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Assistant Prof. Sónia Negrão recieves SFI President of Ireland Future Research Leaders Award

Published: Wednesday, 04 March, 2020

Uachtarán na hÉireann Michael D. Higgins honoured ten recipients of the ‘President of Ireland Future Research Leaders Award’, including Earth Institute member Dr. Sónia Negrão, at a special ceremony in Áras an Uachtaráin.

This award, funded by Science Foundation Ireland, looks to recruit outstanding new and emerging early career research leaders with exceptional accomplishments in scientific and engineering domains. Recepients can be awarded up to €1,000,000 for a five-year duration,  which is designed to provide the best setting to foster their creativity and further develop their leadership role. The goal is that by recruiting and supporting future research leaders, the national research and enterprise base will be reinforced with outstanding early/mid-career researchers and further enhance Ireland’s reputation for its research and innovation.

Dr. Negrão's project, titled "Looking into time - how abiotic stress impacts barley production and malting quality", focuses on securing the future of crop production with a combination of genetics and technology. Barley is the key ingredient for the production of beer and whiskey, yet climate-driven extreme weather events are causing severe adverse affects on crop yield. These yield reductions will significantly impact the malting industry, with forecasts estimating a sharp rise in beer and whiskey prices. While modern varieties of barley have lost their protection against such environmental conditions, these tolerance features have been retained in heritage barley varieties. By combining genomics techniques with drones and artificial intelligence, Dr. Negrão aims to quantify the effects of waterlogging in heritage varieties and secure the future of barley production.

On recieving the award, Dr. Negrão said: "I am delighted and honored to receive this prestigious award from President Michael D. Higgins. I am extremely thankful for the SFI President of Ireland Future Research Leaders Award as a recognition of my research potential. I am looking forward to contributing to a more sustainable production of barley in Ireland in the face of climate change and strengthening Ireland’s international reputation in Plant Science"

We heartily congratulate Dr. Negrão on this fantastic achievement!