Minister Simon Harris TD announces €16 million in funding for pioneering projects pushing the boundaries of knowledge by leading researchers

Posted: 12 December, 2023

A total of almost €16 million in funding is being invested in a suite of research projects under the Irish Research Council’s (IRC’s) Advanced Laureate Awards programme, the Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science, Simon Harris TD, announced today (12.12.23).


The IRC’s Advanced Laureate Awards (ALAs) support established research leaders who have a record of original and significant research contributions to carry forward groundbreaking discoveries at the frontiers of knowledge in their respective fields.


Projects by sixteen researchers across life sciences, the humanities, physical sciences and engineering, and the social sciences have been selected for funding following rigorous review by international experts. Each awardee will receive up to €1 million in funding over a period of up to four years.


The projects include: an examination of cognitive decline, including dementia, accelerated by episodic elevations of the inflammatory molecule TNF alpha, which can be caused by infections, Covid-19, surgery and injury; a study of the experience of violence in inter-war Ireland and the co-existence of restraint alongside revolution; an investigation into ‘smart vision’ sensing technologies that can effectively capture human actions without creating images or videos that compromise a person’s data privacy; a project seeking to harness the potential of ferroelectrics to enable the production of ultra-compact data storage and new low-power device technology as the volume of digital information grows exponentially; and a project that will study the key global challenges and politics of borderlands in Europe today, including Bosnia-Herzegovina, Serbia and Croatia; Greece and Turkey; Poland and Ukraine and Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.


The ALAs enhance frontier research in Irish research-performing organisations across all disciplines and build the international competitiveness of senior researchers and Ireland as a whole. The awards are designed to encourage and widen the gateway to future European Research Council (ERC) funding, one of the most prestigious grant schemes in Europe, whilst boosting Ireland’s ability to retain excellent researchers in our research system.


Announcing the new awards, Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science, Simon Harris TD, said: “I am thrilled to announce this significant investment in basic frontier research across a wide range of fields. This funding will help push the boundaries of knowledge and research forward, it will help break new ground and enhance Ireland’s leadership internationally in solving key challenges of our time. Ireland is a small island on the edge of Europe and has maintained a reputation for excellent research and strong interconnectedness with the best of the global research community. This is the case across the sciences, arts, and humanities and it is crucial we continue to foster a vibrant research eco-system and grasp the full potential of research for society, innovation, the economy, and our culture. The Irish Research Council’s support for basic research across all disciplines and career stages is a key pillar in this regard and government is committed to maintaining and building on this support with the establishment of a unified research agency in 2024 in the form of Research Ireland. I wish each of the Advanced Laureate awardees well as they embark on their ambitious projects over the next four years.”


Welcoming the announcement, Peter Brown, Director of the Irish Research Council said: “I would like to congratulate the sixteen new Advanced Laureate awardees for 2023. This follows the funding of 48 ‘starting’ and ‘consolidator’ Laureate awards in 2022. Taken together, the Laureate awards represent a very significant investment of some €40m in frontier basic research across the researcher career spectrum. Within the suite of advanced grant awards being announced today reside the potential for significant leaps forward in solving key problems and developing new understandings on topics that resonate strongly in our society, and globally.  Smart cities, inflammation, migration, cross-border dynamics, immune cells, dementia, long-term memory and our linguistic past are just some examples of the themes connected with the projects that will be supported. Through these awards, the selected researchers will further develop their expertise and enhance their contribution nationally and internationally to addressing the challenges at the forefront of their respective disciplines. Success within this very competitive programme will enable the awardees to progress to the next stage in their research trajectory, building their track record and positioning them to target future success in schemes such as those of the European Research Council.”


Successful Projects and Researchers  

The sixteen research projects and researchers receiving ALA funding are:


Physical Sciences and Engineering

  • Designing confined multiferroic topologies to explore relationships between magnetic and polar textures: Dr Lynette Keeney, University College Cork.
  • Arithmetic of critical p-adic L-functions — higher dimensional eigenvarieties: Associate Professor Kazim Buyukboduk, University College Dublin.
  • Privacy-responsive intelligent computer vision for in-device safe sensing and situational enhancement: Dr Peter Corcoran, University of Galway.
  • Q-series, quantum knot invariants and modularity: Associate Professor Robert Osburn, University College Dublin.



  • Tracing diatopic variation in a corpus of Old Irish: Professor David Stifter, Maynooth University.
  • Witnessing war, making peace: testimonies of revolution and restraint in inter-war Ireland: Dr Anne Dolan, Trinity College Dublin.
  • ‘The Disappearing Text’ — memory, place and Gaelic identities. The case of ‘Acallam na Senórach’ (‘The Dialogue of the Ancients’): Dr Kevin Murray, University College Cork.
  • Cromwellian Ireland and the transformation of the English Atlantic world: Professor Micheál Ó Siochrú, Trinity College Dublin.


Social Sciences

  • Migration and care — mobilising care for a new understanding of migration: Professor Mary Gilmartin, Maynooth University.
  • Sensory and predictive coding in tactile object perception and memory: Professor Fiona Newell, Trinity College Dublin.
  • Walking borders, risk and belonging — advances in ethno-mimetic research in the making and re-making of three European borders: Professor Maggie O’Neill, University College Cork.
  • A longitudinal investigation of DNA methylation as a mediator of socio-economic variation in health and longevity (socio-omics): Dr Cathal McCrory, Trinity College Dublin.


Life Sciences

  • Meiotic drive and evolution of pericentromeric genome organisation in budding yeasts: Professor Ken Wolfe, University College Dublin.
  • Episodic systemic tumour necrosis factor (TNF) alpha escalates brain inflammation and disrupts bioenergetic and cognitive function at the interface of dementia and delirium: Dr Colm Cunningham, Trinity College Dublin.
  • Multidimensional single cell in vivo metabolic flux analyses resolving immune cells based on metabolic activities at the site of disease: Dr David Finlay, Trinity College Dublin.
  • Molecular tuning of thresholds for translational control and long-term memory: Professor Mani Ramaswami, Trinity College Dublin.

Advanced Laureate Awardee List 2023

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