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UCC celebrates excellence in research and innovation

2 Jun 2023
Photo (L-R): UCC Research award recipients Professor Hannah Daly, Dr Piotr Kowalski and Professor Anita Maguire. Photo by Ger McCarthy

Climate scientists, the developers of the medicines of tomorrow, budding entrepreneurs and partners with communities were among the researchers to have their contributions to research and innovation honoured at the 2022 University College Cork (UCC) Research Awards, held at Devere Hall on Thursday, June 1.

UCC is an internationally competitive, research-led university that plays a key role in the development of Ireland’s knowledge-based economy and provides the insight and understanding on the challenges facing our society. The UCC Research Awards embrace this excellence in research, innovation and entrepreneurial activity, across the entire university research community and from all disciplines.

The quality and recognition of research success across the University, including outputs from individuals and UCC Research Institutes and Centres, is measured by key research metrics such as publications, citations, collaborative interactions, patents and spin-out companies. Researchers were awarded across 20 categories, five of which recognise specific achievements in entrepreneurship and innovation.

UCC’s first European Research Council (ERC) Advanced award holder, Professor Paul Ross, and Professor Dagmar Schiek, the first legal scholar in Ireland to be awarded an Advanced ERC award, were joint winners of the Researcher of the Year award. UCC’s strong heritage in ribonucleic acid (RNA) research was also honoured. Early-Stage Researcher of the Year, Dr Piotr Kowalski was awarded for the significant contribution he has made to the development of novel biomaterials for messenger RNA (mRNA) delivery, and the ‘Father of RNA recoding’, Professor John Atkins, was the joint recipient of a Career Achievement award.

Professor Hannah Daly is a regular columnist for The Irish Times and has contributed over 100 media pieces in 2022 to explain and contextualise sustainable energy trends and policies, and climate change. Professor Daly actively engages with stakeholders on the topic of sustainable pathways for the energy system, encompassing energy access, climate change and air pollution. She is UCC’s Researcher Communicator of the Year for 2022.

Professor Maggie O’Neill, recently elected to the Royal Irish Academy, was the recipient of the Engaged Research of Year award. Professor O’Neill, director of UCC Futures – Collective Social Futures and director of ISS21 – The Institute for Social Science in the 21st century, has a long research career in Sociology and Criminology. Through her research, she is committed to working with communities and civil society organisations to create change, especially marginalised groups. Her research leadership has been instrumental in moving forward debates, dialogue and scholarship in three substantive areas: forced migration and the asylum-migration nexus; the commercial sex industry, gender-based violence; and arts-based and biographical methods.

Stephen McCarthy, founder of Recruitroo and a graduate of the Ignite Programme at UCC, received the ‘Start-up of the Year’ award for the development of a mock interview simulator for recent graduates. The company is positioned to serve the global market need for international talent recruitment and relocation in 2023 and beyond.

The guest of honour at the awards ceremony was Dr Catherine Day, chairperson of UCC’s governing body.

Professor John F. Cryan, UCC Vice President for Research and Innovation at UCC said: “Congratulations to all awards recipients. This year, the standard of nominations across all award categories was indicative of the exceptional level of research and innovation throughout the University. UCC is a research-intensive University, and the annual Research Awards recognise and celebrate those UCC researchers who have made exceptional and influential research and innovation contributions, pushing boundaries, enhancing knowledge and raising the national and international research profile of our institution.”

The full list of UCC Research Awards 2022 winners is:

Award Winner(s)
Researcher of the Year Professor Paul Ross
Professor Dagmar Schiek
Early-Stage Researcher of the Year Dr Jean O'Dwyer
Dr Piotr Kowalski
Research Support Person of the Year Martin O'Connell
Dr Seán Lucey
Research Supervisor of the Year Professor Catherine Stanton
Dr Emanuel Popovici
Research Communicator of the Year Professor Hannah Daly
Research Award for Open Science Professor Colm O'Dwyer
Creating a Culture for Responsible Conduct of Research Dr Aoife Coffey
Innovator of the Year (Life Sciences) Dr Lucia Santos, Dr Patrick Harrison
Innovator of the Year (Physical Sciences) Dr Han Shao, Dr Alan O'Riordan, Dr Tarun Narayan
Consultancy Project of the Year Dr Marguerite Nyhan
Licence of the Year Applied Mathematics UCC & Mercy University Hospital
Spin-out Company of the Year Adiso Therapeutics
Start-up of the Year Recruitroo
Best Publication of the Year Involving an Undergraduate Student as an Author Ruairí McIntyre
Research Team of the Year UCC Palaeontology
Research Image of the Year Roksana Niewadzisz
Engaged Research of the Year Professor Maggie O'Neill
Vice-President for Research and Innovation Award for Interdisciplinary Research Dr Katharina Becker
Dr James O'Sullivan
Research Collaboration of the Year Dr Patrick O'Callaghan
Professor Brendan Griffin
The President's Award for Research Impacting SDGs Dr Alicia Mateos Cárdenas
Career Achievement Research Award Professor John Atkins
Professor Anita Maguire

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