3 researchers in Ireland win top-up funding from EU

Ireland have performed very well in the latest competition of the European Research Council (ERC) for its top-up funding ‘Proof of Concept’ awards, with 3 out of a total of 34 going to researchers in Ireland. The 3 top level researchers are Frederic Dias, University College Dublin; John Nolan, Waterford Institute of Technology; and Debra Fern Laefer, University College Dublin.

EU Commissioner for Research, Innovation and Science Máire Geoghegan-Quinn said: “The funding announced today will help turn ideas into innovation. The ERC Proof of Concept grants encourage a new type of thinking amongst researchers, backing them to make the most of their blue sky research. This mindset will help European recovery and improve our quality of life.”

Frederic Dias

Measuring ‘rogue waves’ in extreme sea conditions
Recently, a new type of wave buoy reportedly measured a record wave height of 23.4 metres off the Northwestern coast of Ireland. Prof. Dias, an applied mathematician working in Ireland, aims to produce finely-attuned sensors for a similar buoy specially designed to measure such ‘rogue waves’ in extreme sea conditions. During his previous ERC project he studied the fundamental mechanisms underlying the physics of rogue waves – large coherent structures which emerge from a turbulent background. However, testing his theories about these structures proved more difficult, given the low reliability of conventional buoy measurements, especially in extreme conditions. So Dias has now secured a Proof-of-Concept grant to test his own measurement system, combining his research on the physics of extreme waves with the recent developments in buoy design, in order to optimise the new technology for waves of high amplitude and steepness. Commercial applications, if successful, would include marine renewable energies, shipping, marine forecasting, and ocean observation.
Host institution: University College Dublin, National University of Ireland

John Nolan

Better nutrition – better vision
Lutein (L), a compound which is entirely of dietary origin, is essential for optimal vision and protection against the world’s leading cause of blindness (age-related macular degeneration). Currently, the world’s L market depends solely on extraction of this carotenoid from the marigold flower head and is highly seasonal dependent. This project will develop a method of L production from an alternative source to help meet the growing global demand for L.
Host Institution: Waterford Institute of Technology

Debra Fern Laefer

Rethinking Tunnelling in Urban Neighbourhoods
The RETURNPOC project will develop an interface that will allow pointcloud data from both terrestrial and aerial laser scanners to be used directly as input for three-dimensional (3D) printers. The process will circumvent the costly and time-consuming manual steps currently required for surface generation in a computer-aided design (CAD) or CAD-compatible format.
Host Institution: University College Dublin, National University of Ireland

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