Inaugural ‘Researchers of the Year’ announced as Irish Research Council celebrates fifteen years



Posted: 7 December, 2017

The Irish Research Council have announced the winners of its inaugural ‘Researcher of the Year’ and ‘Early-Career Researcher of the Year’ awards.

The awards were presented as the Council marks 15 years of the Irish Research Council and its forebears, the Irish Research Council for the Humanities and Social Sciences and the Irish Research Council for Science, Engineering and Technology.

The two Council-funded researchers received their awards for having made a highly significant and valuable contribution to research in Ireland over their career to-date in their respective fields.

Dr Martin O’Halloran, NUI Galway, was awarded the ‘Researcher of the Year’ award for his research in medical electronics. Dr O’Halloran is a senior lecturer in the School of Engineering and Informatics in NUI Galway and is Founder-Director of the Translational Medical Device Lab in University Hospital Galway.

Dr Paola Rivetti, Dublin City University, was awarded the ‘Early-Career Researcher of the Year’ award for her research in politics of the Middle East and international relations. Her research interests focus on the government of societies and politics in the Middle East and North Africa from a comparative perspective.

Congratulating the awardees, Minister of State for Skills, Training, Innovation and Research, Mr John Halligan, TD said: “I would like to warmly congratulate Dr Martin O’Halloran and Dr Paola Rivetti on receiving the inaugural Irish Research Council ‘Researcher of the Year’ awards.

 “Their exceptional careers are a testament to the quality of the people in Ireland’s research environment and I would like to commend them on their hard work and dedication to their chosen field.

“I would also like to congratulate the Irish Research Council and its forebears for 15 years of funding the brightest research talent. Supporting exceptional individual researchers from early-career stage is vital to the health of Ireland’s research eco-system. Ensuring that we have the pipeline for a broad range of expertise future-proofs our higher education and indeed Ireland in a globally-connected world”.

Chair of the Irish Research Council, Professor Jane Ohlmeyer, congratulated the two awardees: “I am delighted to congratulate Dr Martin O’Halloran and Dr Paola Rivetti on receiving the inaugural ‘Researcher of the Year’ awards. 

“We received many nominations of current and previously Council-funded researchers. Dr O’Halloran and Dr Rivetti were selected for their outstanding track records to date and I would like to wish them all the very best in their future research careers. 

“This year is a milestone for the Irish Research Council and its forebears as we are celebrating 15 years of funding excellent research across all disciplines. 

“Over the past 15 years, the Council have awarded 7,776 researchers across all disciplines. Having a vibrant research community – and strong public support for research – is now more important than ever before. 

“I would like to take this opportunity to commend all of the previous Council Chairs, members, Directors and staff of the Irish Research Council and its forbears and  wholeheartedly acknowledge their respective contributions to the work of the Council.”

Medals of Excellence

 

Pictured L-R: Professor Thomas Mitchell, Aisling Heeran, Dr Natalia Muñoz-Wolf, Professor Eda Sagarra, Dr Dan O’Brien, Miriam Cummins, Professor Jane Grimson and Professor Maurice J Bric.

In addition to presentation of the ‘Researcher of the Year’ awards, the Council awarded four early-stage researchers with ‘Medals of Excellence’.

The ‘Medals of Excellence’ have been named after previous Chairs of the Irish Research Council and recognise excellence in the 2017 postgraduate and postdoctoral funding calls run by the Council. The medals recognise achievement in both science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields as well as the arts, humanities and social sciences (AHSS). Going forward, the medals will be awarded annually by the Council. The 2017 medal-winners are:

Ms Miriam Cummins, Trinity College Dublin, was awarded the ‘Eda Sagarra Medal of Excellence’ for being the top-ranked postgraduate researcher in the arts, humanities and social sciences category. Her research is in post-secularism, gender performativity and performance in the postcolonial world.

Ms Aisling Heeran, Trinity College Dublin, was awarded the ‘Jane Grimson Medal of Excellence’ for being the top-ranked postgraduate researcher in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics category. Ms Heeran’s research is investigating the clinical relevance of the radiation-induced bystander effect in rectal cancer patients.

Dr Dan O’Brien, University College Dublin, was awarded the ‘Maurice J Bric Medal of Excellence’ for being the top-ranked postdoctoral researcher in the arts, humanities and social sciences category. Dr O’Brien’s research is considering the intertwining fiction of Philip Roth and Edna O’Brien.

Dr Natalia Muñoz-Wolf, Trinity College Dublin, was awarded the ‘Thomas Mitchell Medal of Excellence’ for being the top-ranked postdoctoral researcher in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics category. Dr Muñoz-Wolf’s research is in investigating determinants of morbidity and mortality in pneumococcal disease.