Minister Simon Harris announces funding of €21m for close to 300 new research projects

Posted: 23 October, 2020

Irish Research Council Government of Ireland awards will fuel the pipeline of early-stage researchers across all disciplines 

Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science, Simon Harris TD, has today announced funding for 209 Postgraduate Scholarships and 87 Postdoctoral Fellowships under the Irish Research Councils Government of Ireland programmes. The awards represent an investment of over €21 million in early career researchers across all academic disciplines. 

Welcoming this year’s awardees, Minister Harris said: I am delighted to announce this investment by government in developing the next generation of research leaders across disciplines. Across higher education, enterprise, civil society and the public sector, expert knowledge and skills is a critical need for our present and our future. The awards announced today support a pipeline of research talent which will be at the forefront of addressing the many challenges and opportunities we face. 

The COVID crisis alone has demonstrated the importance of investment in expertise across all disciplines, whether in the form of advice on public health, the development of vaccines and treatments within industry, or, crucially, in working through the many longer term social, economic and cultural impacts of the crisis. It can be seen today how Ireland is benefiting from investment in basic research made some years ago, and this will be the case in the future with ongoing support for the pipeline of excellent researchers. I wish the many awardees starting their new projects the very best. 

The individuals receiving awards today will conduct research into a multitude of topics, ranging from cancer therapy and solar cell development to bullying ithe education system and the role of cities in driving national growthThis year’s postgraduate scholars include: 

  • Gustavo Fehrenbach, who will join the team in Athlone Institute of Technology to develop innovative ultraviolet light technology for safeguarding consumer health and the seafood industry from the winter vomiting bug outbreaks (norovirus) with possible implications for COVID-19 interventions 
  • Ulster Rugby player of the year Kathryn Dane, who will swap her boots for a lab coat in Trinity College Dublin to investigate the gender bias in sports injury research and the resulting impact on safety in senior women’s rugby 
  • Cliona Curley from University College Dublin, who will study the movement of farright extremists to alternative technology (alt-tech) platforms, and the resultant impact on their ability to spread misinformation, incite violence and radicalise others 
  • Dublin City Universitys Andrew Dorman, who will conduct a pioneering study of the Irish military experience in the eighteenth century, analysing themes such as army-societal relations, masculinity and discipline.  

Amongst this year’s postdoctoral fellows are:  

  • Mariana Alves, based in the RCSI University of Medicine and Health Sciences, who will be identifying new therapeutic targets for treating neonatal brain injury 
  • Tian Yu, of Maynooth University, whose research will study the electrochemical detection and removal of pesticides in water 
  • Stephanie Robinson, based in University College Cork, who will delve deep into the past to look at health, disease and trauma in Ireland during the transition from Stone to Bronze Age. 

Congratulating this year’s awardees, Irish Research Council Director, Peter Brown, said: “The Irish Research Council Government of Ireland awards form a critical pillar within Ireland’s research and innovation eco-systemThe two programmes, addressing postgraduate and postdoctoral research, are the only ones of their kind in Ireland, funding excellent research across all disciplines, and are highly competitive, nationally and internationally. Awardees benefit greatly from having obtained a research award in their own namedemonstrating world-class potential in their chosen field from early-career stage. Through this and other IRC programmes, the Council continues to deliver the best and brightest research talent for Ireland. Working hand-in-glove with our research-performing organisations, awardees will expand the frontiers of knowledge and generate the research and innovations that will help to address national and global societal challenges. 

Each year the Government of Ireland Programmes collaborate with strategic funding partners to run themed calls. A number of this year’s awardees are supported by the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Foreign Affairs. The 2021 calls are now open on the IRC website and offer new collaborative funding opportunities with additional themed calls from the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation, Met Éireann and the Department of Rural and Community Development.  

Further information about the Irish Research Council’s Government of Ireland programmes is available at 

Full list of Government of Ireland 2020 awardees

Data Protection Notice

Please read our updated Data Protection Notice.

Our use of cookies

We use necessary cookies to make our site work. We'd also like to set optional analytics cookies to help us improve it. We won't set these optional cookies unless you enable them. Using this tool will set a cookie on your device to remember your preferences.

For more detailed information about the cookies we use, see our Privacy Policy page

Necessary cookies

Necessary cookies enable core functionality such as security, network management, and accessibility. You may disable these by changing your browser settings, but this may affect how the website functions.

Analytics cookies

We'd like to set Google Analytics cookies to help us to improve our website by collecting and reporting information on how you use it. The cookies collect information in a way that does not directly identify anyone.