MU Researchers awarded over €2 million funding under SFI-IRC Pathway Programme

Monday, August 29, 2022 - 09:30

Maynooth University researchers are set receive €2 million to support five projects under from Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) and the Irish Research Council (IRC).
Researchers from Maynooth University will receive these grants for their work on agricultural productivity and food safety; nanoscale precision; applying data science to archaeological excavations; patronage in a medieval Ireland church and anti-neoliberal parties and popular movements. The SFI-IRC Pathway Programme is a jointly funded initiative that supports the successful post-doctoral researchers from all research disciplines to develop their record of accomplishment and transition to become independent research leaders.
These grants will enable the fellows to conduct independent research for a four-year period and provide funding for the supervision of postgraduate student.
Announcing the awards, Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science Simon Harris, TD, said:
“I am thrilled to announce these exciting new research projects, which allow researchers to advance their work and further develop their careers towards becoming the next generation of research leaders in Ireland. It is important that we retain and support our emerging talent across all areas of research, from astronomy, cancer, economics, energy, to health and nutrition.”
The MU SFI-IRC Pathways Fellows are:
Dr Niamh Wycherley, Department of Early Irish received €382,000 for her research on 'Power and patronage in medieval Ireland: Clonard from the sixth to twelfth centuries.' 
This detailed case study of a medieval Irish institution, the Church of Clonard, addressing unresolved research problems about how the Church became one of the most powerful institutions in Ireland, and how it operated.

Dr Rowan McLaughlin, Hamilton Institute, received €373,500 for his research on 'A deep history of Ireland for the Information Age.'
This research project will use the results of tens of thousands of statistics and data science from archaeological excavations in recent decades, to arrive at new data-driven models of Irish population history, land use, and human responses to climate change.

Dr Ozlem Bayram, Department of Biology, received €425,000 for her research on 'Dissection of the epigenetically controlled gene network in aflatoxigenic fungi to improve agricultural productivity and food safety.'
Fungal and mycotoxin contamination of food materials leads to unacceptable losses of crop production and investment while global demand for food is increasing. This project will help specific target genes to improve agricultural productivity and build knowledge on how to prevent or control contamination on crops and how to increase food safety for better nutrition and health.
Dr John Brown, Department of Sociology, receives €425,000 for his research on 'Anti-neoliberal parties and popular movements: Andean and Southern European cases in Comparative Perspective.'
Dr Brown’s research offers a cross-regional comparative analysis of the political processes led by anti-neoliberal parties (ANPs) in Southern Europe and the Andes and their impact against a backdrop of a legitimacy crisis in democracy, with “populists” emerging to the right (nativist/xenophobic/conservative) and left (progressive/internationalist/anti-neoliberal) of mainstream party-systems.
Dr Trent Rogers, Hamilton Institute, received €425,000 for his research on 'Arbitrary nanoscale shapes self-assembled from a fixed monomer set.'
Manufacturing structures with nanoscale precision has important implications for various technologies including drug delivery and the manufacturing of microprocessors. This research proposes a new approach for manufacturing arbitrary nanostructures using a fixed set of DNA strands that will eliminate ordering delays as well as monetary and labour costs.
The SFI-IRC Pathway programme enables talented post-doctoral researchers to develop their track record and establish themselves as independent investigators, with the support of their research body. It provides a mechanism for Irish Higher Education Institutions to retain excellent early career researchers from all disciplines and support their development towards becoming research leaders of the future.