BiOrbic Researcher of the Year Awards 2021

While 2021 provided new challenges for all with the additional lockdowns this year, once again, our researchers have proved themselves more than capable through their commitment, creativity, and positive attitudes towards the Centre and their research, throughout another tough year. To recognise their achievements and celebrate the researchers continued dedication to their world changing work, BiOrbic had its annual Researcher of the Year Awards last week.

BiOrbic staff were asked to nominate outstanding members of the Centre in three categories; the Postgraduate Researcher of the Year, the Postdoctoral Researcher of the Year, and the Education and Public Engagement Award, the final award being a new category introduced this year. The winners were announced by the Centre Director Prof Kevin O’Connor at the BiOrbic Centre’s Christmas Party which took place online this year. With 20 individual nominations for our Researchers of the Year awards it shows just how much talent we have in the BiOrbic Centre. It was an extremely tough decision for the judges as each of the candidates nominated were outstanding!  

The winner of the Postdoctoral Researcher of the Year was Dr. Sorcha Daly, with Dr. Federico Cerrone and Dr. Saranya Rameshkumar as runners-up.  Sorcha is currently working as a postdoc with Prof Eoin Casey in the selective separation platform examining waste gas separation & conversion processes using membranes and separately, production of lactic acid from a waste energy source. She was nominated for not only her research which has led her to both publishing a paper earlier this year and presenting her research at the Euromembranes 2021 conference in Denmark this month but also her work outside of her research. She is the Postdoctoral Officer at the BiOrbic PhD/Postdoctoral Committee identifying training needs within the postdoctoral community as well as raising awareness of support mechanisms for postdocs and she also led a public engagement activity in Galway, teaching kids about microplastics.

The winner of the Postgraduate Researcher of the Year was Ciara Lynch, with Kieran Harrahil and Viruja Ummat as runners-up. Ciara is an Atoms-to-Products CDT Student currently undertaking a PhD in Biotechnology, under the BiOrbic Conversion platform, researching the production of valuable protein products using bacterial hosts. Nominators spoke highly of how enthusiastic, inquisitive, and eager Ciara is to share her knowledge to help others. She has participated in conferences such as FEBS Young Scientist Forum, FEBS 45th Congress, Conway Research Festival, and the SFI Summit with poster presentations and associated in each. She’s been the lead on writing a collaborative paper on science communication in online media with co-authors from 5 other countries which is currently out for review with Research 4 All. As well as all this, she has been the chair of the BiOrbic EDI committee for the past 6 months.

The winner of the EPE Researcher of the Year was Léa Braud, with Ciara Lynch and Manuel Bruch as runners-up.  Léa Braud is a PhD Researcher in the UCD School of Biosystems and Food Engineering with her research focusing on the environmental, social, and economic impact assessment of phycocyanin production from Arthrospira platensis (i.e. Spirulina) in a concept of biorefinery.  Proponents of Léa commented on how brilliant she is at breaking down complex topics into accessible language and clear visuals for students. She’s well able to handle all kinds of audience group… whether it’s keeping the attention of extremely excitable primary school children or remaining professional and in charge with a group of cheeky transition year lads. As well as this, she has not only taken the initiative to organise her own EPE through the Native Scientist scheme but has also become a leader, encouraging and facilitating others to join in.

All the researchers in BiOrbic are extremely talented and dedicated to their research. All the candidates nominated were strong. Besides their academic excellence and achievements these were overall comments made about all the nominees: Great team spirit; Go out of their way to help and offer support to others; Generous with their time / great mentors; Organise activities to get the team together. All in all, there’s an overwhelming feeling of community in the Centre!

Congrats to all the following candidates who were nominated!

PD researcher:
Federico Cerrone
Saranya Rameshkumar

PhD researcher:
Andrew Neill
Burcu Akkoyunlu
Declan Galvin
Kieran Harrahill
Lea Braud
Manuel Bruch
Morgan Morris
Nishtha Talwar
Viruja Ummat

Ciara Lynch
Laura Healy
Manuel Bruch
Morgan Morris
Rituparna Duarah
Saranya Rameshkumar

After the award ceremony the Centre celebrated the Christmas season with an intense table quiz where with one point in the difference, the Sleigh Bells of Yvonne McQuinn, Tricia Walker, Sorcha Daly, Rosanna Kleemann and Raphael Abolivier were crowned the winners.

Thanks to everyone for coming to the event, for Melanie Baur and the Ops Team for organising, and congratulations again to all the winners. It was a successful 2021, and here’s looking towards 2022!

Pictured in Cover Photo (L-R): Postdoctoral winner, Sorcha Daly, PhD student winner, Ciara Lynch, and EPE winner, Léa Braud