Grass use to drive efficiency scoops Teagasc Walsh Fellowship

The 18th annual Teagasc Walsh Fellowship Seminar 2013 took place in the RDS, Dublin, yesterday.

Thirteen young researchers presented the results of their research, with a further 33 postgraduate students publishing posters.

Opening the seminar, Teagasc director, Professor Gerry Boyle said: “The Walsh Fellowship Programme has proved to be remarkably effective in meeting the training needs of young graduates and directing them into high-grade employment in industry, academia and the wider public sector. Through ongoing adaptation to the changing scientific and industrial environment, Teagasc will ensure that the programme continues to address new challenges and opportunities as they arise.”

This year’s winner of the Walsh Fellowships seminar and winner of the RDS medal is Patrick Gillespie who presented a paper on ‘Grass utilisation as a driver of efficiency on European dairy farmers’. He is a Walsh Fellow at the Teagasc Rural Economy Research Centre in Athenry, and the National University of Ireland Galway.

The winner of the best poster was Shane Kennedy for his poster on ‘Grain number m-2 in barley – how much is too much?’ He is a Walsh Fellow based at the Teagasc Crops Research Centre Oak Park and at SRUC Edinburgh in Scotland.

The Institute of Food Science and Technology Ireland (IFSTI) medal was presented to the best food science and technology presentation. This was won by Daniel Cavanagh for his paper on ‘From fields to fermentation’: characterisation & application of non-dairy cultures in dairy foods.’ He is based at the Teagasc Food Research Centre in Moorepark and University College Cork.

Professor Mark Ferguson, director general of Science Foundation Ireland and Chief Scientific Adviser to the Government, delivered the keynote address to the seminar. He stressed the importance of excellent science on the one hand and the impact of the research for industry on the other. All of the funding for research provided by SFI is done on a competitive basis and everything is internationally peer reviewed. Prof Ferguson emphasised the importance of Ireland doing well out of Horizon 2020 EU research funding programme. He said Irish researchers should aim to compete for and win greater than €1bn in funding from Horizon 2020.

Teagasc also launched a new form of Walsh Fellowship during the Seminar, which will provide philanthropists, business and industry with a valuable opportunity to fund agri-food research by establishing a Walsh Fellowship for a donation of €66,000 (for a three-year PhD programme) or €88,000 (for a four-year PhD programme).

Speaking at the launch, Dr Noel Cawley, chairman of Teagasc, said “benefactors will now have an opportunity to support the work of Teagasc and the agri-food sector in a tax-efficient manner by funding a young scholar who will help add new knowledge for the sustainable development of our agriculture and food processing industry. This is a very important initiative for Teagasc in seeking tax-efficient funding in supporting its mission”.

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