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Walsh Scholars: The Next Generation

The Teagasc Walsh Scholars Gold Medal was awarded to Meritxell Grau from Teagasc’s Crops, Environment and Land Use Programme. The Gold Medal award was presented at the online event - Walsh Scholars: The Next Generation, which took place today, Thursday, 5th November, and recognises the top Walsh Scholar of the year

The online event, hosted by Sharon Ní Bheoláin, was a showcase of Teagasc’s leading postgraduate agri-food research. Attendees learnt about the Walsh Scholarships Programme and heard about some of the fascinating studies by final year Scholars.

Teagasc Director of Research, Professor Frank O’Mara, said: ‘The Programme’s mission is to provide the sector with a pipeline of talent, ‘the next generation’ of leaders in agri-food research, advisory and education. We currently have more than 250 Scholars pursuing a PhD or Master’s. The majority are funded by Teagasc, with others supported nationally by DAFM’s FIRM, Stimulus and CoFoRD Programmes, SFI, EPA and internationally by EU’s Horizon funding streams.’

He said: ‘Our Scholars are carrying out research projects that seek to find the knowledge and innovation needed to drive advancements across all levels of the agri-food sector. It is inspiring for us to hear from some of our final year Scholars today and I hope that this attracts others watching to apply for a Scholarship.’

Professor O’Mara congratulated Meritxell Grau on being awarded the Walsh Scholars Gold Medal.  Meritxell’s research project is examining the effect soil pH and phosphorus has on the microbial communities emitting nitrous oxide (N2O), a potent greenhouse gas. To reduce N2O emissions, she hopes that the research will highlight the most suitable soil management for microbes.

This is Teagasc’s 27th time to award the Gold Medal, the Programme’s highest accolade. Other Walsh Scholars recognised at today’s event included:

  • Paul Smith, Walsh Scholar of the Year for the Animal and Grassland Research and Innovation Programme. Paul’s PhD project is investigating the link between the composition of the rumen microbiome, feed efficiency and methane output in beef cattle.
  • Gemma Regan, Walsh Scholar of the Year for the Food Programme and Institute of Food Science and Technology Ireland (IFSTI) medal winner. Gemma’s PhD project analysed nitrofuran residues, antibiotics have been banned from use in food producing animals, and shortened the analysis time from 4 days to 1.5 days. 
  • Adrienne Attorp, Walsh Scholar of the Year for the Rural Economy and Development Programme. Adrienne’s PhD project considers challenges faced in the continued management of waterways shared by Ireland and Northern Ireland post-Brexit.
  • Kevin Maher, Walsh Scholar of the Year for the Knowledge Transfer Programme. Kevin’s Master’s project examined the factors influencing the adoption of nutrient management plans among Nitrates Derogation

Videos from each Walsh Scholar of the Year are available on https://teagasc.ie/about/research--innovation/postgraduate-scholarships/the-next-generation/

 Walsh Scholars Alum Award Winner for 2020

Carol Newman is the Walsh Scholars Alum Award Winner for 2020.  Carol is a Professor of Economics and the Head of the School of Social Sciences and Philosophy at Trinity College Dublin. She completed her Walsh Scholarship in 2001, having undertaken a PhD that examined the impact of income growth on food expenditure. The announcement was made by Teagasc Director, Professor Gerry Boyle.

On receiving the award, Carol Newman said: I am delighted to be the Walsh Scholars Alum Award Winner for 2020. My time as a Walsh Scholar provided me with a set of skills and competencies that paved the way for my research career and opened my eyes to the importance of research for policy making. I am really grateful to Teagasc for the opportunity they gave me all those years ago and am very honoured that my work is recognised through this award.

Professor Boyle called for graduates of the Programme to reconnect with Teagasc, and one another, through the Walsh Scholars Alumni LinkedIn Group.

He said: We now have over 1,200 alumni working in Ireland and across the globe, many in very influential positions in academia, the public sector and private industry. A priority of the Programme’s future development is to connect, share and engage with alumni.’

A #WalshScholars #NextGeneration social media campaign featuring more of the Programme’s science, for more of the Scholars, will continue to run cross Science Week 2020. For more, check out Teagasc’s Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.