Minister of State for Trade, Employment, Business, EU Digital Single Market and Data Protection, Pat Breen TD, today announced a government investment of €10.8 million in research funding for 20 projects through Science Foundation Ireland’s (SFI) Starting Investigator Research Grant (SIRG). With awards ranging from €376,000 to €425,000 over four years, the projects funded will support 20 researchers and a further 20 PhD students.
Speaking of the awards, Minister Breen said: “I am delighted to announce these SFI Starting Investigator Awards which allow researchers to advance their work and further develop their careers as the next research leaders in Ireland and internationally. These innovative projects demonstrate the impressive cutting-edge research taking place across Ireland, which has significant potential to positively advance Ireland’s economy and society, and further solidify its reputation as a world-leader in scientific advancements.”
Welcoming the announcement, Professor Mark Ferguson, Director General of Science Foundation Ireland and Chief Scientific Adviser to the Government of Ireland said: “Science Foundation Ireland supports researchers at every stage of their careers. The SIRG awards help early-career researchers develop the essential skills and experience necessary to lead Ireland’s future research in areas such as health, energy, materials and technology. Having passed through a rigorous competitive international merit review process, these projects continue to advance Ireland’s international research reputation and I wish each awardee every success.”
Dr Chris Mark of iCRAG at UCD has been selected as an awardee for an SFI Starting Investigator Research Grant. The title of the project is "Advanced Geochronology of Earth-System Processes (Age-Pro): Constraining rates and dates of geological processes by novel U-Pb analysis", and is valued at €545,000 over four years. This project applies a novel mineral-dating approach to key geological questions. Uranium decays over time to lead. Importantly, lead becomes mobile when minerals are heated above a characteristic temperature by geological processes (e.g., granite intrusion), allowing the lead to diffuse towards the outside. Diffusion results in a decreasing amount of lead from the mineral core to the rim. Because the speed of lead loss is temperature-dependent, we can reconstruct the time-temperature history with diverse applications, e.g. solving the mystery of how continent-scale regions can be exhumed from 100km-depths; fingerprinting sediment from melting ice-caps; and dating the formation of gold deposits. As part of the award Chris will be hiring a PHD student. Details of this position are on the earthworks website.