Trinity researchers win Royal Society University Research Fellowships

Researchers from Trinity College Dublin have won three of the five prestigious Royal Society University Research Fellowships awarded in Ireland this year.

The University Research Fellowship programme, which is co-funded by Science Foundation Ireland, aims to provide outstanding early career scientists, who have the potential to become leaders in their chosen fields, with the opportunity to build an independent research career.

The newly appointed university research fellows at Trinity are Dr. John Goold (School of Physics), Dr. Richard Hobbs, and Dr. Aidan McDonald (both School of Chemistry).

Dr. Goold will be working on ‘thermodynamics for quantum technologies’.

Dr Goold said: “Thermodynamics is a theory with a remarkable range of applicability, successfully describing the properties of macroscopic systems ranging from refrigerators to black holes. With both the industrial and electronic revolutions behind us, we are currently pushing technology towards and beyond the microscopic scale to the border of where quantum mechanical effects prevail. Currently, there is a large multidisciplinary interest surrounding the thermodynamic description of non-equilibrium finite quantum systems from both a fundamental and applicative view point.”

“With this Royal Society-SFI University Fellowship I will undertake a program of research which aims at addressing several key problems which are at the heart of this rapidly developing field known as quantum thermodynamics.”

Dr. Hobbs received the award for his work on ‘Engineering energy transfer on the nanoscale at plasmonic surfaces’. Metal nanostructures provide a means to funnel energy carried by light into nanoscale volumes in materials where that energy may be used to drive electronic, thermal and chemical processes.

Their ability to manipulate light on the nanoscale and enhance light-matter interactions means that they are a material of considerable promise for applications in photochemistry and optoelectronics.

Dr Hobbs said: “The Royal Society-SFI University Research Fellowship will support my research at Trinity for the next five years. By hosting the fellowship at Trinity, I will have access to the fantastic state-of-the-art nanofabrication and electron microscopy facilities available through CRANN and AMBER. I am looking forward to collaborating with researchers at these centres and within the School of Chemistry to tackle big problems with nanomaterials.”

Dr McDonald’s research focuses on the chemistry of synthetic compounds that allow us to understand metal-containing enzymes that play a pivotal role in human health.

Dr McDonald said: The award of a Royal Society-SFI University Research Fellowship is a great honour for me, and is a result of the tremendous support that I have received from the School of Chemistry and AMBER research centre. The fellowship will support my research group’s work in fundamental Inorganic Chemistry towards designing powerful oxidation catalysts and elucidating metalloenzyme function.

Research Projects Officer at Trinity, Tony Flaherty, said: “This funding scheme has only recently been opened up to Irish applicants and the Research Development Office has put significant resources into supporting Trinity applications, including running dedicated workshops on grant writing with external experts.”

“We are delighted to see this level of success at such an early stage. We hope to build on this success in the coming years, and look forward to great things from our three new Royal Society Fellows.”