Trinity professor awarded Researcher of the Year

Aoife O'Brien

Professor John Boland from Trinity won Researcher of the Year at the Science Foundation Ireland for his work around artificial intelligence. Image Credit: Alison Clair

A world leading researcher on nanoscale materials from Trinity College (TCD) has received the Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) Researcher of the Year 2018 award.

Professor John Boland of TCD and the SFI-funded AMBER research centre received the award for his accomplishments as an SFI-funded researcher who has contributed significantly to the Irish research community throughout 2018 and his career.

Boland came to TCD as an SFI Research Professor following his BSc degree from University College Dublin and PhD from the California Institute of Technology. He has since received three SFI Investigator awards and is Ireland’s first Advanced ERC grant awardee in the Physical Sciences. His current research involves the electrical and mechanical properties of nanoscale materials, and the exploitation of nanoscale connectivity in device applications.

He is a leading researcher on neuromorphic computers, which are predicted to power the next evolution in artificial intelligence and machine learning.

At the core of these computers are nanowire networks, which mimic the singular and multiple connectivity pathways found in the human brain. They will have the ability to carry out ultra-fast sensory processing, image recognition, and motor control, prompting movement tasks which are natural to the human brain.

“These results point to the possibility of developing and independently addressing memory levels in complex systems, which we expect to have important implications for computers that operate in a more brain-like fashion,” Boland said.

The next goal of the research is to understand how to engineer this single or multi-path behaviour, and to develop systems for cognitive signal processing and decision-making.

On receiving the accolade, Prof Boland said “I am delighted to accept this award from Science Foundation Ireland.

“Being recognised as Researcher of the Year is no small accolade and I am deeply honoured to receive it. Alongside my own work on nanoscale material,s there are many diverse research projects ongoing across Ireland, and it is wonderful to see representatives from those being recognised.”

Acknowledging the 11 award winners, Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation, Ms Heather Humphreys TD, said: “I am pleased to see the outstanding work of the Irish research community acknowledged through these SFI Science Awards….their discoveries will bring economic growth and societal development in Ireland.”

Aoife O’Brien

Image Credit: Alison Clair