Two University of Galway academics recognised by ENLIGHT European University Alliance

University of Galway academics Dr Sarah-Anne Buckley and Dr Aaron Golden receiving the ENLIGHT Impact Awards from Adolfo Morais Ezquerro. Deputy Minister for Universities and Research, Basque Government, Spain, and Eva Ferreira, Rector of the University of the Basque Country (UPV/EHU) Spain. Credit - Fernando Gomez @upv/ehu
Apr 03 2023 Posted: 14:06 IST

University of Galway academics Dr Sarah-Anne Buckley and Dr Aaron Golden have both been awarded an ENLIGHT Impact Award at the ENLIGHT Impact Conference in Bilbao, Spain.

The awards are bestowed as part of the ENLIGHT University Alliance, of which University of Galway is a partner of along with eight other universities across Europe. They recognise and give visibility to research endeavours at ENLIGHT universities that are exemplars in planning for and achieving impact. 

A total of five awards were presented across five flagship domains: health and well-being; digital revolution and digitization; climate change; energy and circular economy; and equity. 

The awardees are: 

  • Dr Sarah-Anne Buckley, School of History and Philosophy, received her award under the Equity category for the project ‘Tuam Oral History’.  

The Tuam Oral History Project, funded by Galway University Foundation, has had a national and international impact, raising the profile of the Tuam Mother and Baby Institution and the life stories and experiences of survivors/victims of this institution. It is a grassroots project and emerged through collaboration with a local group of survivors and advocates of the Tuam Home Alliance/Tuam Survivors Network. The project received limited funding but was grounded in the principles of transitional and historical justice, and in the ethical digitisation of life stories. The Creative Arts have been central to the project, and the team have advocated with and on behalf of those directly affected by the institution: demonstrating the power of ethical research that is trauma-informed and centred on the rights and wishes of those directly affected by the trauma. 

  • Dr Aaron Golden, School of Mathematical and Statistical Sciences for the project ‘TAPAS (Tracking Adaptation Progress in Agriculture and Food Security Using an AI powered Satellite Remote Sensing Platform)’ in the Climate Change category.

Winner of the SFI Future Innovator Prize Artificial Intelligence for Societal Good Challenge and co-funded with Irish Aid under SFI’s partnership with the Department of Foreign Affairs, TAPAS is an AI trained platform that uses archived and real time earth observation data to identify regions where seasonal biomass growth patterns are consistent with a climate adaptation/climate stress response, computing a Biomass Adaptation Index (BAI) map. By anchoring these BAI values to actual ground truth data quantifying net crop production, it becomes possible to identify where climate change is affecting agrifood production and to put a cost on it. In so doing, it quantifies the long-term socioeconomic impact of climate change on those vulnerable communities in the developing world regions most at risk. 

Professor Becky Whay, University of Galway’s Vice President International, said: “Members of the ENLIGHT University Alliance work to tackle societal challenges and promote and maximise impact, and both these projects will have a longstanding impact on society. I would like to congratulate both Dr Buckley and Dr Golden on their achievement and know they both make excellent inspiring figures for the research community while creating awareness of the impact of research.”

Dr Paul Dodd, University of Galway’s Vice President for Engagement, said: “These well-deserved awards recognise the steadfast efforts Dr Buckley and Dr Golden put in to address issues related to equity and climate change, and we are very proud that two of the five awards have been presented to University of Galway academics. ENLIGHT enables a deeper engagement on big challenges facing society and we are very fortunate to have both Dr Buckley and Dr Golden as ENLIGHT Impact Ambassadors.”

ENLIGHT is a partnership of nine universities, supported by the Government and the European Commission, to build a platform for the creation a new type of European university campus where students and staff have increased opportunities for international study, training, teaching, research and sharing of services.

The ENLIGHT University Alliance includes – University of Galway; Comenius University, Bratislava (Slovakia); University of Groningen (Netherlands); University of Bordeaux (France); Gent University (Belgium); University of Tartu (Estonia); University of Gottingen (Germany); University of the Basque Country (Spain); Uppsala University (Sweden).

ENLIGHT aims to collaboratively transform higher education, addressing societal challenges and promoting equitable quality of life, sustainability and external engagement with the communities of the partner universities.


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