Irish Research Council awards €1.6m to 10 projects to tackle global challenges

5 Jul 2019
Four of the top 10 researchers will be hosted by University College Cork.

Minister of State for Skills, Training, Innovation, Research and Development John Halligan, TD, has announced that funding of €1.6m will be invested in 10 fellowships over the next two years.

The fellowships were granted in order to contribute to the UN Sustainable Development Goals and cover topics including the development of climate-smart risk management for vulnerable people, the assessment of herbicide exposure in the Irish population and the advancement of our understanding of ageing tunnels.

The Irish Research Council will distribute the funding to 10 research projects under its ‘Caroline’ Irish and international fellowship programme. Under this scheme, which is co-funded by the EU under the Marie Skłowdowska-Curie Actions strand of Horizon 2020, experienced researchers will be funded to conduct research relevant to the UN’s 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda. 

Participants will work in collaboration with NGOs and international organisations. The 2030 Agenda features goals related to achieving gender equality, building resilient infrastructure, encouraging climate action, ending poverty and improving access to inclusive education.

The successful researchers will carry out their work in Ireland, Germany, Switzerland and Cuba, gaining intersectoral and interdisciplinary exposure through this programme. 

Top 10 researchers include:

  • Tommaso Natoli, who will be hosted by UCC and partner with International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, to develop advocacy tools for the adoption of climate-smart risk management laws that protect vulnerable people.
  • Zhipeng Xiao, who will be hosted by UCC and partner with CERN, to work on advancing our fundamental understanding of ageing tunnels.
  • Margaret Brehony, who will be hosted by UCC and partner with Palacio Segundo Cabo, to work on a project titled 'Cuban-Irish Diasporas: Gender, Race and Ethnic Whitening Strategies' - a Digital Humanities Initiative. 
  • Jennifer Arnold, who will be hosted by UCC and partner with the Munster Literature Centre, to examine the role of translated literature in multicultural and multilingual communities.

The other awardees are Wine Tesseur (Dublin City University), Nicholas Scroxton (University College Dublin), Sarat Chandra Togarcheti (Trinity College Dublin), Cadhla McDonnell (Trinity College Dublin), Elaine Gallagher (University of Limerick) and Alison Connolly (National University of Ireland, Galway). 

Minister Halligan said: “As a signatory to the UN Sustainable Development agenda, Ireland is committed to playing its part in achieving these goals, which are vital to safeguard our planet’s future and all life within it. The 10 research projects getting underway today will join 40 others awarded in the first and second funding calls. Overall, this international fellowship programme of the Irish Research Council is helping to develop the capacity of the Irish research system to make a strong contribution, nationally and internationally, to the sustainable development agenda."

Director of the Irish Research Council, Peter Brown said: “The CAROLINE Fellowship offers a valuable opportunity for researchers to obtain a prestigious career development fellowship, and to respond to the sustainable development agenda. 

“Since 2016, the scheme has cultivated partnerships between researchers, their host institutions and partner organisations – all with the common goal of working towards a sustainable future. Now more than ever, these links and this important research are vital for moving towards a more sustainable, equal and prosperous future.”


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