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22 June 2024  

NUI Grant Scheme for Early Career Academics


When a little goes a long way:
NUI funds nine early career academics across Ireland to address key research questions and challenges with international experts


Over the next twelve months, and with support from the NUI Grant Scheme for Early Career Academics, nine post-doctoral researchers from UCD, UCC, NUI Galway, and Maynooth University will bring together national and international experts to discuss the latest research findings and key questions in their various fields.

Over 50 applications were received for the pilot NUI Grant Scheme, of which nine were funded across the following diverse research fields:

  1. Dr Laura Anderson: Music and Sound Design for the Screen (Maynooth University)
    Friday 6th and Saturday 7th September 2019, please click for conference details.
    Dr John Brown: Substantive Democratisation (Maynooth University) Dr Noeleen Brady: Workforce Planning and Safe Nurse Staffing (UCC)
    Thursday 28th January 2021, please click for conference details.
    Dr Paolo Cardullo: Technology Adaptation and “Smart Cities” (Maynooth University) Dr Sarah Cooney: Bayesian Modelling in Experimental Psychology (UCD) Dr Elizabeth Dawson: Medieval Irish History (UCD) Dr Susan Leavy: Artificial Intelligence and Gender (UCD) Dr Fangzhe Qiu: Statistics in historical corpus linguistics (Maynooth University)
    Friday 4th and Saturday 5th October 2019, please click for workshop details.
    Dr Margaret Scull: Witness Seminar: Conflict in Northern Ireland (NUI Galway)


"The Presidents of our universities - UCD, UCC, NUI Galway and Maynooth University - did not
hesitate to support our proposal in 2018 to provide a small amount of seed-funding for Early Career Academics – those within our universities and colleges who were recently awarded their PhDs – to
develop and host conferences with national and international experts in their fields, thereby
strengthening their academic networking and organisational skills.

A total of €30,000 has been allocated for this pilot phase, showing that a little can go a long way for researchers who are seeking to establish themselves and contribute to Ireland’s research
reputation within the international academic community.”

Dr Attracta Halpin
Registrar of NUI

NUI runs a prestigious awards and grants programme, through which many of the brightest and most hard-working students, graduates and staff in the NUI member universities and colleges compete for fellowships, scholarships and prizes. NUI awards around €1,000,000 at the annual NUI Awards ceremony held each November, which is always a special occasion for over one hundred awardees and their friends and families.

The NUI Grant Scheme for Early Career Academics will open again for applications in 2019/2020.
Further information will be made available here later in the year.

Post-Docs, Plans and Proposals

Stream 1: Academic Networking, Leading to a Conference Proposal

Dr Sarah Cooney received funding under Stream One of the NUI Grant Scheme for Early Career Academics to foster collaborations and build a network of national and international experimental psychologists interested in the application of Bayesian Statistics to Experimental Psychology. She is using her grant to attend a Bayesian modelling workshop at the University of Amsterdam, with a view to creating a similar workshop for psychologists in the School of Psychology at UCD.

Dr Cooney holds a PhD in Experimental Psychology from UCD, and an MSc from Bangor University in Wales. For the past 2.5 years she has been based in the Institute of Neuroscience, Trinity College Dublin working as a post-doctoral research fellow, and she also lectures undergraduate Psychology in UCD.


With the support of this grant, Dr John Brown will establish new connections with democratisation studies experts in Europe and the US. He will present and receive feedback on his proposed work at the European University Institute (EUI), the Central European University (CEU), The New School of Advanced Research in New York, as well as New York University (NYU). Furthermore, John will invite some of these new contacts to participate in a symposium he will host in Maynooth University in 2020 titled Escaping the confines of market democracy: Shared experiences, contrasting outcomes, and lessons from Southern Europe and Latin America.

Dr Brown completed his PhD at Maynooth University in 2018, examining Left-led democratization processes in Bolivia and Venezuela. He is currently employed as assistant lecturer in the Sociology Department of Maynooth. In his PhD, he developed a framework detailing how the push-and-pull of Left-governments, economic elites, social movements, and transnational (f)actors open and close opportunities for substantive-democratisation. Given the current context of political change and uncertainty in Europe, he aims to develop this framework to allow for cross-regional comparisons between progressive forces in Latin America and Europe.


Stream 2: Conference Organisation

Dr Maggie Scull received funding to hold a 'witness seminar' entitled ‘Death be not proud’: Clerical Mediation of Contentious Funerals at NUI Galway in November 2019. In partnership with Dr Gladys Ganiel at the Senator George J. Mitchell Institute at Queen's University Belfast, this witness seminar will bring religious leaders together to discuss their experiences of funerals during the ‘Troubles’ in Northern Ireland. The event will speak to the wider issue of the connection between the conflict, faith, and reconciliation. Dr Scull notes that without funding from the NUI Grant Scheme for Early Career Academics, this event could not be held. 

Dr Scull is an Irish Research Council post-doctoral fellow at NUI Galway. Her project is entitled ‘Death be not proud’: Funerals as Protest during the Northern Ireland ‘Troubles’. Before joining the School of Political Science and Sociology she was a Teaching Fellow in Modern British and Irish History at King’s College London. Her interdisciplinary research explores the relationship between religion and politics in the contemporary period. She examines the ‘soft power’ influence religious leaders still possessed in British and Irish politics after the Second World War. In September 2019, Oxford University Press will publish her first monograph exploring the Catholic Church’s response to the conflict in Northern Ireland, 1968-98. Find her on Twitter.


Dr Laura Anderson’s funding supported a conference on Music and Sound Design for the Screen, held in Maynooth University on 6th and 7th September 2019. This international event brought together scholars and practitioners researching and working in the area of music and sound for audio-visual media. The conference themes included: sound design for audio-visual media; relationships between Hollywood and European film; creative practices in screen music; directors and sound design/music; music and sound design in the documentary; and intersections between sound design and music. The conference included keynote speaker Professor Miguel Mera, City, University of London, and a panel discussion with director Lenny Abrahamson and composer Stephen Rennicks.

"There is quite an unusual amount of crossover between how sound design and music work,
and also we’re lucky in that it’s just a rule that sound design and composition begin very early
in the editorial process in the way that we work which is not conventional.”

Lenny Abrahamson

Dr Anderson is a musicologist with interests in film music, sound design, audio-visual archives, nineteenth- and twentieth-century French music, and issues of music and national identity.

“Through this conference, I wanted to encourage dialogue in the field of music and sound
design for audio-visual media and to foster connections between scholarship and practice.
Over two days, thirty papers were presented alongside a keynote address by Professor Miguel Mera (City, University of London), a Foley Workshop with Caoimhe Doyle and Jonathan Reynolds of The Foley Lab,
and a special panel sessionwith renowned director Lenny Abrahamson and his team. This conference was
the first of its kind in Ireland and it is hoped that it will encourage future similar events.”

Dr Laura Anderson

I want to thank my sponsors for this conference, the National University of Ireland (NUI), which funded me through their new Early Career Academics scheme; The Irish Research Council which funded my post-doctoral scholarship, Maynooth University Research Office, and the Society for Musicology in Ireland”.



Dr Noeleen Brady was awarded a grant to host a symposium on Workforce Planning and Safe Nurse Staffing. Many reports and studies have indicated that safe staffing levels are essential for positive staff, patient and environmental outcomes and overall patient safety. During the economic crisis, numerous countries saw a reduction in health care staff leading to poorer outcomes and unsafe staffing levels. Workforce planning is one of the most important and topical research areas for nursing care, and is essential for addressing the issues in the health service for patients and staff. The aim of this symposium is to bring international and national experts together in order to discuss and investigate the global issue of workforce planning for safe nurse staffing. The symposium will also allow for the identification of themes arising from the global issue, key components for addressing the issue and key ways of implementing these in clinical practice.

Dr Brady graduated from Maynooth University with a BA in Psychology in 2009, followed by a PhD in October 2013. Her PhD project focussed on the effect of ageing on memory and afforded her valuable research and analytical skills. Following this, Dr Brady joined the Department of Psychology at Liverpool Hope University as a Post-Doctoral Teaching Fellow.  She then returned to Ireland and joined the Centre for Gerontology and Rehabilitation in UCC as a Clinical Research Support Officer in January 2015.  During this time, she gained invaluable experience in the clinical setting, working with health care staff and patients. Subsequently, she began working as a postdoctoral researcher in the School for Nursing and Midwifery in UCC on the Safe Nurse Staffing research project under the direction of Professor Jonathan Drennan. This project has addressed queries on staffing in Ireland and influenced policy maker’s decisions. She is responsible for the overall management of the research element of the project along with collecting, managing and analysing data.


Dr Fangzhe Qiu received a grant to support an international workshop that he has organised for the 4th - 5th October in Maynooth University. This workshop, titled Statistics in Historical Corpus Linguistics, will host eight leading scholars in the field of quantitative historical linguistics from around the globe to talk about the application of statistical and corpus methods to the study of historical languages. The event also aims to develop further collaborations for the Chronologicon Hibernicum project. The application of statistical and corpus tools to the study of historical languages will open up exciting new opportunities and lead to discoveries that are difficult to make with traditional methods. The six invited speakers will discuss the best practices and potential challenges in the field, which will be a wonderful forum for anyone who wishes to explore historical languages in a quantitative way.

Download the latest programme for the workshop.

Dr Qiu received his primary degree in Law and Philosophy from Peking University, China in 2009. He then completed his MPhil degree in Celtic Studies in the University of Oxford, before coming to Ireland in 2011 to pursue a PhD degree in University College Cork. He was awarded a PhD in Early and Medieval Irish in 2015, with a dissertation that explores the interaction between narratives and law texts in medieval Ireland. After working for one year as an O’Donovan Scholar in the Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies, he joined the ERC-funded Chronologicon Hibernicum project as a post-doctoral researcher, based in the Department of Early Irish, Maynooth University. His main research interests include the Old Irish language, Early Irish law, medieval Irish annalistic texts, among others.


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