Kilkenny scientist awarded €2m EU research grant

Kilkenny woman Aoife Gowen, a lecturer at Dublin Institute of Technology, has received a prestigious European Research Council (ERC) Starting Grant worth up to €2 million. The grants are awarded to pursue cutting-edge research in the fields of physical sciences and engineering.

Kilkenny woman Aoife Gowen, a lecturer at Dublin Institute of Technology, has received a prestigious European Research Council (ERC) Starting Grant worth up to €2 million. The grants are awarded to pursue cutting-edge research in the fields of physical sciences and engineering.

Aoife, from Shandon Park in the city, will begin her research on chemical imaging techniques which allow scientists to learn more about biodegradation, the compatability of materials for use in the human body and also how to limit fouling of marine equipment.

“Water has a profound effect on materials, changing their properties and behaviour,” Aoife explained. “Understanding how water interacts with surfaces will help in the design of better materials, and to create more resilient and flexible structures across a range of applications.”

“I am thrilled to be given this wonderful opportunity to establish my own research group and forge an important new research area in the EU,” she added. Her research project will begin in early 2014, and will last five year

Aoife attended the Loreto Secondary School, and achieved the best Leaving Certificate results in her class in 1996. Since then, she has completed an EU-funded Marie Curie research fellowship in Biosystems Engineer at University College Dublin, before becoming a lecturer in Environmental Health at Dublin Institute of Technology. She is one of only three Irish researchers to recieve the ERC grant, with David Hoey of the University of Limerick and Niamh Nowlan of Imperial College London also being chosen. They faced tough competition, with 3,329 research proposals being submitted in total, and only 9% of those applicants being successful. The Starting Grants are for researchers who have gained 2-7 years of experience.