innovation Symposium which marked the occasion, NUI Galway President, Professor Ciarán Ó hÓgartaigh said: “Success in these funding programmes has allowed our research community to pursue impactful research, develop further their expertise, collaborate with colleagues across the globe. We have also developed tangible solutions to address societal challenges and to support new and existing industries. Underpinning our successes are all of the incredible individuals who make up our research community. This year, I would like to commend six exceptional individuals who embody research excellence and a commitment to our students. They are part of our collective efforts to achieve societal and economic impact and advance our research mission.”

The President’s Awards for Research Excellence 2020, were awarded across three categories.

The Research Supervisor Awardees are:

  • Dr Eoin Whelan, Senior Lecturer in Business Information Systems at NUI Galway. His research explores the psychology underlying engagement with interactive digital media such as smartphones, social networking sites, fitness tracking apps, and online gambling and gaming sites.
  • Professor Dearbháile Morris, Personal Professor of Antimicrobial Resistance and One Health in the School of Medicine. She is also Director of the Ryan Institute’s Centre for One Health at NUI Galway. Her research includes antimicrobial resistance, food and water borne pathogens, emerging contaminants, the societal impact of infection and One Health.

The Early Stage Researcher awardees are:

  • Dr Thomas McDermott, Galway University Foundation Lecturer in the Economics of Climate Change and Development, based in the J.E. Cairnes School of Business and Economics, and Director of the MSc in Global Environmental Economics at NUI Galway. He is a Visiting Fellow at the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment, London School of Economics. His research focuses on environmental and development economics, the economic impacts of extreme weather events such as floods, and public policy related to adaptation to climate change.
  • Dr Eimear Dolan, a Science Foundation Ireland Royal Society University Research Fellow and Lecturer in Biomedical Engineering. Earlier this year, she was named in MIT Technology Review’s annual list of ‘Innovators Under 35’as one of 10 global visionaries. Her key research interest is in innovative medical devices, their effect on the host cells and coupling therapies to minimally invasive delivery devices.

The Established Researcher Category awardees are:

  • Dr Jane Walsh is the Director of the Mobile Technology and Health (mHealth) Research Group at NUI Galway where she is leading research on the use of novel technologies to develop personalised interventions to promote health behaviour. She is leading and collaborating on over €8 million euro of projects including those funded by Horizon 2020, the Health Research Board, the Irish Cancer Societyand Science Foundation Ireland.
  • Professor InesThiele, principal investigator of the Molecular Systems Physiology group at NUI Galway. Her research aims to understand how diet influences human health. Her team develops and uses comprehensive, computational models of human and gut microbial metabolism and applies them to neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer's disease and Parkinson’s disease. Professor Thiele is a European Research Council Fellow and was recently listed among the top 1% of highly-cited researchers in the world by Clarivate.

At the event, Professor Lokesh Joshi, Vice-President of Research at NUI Galway, spoke about the reach of the University’s research and innovation mission: “Reaching a milestone in European funding is a significant achievement which demonstrates a strong and ambitious research and innovation ecosystem here at NUI Galway. We have had great success also in national funding programmes and in leveraging other international and philanthropic resources in both research and innovation activities. This is complemented by excellence research in domains that cannot be measured by funding alone. With these successes, and with the support and recognition for our research, we are able to continue our mission to achieve a positive impact on society. Today we celebrate our people and our research community, who are the drivers of our successes.”

European Success

Of the €100 million awarded to NUI Galway researchers over the last seven years, €90 million has been secured through the Horizon 2020 Framework Programme – including the prestigious European Research Council, which funds outstanding researchers in science, humanities, social sciences, medicine and engineering. There are now 14 European Research Council Fellows based at NUI Galway.

Much of the Horizon 2020 research underway is focused on addressing the major societal challenges of health, climate change and food security. Other successes have come through the Interregregional cooperation programme; the European Space Agency; and the Erasmus+ Programme, which supports research on innovation and good practices in education, training, and youth systems.

The symposium heard from the NUI Galway research community, all with extensive experience of EU funding programmes, these included: Louise Hannon, Head of International Research Programmes, Research Office; Professor Marie-Louise Coolahan, School of English and Creative Arts; Professor Stephen Hynes, School of Business and Economics; Dr Laura Farina,  Research Fellow within the School of Medicine in the Translational Medical Device Lab, and former Marie Skłodowska-Curie MedTrain Fellow at CÚRAM; Dr Marcus Keane, School of Engineering; and Claire O’Connor, Director of Planning and Institutional Research.

Garrett Murray, National Director for Horizon 2020 at Enterprise Ireland, contributed on the structure and aims of the new Horizon Europe Programme which is expected in 2021 as we enter the next seven years of European Commission research funding.

More information on the President’s Awards for Research Excellence, including past recipients, can be found here. To read more about the research activity supported by the European Commission at NUI Galway click here


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