Sunday, December 3, 2023

UCC professor and Blackrock Castle hailed for contributions to science

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Blackrock Castle Observatory (BCO) has been hailed for “championing scientific literacy” after being awarded an Outstanding Contribution to Science award.

The observatory, located in Cork Harbour and operated by Munster Technological University (MTU), has been visited by more than 1.3 million people in the last 16 years.

Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) named BCO as the winner of their Outstanding Contribution to Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Communication Award for 2023.

BCO run STEM exhibitions year-round and is also the hosting venue for the Cork Astronomy Club.

Commenting on the SFI award, MTU President Professor Maggie Cusack said: “This SFI award recognises the hard work and dedication of every team member at Blackrock Castle Observatory and the imaginative ways in which they create engaging STEM-themed exhibitions to reach all ages.

“As someone from a scientific background and with a deep love of science, it’s a great joy to see the passion and commitment of the team at Blackrock Castle Observatory being acknowledged.

Their efforts in developing STEM-themed exhibitions that resonate across all age groups are truly commendable. 

“This SFI award serves as a testament to the invaluable contributions they make in promoting science, inspiring curiosity and making STEM accessible and exciting to everyone.”

Head of BCO Dr Niall Smith said: “The future wellbeing of humanity relies on us solving problems we currently face and taking advantage of unforeseen opportunities that will arise tomorrow. At BCO our aim is to continue to be a respected voice that supports these endeavours. A special thank you to Cork City Council who continue to partner with us to achieve our jointly held vision and to SFI for their crucial support,” Smith added.

Researcher of the Year

There were celebrations for UCC also, as the SFI named Professor Paul Ross as their Researcher of the Year.

Professor Ross conducts his research in the field of food microbiology and has been the director of APC Microbiome Ireland since 2019.

He is the Head of College of Science Engineering & Food Science and has published over 880 peer-reviewed articles.

UCC’s Professor Paul Ross

Commenting on receiving the award, Professor Ross stated: “I am truly honoured and humbled to receive this prestigious research award, it is great acknowledgement of the significance of microbiome research as we are about to celebrate our landmark 20th year here at APC. 

For me it’s always about the people. I have been just so fortunate to have worked with really brilliant scientists down through the years—great collaborators, researchers and students – and it is really on their behalf that I accept this award.

“I have always been fascinated by the microbial world in which we live and depend on so much. Most of this world is inhabited by diverse communities of microorganisms or microbiomes, as exemplified by the trillions of bacteria that live in our gut.”

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