SFI Research Image of the Year Award 2023 for PhD student, Elin Strachan


PhD student, Elin Strachan is announced as the winner of the SFI Research Image of the Year 2023 at the Research Summit, a joint Summit hosted by Science Foundation Ireland and the Irish Research Council in Cork on 20-21 November 2023.  

Elin is jointly supervised by Prof. Breandan Kennedy, interim Director, UCD Conway Institute and Assoc. Prof. Niamh O'Sullivan, UCD School of Biomolecular & Biomedical Science.

In the Kennedy group, fish are used to better understand inherited diseases of the eye, due to how well developed the visual system is in such early stages of fish development and how closely their eyes resemble our own.

This image displays the head, and specifically the eye, of a five-day-old zebrafish larva. The blue stain shows the cell nuclei, whilst the green labelling are the mitochondria within the animal’s optic nerve, which relays information from the eye to the brain.

This award was one of ten honouring research excellence under a broad range of categories.

An image displaying the head, and specifically the eye, of a five-day-old zebrafish larva

Commending the award winners, Prof. Philip Nolan, Director General, Science Foundation Ireland, said: “Through their innovation, creativity and tireless work, these researchers have striven to improve the world around them. SFI is delighted to recognise their efforts and achievements with these prestigious accolades. I want to offer my sincere congratulations to all the award recipients."

Professor Paul Ross, University College Cork was announced as the SFI Researcher of the Year 2023. Professor Ross is Director of APC Microbiome Ireland since 2019. He is a widely recognised researcher who has received international acclaim for research on antibacterial compounds. He is a current European Research Council Advanced Awardee. His research is in the field of food microbiology, with a focus on physiology and genetics of LAB and their applications in food and pharmaceuticals. 

The other category winners are:

SFI Early Career Researcher of the Year 2023

Recipient: Dr Sarah Guerin, University of Limerick

Dr Guerin is a lecturer in the Department of Physics and a member of the SSPC Research Centre, University of Limerick. Her research focuses on modelling and growing crystals for use in areas such as eco-friendly sensing and pharmaceuticals. Dr Guerin’s research has led to significant breakthroughs with potential for use in medical implants and drug delivery devices. 

SFI Commercialisation Award 2023   

Recipient: Professor Steve Kerrigan, RCSI University of Medicine and Health Sciences

Professor Steve Kerrigan is the Deputy Head of the School of Pharmacy in RCSI University of Medicine and Health Sciences. In 2021, Prof. Kerrigan founded Inthelia Therapeutics, a spin-out, clinical-stage pharmaceutical company which aims to develop personalised therapeutic approaches to treat patients with sepsis. Sepsis is the leading cause of death worldwide, causing over 15 million deaths globally per year. 

SFI Best International Engagement Award 2023   

Recipient: Professor Edward Curry, University of Galway

Professor Edward Curry is the Established Professor of Data Science and Director of the Insight SFI Research Centre for Data Analytics, University of Galway. Along with his research activities, Edward has shown leadership in developing the European Date and AI Ecosystem. Prof Curry was a key architect in designing and creating two triple-helix European Partnerships between industry, research/academia, and the European Commission on Big Data and AI, Data and Robotics, providing the roadmap for the EU over the last decade. 

SFI Outstanding Contribution to STEM Communication Award 2023

Recipient: MTU Blackrock Castle Observatory

Munster Technological University’s (MTU) Blackrock Castle Observatory has been championing scientific literacy, communicating STEM through the inspirational themes of astronomy and space for 16 years. Over that time, more than 1.3 million people have visited BCO.

SFI Award for Supporting Green Transition 2023

Recipient: Dr Una Fitzgerald, University of Galway

Dr Una Fitzgerald, School of Natural Science, University of Galway and an Investigator in CÚRAM, the SFI Research Centre for Medical Devices, is a leading voice in the national movement of ‘greening’ research laboratories, and her laboratory was the first in Europe to be Green Lab-certified. She also led the Galway Green Labs initiative and is the chairperson for Irish Green Labs, a network of Irish labs that share case studies and best practice in lab sustainability.

SFI Industry Partnership Award 2023

Recipient: Professor Frank Peters, IPIC in partnership with Rockley Photonics, University College Cork & Tyndall National Institute

Professor Frank Peters has over 30 years’ experience in photonic research, including 12 years in industry, filing more than 80 patents. He has been part of three start-ups including, most recently, Rockley Photonics and the creation of the Irish research division of Rockley. 

SFI Mentorship Award 2023 

Recipient: Professor Anne Marie Healy, Trinity College Dublin 

Professor Anne Marie Healy, School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, Trinity College Dublin, is one of the Co-Directors of the Centre for Doctoral Training in Transformative Pharmaceutical Technologies. She has graduated 20 PhD students and mentored 25 postdoctoral researchers. 

SFI Engaged Research of the Year Award 2023 

Recipients: Professor Andy Way & the SignON project 

The SignON project aims to bridge the communication gap between Deaf, Hard of Hearing (DHH) and hearing people. The project focuses on development of the SignON communication service that uses machine translation to translate between Sign and spoken languages. It represents a shift in the field of sign language technologies, offering an inclusive, co-created, and ethically responsible solution to the historical challenge of communication between signers and non-signers. Its innovative approach ensures that DHH communities are not just subjects of, but also active participants in the research and development process. This project is based in the ADAPT SFI Research Centre for AI-driven Digital Content Technology and led by Professor Andy Way.