Seven researchers recognized for their work in progress
Seven researchers from four leading Irish universities received the Director Lero Awards at an in-person ceremony today.
The Lero Director Awards were presented at the annual Lero Members Gathering, held in person this year for the first time since the Covid-19 pandemic. This is the fourth year of the annual awards presented by Lero, Science Foundation Ireland’s software research centre, which brings together software teams from 12 partner universities and academic institutes across Ireland.
Prizes were awarded to scholars, researchers and students from NUI Galway, University College Dublin, University of Limerick and University College Cork.
Speaking at the annual conference, Professor Brian Fitzgerald, Director of Lero, said: “Over the past two years you have all shown incredible resilience and creativity in the way you have continued to ensure you provide research-based solutions and ideas to solve problems. Lero researchers work on and provide breakthrough solutions to real-world problems in areas as diverse as self-driving cars or improving the skills of surgeons in operating theatres. Their skills, dedication and imaginative problem-solving abilities never cease to amaze me.
“Recent estimates suggest that the demand for software development personnel has doubled over the past three years. Thus, effective and efficient software development, which is a central goal for Lero, becomes even more important. As Lero continues to build its global reputation, it is very gratifying to recognize outstanding contributions to Lero that come in many ways. These awards recognize some of this important work.
The Director Lero Award for Excellence in Research was awarded to John McCarthy of University College Cork. John’s research focuses on understanding the influence of emerging social, personal and professional technologies on people’s lived experiences and using this understanding to inform the design of usable and rewarding technologies.
The Lero Director Award for Public Education and Engagement went to Noel Carroll of NUI Galway. Noel collaborated with Microsoft and the Project Management Institute (PMI) to develop the world’s first citizen development educational platform to educate students on digital literacy. He also received the Innovation Vision Action Fellow award from the i2i project funded by the European Institute of Innovation and Technology.
The Diversity and Inclusion Award was presented to Professor Ita Richardson, University of Limerick. Professor Richardson has advocated for diversity and inclusion throughout her career, with a particular focus on women in STEM. Ita is a role model for early career female researchers, lecturing and meeting people at the University of Limerick, nationally and internationally. Ita is a Johnson & Johnson Women in Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics, Manufacturing & Design (WiSTEM2D) Project Advisor and Principal Investigator for the project.
The collaboration prizes were awarded to Bashar Nuseibeh, University of Limerick, Liliana Pasquale, University College Dublin and Greg Provan, University College Cork, for their supervision of a PhD student. Tripartite mentoring involving researchers from three universities is a complex task but has been successful with the student achieving a high quality PhD, with multiple publications already stemming from this work.
The award for doctoral/postdoctoral contribution was given to PhD student Abeba Birhane from University College Dublin. Birhane’s work has focused on how pervasive technologies that are intertwined with the way personal, social, political and economic spheres shape what it means to be a person. This award recognizes Abeba’s incredible work in analyzing a large image database containing millions of images used to train AI systems. His research uncovered racist, misogynistic and other offensive content, which led to his removal from the database.
The winners were selected by a specially constituted awards committee chaired by Lero Director, Professor Brian Fitzgerald.