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Teagasc awards the Walsh Scholars Gold Medal and Alum Award

The Teagasc Walsh Scholars Gold Medal was awarded to Davor Daniloski from Teagasc’s Food Programme. The Gold Medal, which is the Programme’s highest accolade, was presented at an awards ceremony at Teagasc Ashtown today, Wednesday, 22nd November.

Teagasc awards the Walsh Scholars Gold Medal and Alum Award
Davor Daniloski, winner of the Teagasc Walsh Scholars Gold Medal, pictured with his mother, along with Teagasc Director, Professor Frank O’ Mara and Teagasc Chairman Liam Herlihy.

The event was a showcase of the finalist’s development as Teagasc Walsh Scholars. Guests, who included family and friends, Teagasc and University supervisors, Deans of Graduate Studies from the Programme’s university partners and Teagasc senior management, heard from finalists who each presented their studies. The Teagasc Walsh Scholar programme has over 250 participants pursuing a PhD, with over 40 completing each year.  

Opening the event, Jane Kavanagh, the Head of Research Development and Walsh Scholarships said; “Today, we are not just attending an awards ceremony; we are diving into a celebration of intellectual curiosity, unwavering commitment, and the relentless pursuit of excellence. The Teagasc Walsh Scholar of the Year competition is more than just a recognition; it is a testament to the remarkable contributions our scholars make in the fields of agriculture, food research, environmental sustainability and rural development. 

Teagasc Director, Professor Frank O’Mara, said: “Since the early days of the Walsh Scholarships Programme, Teagasc has sought to recognise the highest performing final year Scholars. It is inspiring for us to hear from some of them today. Their research studies cover the breath of agri-food challenges we face, and for which they play a key part in finding solutions for now and in the future.”   

Professor O’Mara congratulated Davor Daniloski on being the 29th recipient of the Gold Medal. Davor Daniloski’s research project is looking at how the genetic profiles of milk proteins called β-casein affect milk functionality. A1 and A2 are variants of β-casein. The research has proven that A2 milk is associated with lower heat stability and soft gel, which can be a negative attribute for dairy processing when producing milk powder, yoghurt, and cheese. However, it may prove favourable for human digestion when softer gel formation, as a precursor of milk products, is needed.  

Davor, who is a native of North Macedonia, is a dual located student, spending his time studying between Victoria University, Australia and Teagasc Moorepark, Fermoy, County Cork. He has also travelled with the project, most recently to the University of Wisconsin, Madison, Centre for Dairy Research as part of the Teagasc International Training Award.  

Other Walsh Scholars recognised at today’s event included:

  • Lisa McGrane, Walsh Scholar of the Year for the Animal and Grassland Research and Innovation Programme. Lisa is based at Teagasc Athenry and is evaluating companion forages in combination with perennial ryegrass to increase animal performance and output in pasture-based sheep production systems. 
  • Maximilian Schughart, Walsh Scholar of the Year for the Crops, Environment, and Land Use Programme. Maximilian, who is based at Teagasc Oak Park, is investigating insecticide resistance and plant virus transmission in the grain aphid Sitobion avenae.
  • Suzanne Kelly, Walsh Scholar of the Year for the Rural Economy and Development Programme. Suzanne, who is based at the Ulster University is exploring the value of social capital for innovation within agri-food business support programmes.  

Professor O’Mara congratulated the other Walsh Scholar finalists:  

  • Maria Frizzarin 
  • Rumia Basu
  • Elena Grosu
  • Mark Timlin 
  • Sara Alvarez Hernandez
  • Oyinlola Ogunpaimo
  • Karen McGrath  

Walsh Scholar Alum Award  

Professor Donagh Berry, the Walsh Scholars Alum Award Winner pictured with Teagasc Director of Research Professor Pat Dillon and Teagasc Chairman Liam Herlihy.

Professor Donagh Berry was the Walsh Scholars Alum Award Winner. Donagh Berry has been the Director of VistaMilk SFI Research Centre since 2018 and a Research Geneticist with Teagasc since 2003. He completed his Walsh Scholarship in 2003, graduating from Wageningen University, having undertaken a PhD that characterised the strain of cow best suited to Irish spring milk production systems.  

The announcement was made by Teagasc Director for Research, Professor Pat Dillon, at the Walsh Scholars of the Year and Gold Medal Awards ceremony.

Accepting the award, Professor Berry shared with guests how his time as a Walsh Scholar was a springboard for his career. He said; “I am delighted to be the Walsh Scholars Alum Award Winner. I am grateful to Teagasc for the opportunity they gave me all those years ago and I am honoured that my work is recognised through this award.  

Professor Pat Dillon said: “We have over 1,500 alumni working in Ireland and across the globe, many in very influential positions in academia, the public sector and private industry. Today’s event showcases the calibre of graduates the Walsh Scholarships Programme is producing. Moving forward it is a priority of the Programme to mobilise engagement and shared learning among the alumni network.”

The 11 Finalists of the Walsh Scholar of the Year Awards