Two UCD researchers win 2020 Science Foundation Ireland Mentorship Awards

Posted 05 November, 2020

University College Dublin researchers professors Pat Guiry and Patricia Maguire have been named winners at the prestigious Science Foundation Ireland Science Awards.

The pair were each announced as a winner of a 2020 SFI Mentorship Award, which recognises outstanding mentorship provided by a researcher funded by SFI.

Congratulating the UCD researchers, Professor Orla Feely, UCD Vice-President for Research, Innovation and Impact said each was an “outstanding and generous scientist who have prioritised the development of the next generation of scientific talent at UCD”.

“This Award reflects the many dimensions of their mentorship activities at the University and the impact they deliver in this way,” she added.

Professor Pat Guiry is Full Professor of Synthetic Organic Chemistry in the UCD School of Chemistry and is the Director of the Centre for Synthesis and Chemical Biology

His research interests include the design, synthesis and application of novel ligands in asymmetric catalysis, natural product synthesis and medicinal chemistry. 

He has supervised 55 PhD and 3 MSc students to graduation to date and has worked with over 20 postdoctoral researchers. 

His group has published over 140 papers, review articles, book chapters and patents with over 7000 citations. 

He was elected a Member of the Royal Irish Academy in 2013 and is an elected member of the UCD Governing Authority and of the Senate of the National University of Ireland.

“I am delighted and honoured to win this year's SFI Mentorship Award. Thanks to my colleagues in the UCD School of Chemistry, and in the two SFI research centres, BiOrbic, the Bioeconomy Research Centre and SSPC, the Synthesis and Solid State Pharmaceutical Centre,” said Professor Guiry.

“However this Award would not have been possible without my former and current research group members with whom it has been and is a pleasure to work. I thank them especially and wish them well in their future careers.”

Professor Patricia Maguire is Professor of Biochemistry at the UCD School of Biomolecular and Biomedical Science and the Director of the UCD Institute for Discovery which facilitates connections in emerging areas of interdisciplinary research. 

Her research interests at the UCD Conway SPHERE research group, led by her and consultant haematologist Professor Fionnuala Ní Áinle, focus on using blood platelets to understand and to assist diagnosis of a host of inflammatory-based diseases, including Preeclampsia, Multiple Sclerosis, Venous Thromboembolism and COVID-19. 

Twelve graduate researchers (8 PhDs, 3 MSc and 1 MD) have completed their theses under her direction, and she has worked with eight postdoctoral scientists and published over 50 papers and review articles.

“I am delighted to win this year’s SFI Mentorship Award and I would sincerely like to thank present and previous mentees at the UCD Conway SPHERE research group for their kind nominations for this award for which, I am truly honoured to receive,” Professor Maguire said. 

This year's Science Awards were presented by Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science Simon Harris TD, at the annual SFI Science Summit.
Of the eight awarded categories, two were double awards including the SFI Mentorship Award, and one joint award.

In advance of Science Week, the 2020 SFI Science Summit was held virtually so that current COVID-19 restrictions would not prevent Ireland’s research community coming together to celebrate the significant contributions made over the past year to research and innovation in Ireland.

In addition to Professor Maguire and Professor Guiry, the other Award winners announced at the 2020 SFI Science Summit were;

  • SFI Researcher of the Year 2020 Award recipient: Professor Kingston Mills, Professor of Experimental Immunology and Director Trinity Biomedical Sciences Institute, Trinity College Dublin.
  • SFI Early Career Researcher of the Year 2020 Award recipients: Dr Matthew Campbell, Neurovascular Genetics laboratory, Trinity College Dublin and Dr Lorna Lopez, Lecturer and Assistant Professor, Department of Biology, National University of Ireland Maynooth.
  • SFI Industry Partnership Award 2020 Award recipient: Professor Fergal O’Brien, RCSI University of Medicine and Health Sciences, AMBER SFI Research Centre and Integra Life Sciences.
  • SFI Best International Engagement Award 2020 Award recipient: Professor Brian O’Gallachoir, Chair of Energy Engineering, University College Cork, Director of MaREI, SFI Centre for Energy, Climate and Marine.
  • SFI Entrepreneurship Award 2020 Award recipients: Professor Fergal Mc Caffery, Department of Computing and Mathematics, Dundalk Institute of Technology, Director of the Regulated Software Research Centre and Dr Anita Finnegan, CEO and Founder of Nova Leah.
  • SFI Outstanding Contribution to STEM Communication Award 2020 Award recipient: Professor Luke O’Neill, School of Biochemistry and Immunology, Trinity College Dublin.
  • SFI Research Image of the Year 2020 Award recipient: Dr Niall Smith, Head of Research at Cork Institute of Technology / Head of Blackrock Castle Observatory.

Professor Mark Ferguson, Director General of Science Foundation Ireland and Chief Scientific Adviser to the Government of Ireland congratulating all the award winners, said, “I am delighted to congratulate this year’s award winners on their inspiring success and dedication.”

“The Science Foundation Ireland Awards recognise the expansive contribution that scientists make to our society and economy through innovative breakthroughs, industry collaborations, entrepreneurship, public engagement, and mentorship of the next generation. This year has been an eventful and challenging one for our research community.”

By: David Kearns, Digital Journalist / Media Officer, UCD University Relations (with materials from Micéal Whelan, UCD Research and Innovation)