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UCD Impact Competition Results

Three Social Sciences Case Studies runners-up in 2020 UCD Impact Competition

 Assoc Prof Ainhoa González, Dr Heidi Riley and Assoc Prof Marie Keenan commended

Associate Professor Ainhoa González from UCD School of Geography, Dr Heidi Riley from UCD School of Politics and International Relations and Associate Professor Marie Keenan from UCD School of Social Policy, Social Work and Social Justice have been named runners-up in the 2020 UCD Research Impact Case Study Competition.

Associate Professor Ainhoa González’ case study ‘Planning for sustainability through Environmental Sensitivity Mapping’ outlines the impact of the work by her and her team which developed an online tool to support evidence-based sustainable land-use planning in Ireland. The freely available tool saves time and effort by dedicated planning teams in government, local authorities and consultancies. It improves transparency in decision-making, helping protect the environment and reduce land-use conflicts.

Associate Professor González said: “I'm delighted to have received this award, which acknowledges the dedication and effort of numerous people in ensuring that the environment is placed at the centre of decision-making in Ireland. It also highlights the importance of Geography in planning for a better future. I'm thankful to all who made this research output robust and possible.”

Associate Professor Marie Keenan’s case study ‘Reimagining justice and healing after sexual violence’ outlines her research which explored if “restorative justice” could fill some of the existing gaps in current justice service provision. She found that it could, influencing justice policy in several countries. Now, there is the possibility for victims and offenders in Ireland to experience this service first-hand. By creating a film, Dr Keenan also built societal support for this innovative practice.

Associate Professor Keenan said: “This award is a recognition of the power of the personal narrative to change lives; the importance of academic research to seek new knowledge; and the wisdom and courage of the Arts to tell these important stories. I am honoured to have been a mere vehicle for this important restorative justice story.”

Dr Heidi Riley submitted her case study (opens in a new window)‘Promoting women in peace mediation across the island of Ireland.’ Her research shed light on the often overlooked experiences of women working in peace mediation from across the island of Ireland. Her work revealed the challenges that women face in this field, highlighted how women use mediation in their peacebuilding work, influenced mediation and peacebuilding networks, and raised awareness of the issue through a short film.

Dr Riley said: “We are really delighted that our project has been awarded for its focus on ‘impact’ and hope this goes some way to further recognise of the wealth and diversity of experience in peace mediation amongst women from across the island of Ireland.

The annual UCD Research Impact Case Study Competition encourages researchers, of all disciplines, to write a case study that tells the story of how their work has made a positive difference.

Despite the challenges of the year, UCD Research received more entries than ever before in 2020. Commenting on the results, Vice-President for Research, Innovation and Impact Professor Orla Feely said: “The volume of entries we received last year is a testament to the high-impact work going on across the university and to our researchers’ dedication to making meaningful contributions to the world. Research at UCD continues to improve health and wellbeing, protect the environment, influence policy, stimulate economic growth, enrich people’s lives, and inspire the next generation.”

The winner of the UCD 2020 Research Impact Case Study Competition is (opens in a new window)Associate Professor Catherine Cox. Her case study, entitled ‘Out of sight, out of mind: changing public perceptions of the mental health crisis in Irish prisons,’ details the significant impact of her project exploring the (opens in a new window)history of prisoner health.

There six other runners-up in the 2020 competition are:

  1. Diabetes Complications Research Centre (UCD DCRC) | Addressing the stigma faced by people living with obesity
  2. Professor Cal Muckley, Dr Gaurav Kumar, Linh Pham and Darragh Ryan | Protecting older adults against financial exploitation
  3. Assistant Professor Jennifer Keenahan | Protecting the built environment from the effects of wind 
  4. Professor Fionnuala McAuliffe | Right technology, right time: how the PEARs app is improving pregnancy outcomes
  5. Dr Kevin Nolan | Reducing the risk of COVID-19 transmission in hospitals
  6. Associate Professor Francesco Pilla | iSCAPE: improving the smart control of air pollution in Europe

Professor Feely added: “I would like to personally congratulate our finalists and to thank them, not only for their hard work on these case studies, but for their commitment to ensuring people benefit from their research.

“ I encourage all researchers to consider entering this year’s competition when it launches this spring.” 

To help researchers think more deeply about their impact and write a compelling impact case study, UCD has developed a new Impact Toolkit website which will also be launched this spring, funded by the Higher Education Authority and produced by UCD Research Analytics and Impact team.

March 2021

UCD College of Social Sciences and Law

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