Minister Harris announces funding for TU Dublin health and climate research projects

10 May, 2022

Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science, Simon Harris, has announced 76 grants valued at €53.7 million to support frontier research across 10 higher education institutions, including TU Dublin, through Science Foundation Ireland (SFI).

In line with SFI’s gender strategy, the programme seeks to provide opportunities to address gender imbalance and to provide support for investigators returning to research after a period of leave:

  • Female researchers will lead 42% of the research grants supported
  • 32% by emerging investigators early in their research careers

The programme is run in collaboration with Geological Survey Ireland and the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI), co-funding a number of the grants.

Commenting on the SFI Future Frontiers Programme, Minister Harris said:

“Congratulations to all the researchers who have received funding today as part of the SFI Frontiers for the Future Programme. I am delighted to support this programme which funds individual-led research, with an emphasis on fundamental research at the cutting edge of science and engineering which will help us build a better future for Ireland through discovery, innovation, and impact.

“Not only will these grants support research in important areas for Irish society, they will also fund the support 216 people in varying research positions across 10 Higher Education Institutes to further develop their research careers. We are investing in talent. I would like to offer my thanks to the Higher Education Institutions for their support in delivering this programme again this year.”

TU Dublin SFI Future Frontiers Funded Projects

Dr Suzanne Martin, Research Centre Manager, Centre for Industrial and Engineering Optics, TU Dublin, will lead the LIGHTSHAPE project. 

Light pollution and energy costs are increasing as outdoor displays such as advertising and safety information seek visibility over larger viewing areas. Directing the light to where it’s needed could cut energy costs and light pollution to a fraction of its current value without losing visibility. Thin transparent polymer layers called Diffractive Optical Elements can re-direct light very efficiently and are ideal for LED displays, but they currently only work ​efficiently with laser light. LIGHTSHAPE will make a disruptive advance in light management and other photonic applications by making polymer diffractive optical elements that work ​efficiently with LEDs ​and thus contribute to sustainable light management and energy use.

LIGHTSHAPE project Roles:

Dr Suzanne Martin PI and Project Manager. Contributing technical knowledge on optical arrangements for interferometric patterning of optical devices, laminated/stacked devices and photopolymer formulation.

Dr Kevin Murphy TU Dublin collaborator. Contributing technical knowledge on optical systems, including speckle interference for recording diffuser elements and methods for tailoring DOEs to diverging inputs.

Prof Izabela Naydenova TU Dublin collaborator. Contributing technical knowledge on modelling and development of photopolymer materials. 

Dr Maria Victoria Collados and Prof Jesus Atencia, University of Zaragoza Collaborators.  Contributing technical knowledge on the modelling and design of diffractive elements. 

Prof. Hugh J. Byrne, Head, FOCAS Research Institute at TU Dublin, is leading CYTOMECHSPEC.

In this project, Prof. Byrne seeks to further advance the nationally unique and internationally leading expertise of TU Dublin in label-free spectroscopic microscopy for monitoring and analysis of biological processes at a cellular and subcellular level, harnessing multivariate data mining approaches to the kinetic evolution of characteristic spectroscopic signatures, in a systems biology approach.

Collaborators: Prof. Orla Howe (School of Biological & Health Sciences, TU Dublin), Prof. Paul Cahill (School of Biotechnology, DCU) 

Professor Philip Nolan, Director General of SFI, said:

“After the success of the first SFI Future Frontiers Programme in 2020, I am delighted to see 76 research grants awarded. The research programmes are wonderfully diverse, but they have one thing in common: they ask fundamental questions and will lead to important scientific breakthroughs, with important applications in areas such as climate action, biodiversity, human and animal health and digital transformation, with real and lasting benefits to our society and economy. The SFI Frontiers for the Future Programme is a key element of SFI’s new strategy – Shaping Our Future providing support for excellent research.

“It is really encouraging to see that 42% of the research grants are led by female researchers for the second year running. SFI is committed to addressing the gender imbalance evident in areas of Irish research and this is another example of that commitment in action.”

Read more about the announcement on the Department of Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science website.