Four Irish-based researchers of Chemistry have been selected to travel to Lake Constance, Germany to attend the highly prestigious Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting. From June 30th to July 5th, these awardees will meet with more than 30 Nobel Prize Laureates from the field of Chemistry, as well as more than 600 other leading international scientists from nearly 80 countries.
Minister for Research and Innovation, Sean Sherlock, will present each of the four researchers with an award at the National Botanic Gardens today (Tuesday 28th May). Following this ceremony, the group will then travel to meet President Michael D. Higgins for a reception at Áras an Uachtaráin.
Launching Ireland’s first presentation of this award, the Irish Research Council ran a very competitive national contest to select awardees. The four successful researchers are Ross Driver (NUIM), Valerie Gerard (TCD), Daniele Lo Re (NUIG), and Tandra Ghoshal (UCC).
At the Lindau Meeting, 34 Nobel Laureates will reflect on current scientific topics such as green chemistry, chemical energy storage and conversion, and biochemical structures and processes and present relevant fields of research for the future.
A Memorandum of Understanding will be formally signed between the Lindau Foundation and the Irish Research Council, setting out a commitment to support the regular participation of young Irish researchers in these meetings over the coming years. The Irish Research Council supports individual research students across all disciplines and advises Government on research policy.
Minister Sherlock pointed out that
“the Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings provide a wonderful forum for inspiring and motivating young researchers and I am delighted to be able to present these awards to the first researchers from Ireland to attend this meeting. I am also delighted that the Irish Research Council will be signing a memorandum of understanding with the Lindau Foundation which will cement this relationship with Ireland and will provide opportunities for more researchers to become involved in the Lindau Meetings in the coming years.”
Chairperson of the Irish Research Council, Professor Orla Feely, said
“We are delighted to sponsor these four outstanding researchers to attend the Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting. They are an important symbol of the quality and excellence of research undertaken in Ireland and we are excited about their future contribution to Irish research.”
Nikolaus Turner, Managing Director of the Lindau Foundation, added:
“It is a great honour and a pleasure for us that the participation of promising young Irish scientists in the Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings has now been put on a firm footing. It has been our utmost concern that Ireland, a country with such a vital scientific landscape and exceptional academic history, will be represented in Lindau’s intergenerational and intercultural dialogue. By joining our global network of Academic Partners, the IRC interlinks with leading universities, prestigious academies of science, renowned research institutions, esteemed foundations and innovative enterprises – in order to educate, inspire and connect the next generation of leading scientists.
Ross Driver completed his B.Sc (Hons) in Chemistry with Pharmaceutical Chemistry at the National University of Ireland Maynooth (NUIM) in 2011, finishing first in his class. He was subsequently awarded funding for postgraduate study through the Irish Research Council’s EMBARK initiative. Ross is currently pursuing a PhD under the supervision of Dr. John Stephens at NUIM in the field of asymmetric organocatalysis, that is, the use of small organic molecules to enhance the rate of a reaction whilst inducing asymmetry within the products. Asymmetry within molecules deals with the important concept of chirality in chemistry. Chiral molecules in essence can exist in one of two forms, a left-handed and a right-handed form, each of which exhibit different biological properties. Chirality is of crucial importance within the pharmaceutical industry, a fact that is particularly evident in Irish society. Thalidomide was sold in Ireland until as late as the mid-sixties as a mixture of its left-handed and right-handed components, one of which eased morning sickness of expectant mothers, and the other which caused birth defects in the developing foetus.
Tandra Ghoshal studied Physics at Burdwan University, (India) and received a Master’s degree in 2002. She completed B.Ed. (Sc.) from Burdwan University, (India) in 2004. In 2009, she received her PhD in Materials Science at Jadavpur University, Kolkata (India) for her work on the synthetic methods and physical properties of nanostructured metals and metal oxides. She is currently working as a post doctorate in the Department of Chemistry, University College Cork and has just been appointed as a senior fellow at the University. Advances in nanoscience and nanotechnology have increasing impact on our daily lives. Most prevalent is the development of modern computer and communication technologies where relentless device miniaturisation has enabled ever more powerful and energy efficient computing, higher capacity storage devices and portable electronics. Tandra is exploring how this can be done in a more cost effective manner.
Valerie Gerard graduated in engineering from Ecole Centrale de Lille (France) and then completed a Masters in Science in Medical Diagnostics in Cranfield University (UK). After working as a science and technology deputy attaché in the French Embassy in Singapore for a year, Valerie came to Ireland in 2009 to join Prof. Gun’ko’s research group in Trinity College Dublin and work on the synthesis and in vitro testing of nanoparticles for the diagnosis and treatment of cancer. Through the use of quantum dots, tiny particles that emit light assist in developing targeted chemotherapy with much reduced side effects. Valerie completed her Doctorate this year.
Daniele Lo Re received his MSc in Chemical and Pharmaceutical Technology at the University of Ferrara (Italy). He obtained his Doctorate at the University of Granada (Spain), where he examined the preparation and biological evaluation of iminosugars: a valuable class of compounds that can be used in the treatment of diabetes, Gaucher’s diseas and Fabry’s disease. In January 2011, he joined the group of Prof. Paul V. Murphy at the National University of Ireland, Galway as a Postdoctoral Researcher and is now working on the discovery of new drugs against Multi Drug Resistance (MDR), a phenomenon that has made many of the available anticancer drugs ineffective.
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