Director's Discourse
Geology Matters No. 7   
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Peadar McArdle

The implementation of the Griffith Geoscience Research Awards scheme announced in the previous edition of Geology Matters, marks a transition in the relationship of GSI with the third level sector and is an important development in the nurturing of geoscience initiatives within the knowledge economy.

Mr. Eamon Ryan T.D., Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources, marked the award of nine contracts under this scheme at an event in Beggars Bush in July 2007. Details of the specific awards appear in a separate article in this newsletter.

The scheme seeks to develop Irish geoscience research capacity at universities in Ireland and Northern Ireland. It will attract early-career researchers of international stature, while also encouraging Irish researchers to visit and work in world-class geoscience centres abroad.

The successful contractors will address key priorities outlined in the National Geoscience Programme (2007-2013), including groundwater, underground storage of carbon, seabed geology and information management. They will employ 13 researchers, 13 PhD students, one research assistant and 31 students.

GSI has traditionally supported research at third level institutes through the provision of relevant datasets. The recent decision to provide such data free-of-charge over the web will further boost their value in future geoscience research. With the implementation of the Griffith Geoscience Research Awards, GSI will now have an additional role in monitoring and evaluating research. This will lead to the development of important synergies between GSI and the academic community, with the latter providing valuable validation for the methodologies employed by GSI. At the same time, under the umbrella of the National Geoscience Programme, the Irish research institutes are developing a critical mass devoted to a coherent set of national priorities.

I believe the scheme will demonstrate the value of the contribution which the geoscience academic community can make to the national knowledge economy. It is critical that excellent results are achieved in order to ensure the future of the scheme. Indeed GSI intends to be proactive in promoting the value of the research being undertaken and will, in conjunction with the wider geoscience sector, be establishing research priorities for the second half (2010-2013) of the National Development Plan. Watch this space!

Temporary Graduate Geologists
In September/October of this year 4 temporary graduate geologists commenced employment in GSI on one-off 50 week contracts. They are:

Natalia Fernandez – holds a Geology Licentiate degree (Oviedo) and works in the Groundwater Programme primarily carrying out data collation and some fieldwork for the national permeability and vulnerability mapping programmes.

John Deasy – holds a BSc in Environmental Sciences (Cork) and a MSc in Applied Marine Science (Plymouth). John works in the Marine Programme on the INFOMAR project, which is a joint venture with the Marine Institute.

Claudia Loesch – holds an MSc in Geological Sciences (Freiburg) and works in the Minerals Programme assisting with the National Development Plan funded Aggregate Potential Mapping Programme. She will provide computer data processing and field assistance to the programme.

Judy Kavanagh – holds a BSc in Earth Sciences (Galway) and works in the Quaternary/Geotechnical Programme inputting and digitising for the National Geotechnical Borehole Database.

New Minister and the Department changes its name
The name of the Department was formally changed in October to the Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources. Following the general election Mr. Eamon Ryan, T.D. was appointed Minister and Mr. Tony Killeen, T.D. was appointed Minister of State at the Department. In September Mr. Aidan Dunning took up his appointment as Secretary General of the Department.

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