University College Dublin Researcher Wins an Inaugural LERO Director’s Prize

Professor Brian Fitzgerald, Director, LERO and Dr Anthony Ventresque, Director, UCD Complex Software Lab, UCD School of Computer Science

University College Dublin Researcher Wins an Inaugural LERO Director’s Prize

Dr Anthony Ventresque, Director of the UCD Complex Software Lab at UCD’s School of Computer Science is among nine researchers, from across Ireland, named as winners of an inaugural LERO Director’s Prize.

The winners were named by Professor Brian Fitzgerald, Director, LERO, the SFI Irish Software Research Centre, at the recent annual LERO summit held in Athlone.

The prizes were awarded across five categories; research excellence, entrepreneurship, education and public engagement, diversity and inclusion and outstanding service.

Dr Ventresque was presented with a Diversity and Inclusion Award in recognition of his research projects involving the development of software for Irish Sign Language translation and the development of chatbots to connect refugees with accessible educational opportunities.  

The aim of the Irish Sign Language (ISL) project, a collaboration with Microsoft Skype, is to develop an application to facilitate communication between deaf and non-deaf people in situations where a human interpreter is not available or the non-deaf individual has no knowledge of ISL.

The aim of the chatbot project is to develop AI-based chatbots to provide opportunities for young refugees to access and avail of high-quality educational resources in their own languages. This project is a collaboration between UCD and Microsoft, together with NGOs, NetHope and the Norwegian Refugee Council, and LERO.

Dr Anthony Ventresque said, “I am delighted and deeply honoured to have been awarded the LERO Director’s Award for Diversity and Inclusion, in its inaugural year, and especially to be presented with the award in recognition of the Irish Sign Language and the chatbot collaborative research projects which I am leading.”

“What makes LERO unique is its members and it is a credit to the centre that we had so many strong nominations for the inaugural Director’s Prize. I was particularly pleased to see such a geographic spread of nominees and winners across a variety of research areas. Congratulations to the 2019 LERO Director’s Prize winners and I wish them well as they continue striving for, and achieving excellence,” said Professor Brian Fitzgerald, LERO, Director.

The Prize for Entrepreneurship was presented to Fergal McCaffery of Dundalk Institute of Technology; Prizes for Research Excellence were presented to Gabriel Muntean of Dublin City University and Klaas-Jan Stol of University College Cork; Prizes for Education and Public Engagement were awarded to Martin Mullins and Bilal Ahmad, both of University of Limerick. Researcher Sarah Beecham of UL and former general manager of LERO, Brendan O’Malley were recognised for their Outstanding Contributions to LERO. Regina Connolly, Dublin City University was also presented with a Director’s Prize for Diversity and Inclusion.


11 September 2019

For further information contact: Micéal Whelan, UCD Research and Innovation, Communications Manager (Innovation) e: or t: +353 1 716 3712 or Nicola Corless, Marketing and Communications Manager, LERO, e:

Editors Notes

LERO is a world-leading Science Foundation Ireland research centre. It combines the best in Irish software talent by bringing together researchers from Dublin City University, Dundalk Institute of Technology, IT Tralee, NUI Galway, Maynooth University, Trinity College Dublin, University College Cork, University College Dublin and University of Limerick. It is funded by Science Foundation Ireland as well as by contracts from Irish and international technology corporations.