Introducing the Irish Research Council Early Career Researcher of the Year

Posted: 9 December, 2020

The award for Early Career Researcher of the Year is given to a current or former IRC awardee who is at an early stage in their career. They must be currently working in research in an academic institution and have demonstrated an exceptional level of achievement in their field at this stage in their career.

This award category had a number of excellent entries, which is a great reflection of the emerging research talent in Ireland.

Dr. Kathryn Schoenrock a postdoctoral researcher at the National University of Ireland Galway is this year’s winner of the Early Career Researcher of the Year award.

Dr Schoenrock’s research focus is kelp forest ecology – focus is kelp forest ecology. Kelp forest are known to be a habitat for hundreds to thousands of marine species and recently, they have been highlighted as an important blue carbon repository that may buffer climate change impacts to marine habitats by sequestering the increasing concentrations of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

As a postdoctoral researcher in Ireland, Dr. Schoenrock led an intensive kelp forest monitoring effort over the past three years – which is the first effort of its kind. Her ground-breaking work in this field has made her the authoritative voice on Irish kelp forest ecology, and the productivity and biodiversity of these systems in nearshore waters.

To hear more about Kathryn’s research, watch the video below

Due to the high-standard of entries this year, the independent judging panel made two commendations in this category. They were to: Dr. Brynne Gilmore, University College Dublin and Dr. Joe Davies, Maynooth University.

Dr. Gilmore is an Assistant Professor in University College Dublin in the School of Nursing, Midwifery and Health Systems. She is an applied global health researcher, focusing on strengthening and advancing the understanding of health systems and programmes primarily in low- and middle-income countries. Within her work, Dr. Gilmore partners with communities, non-governmental organisations, UN agencies such as the World Health Organization and academic institutions around the world to understand and improve community health and community engagement approaches, using theory driven evaluation.

Commenting on what draws her to do work in this area, Dr. Gilmore said: “Global health is a multi-disciplinary field that aims to improve health equity worldwide by focusing on populations and health systems that are underserved. I am driven to this field to support the strengthening of health systems and interventions by bridging the gap between theory and practice, in order to reach health equity for all populations worldwide.”

Dr. Joe Davies is a postdoctoral researcher at Maynooth University and is a Council Member for the Society for Musicology in Ireland.

At the heart of Dr. Davies’s work lies a desire to open up new ways of thinking about the relationships between nineteenth-century music and other art forms, and of understanding music’s role in shaping notions of authorship, gender, and self-fashioning.

These interests are foregrounded in his monograph, Schubert and the Gothic (Boydell & Brewer, 2022), which Dr. Davies developed from his doctoral research during his IRC Postdoctoral Fellowship. This interdisciplinary study contextualizes the expressive worlds of Schubert’s music, particularly his horror ballads, vis-à-vis the gothic tradition that permeated the artistic imagination of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries.

Commenting on what attracted him to do his areas of specialism, Dr. Davies said: “My engagement with music – whether in terms of listening, playing, analysing, or writing – is motivated by a deep curiosity about its relationship to the wider world. Much of my work is driven by such questions as: ‘what can this piece of music tell us about the cultural climate in which it was written? How might its expressive qualities be contextualised in relation to other arts, such as literature and the visual arts? And how might we engage with music of the past as a way of understanding the present?”

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