Prof. Sinead McGilloway and Dr. Katriona O'Sullivan receive MU Research Achievement Awards 2021

Wednesday, October 20, 2021 - 08:45

Maynooth University congratulates all the nominees for their submissions and contributions to the University. Six Faculty winners were announced as part of Research Week 2021.

The 2021 Faculty of Social Science Research Achievement Award has been made to Professor Sinéad McGilloway of the Maynooth Social Science Institute (MUSSI)

Professor McGilloway has made highly significant contributions to: conceptual thought and empirical research through her publications; pioneering leadership and innovation in community-engagement and engaged research in and beyond her discipline (e.g. through her links with numerous community-based organisations and her role since 2016 with Campus Engage in promoting engaged research in Ireland and Europe); and capacity-building and research mentorship through, for example, establishing and sustaining a centre in community mental health (the only one of its kind in Ireland - re-branded in 2017).

Professor McGilloway’s HRB-funded ENRICH programme and the HSE-funded PRIMERA programmes are excellent examples (amongst others) of her innovation and impact in this field. These projects address major national and international knowledge gaps and reflect Professor McGilloway’s ability to employ multiple rigorous and innovative methodologies and highly engaged interdisciplinary approaches, all of which demonstrate her extraordinary agility and sustained, high level of commitment to improving mental health and wellbeing for families and communities.

The 2021 Early Career Faculty of Social Science Research Achievement Award has been made to Dr Patrick Bresnihan of the Department of Geography.

Dr Bresnihan is an early career researcher with a strong research portfolio, outstanding publication profile, strong grant capture, exceptional civic engagement, with a growing pool of research students. His work spans political ecology, science and technology studies, and environmental humanities -fields that challenge traditional distinctions between the ‘natural’, ‘cultural’, ‘political’ and ‘technological’. His research is deeply collaborative in nature, including working with environmental scientists, activists and artists – for example he has developed high potential connections with the Provisional University ( and the Authority Research Network (

Crucially, his current research (focussing upon water, energy and infrastructure in Ireland including: rural climate justice. extraction and the politics of energy/data infrastructures; the cessation of peat extraction in the midlands, just transition, and ecological restoration of bogs; water contamination and industrial agriculture; urban/rural geographies of water infrastructure) sits within our national priorities and societal problems and the current research funding landscape.

The 2021 Faculty of Science and Engineering Research Achievement Award has been made to Professor Andrew Parnell of the Department of Mathematics and Statistics, and the Hamilton Institute.  

Professor Parnell’s research ethos is to advance methodological techniques, publishing papers in core statistics and machine learning journals, while translating them to practice, using them to extract fundamental insight from complex datasets in important problems. Since 2018, Professor Parnell’s group has published over 40 peer reviewed journal articles and with grants valued at more than €65 million euro. He is a Principal Investigator in the I-Form Centre for Advanced Manufacturing, and a Funded Investigator in the SFI Insight Centre for Data Analytics and the MAREI Centre for Energy, Climate and Marine Research.

His research spans areas related to sea-level rise predictions, inferences for Dublin Bay that have been used by the Environmental Protection Agency in their recent reports on climate impacts for Ireland to advanced statistical examination of data on the changing nature of temperature extremes across Ireland and the development of statistical software that enable ecologists and archaeologists to reconstruct the diets of organisms from stable isotope measurements of their tissues. His software packages have been downloaded over 120,000 times and cited more than 2000 times. In addition, he has led an SFI emergency COVID-19 project with all the members of the Hamilton Institute, and the departments of EE, CS, Mathematics and Statistics, and Biology that reported directly to the Irish Epidemiological Modelling Advisory Group and the National Public Health Emergency Team. Methods developed by the team generate the only real-time estimates of excess mortality available for Ireland.

The 2021 Early Career Faculty of Science and Engineering Research Achievement Award has been made to Dr Katriona O’Sullivan of the Department of Psychology and the Assisted and Living and Learning Institute (ALL).

The significance and quality of achievements reflect an exceptional performance, both in terms of the discipline’s norms and her career stage.  Dr O’Sullivan’s research addresses important societal challenges regarding disadvantage and education. She approaches her research questions in innovative ways, crossing disciplines and mixing methods and her publications reflect both quantitative and qualitative expertise. She has published 23 journal articles and 3 books chapters in high quality outlets and has recently had a lead-authored paper ‘A Just Digital framework to ensure equitable achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals’ accepted in Nature Communications. Katriona has attracted funding of €1.3 million to Maynooth, leading many innovative projects such as the STEM Passport scheme, the recently awarded Rethink Ireland– Digital Wealth project, and the Microsoft Ireland funded DreamSpace STEM hub.

The 2021 Faculty of Arts, Humanities, Celtic Studies and Philosophy Research Achievement Award has been made to Professor David Stifter of the School of Celtic Studies.

Professor Stifter plays an internationally prominent role in Old Irish and the Continental Celtic languages making lasting impact in these fields. His handbook Sengoidelc: Old Irish for Beginners has become the standard textbook for teaching the Old Irish language, he was the first person to receive an ERC grant in Celtic Studies for the ChronHib project, and he has produced ground -breaking resources for the study of the Cisalpine Celtic languages. In Maynooth alone, he has mentored over a dozen early career researchers. In total, the amount of project funding that he has acquired exceeds €2.5 million, a figure rarely matched in humanities subjects. His international recognition can be gauged from the fact that he is a collaborator in a number of international research projects with partners in the UK, France, Spain, Italy and Austria. Professor Stifter is a leading figure in the practical application of Digital Humanities in Medieval Irish and Celtic Studies.

The 2021 Early Career Faculty of Arts, Humanities, Celtic Studies and Philosophy Research Achievement Award has been made to Dr Jeneen Naji of the Department of Media Studies.

Dr Naji’s research is internationally recognised for advancing the field of electronic literature and digital poetry. Spanning classical and contemporary literary and media texts, from Khalil Gibran’s The Rubayaat and Shakespeare sonnets to drones and ‘othering’ in video games, Dr Naji’s research and creative projects examine diversity in the field of digital aesthetics in relation to gender and cultural difference. Innovative in her integration of humanistic thinking and technological approaches, Dr Naji produces traditional scholarly outputs, including monographs, textbooks, and articles, which have been published by leading presses and journals, as well as innovative practice-based exhibitions in both built and digital environments in association with art and educational organisations in Norway, Portugal, the US and Slovakia. Grounded in both literary and visual analysis, Dr Naji’s scholarship moves fluidly into the newest developments in the digital culture of algorithms, AI, VR, poetry apps, drones, and human-computer interaction. Her exhibition work explores the evolution of aesthetic form and human creativity as they encounter digital tools and platforms.

Overall University Award in their category:
MU Research Achievement Award 2021 – Professor Andrew Parnell
MU Early Career Research Achievement Award 2021 – Dr Katriona O’Sullivan