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€15.8M in 2021 - celebrating the funding achievements of our ERI researchers

2021 was a year that challenged the research community, as lingering pandemic conditions still hindered much laboratory and field work, prevented travel to meet with collaborators and participate in conferences.

However, despite these limitations, UCC’s Environmental Research Institute received a total of €15.8M in funding in 2021 for 83 new awards due to the tireless efforts of researchers preparing and submitting research grants to national, EU and international funding agencies. In April 2022, the ERI acknowledged the hard work of its research community with a series of presentations from successfully funded recipients, highlighting the scope of the research that will be carried out over the next 2-4 years.

Introducing the presentations, the ERI’s Funding Coordinator Dr Sonia Monteiro framed the event as a moment to recognise the time, effort and success of researchers from many different disciplines. Dr Monteiro provided unwavering support to each researcher throughout the past year, guiding many through the diverse requirements of the many research calls.

Professor John Cryan, the UCC Vice President for Research and Innovation, welcomed the funding – noting that this comprises 1/6 of UCC’s total annual grant income. Professor Cryan went on to emphasise that he was incredibly impressed by the breadth of research being conducted at the Institute:

“As a flagship Institute the ERI is bringing talented people together from different disciplines to solve impactful challenges in a meaningful way, and in doing so is a model for building research success.”

ERI Director Professor Sarah Culloty, who is also Head of the College of SEFS, gave the opening address, saying “The ERI has been on an incredible journey over the last few years, and today we are celebrating the people who have done so much to make the ERI so successful and to ensure that sustainability is such a priority. Everything we do around sustainability in UCC is underpinned by research and the ERI has made us key players in this on the national and international stage.”

Amongst many, many projects presented at the event, this small sample showcase the diversity of research across our disciplines:

Marine Renewable Energy:

  • Forward 2030 (Fast-tracking Offshore Renewable energy With Advanced Research to Deploy 2030 MW of tidal energy before 2030) from Dr Anne-Marie O’Hagan (ERI, MaREI). Funded by the Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme to develop a multi-vector energy system for the future, this project combines expertise on predictable floating tidal energy, wind generation, grid export, battery storage and green hydrogen production.

Materials Science and the Circular Economy: 

  • PerPETual – Disruptive Technologies Innovation Fund: Led by Prof Justin Holmes (School of Chemistry, ERI) this project aims to combine modular PET recycling technologies developed at UCC and TUS to recycle all grades of PET with a focus on food and additive contaminated, low grade PET pots tubs and trays.

Behavioural Change:

  • ENCLUDE (Energy Citizens for Inclusive Decarbonization): Led by Dr Niall Dunphy, this Horizon 2020 -funded project seeks to better understand civic participation, develop the concept of energy citizenship and operationalize for decarbonization


  • AMBER salmon atlas GIS framework activation: Led by Professor Phil McGinnity, this project has applications such as identifying ecological stress zones, development of a barrier risk & economic assessment tool and in developing a climate modelling framework

Air Quality:

  • Emissions from Animal-Based Fertilizers and their Impact on the Environment and Human Health: funded by EPA-IRC Government of Ireland ​Postgraduate Scholarship and led by Professor John Wenger (CRAC, School of Chemistry, ERI), this project looks at what happens to emissions from spreading slurry and manure.

Plant Science: 

  • Factors influencing plant protein content in grassland: funded by the WALSH SCHOLARSHIP ​and led in UCC by Dr Rossana Henriques (BEES, ERI) in partnership with Dr Deirdre Hennessy of Teagasc, this project explores the possibility that grassland could be used in biorefinery applications and even as an alternative protein source for human consumption.

For a full list of all of our new research projects please visit Our Research Projects database