Six university researchers awarded €2 million in grants

Sabrine Donohoe

Six researchers, including two from Trinity and one from UCD, have been awarded the EU Commission Consolidator Grants which are valued at €2 million.

Six researchers from Irish institutions won the 2018 Consolidator Grants awarded by the EU Commission (ERC), valued at ‎€2 million.

The prestigious awards will cover 5-year projects by the recipients, including Trinity College Dublin researchers Dr Aline Vidotto and Dr Laura Cleaver, and UCD researcher Dr Eoin Carolan.

TCD researchers have won half of all Consolidator Grants awarded to Irish researchers to date. Researchers from UCD, UCC, UL, Maynooth and The Royal College of Surgeons have also been recipients since the start of the programme in 2013.

Assistant Professor at the TCD School of Physics Dr Vidotto aims to determine the potential for life on exoplanets, planets which orbit stars outside the solar system, while Lecturer in Medieval Art Dr Cleaver aims will examine the trade in medieval manuscripts during the early 20th century by early collectors.

“I am absolutely thrilled to have won this ERC Consolidator Grant award… understanding the extreme environments of these exoplanetary atmospheres can shed some light in our big quest to understand the potential for exoplanets to develop life,” Dr Vidotto said in a press release.

“It is wonderful to receive such a vote of confidence from an international panel of senior colleagues and I am really looking forward to developing this research into some of Europe’s cultural treasures,” Dr Laura Cleaver said.

Associate Professor at the Sutherland School of Law Dr Carolan will research the effect of social and political trends on the separation of powers, and how governments respond to a lack of voter trust.

“I am really delighted and grateful to receive this ERC Consolidator Grant. I have always been interested in the separation of powers so it’s very exciting to have the opportunity and funding to undertake a major multi-disciplinary project in this area,” he said.

“By investigating what is happening on the ground in different countries, the project will show how constitutional systems are responding to the problems of public dissatisfaction and distrust… this knowledge is critical for the future of constitutionalism.”

A total of €573 million in Consolidator Grants have been awarded to 291 researchers across 20 countries, including Switzerland, Turkey and Israel. All applicants must have 7-12 years of post-doctorate experience in their field to be eligible.

The grant funding can reach €3.5 million for equipment and the employment of other staff and researchers.

“Irish universities have distinctive missions and emphasis and this is reflected in their research profile. For example, DCU has consistently led the sector in terms of research funding from industry. DCU has had success in the past in terms of the ERC starter grant and expects to announce further positive news in this regard in 2019,” said a DCU spokesperson.

By Sabrine Donohoe

Image credit: Alison Clair