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Walsh Fellowships Seminar

The Teagasc Walsh Fellowship Seminar is taking place in the RDS, Dublin, today Thursday, 11 November as part of Teagasc’s Science Week 2010 activities. At the annual seminar, young researchers showcase their findings from their research and the potential impact that the Walsh fellowship scheme, Teagasc and other third level partners can have on the agri-food sector. The research presented covers a wide range of topics in animal, crop, food, environmental sciences and rural economics.

The theme of this year’s seminar is "The Walsh Fellowship Scheme's contribution to delivering the vision for the agri-food sector outlined in the Food Harvest 2020 report. Opening the seminar, Teagasc Director, Professor Gerry Boyle said; “This vision is based on two key actions - acting smart and thinking green to achieve the ambitious growth targets for the agri-food sector. The importance of innovation, to use new and existing knowledge, to drive profitability and sustainability in the sector is now more important than ever. Success in this new and very competitive environment depends on primary producers and processors being smarter and greener in terms of the range of products and services required by increasingly aware consumers."

This year's winner of the Walsh Fellowships seminar and winner of the RDS medal is Michelle Whelan, who presented a paper on 'Determination of anthelmintic residues in milk using UPLC-MS/MS with rapid polarity switching'. A new analytical method for determining the major classes of anthelmintic drug residues in milk was developed. Michelle Whelan is a Walsh Fellow at the Teagasc Food Research Centre, Ashtown, supervised by Dr Ambrose Furey, Cork Institute of Technology and Dr Martin Danaher, Teagasc.

The winner of the best poster was Burkart Dieterich for his poster on 'Fertiliser value and environmental impact of digestate application on permanent grassland'. Burkart is a Walsh Fellow at the Teagasc Crops, Environment and Land Use Research and Innovation Centre at Oak Park, Carlow. His supervisors are Dr Tamara Hochstrasser, University College Dublin and Dr John Finnan, Teagasc.

This year for the first time a President’s medal donated by The Institute of Food Science and Technology Ireland (IFSTI) was presented to the best food science and technology presentation. This was won by Michelle Whelan, who also won the overall award for best presentation. Gráinne Kavanagh, received an award for second place in this category for her presentation entitled: 'Technological innovation: investing in the future sustainability of the Irish food industry'. Both researchers received one year's free membership to the IFSTI from its President, Rory Ryan.

Professor Gerald Fitzgerald, Professor of Food Microbiology, UCC, delivered the keynote address to the seminar. He stressed the importance of people and the development of human capital as key drivers in developing the innovative smart economy. He said; "The smart economy applies as much to the agri-food sector as other high value sectors areas in Ireland, perhaps even more so because it is such a large indigenous industry, contributing €24 billion to the economy annually. Teagasc Walsh Fellows are operating at the very cutting edge of knowledge. If we are seen as being the best we can act as a magnet to attract inward investment to Ireland".

Professor Fitzgerald highlighted the significant contribution the Walsh Fellowships Programme has made to generating real links to the food industry, highlighting that cheese and probiotic products generated from research performed by Walsh Fellows are now on the marketplace. Professor Fitzgerald acknowledged that the third-level sector is a major beneficiary of the Walsh Fellowship programme and said that the programme has had a formative role in the new UCC/Teagasc Strategic Alliance launched last April.

Chairman, RDS Committee of Agriculture & Rural Affairs, Jim Flanagan, with Michelle Whelan, Ashtown Food Research Centre, Walsh Fellow of the Year and winner of the RDS medal, and Teagasc Director Professor Gerry Boyle. Michelle received the award for her research work and paper on Determination of anthelmintic residues in milk using UPLC-MS/MS with rapid polarity switching.
Photo: John Ohle Photography