Professor Anna Davies wins Irish Research Council Impact Award 2023
Posted: 22 December, 2023
Professor Anna Davies (Centre) collects her trophy from Peter Brown, Irish Research Council Director (L) and Professor Daniel Carey, Chair of the IRC (R) at the joint IRC-SFI Research Summit 2023 in Cork.
Professor of Geography, Environment and Society at Trinity College Dublin (TCD), Anna Davies, was awarded this year’s Irish Research Council, Researcher of the Year Impact Award. The Impact Award is presented to a current or former Irish Research Council awardee who is making a highly significant impact outside of academia.
Professor Davies’ research focus is on facilitating action for a more sustainable society at international, EU, national and community levels.
Professor Davies is a previous winner of the overall IRC Researcher of the Year award, which she received in 2018 for her work in environmental governance and sustainability.
She is a three-time recipient of Irish Research Council Humanities and Social Sciences (IRCHSS) funding awards for sustainability projects, including a Thematic Project Grant in 2008, a Fellowship in 2004, and a Small Project Grant in 2003.
Nationally, her work has been influential on advising government policy, for example as an independent member of Ireland’s National Economic Social Council (2011-2015) and Ireland’s Climate Change Advisory Council.
She is the current chair of the Rediscovery Centre, which is Ireland’s National Centre for the Circular Economy, for supporting greener, low carbon living through, for example, the provision of education courses, community and citizen engagement.
Globally, Professor Davies led the UN Science and Technology Working Group’s report on sustainability at the UN High Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development, and she was a lead co-author of UNESCO’s report on the role of universities in achieving sustainability.
Locally, she has supported households, schools and communities, in Ireland and overseas, to better understand and engage with sustainability transitions. This includes co-designing and delivering the online Climate Smart Transition Year module, including the award winning “digital serious” iAdapt game, to more than 1,000 students across Ireland since 2022.
“Digital serious” games are computer games that are used in formal learning. The iAdapt game challenges players to take on the role of the Mayor of Dublin, who is tasked with preparing, consulting and implementing plans to protect the city from flooding, all while keeping citizens happy and staying within budget.
Professor Davies is Principal Investigator of the European Research Council-supported Share City project, which mapped food sharing initiatives across 100 cities and then worked in-depth with these initiatives, local authorities and food retailers to co-design an open-source sustainability impact toolkit titled Share It. She has also led the development of an interactive “ShareCity100” platform for the social innovation project, which documents and connects more than 4000 food sharing initiatives across 100 cities.
This year, she was awarded ERC “proof of concept” add-on funding for extending the Share City project by a further 12 months.
Due to the high standard of entries this year, the independent judging panel made two commendations in this category. They were to: Dr Barry McDermott, Relevium Medical, and Dr Ian Marder, Maynooth University.
Dr Barry McDermott is co-founder and chief technology officer of Relevium Medical, a pharmaceutical company focused on developing treatments for chronic pain caused by knee osteoarthritis. He received a New Foundations award from IRC in 2020 with the project, ‘Novel low-cost, robust device for prevention and treatment of Post-Partum Haemorrhage in low-resource settings’.
He is an entrepreneur in residence at the BioInnovate Institute innovation hub at the University of Galway, where he mentors med-tech and pharma start-ups. Dr McDermott. holds a Ph.D. in Medical Device Engineering and has professional degrees in Pharmacy from TCD, Veterinary Medicine from University College Dublin (UCD) and in Engineering from the University of Galway.
Dr McDermott lends his expertise as a member of the European Commission expert panel on medical devices. He also acts as an expert in a method of medical imaging called electrical impedance tomography to a wide range of Irish med-tech companies, including Endowave, Aurigen Medical and Kite Medical, who have integrated this technology into their products.
When asked what attracted him to his area of study, Dr McDermott said, “My drive to work in the fields of med-tech and pharmaceuticals stems from a deep interest from childhood in all things based on science and engineering. Additionally, I’ve a deeply rooted desire to improve patient outcomes and to bridge the gap between scientific discovery and real-world medical uses. My unique cross-disciplinary perspective allows me to approach these problems holistically and at the intersection of these different fields.”
Dr Ian Marder is Assistant Professor in Criminology at the School of Law and Criminology at Maynooth University. He also serves as Director of Outreach and Engagement for the Maynooth School of Law and Criminology. Dr Marder’s work is focused on developing restorative justice, which is an intervention for reducing crime and helping victims of crime. Dr Marder received a New Foundations award in 2021 for his project entitled, ‘Using restorative approaches to build understanding between young adults of African descent and Gardaí’.
He has acted as a Council of Europe scientific expert, writing the Council of Ministers’ Recommendation concerning restorative justice in criminal matters, which is the European legal framework in this field. He also established Restorative Justice: Strategies for Change, which is a five-year project, with 40 academic, policymaker and practitioner partners in 10 countries, which aims to encourage the development of restorative justice in Europe. The work of this project has seen partner countries reform laws, such as Italy, create new services, such as Scotland, and create national institutes, such as The Czech Institute for Restorative Justice. Dr Marder closely supported the work in these countries by delivering lectures and strategy development workshops with national policymakers in each of them.
When asked what drives him to do work in this area, Dr Marder said: “Transforming criminal justice so that it meets people’s needs is both possible and necessary. There is so much to learn from research evidence and from Irish and international experiences. I try to bring researchers together with civil society, policy and practice to work out collectively what needs to happen and the best ways to move forward.”