Irish Research Council highlights achievements and impact in 2018



Posted: 7 January, 2019

2018 was a remarkable year for Ireland, and indeed for the Irish Research Council. From the inaugural Laureate Awards to the success of the Researcher of the Year Awards, we had many highlights and contributed positively to the development of the research system in Ireland over the course of the year. With 2019 now upon us, we look back on the year that has been and reflect on how we have contributed to Irish research, culture and society.

Some of our highlights have included:

  • In March, we announced a €29.6 million investment in the new Laureate Awards Programme to support ground-breaking, frontier research in the life sciences, physical sciences and engineering, and the arts, humanities and social sciences. The scheme came as part of Ireland’s five-year strategy for science and technology, research and development, Innovation 2020. The first recipients of the Laureate awards will conduct research into topics ranging from age-related vision loss to sustainable food production.
  • In June, Minister of State for Training, Skills, Innovation, Research and Development, John Halligan TD launched our new International Engagement Strategy. This new strategy aims to work collaboratively to position Ireland as a centre of excellence for higher education and research ‘post-Brexit’ and will seek to exploit Ireland’s already positive scientific and academic standing among the international community.
John Halligan TD, Minister of State for Training, Skills, Innovation, Research and Development and Sharon Bolanta, Irish Research Council Postgraduate Scholar, University of Limerick
  • Rounding out the year was the announcement of the winners of the 2018 Researcher of the Year Awards. Now in their second year, the Researcher of the Year Awards recognise and commend the very best of our current awardees or alumni working in academia, industry, civic society or the public sector. Professor Anna Davies (Trinity College Dublin) was named as the Researcher of the Year, Dr Karen English (Maynooth University) as the Early-Career Researcher of the Year, and Dr Brian Egan (Senior Engineer at Wood) as the Alumnus of the Year. In addition to the Researcher of the Year Awards, we presented medals to four early-career researchers, recognising excellence in the 2018 postgraduate and postdoctoral funding calls.
Professor Anna Davies

Some other highlights included our light projection show in Barnardo’s Square for Science Week 2018; becoming a strategic partner of RTÉ’s Brainstorm initiative; the announcement of a €22 million investment in early-career research under the Government of Ireland Postgraduate Scholarship and Postdoctoral Fellowship programmes; and launching an Oireachtas shadowing scheme aimed at strengthening academics’ and politicians’ understanding of the role research plays in public policy formation.

2018 was a year of exciting progress and achievement for us and our funded researchers. The successes of this past year have provided us with excellent momentum as we commence 2019, and we look forward to continuing our mission of funding excellent research in Ireland.