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Irish Marine Scientists Receive More Recognition

8th February 2013
Irish Marine Scientists Receive More Recognition

#marinescience – Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Richard Bruton TD and Minister for Research and Innovation, Sean Sherlock TD, have announced funding totalling €60m dedicated to 85 pioneering research initiatives writes Cushla Dromgool-Regan.  These awards, administered via Science Foundation Ireland's (SFI) Investigator Programme, include three major awards to support Irish marine science research.

Speaking of the announcement, Minister Sean Sherlock said that over the past decade, Ireland had invested heavily in R&D and that the rewards were clearly visible.  "What is particularly heartening about the announcement is that much of this excellent research, which was selected competitively following international peer review, and is being done in collaboration with companies that are seeking to find new products and services, including IBM Ireland, Intel Ireland, HP, EMC and Bord Gáis."

Dr Peter Heffernan, CEO of the Marine Institute congratulated Dr Dagmar Stengel of the National University of Ireland-Galway, Dr Jens Carlsson of University College Cork and Dr Nicolas Touzet of IT Sligo for their "excellent performance" in securing research funds from this highly competitive SFI scheme. "The three marine-based projects are recognition of the internationally-ranked quality of these Irish marine research scientists and the relevance of their work to Irish industry. These projects are particularly relevant to firms that seek to develop value-added products based on marine biological resources and are a boost for Ireland's marine research community. "

Dr Heffernan also highlighted the significance of these awards to Ireland's Integrated Marine Plan, Harnessing Our Ocean Wealth, saying "each project will deliver new knowledge that supports the plan's goals for a thriving maritime economy and healthy ecosystems."

Two of the researchers had previously been funded by the Marine Institute. Dr Carlsson worked on the Fish Population Genetics project supported by the Beaufort Marine Science Award, and a project led by Dr Stengel, Phlorotannins in Irish Brown Seaweed - Investigations of their UV-protective - Effects and Potential as Natural Sunscreens was funded under the NDP awards 2000-2006.  Dr Stengel is currently a Principal Investigator on the MI/DAFM co-funded NutraMara marine functional foods project.

The SFI award to Dr. Carlsson of €194,498 will support the project, Taxonomy and connectivity of animal species at the Moytirra hydrothermal vent field: developing methods for assessing ecological impacts of mineral extraction in the deep-sea. This builds on the VENTuRE expedition—led by University College Cork, funded by the Marine Institute andinvolving RV Celtic Explorer— which discovered the Moytirra hydrothermalvent field in July 2011.

Dr Stengel received an award of €244,782 to support her project, Iodine in commercially valuable Irish seaweeds: variability, pathways, and implications for industrial applications.

Dr. Nicolas Touzet received an award of €380,000 for the METALGAE project, which will focus on investigating the diversity of microalgae from marine, estuarine and freshwater environments in western Ireland to identify and culture, under controlled conditions, the species with high potential for market-targeted biotechnological applications.

Published in Marine Science Team

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Marine Science Perhaps it is the work of the Irish research vessel RV Celtic Explorer out in the Atlantic Ocean that best highlights the essential nature of marine research, development and sustainable management, through which Ireland is developing a strong and well-deserved reputation as an emerging centre of excellence. From Wavebob Ocean energy technology to aquaculture to weather buoys and oil exploration these pages document the work of Irish marine science and how Irish scientists have secured prominent roles in many European and international marine science bodies.


At A Glance – Ocean Facts

  • 71% of the earth’s surface is covered by the ocean
  • The ocean is responsible for the water cycle, which affects our weather
  • The ocean absorbs 30% of the carbon dioxide added to the atmosphere by human activity
  • The real map of Ireland has a seabed territory ten times the size of its land area
  • The ocean is the support system of our planet.
  • Over half of the oxygen we breathe was produced in the ocean
  • The global market for seaweed is valued at approximately €5.4 billion
  • · Coral reefs are among the oldest ecosystems in the world — at 230 million years
  • 1.9 million people live within 5km of the coast in Ireland
  • Ocean waters hold nearly 20 million tons of gold. If we could mine all of the gold from the ocean, we would have enough to give every person on earth 9lbs of the precious metal!
  • Aquaculture is the fastest growing food sector in the world – Ireland is ranked 7th largest aquaculture producer in the EU
  • The Atlantic Ocean is the second largest ocean in the world, covering 20% of the earth’s surface. Out of all the oceans, the Atlantic Ocean is the saltiest
  • The Pacific Ocean is the largest ocean in the world. It’s bigger than all the continents put together
  • Ireland is surrounded by some of the most productive fishing grounds in Europe, with Irish commercial fish landings worth around €200 million annually
  • 97% of the earth’s water is in the ocean
  • The ocean provides the greatest amount of the world’s protein consumed by humans
  • Plastic affects 700 species in the oceans from plankton to whales.
  • Only 10% of the oceans have been explored.
  • 8 million tonnes of plastic enter the ocean each year, equal to dumping a garbage truck of plastic into the ocean every minute.
  • 12 humans have walked on the moon but only 3 humans have been to the deepest part of the ocean.

(Ref: Marine Institute)

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