The Irish Research Council Researcher of the Year Awards 2021

Posted: 3 December, 2021

Link to the 2022 Call

Professor Yvonne Buckley named Irish Research Council Researcher of the Year

– Dr. Kathy Ruddy wins Early Career Researcher of the Year, with Prof. Michelle Norris named as Impact Award winner –


Ecologist and expert on plant and animal populations, Professor Yvonne Buckley, Trinity College Dublin, has won the esteemed Irish Research Council Researcher of the Year award for 2021.

The winners of the annual Researcher of the Year awards, which recognise the very best of the Council’s funded researchers who are making highly significant and valuable contributions to knowledge, society, culture, or innovation were announced today (03.12.21). The winners were selected by an independent expert panel, chaired by Luke Drury, Professor Emeritus of Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies.

Winner of the overall Researcher of the Year award, Yvonne Buckley, is Professor of Zoology at Trinity College Dublin. Her work is focused on the growth, reproduction and survival of plant and animal species. Using insights from her research, Professor Buckley develops models of plant and animal populations which help to determine the conditions that may lead to a change in their population size over time.

Leading a team of post-doctoral researchers, PhD and undergraduate students at Trinity, Professor Buckley’s work explores solutions that will enable biodiversity to persist through the current global changes, including climate change.

Professor Buckley’s research also informs policy. She has advised the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Environment and Climate Action and is the current Co-Chair of the All-Island Climate and Biodiversity Research Network (AICBRN), recently launched by An Taoiseach Micheál Martin, TD. She also formerly held the position of Chair of the National Biodiversity Forum (2015-2021).

Highly commended by the independent panel in this category were Professor Alistair Nichol, University College Dublin and Professor Poul Holm, Trinity College Dublin.

Further success for awardees

In addition to the overall Researcher of the Year award, winners of the Early Career Researcher of the Year and the Impact Award were also announced today.

Dr. Kathy Ruddy, Trinity College Dublin won the Early Career Researcher of the Year award. She is a Research Assistant Professor in the School of Psychology and Institute of Neuroscience at Trinity College Dublin. Dr. Ruddy’s research projects involve using brain-computer interfaces to ‘hack the brain’, to understand better how it works, and ultimately work towards improving brain function.

She is currently coordinating a clinical trial testing a new form of brain-computer interface involving magnetic brain stimulation for upper limb stroke rehabilitation. Dr. Ruddy is also working on making brain-computer interfaces more widely accessible and user-friendly by developing prototype wireless and wearable versions that could be more easily implemented outside of hospital or research settings.


Highly commended in this category were Dr. Jean O’Dwyer, University College Cork and Dr. Susan Bullman, former researcher and lecturer at Munster Technological University and now Assistant Professor, Human Biology Division, at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Centre in Seattle.

Professor Michelle Norris, University College Dublin was awarded this year’s Impact Award. This award is given to a current or former IRC awardee who is making a highly significant impact outside of academia.

Professor Norris is the director of the Geary Institute for Public Policy and Professor of Social Policy at University College Dublin. Her research interests focus on housing policy and urban regeneration. She has led over 20 research projects on housing policy since 2000 and produced over 170 publications on the results.

Professor Norris is an adviser – domestically and internationally – on housing policy. She is currently a member of the National Economic and Social Council and chairperson of the Housing Finance Agency. In 2020, she was appointed as an expert advisor to #Housing2030 – a joint international initiative that aims to improve the capacity of national and local governments to formulate policies that improve housing affordability and sustainability.

Director of the Irish Research Council, Peter Brown, welcomed the announcement, saying: “I would like to congratulate all of this year’s awardees. The standard of nominations was extremely high, and each of the winners should be immensely proud of their achievements. It is great to see this year’s winners representing a diverse range of research interests, which reflects the creativity and dynamism of the research community here in Ireland. The Irish Research Council is equally proud to have supported the development of the work of these researchers through our funding.

This year’s winners demonstrate how research helps society answer some of the big questions of our time and can make a significant and lasting impact. We look forward to continuing to cultivate a vibrant research community in which there are world-class researchers across disciplines.”


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