€1.4 million in SFI funding awarded to UCD academics


Pictured: Professor Brian Rodriguez; Director General of Science Foundation Ireland and Chief Scientific Adviser to the Government of Ireland, Professor Mark Ferguson; Minister of State for Training, Skills and Innovation, John Halligan TD; Professor Sheila McBreen and Assistant Professor Le-Nam Tran, at the launch of the 2018 Science Foundation Ireland Career Development Award Programme.

Posted April 26, 2018

Three academics from University College Dublin have been awarded more than €1.4 million in research funding through the Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) Career Development Award Programme.

Minister of State for Training, Skills and Innovation, John Halligan TD, who announced the overall funding of €13.7 million, described the awardees as “the future leaders of research and innovation in Ireland.”

“I believe that the important projects receiving funding today will advance Ireland’s economy and society, and further solidify its reputation as a world-leader in scientific advancements,” he added. 

Gamma-ray detector

One of UCD’s three projects will work with NASA to develop a gamma-ray detector suitable for use in space. Led by Professor Sheila McBreen, UCD School of Physics, it will address the “urgent need for gamma-ray space missions” to help find counterparts to gravitational wave sources first detected in 2015. The research will involve a high-altitude balloon flight to verify the performance and assess the design of UCD’s detector.


Super high-resolution imaging

In addition to this, Professor Brian Rodriguez, also from the UCD School of Physics, will develop imaging techniques with a resolution “10,000 times smaller than a human hair.” These will have the potential to supply the necessary knowledge to increase the battery life of smartphones and the driving range of electric cars.

Reducing energy consumption

The third UCD researcher to receive funding is Assistant Professor Le-Nam Tran from the UCD School of Electrical & Electronic Engineering. With the global online and telecommunications industry consuming more than 10% of the world’s energy, Tran will develop advanced mathematical tools to reduce energy consumption and secure data privacy.

Science Foundation Ireland’s Career Development Award Programme supports Ireland’s research talent pipeline by funding excellent researchers still in the early stages of their scientific career. University College Dublin researchers received a total of €1,413,178 from this funding round. This includes €500,804 for Professor McBreen, €498,713 for Professor Rodriguez and €413,661 for Assistant Professor Tran.

By: Jonny Baxter, digital journalist, UCD University Relations