The awardees were announced by the Minister of the Department of Foreign affairs and Trade, Charlie Flanagan. He announced the winners along with Mr. Reece Smyth who is the current Chargé d’affaires of the US embassy in Ireland last week.
The winners are from 15 HEIs across the country and will go to the top institutions in the US to study and collaborate with experts in their chosen fields.
They will also be given the role of cultural Ambassadors in the US before their return to Irish shores to share knowledge learned.
The application process for these awards ensured only the most successful candidates were chosen, and the ones who showed how their work can act positively in society.
The Fulbright-Teagasc Awardee is Ms Jaswinder Kaur, a PhD candidate with the Shannon Applied Biotechnology Centre at Limerick Institute of Technology. She will be based at Michigan State University, investigating the use of genome sequences of fungi and identifying crucial genes responsible for the production of putative enzymes for industrial applications.
Another successful candidate, and recipient of the prestigious Fulbright Scholar Award was Dr Laura Devaney. Laura is a postdoctoral researcher in the Department of Agri-food Business and Spatial Analysis in Teagasc.
In her work with Teagasc, Dr Devaney examines development pathways for the Irish and European bio economy working as part of the widely publicised Department of Agriculture Food and Marine funded BioÉire project https://www.teagasc.ie/publications/2017/bioeire-results-launch.php and, most recently, the EU-funded CASA project.
Using renewable biological resources to meet future food, feed, fuel and fibre needs, development of the bio economy holds potential to reduce Ireland’s over-reliance on fossil fuels and control environmental impact whilst still achieving economic growth.
The use of agricultural crops for biochemical productions, marine discard for food and feed purposes, forestry residues for decentralised heat generation and agricultural and food waste for bioenergy creation are among the value chains identified for Ireland.
Before beginning her work in Teagasc, Laura was awarded a PhD from the Department of Geography, Trinity College Dublin, where she also worked and lectured for two years in the area of environmental geography and sustainable consumption.
Laura has been chosen to travel to UC Berkeley for her Fulbright-EPA scholarship to research the development and governance of the US bioeconomy.
Speaking of the award, Dr. Devaney spoke of her honour at receiving the award, before adding her excitement to get out to America and get started.
She said “I am honoured to have received this prestigious Fulbright scholarship to progress my work on the bioeconomy and share international learnings in this important and burgeoning arena. My research has always concerned the transition to, and governance of, a more sustainable future for society, making the Fulbright sponsorship by the EPA for this bioeconomy work all the more special and appropriate. Developing the global bioeconomy will require international learning, exchange and partnership, in keeping with the ethos and founding intentions of the Fulbright Awards. I look forward to my visit to the US to share international bioeconomy best practice on both sides of the Atlantic”.
Dr. Maeve Henchion, Teagasc, spoke of Dr. Devaneys award “We are delighted that one of our researchers has secured this prestigious international scholarship to progress the fundamental bioeconomy research undertaken in Teagasc. Laura’s work on BioÉire has fed directly into the development of the national bioeconomy policy statement for Ireland and I look forward to her return from the US to share her experience and learnings. This research visit is particularly timely given the increase in national bioeconomy policy development worldwide. Given the potential for vested and competing interests in the bioeconomy, mitigating any power and politics in this policy process is crucial, as Laura’s research will explore.”
This year the Fulbright Program celebrated 60 years of educational and cultural exchange between Ireland and the US.
The Program is now established in over 160 countries globally, providing a fantastic international network for Fulbright Awardees and Alumni.
Ms. Kaur’s and Dr. Devaney’s travel to the US thus represents only the first step in establishing fruitful, professional collaborations between Teagasc and the US that will benefit global bioeconomy development for many decades to come.