IRCSET and IRCHSS host a "Kick-off" Event for New Fellows in 2009

IRCSET recently hosted a "kick-off" event for the newly-appointed INSPIRE Fellows, the first recipients of the new IRCSET-Marie Curie International Mobility Fellowships in Science, Engineering and Technology.  The fellowships are co-funded by the European Commission 7th Framework Programme (FP7) to the tune of €5m, complementing €7m provided by the Irish Government for the scheme. This EU contribution was won by IRCSET in 2008 via a competitive process. The 18 INSPIRE Fellows will travel this autumn to some of the world’s most prestigious research institutions, including the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Columbia and Yale, the Universities of Cambridge and Oxford and the Max Plank Institüt für Extraterrestrische Physick, Germany. They will spend two years abroad before returning to Ireland to reintegrate into an Irish research laboratory. More details on the Fellows and their research is provided below.  As well as providing the Fellows with the opportunity to network with each other, the event briefed them on topics such as career planning, research mobility and research links with industry from the following invited speakers:
 
• Dr. Anne Forde, Careers Adviser for Postdoctoral Researchers in the Life Sciences, Cambridge University
 • Dr. Jim Ryan, Head of Life Sciences & STI Policy & Evaluation, CIRCA Group Europe
• Jennifer Cleary, Researcher Mobility & HR Manager, Irish Universities Association
• Dr. Dagmar Meyer, Marie Curie National Contact Point, Irish Universities Association
• Dr. Emer Cunningham, Project Manager, Graduate Studies Office, University College Dublin
 

Tom Kennedy, editor of ScienceSpin, has written an article summarizing the event.   Link here  to read the resulting article in Science Spin (page 26).
 
On the move

• With a PhD in bioinformatics from DCU, Dr Ana Barat is off to the Institute Gustave-Roussy in Paris. At DCU Ana became interested in how genes were expressed as phenotypes, and at the Institute in Paris she will apply the techniques she developed to cancer research.
 
• Dr David Coyle is interested in how information technology can improve psychiatric care, and following a post doc at TCD he is going to work with a group specialising in interdisciploinary design at the University of Cambridge
 
• After working on information retrieval at NUIG Dr Ronan Cummins is going to the University of Glasgow where he will continue this line of research using artificial intelligence. Artificial intelligence, he commented, makes it possible to rank materials into an order of relevance.  Link here to view Ronan's "elevator pitch" video.  

• At the University of Limerick, Dr Ryan Enright worked at improving interactive surfaces at a nano level, and his fellowship brings him to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology where he will continue this research. 
 
• Dr Suzanne Foley has been carrying out post doc research at UCD into gamma ray bursts. These great explosions of energy, she said, tell us a lot about the origin of the Universe, and, fortunately, they occur at a great distance from us. At the Max Plank Institut fur Extraterrestrische Physik in Germany Susan will be looking at how far these bursts occur.
 
• At the Royal College of Surgeons of Ireland, Dr David Hoey applied his mechanical engineering skills to see how bone forming cells reacted to loading. Many cells have hair like cilia on their surface, and David found that simply bending these could trigger bone formation. This significance of this is that in surgery, repair might be a better option than replacement. At Columbia University in New York, David will be working on biomedical engineering. 
 
• Dr Eoghan Holohan became interested in how the Earth changes shape, and while working in his post doc at UCD he came across useful numerical codes that he could apply in modelling deformations, such as those that result from volcanic activities or the collapse of old mines. Measuring from the ground is difficult, but at the GeoForschung Zentrum at Potsdam he will be applying his codes to highly accurate satellite measurements. 
 
• Dr Tianji Li has already travelled around the globe in his study of wireless networks. From China he swent to NUI Maynooth, and his fellowship now brings him to the University of Texas, Austin. Wireless networks, he said have become very powerful, and pervasive, and one of his special interests is in making them work for people, like himself, who are always on the move. 
 
 • Dr Robert Lynch studied at the University of Limerick before spending time in Germany working on his post doc research into electrochemistry. Now is he off to the Institute of Physical Chemistry at the Polish Academy of Science, Warsaw, to find out how to cut the cost of producing electrodes for renewable energy devices. Our dependence on expensive materials, he said, could be reduced by using enzymes. 
 
• Most people associate fossils with bones, but as Dr Maria McNamara, who did a PhD at UCD, points out, soft tissues can also survive. Marie has a special interest in how this happens, and at Yale University she will be looking at how colour can still appear in fossils millions of years after they formed. 
 
 
• At DCU Dr Conor McLoughlin was studying the fine deposition of surface materials using plasma processes. As he explained, great improvements have been made in controlling the process, and at the Laboratoire de Cristallographie et Sciences des Matériaux in France, Conor will be looking at how modifying the spin of electrons can influence the results.  
 
• Dr Conor Muldoon has been working with one of the CSETs at UCD on developing software for very small mobile devices. These can include such things as sensors for real-time environmental monitoring, he said, and he will continue this line of research with a wireless sensor network group at the University of Oxford.  
 
• Dr Muhammad Adi Negara came to Ireland from Indonesia to work on microelectronics at the Tyndall National Institute, and he has also worked in collaboration with Intel. His next stop will be France, where he will continue researching at the Institut de Microélectronique Électromagnétisme de Photonique.
 
• Dr James O’Shea from UCD said he sometimes feels unique when describing himself as a pure mathematician. His particular field of quadratic forms and algebra, he said, are quite relevant both to the pure and to the applied side of mathematics. His fellowship brings James to the University of Konstanz in Germany which has a particularly high ranking among the world’s mathematicians. 
 
• Dr Anne Oxbrough from UCC has been studying spiders in Irish forests, and as she explains, they make good indicators of biodiversity. However most Irish forests are still quite young, and to study how invertebrates thrive in older plantations, Anne is heading off to the University of Alberta in Canada. A lot of what I will learn there, she said, will be relevant to Irish forestry as it matures.
 
• Dr Aisling Redmond has been working at the Royal College of Surgeons on breast cancer. Of the 2,500 women diagnosed with breast cancer every year in Ireland, 30 to 40 per cent develop resistance to treatment, and her quest is to identify a marker that can act as a target for drugs. “With this fellowship I will spend some time working at the Cambridge Cancer Research Institute.”
 
• At DCU Dr Ondrej Stranik’s research concentrated on identifying the signs that indicated an impending heart attack. As a physicist he worked in collaboration with other researchers from a range of disciplines on developing a diagnostic tool. At the Institute of Photonic Technology in Germany his aim will be to increase the sensitivity of this test. 
 
• Dr Emma Whelan commented that she had spent the past ten years orbiting between TCD and the Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies where she studied star formation. Her work involves looking at how the outflow balances with the accretion as a star forms. Big telescopes, she said, are beginning to reveal a lot more about the the Universe, and apart from going to study at the Laboratoire Astrophysique Observatoire de Grenoble, she will also he heading off to the Keck telescope high in the mountains of Hawaii.