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Top UCD researcher awarded €2.5 million to do the maths on big waves

Posted 2 April, 2019

  • Professor Frederic Dias is one of only three researchers in Ireland to ever be awarded a second European Research Council Advanced Grant.
  • Funding will help improve wave forecasting models and improve design criteria for ships and offshore structures.

A top mathematician at University College Dublin has received €2.5million in funding after being awarded a European Research Council (ERC) Advanced Grant.

Professor Frederic Dias, from the UCD School of Mathematics and Statistics, received the funding to develop more accurate operational wave models – which could help improve wave forecasting and lead to new designs for ships and offshore structures.

The fluid dynamics specialist is one of only three researchers in Ireland to ever be awarded a second Advanced Grant, and his new 5-year study builds on his own ground-breaking work in the field.

Professor Dias provided the first universal criterion for predicting the onset of breaking waves in uniform water depths from deep to intermediate.

“Our goal at the end of this study is to develop more accurate operational wave models and to better parameterise CO2 transfer velocities by taking into account sea states and not only wind speed,” he said.

“Such models will have practical and economic benefits such as, improving sea state forecasting; evaluating seabed response to extreme waves, determining structural loads on ships and offshore infrastructures and optimising operational strategies for maritime and marine renewable energy enterprises.”

The ERC funding will see the creation of six new research positions at UCD for PhD students and post-doc researchers in the areas of coastal and ocean engineering, earth system science, statistics and fluid dynamics.

Professor Dias is one of 222 top researchers and scientists from across Europe, who between them will receive ERC Advanced Grants worth a total of €540 million, as part of the Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme.

The UCD researcher is also a principal investigator with MaREI, the SFI Research Centre for Marine and Renewable Energy, a member of the Royal Irish Academy, and holds a position at Ecole Normale Supérieure Paris-Saclay, France.

ERC Advanced Grants are awarded under the ‘excellent science pillar’ of Horizon 2020, and each awardee is considered to be a global  leader in their field with a solid track record of significant research achievements in the last ten years.

Professor Orla Feely, UCD Vice-President for Research, Innovation and Impact congratulated Professor Dias on receiving his second ERC Advanced Grant.

“His success for a second time in this prestigious and highly competitive Europe-wide funding call indicates the quality of the world-class fluid dynamics research which he and his team are carrying out at UCD, and I wish them continued success.”

“Only three Ireland-based researchers have now been successful in securing a second ERC Advanced Grant and two of them, Professor Kenneth Wolfe and Professor Frederic Dias are based at UCD. This signifies the strength of the research taking place at our University.”

Carlos Moedas, European Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation, added: “The ERC Advanced Grants back outstanding researchers throughout Europe. Their pioneering work has the potential to make a difference in people’s everyday life and deliver solutions  to some of our  most urgent  challenges.”

By: David Kearns, Digital Journalist / Media Officer, UCD University Relations