UCD-hosted Applied Geosciences Research Centre receives €28 million SFI investment

Posted 01 February, 2021

The Irish Centre for Research in Applied Geosciences (iCRAG) at University College Dublin has received €28 million in funding from Science Foundation Ireland.

The investment was announced by Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science, Simon Harris TD, and is part of a €193 million funding package over the next six years for five SFI Research Centres for six years.

This figure is further backed by significant industry support from 200 industry partners committing over €91 million in cash and in-kind contributions.

The new funding is expected to support approximately 1,060 graduate and post-doctoral students and research fellows employed by the SFI Centres, including over 130 researchers at iCRAG across eight research institutes.

“[This] investment will ensure that we are prepared for the changes and disruption that we are facing in addressing global societal and economic challenges,” Minister Simon Harris TD said.

“SFI Research Centres promote discovery and impact, as well as collaboration between academia, government and industry across the Island of Ireland and internationally. This support will further enhance the important work these Centres have already achieved, so they continue to play a pivotal role in the years ahead in protecting the well-being of the population and the economy.”

He concluded: “The five centres will also work to promote STEM to the wider public through extensive Education and Public Engagement outreach.

“These initiatives include summer computer camps, developing secondary school education modules, and residency programmes for film-makers, artists and teachers to forge collaborations between researchers and the community.”

iCRAG is focused on developing innovative science and technology to better understand the Earth’s past, present, and future, to create solutions for a sustainable society, including developing Ireland’s wind energy capacity off the East coast.

Aboard the Celtic Voyager, iCRAG researchers will be applying a novel technology to gain a better understanding of sub-surface conditions in the Irish coast to improve the installation of offshore windfarms

The funding it has received will enable the centre to drive research in areas that are critical to society and the economy, including the sustainable discovery of energy resources and raw materials required for decarbonisation, climate change mitigation and adaptation, securing and protecting groundwater and marine resources and protecting society from Earth’s hazards such as flooding and landslides.

“SFI’s new funding to our Centre means that we can expand our research efforts to help Ireland reach carbon neutrality by 2050,” said iCRAG Director, Professor Murray Hitzman, UCD School of Earth Sciences

In the coming weeks, iCRAG researchers based at the UCD School of Civil Engineering will undertake an investigation to assess the feasibility of a novel fibre-optic approach to carrying out offshore site investigations for wind-farm developments in the Irish Sea.

“This March, aboard the Celtic Voyager, we will be applying a novel technology using laser interrogation of fibre-optic cables, in Dundalk Bay, to gain a better understanding of sub-surface conditions,” said Andrew Trafford, UCD School of Civil Engineering.

“Through this method we are effectively using light you can’t see to listen to sound you can’t hear in order to provide essential information for engineers to design infrastructure projects on the seabed.”

By: Staff Writers, UCD University Relations (with materials from Micéal Whelan, UCD Research and Innovation)