2023 Earth Institute Showcase and Awards
The Earth Institute Showcase and Awards is an event to bring together the UCD environmental and sustainability community as well as our external partners.
The event showcases and celebrates the achievements and valuable contributions of members of this community, including the Institute's academic members and its Associate Membership of postdoctoral and postgraduate researchers, technical, administrative and research support staff.
This year's event began with a welcome address by UCD President Orla Feely highlighting the successes of the Earth Institute under director Tasman Crowe over the past six years and Tasman's imminent role as VP for Sustainability.
Following on, Tasman Crowe's plenary on "Towards a Sustainable Future" outlined the overarching vision of Earth Institute for a vibrant institute that combines its members’ expertise to make timely contribute to sustainable future, integrating environmental considerations and research into decision-making and discourse at all levels.
This was followed by short five-minute talks showcasing the research and work of Earth Institute members across various UCD schools and colleges:
- Sustainability and education by Assoc. Prof. Ainhoa Gonzalez, UCD School of Geography
- Interdisciplinary pathways for early career researchers by Dr Aparajita Banerjee, UCD College of Business
- Working in partnership: UCD Schools and Institutes by Assoc. Prof. Eoin O’Neill, School of Architecture, Planning and Environmental Policy
- Collaborating across disciplines: exploring the interaction between early people and landscapes by Dr Sam Kelley, UCD School of Earth Sciences
- Empowering local communities by Dr Sarah Cotterill and Orla Murphy, UCD Schools of Civil Engineering and Architecture, Planning and Environmental Policy
- International partnerships tackling grand challenges by Dr Craig Bullock and Dr Shane McGuinness, UCD School of Architecture, Planning and Environmental Policy
- Informing policy and practice to protect Ireland’s freshwaters by Assoc. Prof. Mary Kelly-Quinn, UCD School of Biology and Environmental Science
This was followed by the first annual Earth Institute Awards:
Interdisciplinary Research Collaboration Award celebrates interdisciplinary collaboration in our community and is open to research collaborations that includes two or more researchers from different disciplines in the area of environmental or sustainability research.
The 2023 winners are Assoc. Prof. Meriel McClatchie and Dr Sónia Negrão from UCD Schools of Archaeology and Biology and Environmental Science.
Supporting and developing interdisciplinary connections and collaborations is at the core of what we do in the Earth Institute. This collaboration is a brilliant example of this – from an initial conversation at a UCD connector event, through further connections at an Earth Institute coffee morning and support through our Strategic Priority programme, this collaboration with between an archaeobotanist and crop scientist explores how underutilized crops produced in Europe have the potential to supply key nutrients and improve diets and risk of diet-related diseases, engaging with the historic production of food, state-of-the-art science, as well as policy implications. The collaboration has led to funding from the Irish Research Council COALESCE programme and the development of a pan-European network of collaborators eagerly awaiting the result of a COST action application.
Undergraduate Environmental Researcher of the Year Award celebrates the research of final year undergraduates working on environmental or sustainability topics and is awarded in partnership with the Environmental Science Association of Ireland.
The 2023 winner is Niamh Gurrin, UCD School of Chemistry for her project with James Sullivan on Plasma Assisted Catalysis for Removal of Per- and Poly-Fluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS) from water.
Earth Week Communication Award celebrates the communication skills of our early career researchers and is supported by the Earth Institute Associate Member Committee. It is awarded to the winner of our annual flash talk communication competition for PhD and postdoc researchers working on environmental and sustainability topics.
The 2023 winner is Isobel Stanley, UCD School of Public Health, Physiotherapy and Sports Science, for a presentation entitled: Joining the dots in Irish food policy: A systems approach to policymaking for health and sustainability.
Emerging Researcher Award celebrates the research achievements and contributions of early career researchers, including PhD students, postdoctoral researchers and research fellows.
The award was incredibly competitive, with four outstanding postdoctoral researchers and PhD students from three UCD Schools receiving high commendation from our judging panel. Highly commended were: Dr Aparajita Banerjee, UCD College of Business; Dr Claudia Dellacasa, UCD School of English, Drama and Film; Holly English, UCD School of Biology and Environmental Science; and Jiaqi Shi, UCD School of Biology and Environmental Science.
The 2023 winner is Dr Shane Mc Guinness, UCD School of Architecture, Planning and Environmental Policy for his work developing and co-leading the €23M EU WaterLANDS project, his impactful work on the Biodiversity Financial Needs Assessment as well as Peatland Finance Ireland. Also mentioned were his collegiate nature and his many contributions to the life of the Institute and UCD.
Early Career Academic Award celebrates the research achievements and contributions of early career academics within five years of their first academic appointment.
This was another fiercely contested category, our judging panel whittled the nominees down to a final two. Highly commended was Dr Penelope Muzanenhamo from the College of Business who is working at the forefront of the new discipline of epistemic justice as well as playing key roles in her College and the Earth Institute.
The 2023 winner is Dr Joanna Kacprzyk, UCD School of Biology and Environmental Science for her work pushing the boundaries of plant stress research, her advocacy of plant science in general, her teaching and her science outreach – and as her nominator put it, she is ‘the model good colleague’.
Good Citizenship Award celebrates good citizenship, collegiality and those members of our community who go above and beyond to help others.
Our judging panel agreed that this was the most rewarding category to review, but the most difficult to decide – we were delighted to see nominations in this category for postgraduate students, technical staff, research support staff and faculty. Everyone would have been a very worthy winner, but in the end, the panel decided to celebrate the following faculty members as highly commended:
- Sharae Deckard from the School of English, Drama and Film, for her work developing the environmental humanities research strand in UCD
- Donna Marshall from the College of Business for her tireless work supporting and championing colleagues and students, and for the considerable impact of her research
- Jon Yearsley from the School of Biology and Environmental Science, who is a cornerstone of his school community as well as the Earth Institute, who doesn’t seek the limelight but is hugely valued by colleagues and students alike
2023 Good Citizenship Award Winners: Louise Dunne, Tine Ningal and Deborah Schrijvers
The 2023 winners are:
- Dr Louise Dunne, Research Manager in the School of Architecture, Planning and Environmental Policy: As her nominator stated, Louise is an indispensable colleague, without whom the sections of the School would not be nearly so successful at winning research funding. She is quietly efficient and rarely gets the recognition she deserves. She is a valuable connection point between the different parts of the school, helping achieve a level of collegiality and cooperation between them.
- Dr Tine Ningal, Chief Technical Officer in the School of Geography: Tine’s impact across his school goes far beyond technical support, including teaching, supervision of masters students, support for fieldtrips and the establishment of a very successful school on drones that has attracted external stakeholders from industry and individuals from the UCD community.
- Deborah Schrijvers, a PhD student in the School of English, Drama and Film, has been instrumental in in the environmental humanities research strand at UCD, volunteering her time to develop new international networks of early career researchers and using her social media expertise to champion the work of her colleagues.
Long Service Contribution Award seeks to acknowledge the significant contribution of members of our community who are retiring or leaving UCD after long service. Our first two recipients of this award are outstanding examples of this.
The 2023 winners are:
Dr Karen Foley from Landscape Architecture, School of Architecture, Planning and Environmental Policy, has been instrumental in establishing UCD at the forefront of Landscape Architecture education in Ireland. UCD is the only university in Ireland to offer an undergraduate degree in Landscape Architecture, a course which is now accredited by the Irish Landscape Institute and recognised internationally by IFLA, the global body for landscape architecture.
Karen's early research work looked at developing landscape assessment methodologies as effective research interests lie in the area of landscape change, landscape preference, stakeholder engagement and urban resilience planning tools. She later focussed on the vernacular Irish landscape, examining landscape preference, drivers of landscape change and exploring scenario-based tools to engage with a range of stakeholders. Her work has always foregrounded societal input and impact – she has worked on and led award-winning projects on urban resilience and sustainability, coastal communities adapting to climate change.
In addition, as our nominator states, Karen has been a wise, supportive and perceptive supervisor to members of her research team, and an inspirational and supportive teacher, as well as a key member of the Earth Institute’s executive committee, developing and establishing our Sustainable Communities research theme which goes from strength to strength due to her leadership with Nessa Winston from Social Policy.
Our second recipient is Prof. Eugene O’Brien from the School of Civil Engineering. Eugene was the founding President of the International Society for Weigh-in-Motion and has been awarded a Champions of European Research award for Cross-modal Transportation, in recognition of an outstanding lifetime contribution to research in cross-modal transportation.
Eugene’s research developed the first ever method to quantify the traffic loading on long-span bridges. This means that, unlike previously, we can now calculate the true safety of these bridges, which has benefits not only for human safety but also for economics and traffic management. To widen the impact of his research, Eugene is director and co-founder of Civil Engineering firm Roughan O’Donovan’s subsidiary Innovative Solutions, which has worked on numerous national and international academic and commercial projects. Optimising the use of bridges also has a key environmental impact - being able to assess bridge safety more accurately allows us to keep bridges open for longer, extending their working life and thus reducing their carbon footprint, without compromising the safety of the traveling public.
Eugene was director the UCD Urban Institute, a forebear of the Earth Institute, as well as a valued member of the Institute’s executive committee and advocate for multidisciplinary collaboration. Recently he wrote the final report for CEDR, the European Road Owners association, on Roads and Biodiversity – finding ways to improve the biodiversity of road verges, and last week, his 39th PhD student successfully defended his thesis.
Thanks to everyone who contributed to and supported the Earth Institute this year and came to the Showcase + Awards.