Minister Halligan announces investment of €24.7m by the Irish Research Council in early-career researchers

Posted: 6 November, 2019

An investment of over €24 million in early-career researchers has been announced by Minister of State for Training, Skills, Innovation, Research and Development, John Halligan TD, under the Irish Research Council’s Government of Ireland programmes.

The Irish research and innovation system will benefit from a new cohort of 294 postgraduate and postdoctoral researchers, who will conduct cutting-edge research across disciplines.

Understanding and optimising cardiac regeneration after treatment; preventing the effects of pre-eclampsia on the neurodevelopment of children; and the experience of ageing and disability are amongst the research areas receiving funding this year.

Announcing the investment, Minister Halligan said the Irish Research Council’s Government of Ireland programmes are aimed at ensuring Ireland has a strong pipeline of research talent to meet our current and future needs.

“The major investment by government announced today will fund our brightest minds to develop the new knowledge and skills that Ireland will need to address future challenges and opportunities,” he said. “Innovation 2020, Ireland’s strategy for research and development, science and technology, sets out a vision for Ireland as a global innovation leader. Investment in early-career researchers is key to achieving this vision.

“The Irish Research Council’s early-career awards not only cultivate leading-edge technical skills and knowledge, but also promote the development of a range of transferable skills, including resilience, creative thinking and self-directed learning. These skills are highly prized by employers and enterprise and will support Ireland as a strong competitor for investment.”

Researchers awarded funding

215 postgraduate and 79 postdoctoral researchers have received awards under the 2019 Government of Ireland programmes.

An investment of €18,339,909 is being made in postgraduate scholarships, with €6,387,745 allocated for postdoctoral researchers.

Examples of researchers supported through the programmes this year include:

  • Leanna Wigboldus, a PhD student based at University College Dublin, whose research will address a holistic approach to conservation and management of world heritage sites.
  • Aaron Barron, a PhD student based at University College Cork, whose research aims to understand and prevent the impact of pre-eclampsia on the neurodevelopment of children.
  • Emma Markey, a PhD student with Technical University Dublin, who will develop new methodologies for sampling and analysing pollen in Ireland’s environment.
  • Ann Leahy, a postdoctoral researcher based at Maynooth University, whose research focuses on the experiences of disability and ageing.
  • Orla McGee, a postdoctoral researcher based at Trinity College Dublin, who is aiming to understand and optimise cardiac regeneration after treatment with implantable biomaterial.

Peter Brown, Director of the Irish Research Council said: “The Government of Ireland programmes are unique in the Irish research landscape and are a critical investment in the future health of our research and innovation ecosystem. These programmes are highly competitive, and the early-career researchers benefiting from the investment have demonstrated world-class potential in their chosen field.

“Attracting and retaining the very best researchers in Ireland is vital for a vibrant research system and globally competitive higher education institutions. Through this and other Council programmes, we aim to support the development of cutting-edge expertise that will be key to successfully addressing national and global societal challenges. In addition, the awards support the development of our research-performing organisations as drivers of innovation in a knowledge-based global economy.”

The Government of Ireland programmes are internationally recognised, and applications are subject to rigorous expert peer review.  Further information about the Irish Research Council’s Government of Ireland programmes is available at


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