Top-ranked IRC Postgraduate and Postdoctoral Researchers win 2022 ‘Medals of Excellence’
Posted: 6 December, 2022
Every year, in addition to the Researcher of the Year Awards, the Irish Research Council presents ‘Medals of Excellence’ to four early-career researchers.
Each of the ‘Medals of Excellence’ have been named after previous Chairs of the Irish Research Council and recognise excellence in the 2022 postgraduate and postdoctoral funding calls run by the Council in the arts, humanities and social sciences (AHSS) and science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).
Here are this year’s 2022 medal-winners:
Dr Claudia Dellacasa, University College Dublin, was awarded the Maurice J. Bric Medal of Excellence for being the top-ranked postdoctoral researcher in the AHSS category. Dr. Dellacasa’s research examines environmental writing as a genre, where a multiplicity of voices from different cultural backgrounds, genders, and species are represented on the page.
When asked about what motivates her to work in this area, Claudia said: “I think of my research in the environmental humanities as a form of committed criticism. Considering the multifaceted nature of the current climate crisis, I am interested in looking at how literature can contribute to prospective solutions, by intersecting philosophy, as well as scientific knowledge. In my project, in particular, I aim to uncover the ethical and cognitive potentialities of environmental writing, interpreted as an ecological system where different cultures and species interact to produce what I call an ‘intersectional eco-polyphony’. This ecocritical framework seeks to illuminate – in my corpus of texts and beyond – the multifarious dynamics of interdependence connecting East and West, as well as human and other-than-human, for it is only by appreciating our lives and ideas as porous and open to alterities of all kinds that we can try to tackle, together, the complex crisis we are facing.”
Dr Amiya Pandit, University College Dublin, was awarded the Thomas Mitchell Medal of Excellence for being the top-ranked postdoctoral researcher in the STEM category. Dr. Pandit’s research focuses on developing a solution for controlling excessive vibration in regard to offshore wind turbines.
Commenting on what attracted him to his areas of specialism, Amiya said: “I grew up in India and spent a lot of the time in darkness because of scarcity of electric power supply in my hometown. Life without electricity impacts the survival of human beings. A growing population and inevitable energy demands also lead to a rise in electricity rates. But, renewable energy sources can be a popular choice and utilised particularly to meet the never-ending energy demand. Offshore wind turbines are the tallest rotating structures used to harvest wind energy and can produce clean green energy. However, installation and maintenance of these slender structures in harsh ocean environments is very challenging. There is enough evidence about how the excessive vibrations affect the stability and serviceability of these wind turbines. For the healthy functioning of the wind turbines, vibration calming equipment is crucial. So, following my early studies, driven by curiosity, I wanted to employ the low-cost hybrid dampers. Minimising the threat of excessive vibration in the offshore wind turbines extends the life of these structures and you can expect to receive a continuous power supply. So, society gets the benefit. My proposal would have not been what it is without the constant support and motivation I received from my mentor Dr. Abdollah Malekjafarian.”
Charitha Marcus, Technological University Dublin, was awarded the Eda Sagarra Medal of Excellence for being the top-ranked postgraduate researcher in the AHSS category. Ms. Marcus’ research examines how digital strategies may be employed by Irish female politicians to build their political identities, with a view to helping female politicians overcome obstacles to election.
Commenting on her work, Charitha said: “Coming from an advertising background, I was always fascinated by how communication strategies could be used to create strong personal and professional identities. There is a demanding need to understand how gender representation in politics can be increased in Ireland using modern communication methods while avoiding common barriers. My research findings will be applicable not only to Ireland but to any country in need of increased women’s political participation.”
Jack Murray, University College Cork, was awarded the Jane Grimson Medal of Excellence for being the top-ranked postgraduate researcher in the STEM category. Mr. Murray’s research investigates ways of addressing challenges associated with formulating oral drugs, such as poor water solubility. His focus is on the creation of a ‘smart’ development pathway – using artificial intelligence to assist formulators in choosing the best ingredients for each poorly water-soluble drug.
Commenting on what drives him to work in this area, Mr. Murray said: “I am working in this area because of the potential of artificial intelligence to streamline the clinical translation of tomorrow’s medicines, improve the safety of therapies already on the market, and reduce the need for expensive experiments. An estimated 90% of small molecule drugs in the development pipeline cannot dissolve effectively in water. This can result in poor absorption when the drug is given by mouth, high person-to-person variability, and increased risk of adverse events. I am using machine learning to match drugs with better oral delivery strategies to offset the solubility crisis.”