Second NUI Galway researcher wins ‘Medal of Excellence’ award for being top-ranked postdoctoral researcher in STEM at the Irish Research Council 2019 Awards.

Dr Harold Berjamin, right, receives his award from Prof Thomas Mitchell, former provost and president, TCD.

Laoise McNamara, professor in biomedical engineering at NUI Galway, was awarded ‘Researcher of the Year’ for her research in bone mechanobiology and osteoporosis, at the Irish Research Council 2019 Researcher of the Year awards, which were held recently.

President Michael D Higgins was guest of honour and presented the winners with their awards.

Laoise McNamara, professor in biomedical engineering at NUI Galway.

Prof McNamara is also the vice-dean for recruitment and internationalisation for the College of Engineering and Informatics at NUI Galway.

At the interface of engineering and biology

Prof McNamara’s research in bone mechanobiology is at the interface of engineering and biology and informs medical device design. Her work seeks to understand how the mechanobiology process is changed in osteoporosis, a disease which affects bone mass, and in cancer metastasis to bone.

The Irish Research Council also presented ‘Medals of Excellence’ to four early-stage researchers. Each of the 'Medals of Excellence' have been named after previous chairs of the Irish Research Council and recognise excellence in the 2019 postgraduate and postdoctoral funding calls run by the council in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) and the arts, humanities and social sciences (AHSS).

Dr Harold Berjamin, an Irish Research Council postdoctoral fellow from the School of Mathematics, Statistics and Applied Mathematics at NUI Galway, was awarded the ‘Thomas Mitchell Medal of Excellence’ for being the top-ranked postdoctoral researcher in the STEM category.

Modelling of acoustic waves in brain matter

Dr Berjamin’s research in Professor Michel Destrade’s group is based on the modelling of acoustic waves in brain matter. The goal of this project is to get closer to realistic simulations of traumatic brain injuries.

President Higgins has made research and education one of the key themes of his presidency, championing the importance of cultivating independent thought and academic freedom.

The president has continued to emphasise the crucial role that universities and research institutes can play in crafting a global response to the great global challenges of our time.

Prof Lokesh Joshi, vice-president for research at NUI Galway, said: “The Irish Research Council has made significant investments in our research community at NUI Galway.

NUI Galway’s exceptional research strengths

"This annual awards ceremony identifies excellence at the highest level in research and highlights NUI Galway’s exceptional research strengths in the STEM fields of biomedical engineering and mathematics. I congratulate Laoise and Harold on their awards and their outstanding contribution to research.”

Chair of the Irish Research Council, Prof Jane Ohlmeyer said: “Prof Laoise McNamara’s work demonstrates the breadth of excellent research that is being carried out in Ireland – the impact of which ripples through multiple aspects of Irish life. I warmly congratulate Laoise on her outstanding track record to date, and on receiving the Irish Research Council Researcher of the Year award.”

Peter Brown, director of the Irish Research Council, said: “The council is unique in that it funds research across all disciplines and supporting research that addresses major societal challenges is a key priority for us.

"We must never forget the importance that world class research talent has on our economy and our society. Over the last 20 years, the council has made a significant impact in establishing a vibrant research community in Ireland by investing in exceptional researchers at all stages of their careers.

"We look forward to building on our achievements to date with the launch of a new five-year strategy next year.”

The Irish Research Council awards ceremony commended the very best of the council’s awardees and alumni working in academia, industry, civic society and the public sector.