Training the next generation of marine scientists

Marine Institute, Rinville, Oranmore, Co. Galway. 17 November 2020 - The Marine Institute is pleased to announce funding of €700,000 for seven new Cullen PhD Scholarships to run over the next four years.

The Marine Institute established the Cullen Scholarship Programme in 2014 in memory of Anne Cullen (1958-2013), who made a significant contribution to the career development of many undergraduate students that have taken part in the Institute's annual summer Bursary Programme.

The Cullen Scholarship Programme provides research training opportunities for scientists in marine and related disciplines, leading to Masters and PhD degrees. The students benefit from the academic support of their host Higher Education Institute together with the practical training carried out using the Marine Institute laboratory facilities, historical datasets, equipment and infrastructures including access to the national marine research vessels.

Congratulating the award recipients, Dr Paul Connolly, CEO of the Marine Institute said, "Supporting the next generation of marine scientists enables Ireland to build our research and development capacity through excellent training and will provide scientific advice to stakeholders backed up by high quality peer-reviewed research. It also helps us to meet the important goals set out in the National Marine Research and Innovation Strategy."

The seven awards funded are as follows:

PhD Project Title Lead Organisation Grant-Aid Funding Awarded (for 4 years)              
Biological changes in key commercially exploited fish in the light of Climate and Ocean Change GMIT €100,000
Enhancing farmed Atlantic salmon quality through new production technologies NUI Galway  €100,000
Machine learning assisted detection and prediction of climate change related anomalous events in complex marine systems GMIT €100,000
Improving fishing survey indices though the use of spatio-temporal models GMIT €100,000
Seasonal to decadal sea level and ocean waves predictions through numerical modelling and statistical analysis Maynooth University €100,000
Biodiversity conservation and restoration in the Wild Nephin Ballycroy National Park GMIT €100,000
Ecology of Irish tunas TCD €100,000

Five of the scholarships will provide scientific research findings that will be important in dealing with the effects of climate change on fisheries and marine systems. The other two scholarships will investigate new production methods in the aquaculture sector, and the conservation of biodiversity in the Burrishoole Catchment, Newport, Co. Mayo. The students are expected to commence in early 2021.

Since the inception of the Cullen Scholarship Programme, a total investment of €3.1 million by the Marine Institute has been provided to fund 34 scholarships (31 PhD and 3 MSc). Two Masters students have completed and five PhD students have successfully defended their thesis at viva, with a further eight students planning to submit their thesis in 2021.

Funding for the Cullen Scholarship Programme is provided by the Marine Institute and the Irish Government, funded under the Marine Research Programme.


Editor's Notes:
Culllen Scholarship Programme
The Programme provides scholarship awards to Higher Education Institutes to support postgraduate training to PhD or MSc level. Successful candidates recruited by these institutes conduct novel research of relevance to the work of the Marine Institute whilst studying for a higher degree. The scholarships are offered in all areas of Marine Institute research activity, including oceanography and ocean modelling, fisheries, aquaculture, fish health, food safety, seabed mapping, marine technology, shipping and maritime transport, marine environment, marine economics, law and policy, education and outreach.

Research carried out by Cullen scholars adds value to the Marine Institute's role in providing scientific and technical advice and services to support sustainable management of Ireland's marine resources and a sustainable ocean economy.

National Marine Research & Innovation Strategy 2017-2021
The National Marine Research and Innovation Strategy 2017-2021 focuses on the broad topics identified in existing Government policies and strategies and provides a framework that recognises the complexity of research funding in the marine domain.