The 2020 President’s Awards for Research and Impact were presented to recipients from across the university who have been involved in ground-breaking research in areas including early childhood development, breast cancer treatment, water quality and neurodiversity.
The President's Awards for Research are presented for outstanding achievement and research excellence over an extended period, while the President's Awards for Impact are presented in recognition of research work, often a single project, that has had a significant impact on society.
This year's recipients of the President's awards for Research were as follows:
Professor Fiona Regan, School of Chemical Sciences, has made extensive outstanding contributions to Irish society and internationally, through her impactful research outputs, her outstanding research leadership and research outputs in water science and technology, focused on solutions to issues of far-reaching economic, environmental and societal benefit. This includes ground breaking and impactful work into bio-inspired materials for biofilm prevention in the water environment for which she has received international recognition.
Professor Sharon O’Brien, School of Applied Language and Intercultural Studies, who is known internationally for her pioneering research in two areas of translation studies. Sharon has made serious and lasting theoretical and methodological contributions to the field of translation technology and more recently has blazed a trail in the area of translation in crises. Prof O’Brien has played a lead role in a Horizon 2020-funded Network known as INTERACT, which raises awareness of the need for translation and interpreting in crisis communication, and creates resources that will help improve outcomes for those who experience disasters. The network has also found direct application in the international response to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Based in the School of Theology, Philosophy, and Music, Dr Garrick Allen is a specialist in the writings of the New Testament with a focus on the historical reception and use of these texts. Garrick has had tremendous success in securing funding for cutting-edge research projects, including recently being awarded a European Research Council grant to explore Titles in the New Testament Manuscripts and a significant grant from the Templeton Religion Trust to collaborate with the Chester Beatty Library to explore its manuscripts.
Professor James Kelly, School of History and Geography, has established himself as one of the pre-eminent historians of early modern Ireland. Few historians working today have done more to excavate the history of eighteenth and early nineteenth-century Ireland. James has illuminated many of the overlapping political and social changes that characterised Ireland in that era, and his work has shaped the historiography of Ireland.
This year's recipients of the President's Awards for Impact were:
Professor John Crown, Thomas Baldwin Chair for Translational Oncology, for his work at the National Institute for Cellular Biotechnology (NICB) and DCU’s School of Biotechnology to improve the treatment options available to women with metastatic HER2-positive breast cancer. Under his leadership, a new drug combination to treat women with this type of breast cancer, that is based on prior preclinical studies from the Cancer Clinical Research Trust (CCRT) research team based in the NICB, has entered clinical development in a recently opened Phase 1 clinical trial named CAROLINE-1. The CAROLINE-1 study received support from The Caroline Foundation and Puma Biotechnology Inc.
Dr Sarahjane Belton, Head of School of Health and Human Performance, who has undertaken research of the highest standard to examine the role of physical activity and physical education on the health of Irish school children. Sarahjane’s work has had the effect of raising scientific understanding and changing practitioners' understanding to create impactful changes on children’s lives on a day-to-day basis, increasing uptake of physical activity both within and outside of schools, and improving the health status of our children.
Professor Mathias Urban’s work has had global impact, as evidenced by the lead authorship of the 2018 (Argentina), 2019 (Japan) and 2020 (Saudi Arabia) G20/T20 early childhood development, education and care policy briefs. Among the strengths of his work is his ability to lead international collaborative research teams, which in turn advances the international profile of the Early Childhood Research Centre, at the DCU Institute of Education. His work will continue to impact positively on the lives of children and families, especially those at risk of educational inequality where children are most vulnerable.
Dr Martin Brown’s research at the School of Policy and Practice in DCU’s Institute of Education has informed practice to enhance the quality of education in networked schools and communities. A true servant of school improvement, Martin has opened pathways across our province and has provided a blueprint for future engagement at all levels.
Dr Mary Rose Sweeney’s research has contributed greatly beyond academia to provide a greater understanding of neurodiversity for employers. Her research and contribution on the ‘Toolkit for Neurodiversity in the workplace’ is aimed at providing a greater awareness on neuro-inclusive hiring practices, removing the barriers to success for neuro-diverse candidates. Employers are increasingly recognising neurodiversity as an asset and not a deficiency. Led by Mary Rose at the School of Nursing, Psychotherapy and Community Health, this important work with industry partners will continue into 2021 and beyond.
Speaking at the event, Professor Brian MacCraith, said:
“At a time when the role and benefits of state investment in universities worldwide is under scrutiny, today’s ceremony the importance of scholarship and research in not only illuminating fundamental issues of the human condition but also in creating knowledge and developing insight can advance society in all its dimensions. Today’s award-winners demonstrated the depth and breadth of research at DCU, and highlighted the direct impact that high quality research can have on society.”
A recording of this event is available to view on https://www.dcu.ie/research/presidentsawards