Maynooth University to receive more than €9 million for doctoral training of 70 students through new SFI Centres

Pictured at SFI announcement: Dr Deirdre Desmond, Department of Psychology, Prof Mark Ferguson, SFI, Dr Caroline Brophy, Department of Mathematics and Statistics and Prof Ken Duffy, Hamilton Institute
Tuesday, March 5, 2019 - 17:00

Maynooth University has been named a partner in two highly innovative Science Foundation Ireland Centres for Research Training, which will provide training for more than 70 doctoral students at Maynooth in areas of identified skills need for Irish society and its economy.
Minister for Business, Enterprise, and Innovation, Heather Humphreys TD, and Minister of State for Training, Skills, Innovation, Research and Development, John Halligan TD, today announced investment of over €100 million in six new SFI Centres for Research Training in the fields of ICT and data analytics.
The SFI Centres for Research Training will develop academically outstanding research leaders equipped with the skills and knowledge required to address the unforeseeable future challenges of ever-changing data-driven environments. Maynooth’s participation in the centres will bring more than €9 million to the University for doctoral training.
President of Maynooth University, Prof Philip Nolan, said: “Participation in these two SFI centres is a tremendous achievement for Maynooth University. It’s a recognition of the unique strengths that Maynooth researchers bring to one of the most pressing challenges facing the world today: how we as a society come to grips with the technological advances that continue to transform the world. Not only do Maynooth University academics bring distinctive expertise to these issues, but our record in funnelling that knowledge into our teaching practice is impeccable, so I’m delighted that these awards will enable us to grow our doctoral enrolment by 70 students.”
The SFI Centre for Research Training in Foundations of Data Science is a joint initiative of Maynooth University, University College Dublin and the University of Limerick, with the support of Skillnet Ireland underpinning its industry and enterprise engagement. The Centre was awarded a total of €21 million, including industry and university contributions to train 139 PhD students towards a world-class foundational understanding of Applied Mathematics, Statistics, and Machine Learning.  This represents the largest ever investment in mathematical sciences research in Ireland.
With Prof James Gleeson at UL and Associate Prof Claire Gormley at UCD, the Centre is co-led at Maynooth by Professor Ken Duffy, the Director of the Maynooth University Hamilton Institute, where it will train 46 data scientists who are not only capable of applying existing methodologies, but are equipped with the core knowledge required to create bespoke methodological innovations for turning unforeseen data sources into knowledge.  
“The participation of Irish industry and enterprise, guided by Skillnet Ireland, will help the SFI Centre for Research Training in Foundations in Data Science to create a future-proofed workforce. It will combine foundational training and research in areas of national importance, with bespoke skills that are needed to succeed in business,” Prof Duffy said.
Dr Deirdre Desmond, Senior Lecturer in the Department of Psychology, will lead Maynooth’s participation in the SFI Centre for Research Training in Advanced Networks for Sustainable Societies. The Centre was awarded more than €13.8 million, rising to €18 million including industry contributions. The partnership Centre will train doctoral students to seek solutions to the technical and societal challenges of global hyper-connectivity; 24 of the CRT’s 120 students will be based at MU.
“Advances in technological capabilities continue to outpace our understanding of the personal and social significance of such developments and the ethical, legal and policy frameworks to govern their deployment.  Our vision is to train the next generation of researchers seeking solutions to the technical and societal challenges of connectivity between large numbers of people and things,” Dr Desmond said.
Five Higher Education Institutes (HEIs) are collaborating in this Centre: Maynooth, CIT, UCC, TCD and TU Dublin. Local authorities, companies, NGOs, and an international network of collaborators will also take part in the initiative to meet the technical and societal challenges of global hyper-connectivity. 
Further Information
The SFI Centre for Research Training in Foundations of Data Science will initially have 25 research supervisors across the Hamilton Institute, Department of Mathematics and Statistics, Department of Computer Science, Department of Electronic Engineering and the Department of Chemistry. The Centre’s vice-director at Maynooth, Dr Caroline Brophy in the Department of Mathematics and Statistics, will play a core role in running the Centre.
The SFI Centre for Research Training in Advanced Networks for Sustainable Societies currently has 14 research supervisors, and will increase over the lifetime of the Centre. Its supervisors are drawn from STEM and Social Sciences disciplines, including Psychology, Electronic Engineering, the Hamilton Institute, Law, Mathematics and Statistics, and Sociology.  Dr Desmond co-directs the Maynooth University Assisting Living and Learning Institute (ALL), of which many supervisors are members.  ALL is committed to enabling people to achieve well-being through the development and application of appropriate technologies, person-centred systems and evidence-based policies that empower users and those supporting them.