Drew Thomas awarded prestigious SFI-IRC Grant
Dr Drew Thomas awarded prestigious SFI-IRC grant for 'Applying Artificial Intelligence to the Printing Press: Transforming Visual Communication During the Protestant Reformation'
Science Foundation Ireland and the Irish Research Council have awarded an inaugural Pathway Programme grant, valued at €477,455, to Dr Drew Thomas in the UCD School of History for his project on 'Applying Artificial Intelligence to the Printing Press: Transforming Visual Communication During the Protestant Reformation'.
The four-year grant will fund a project examining how religious groups used images and visual communication during times of conflict and persecution. By leveraging the power of artificial intelligence and the infrastructure provided by UCD Research IT and the Irish Centre for High-End Computing, Dr Thomas will investigate the illustrations used in the propaganda and devotional literature of Catholics and Protestants during the Protestant Reformation.
Dr Thomas said, "I am thrilled for this opportunity and grateful to Science Foundation Ireland and the Irish Research Council for providing me with the support to undertake this research. The project will ultimately lead to a better understanding of how competing religious groups used visual communication to spread their ideas amongst their followers, attract new believers and denigrate their opponents. The project's AI methodology will usher in new ways for scholars and the public alike to explore Europe's shared cultural heritage and religious history."
Dr Thomas earned his PhD from the University of St Andrews and came to UCD as the recipient of an IRC Postdoctoral Fellowship in 2019. He worked alongside Professor Alexander Wilkinson, on Ornamento, a repository of illustrations and decorations used in the early modern printing industry. He has won research grants from the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, D.C., the John Rylands Research Institute and Library in Manchester, UK, the Reformation Research Library in Wittenberg, Germany and the Pitts Theology Library at Emory University in the US. He recently published The Industry of Evangelism: Printing for the Reformation in Martin Luther's Wittenberg (Brill, 2022).