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Nine UCD teams awarded funding under final rounds of €65m National Challenge Fund

Posted 14 September, 2023

Members of the UCD SHIFT research team - SHIFT stands for; 'Sustainable and Healthy InFrastructure by reducing stress during active Travel'

Nine teams from University College Dublin have been announced as the latest entries in the National Challenges Fund - a €65m fund aiming to accelerate research addressing national challenges in the areas of Green Transition and Digital Transformation.

The final two Challenges - the Sustainable Communities Challenge and the Future Food Systems Challenge have now begun with 25 teams joining more than 70 others competing for prize awards of €1m or €2m in continued funding. 

The Challenges are structured so that professional researchers must engage directly with the potential beneficiaries to ensure they're responding to their communities’ needs.

The successful UCD teams are:

Sustainable Communities Challenge

  • Dr Shane Donohue, UCD School of Civil Engineering and Dr Soumyabrata Dev, UCD School of Computer Science, GEOMETRIC: GEOphysics and Machine learning for Evaluating Transportation Infrastructure Condition;
  • Dr Oliver Kinnane, UCD School of Architecture, Planning and Environmental Policy and Dr Samar Raffoul, UCD School of Civil Engineering, Decision support platform for optimum and sustainable Modern Methods of Construction rollout to alleviate the housing crisis;
  • Dr Anna Molter, UCD School of Architecture, Planning and Environmental Policy and Professor Brian Caulfield, UCD School of Public Health, Physiotherapy and Sports Science, SHIFT: Sustainable and Healthy InFrastructure by reducing stress during active Travel;
  • Professor Niamh Moore-Cherry, UCD School of Geography and Professor Brian Caulfield Trinity College Dublin, CONUNDRUM: Co-Creating sustainable and shared community mobility, with a test community in Enniscorthy, Co. Wexford;
  • Dr Pavlos Tafidis, UCD School of Architecture, Planning and Environmental Policy and  Dr Gavin McArdle, UCD School of Computer Science, Bikehood – Creating Ireland’s First Cycling Neighbourhood for Sustainable Transport and Mobility.

Future Food Systems Challenge

  • Dr Tamara Hochstrasser, UCD School of Biology and Environmental Science and Dr Jennifer Attard, Munster Technological University, FRED - Food Resource Efficiency Decision Support;
  • Professor Fiona Doohan, UCD School of Biology and Environmental Science and Professor Lorraine Brennan, UCD School of Agriculture and Food Science, FungiTech: crop residues as a substrate for producing filamentous mycoprotein;
  • Dr Richard Nair, Trinity College Dublin and Dr Saoirse Tracy, UCD School of Agriculture and Food Science, RootCheck: Image-Based Root Health Assessment Tools for Sustainable Agriculture;
  • Dr Kirill Niktin, UCD School of Chemistry and Dr Simon Hodge, UCD School of Agriculture and Food Science, Non-aqueous Generation of Soluble Phosphate Fertiliser from Solid Agricultural Biowaste for Sustainable Agrifood Systems.

“The National Challenge Fund is both a marathon and a sprint for these researchers. They are committing to solving long-term problems but they need to develop their ideas quickly and validate their solutions to keep unlocking funding each year,”  said Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science, Simon Harris TD.

“This kind of solutions-driven research will help us to tackle the big societal changes we face as we become a green and digital country, and I am already looking forward to the years ahead as we see the projects advance. 

Adding: “I am particularly pleased to see the diversity of researchers – coming from all career stages, and from across the higher education network, as we work to make our professional research community representative of modern Ireland.”

Science Foundation Ireland Director General Professor Philip Nolan said: “We know that sustainable living is important for our long-term stability and productivity as a nation. These projects will work to accelerate research towards implementation so that there will be better, less wasteful options for us to use in the future.

“It is really important that these solutions are developed with the people who are going to use them, and that they actually respond to their needs. I am delighted that so many researchers responded to the Challenges and that they are committed to working at such a pace to deliver real change in such diverse arenas.” 

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

To contact the UCD News & Content Team, email: newsdesk@ucd.ie