Nineteen postgraduates presented their marine research highlighting the innovation and contributions being made towards the growth of the marine sector in Ireland at the Cullen Fellowship Programme’s two-day annual meeting last week.
Dr Peter Heffernan, chief executive of the Marine Institute which hosted the meeting in Oranmore, had particular praise for Philip Stephens of NUI Galway and James Fahy of University College Dublin, who recently completed their respective Master’s degrees in Science.
“The graduates and other Fellows’ high level of accomplishments are welcomed in Ireland, particularly when the ocean sector is one of the fastest areas of economic growth, outpacing progress in the general economy in recent years,” Dr Heffernan said.
The Cullen Fellowship Programme has provided grant aid to the value of €1.9 million supporting 24 PhD and three Master’s students in their research over the last four years.
This has involved 15 research themes identified in the National Marine Research & Innovation Strategy 2017-2021, ranging from marine technology and fisheries management to oceanographic research, aquaculture, fish health, food safety, seabed mapping, marine technology, shipping and maritime transport, marine environment, marine economics, law and policy, education and outreach.
“We are extremely pleased with the high calibre of skilled marine researchers that have been involved with the Cullen Fellowship in recent years,” said Martina Maloney of the Marine Institute’s research funding office.
“The opportunities that the students have gained has helped further support the Government’s national Harnessing Our Ocean Wealth strategy in developing a thriving maritime economy, building healthy marine ecosystems and creating engagement with the sea.”
The growth of Ireland’s ocean economy in 2017 had a direct impact of €5.5bn turnover employing over 32,000 people. The Government investment in the ocean economy is on track to double the value of Our Ocean Wealth to 2.4% of GDP by 2030.
“We are reliant on the ocean for its food through fisheries and aquaculture, ocean transport involving shipping and tourism as well as the societal impact the ocean provides us,” Dr Heffernan said.
“Therefore, with the trend in changing economies, new forms of energy, transport and food production transforming industries, companies and jobs in the near future, it is important that we continue to invest in third level research for our next generation of marine scientists and researchers.”
The Marine Institute set up the Cullen Fellowship programme in 2014 in memory of Anne Cullen (1958-2013), who had made a significant contribution to the work of the Marine Institute over 35 years, inspiring many students through the Institute’s bursary programme, encouraging students to get hands-on experience to support their study.
The Cullen Fellowships are carried out with the support of the Marine Institute and funded under the Marine Research Programme by the Government.
Cullen Fellowship opportunities will be advertised as they arise on www.marine.ie under ‘Research and Funding – Current Funding Opportunities’ and through various social media channels.