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College researchers recognised in UCD Research Impact Competition

The 2022 impact case study contest included entries from areas across STEM and Social Sciences


Monday, 23 January, 2023

Today, UCD Vice-President for Research, Innovation and Impact Professor Orla Feely announced the winner and runners-up of the 2022 UCD Research Impact Case Study Competition. 

The annual competition encourages researchers of all disciplines to write a case study that tells the story of how their work has made a positive difference.

This year’s winner, ‘Helping parents support youth mental health’ was led by Professor Eilis Hennessy, with Aine French and Dr Daráine Murphy, from UCD School of Psychology.

Four of the Runner-Up projects involved researchers from the College of Engineering and Architecture.

Fighting fatbergs – avoiding sewer blockages describes the impact of Associate Professor Tom Curran’s research. Fatbergs in sewers cause flooding, traffic diversions and harm to wildlife, costing millions to unblock. Dr Curran’s research examined how we can better deal with them. 

He has shared his findings widely – through media appearances, stand-up comedy, and appearances in comic books – helping to raise awareness and avoid harmful and expensive sewer blockages.

From lab to bedside: bringing medical devices to the market quicker describes the impact of Assistant Professor Nan Zhang’ work. Point-of-care diagnostic devices give rapid and accurate test results, meaning clinicians can deliver faster diagnoses. “Microfluidic chips” can be a critical component of these devices. 

Dr Zhang and his team’s research helps companies bring these chips to market quicker, benefitting the Irish biopharma industry and improving patient outcomes.

Every drop counts – making a case for water conservation in Ireland describes the impact of work from Assistant Professor Sarah Cotterill. Dr Cotterill’s research explored how Ireland can conserve water, resulting in a policy brief and recommendations for An Fóram Uisce. 

Through a programme of outreach, including policy workshops and media appearances, Dr Cotterill is working to ensure these recommendations are translated into policy, so that we can save water and protect the environment.

Inspiring a site of national conscience at the Sean McDermott Street Magdalene Laundry describes the impact of research carried out by Professor Katherine O’Donnell and Professor Hugh Campbell. The Open Heart City research project consulted with institutional abuse survivors, local communities, local Government and national Government. 

This resulted in plans showing how the location could become a site of national conscience. The Government announced in March 2022 that the site will become a National Centre of Research and Remembrance, where people can learn about what happened in Ireland’s institutions, with a view to preventing similar abuses in the future.

Professor Feely commented: “As Chair of the panel, it has been exciting to learn more about the many ways that UCD’s researchers are changing the world. This year’s finalists are helping to improve health and wellbeing, protect the environment, address the climate crisis, influence policy, stimulate economic growth, enrich people’s lives, and inspire the next generation. I would like to congratulate them on this achievement, and thank them for their commitment to ensuring that people benefit from their research.”

Read about Competition Winner / Runners Up from other Colleges:  


Professor Eilis Hennessy, Aine French, Dr Daráine Murphy
Helping parents support youth mental health 

Runners-up  Assistant Professor Alexander Kondakov, Sergey Katsuba A decade of violence: monitoring anti-LGBTQ hate crimes in Russia

Dr Alma Clavin, Associate Professor Gerald Mills, Professor Niamh Moore-Cherry
Empowering community-led green urban development

Assistant Professor Laura K Taylor, Dearbháile Counihan
Helping Kids! – promoting inclusive peacebuilding

Professor Deirdre Raftery, Professor Marie Clarke
PINNACLE: empowering women in India and Pakistan to become education leaders

UCD Diabetes Complications Research Centre
Changing the guidelines for treating type 2 diabetes

Dr Ricardo Simon Carbajo, Dr Quan Le, Dr Rajnish Rakholia, Bang Quoc Ho & Hoang Ngoc Khue Vu
HealthyAir: addressing the impacts of air pollution in Vietnam

Professor Feely said: “I encourage UCD researchers to apply for the 2023 Research Impact Competition launching this Spring. It is a fantastic way to highlight how their work is making a positive difference to people's lives. To help you reflect on your impact, we invite you to visit the UCD Impact Toolkit.” 

UCD School of Mechanical & Materials Engineering

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