Three Talented Young Scientific Researchers from NUI Galway Part of Government’s €12.3 million announcement

Friday, 20 April 2012

In a further drive to progress Ireland’s science research agenda, Minister for Research and Innovation, Mr Séan Sherlock TD, has today announced Government funding of €12.3 million for early-career scientific researchers to carry out pioneering work in Ireland.

Administered through the Government’s science agency, Science Foundation Ireland (SFI), the ‘Starting Investigator Research Grant’ (SIRG) programme will support a total of 22 researchers, with three of those based at NUI Galway.

Each SIRG award also encompasses funding for a postgraduate student who will provide an additional layer of support and facilitation towards excellence. The three award winners from NUI Galway are:

  • Dr Manus Biggs works with NUI Galway’s Network for Functional Biomaterials, which pioneers new technologies to deliver therapeutic genes and other biomolecules to target specific sites within the body. His research focuses on engineering neuroelectrodes for deep brain stimulation through biomimetic conducting polymers.


  • Dr Cindy Smith works with NUI Galway’s Ryan Institute, which advances environmental, marine and energy research. Her research focuses on the molecular microbial ecology of ammonia oxidation in coastal bay sediments.


  • Dr Martin O’Halloran is a postdoctoral researcher and adjunct lecturer with Electrical and Electronic Engineering at NUI Galway. His research work involves microwave imaging for the detection and classification of early-stage breast cancer.


Professor Terry Smith, Vice-President for Research at NUI Galway, praised the three award winners: “All three are strong examples of the innovative thinking our researchers are applying to science, to overcome real world scientific challenges. From tackling breast cancer with electronic engineering, to improving brain function using biomaterials, to better understanding our planet through by analyzing tiny microbes, Cindy, Manus and Martin are pushing the frontiers of science.”


Announcing the investment, Minister Sherlock said: “We are determined as a Government to ensure that the very best young scientific talent is given compelling reasons to either stay in Ireland or come from abroad and conduct research here. The SIRG Programme provides an opportunity for researchers at a pivotal juncture in their careers to propel themselves to the next level and realise their potential in their respective fields.”


The Minister added: ‘This round of SIRG awards marks the first co-funding arrangement with the international Marie Curie COFUND scheme, which aims to expand national research programmes and encourage greater transnational mobility. Such a partnership exemplifies the increasingly collaborative and international nature of research activity in Ireland today.”


Welcoming Minister Sherlock’s announcement, Dr Stephen Simpson, Director of Life Sciences at Science Foundation Ireland, said: “The SIRG programme illustrates a strong and sustained commitment to nurturing the leading researchers of tomorrow. A dedicated ‘early intervention’ scheme such as this helps to pave the way for growing Irish-based, world-class research groups and progression towards commercialisation of ideas at a later stage in the researchers’ careers.”



Author: Marketing and Communications Office, NUI Galway
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