Last month, the Minister of State for Skills, Training, Innovation, Research and Development John Halligan, TD, 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 global 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 under its ‘Caroline’ Irish and international fellowship programme. Under this scheme, which is co-funded by the EU under the Marie SkĊ‚owdowska-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 agenda’s goals pertain to the areas of 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 both in Ireland and Germany, and Switzerland and Cuba, gaining intersectoral and interdisciplinary exposure through this programme.

Top 10

Among the 10 researchers chosen for this programme are:

  • Tommaso Natoli, who will be hosted by University College Cork (UCC) to undertake research in the development of advocacy tools for the adoption of climate-smart risk management laws to protect vulnerable people. Natoli’s work will be assisted by the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies

  • Alison Connolly, who will be hosted by NUI Galway, where she will conduct an environmental assessment of the exposures to glyphosate among the Irish population. She will work in partnership with the Institute for Prevention and Occupational Medicine of the German Social Accident Insurance

  • Zhipeng Xiao, who will partner with CERN to work on our fundamental understanding of ageing tunnels, while also being hosted by University College Cork (UCC)

The seven other awardees are Wine Tesseur (DCU), Nicholas Scroxton (UCD), Sarat Chandra Togarcheti (TCD), Cadhla McDonnell (TCD), Margaret Brehony (UCC), Jennifer Arnold (UCC) and Elaine Gallagher (UL).

Halligan commented: “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.”

Kelly Earley

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