Success for five SETU researchers under IRC Enterprise Partnership schemes
The schemes provide candidates with the opportunity to collaborate with an enterprise or employer on a research project of mutual interest.
The Irish Research Council (IRC) announced today (1 September 2022) an investment of €8 million in 79 research projects under their Enterprise Partnership Schemes.
Five researchers from South East Technological University (SETU) have been awarded funding to pursue research projects including one Enterprise Partnership Scheme Postdoctoral fellowship, the first for SETU.
The Enterprise Partnership Schemes Postgraduate and Postdoctoral strands provide researchers with the opportunity to pursue research in collaboration with enterprise while based at an eligible higher education or research-performing institution.
The Employment-Based Postgraduate Programme enables researchers to pursue research in collaboration with a higher education institution while based in, and employed by, their employment partner.
Sarah Fagen and Arthur Dunne from the Department of Sport and Health Science, SETU Waterford, were among the successful projects, with Sarah securing an Enterprise Partnership Scheme Postgraduate scholarship, and Arthur an Enterprise Partnership Scheme Postdoctoral fellowship.
DEFRAIL (Diet and Exercise for Frailty): The effect of a community delivered exercise and nutritional intervention on clinical and biochemical markers of frailty in older adults is the title of Sarah Fagen’s project which will be carried out in partnership with enterprise partner Glanbia Ireland DAC.
Impact of weight regulation on bone metabolism and function in Irish male and female jockeys is the topic of Arthur Dunne’s project, in collaboration with enterprise partner Jockey's Accident Fund.
This is the second time Arthur has secured funding under IRC Enterprise programmes, having previously won funding under the IRC Enterprise Partnership Postgraduate Scheme for his project ‘Strategies to promote bone health and body composition for the safety and well-being of jockeys’, in conjunction with Irish Injured Jockeys.
From the School of Humanities, SETU Waterford, Nadia Blanchfield, was also successful in her funding application.
Bridging Peripheral Business Communities through Native Culture Engagement Leveraging Digital Technologies is the title of Nadia Blanchfield’s project in collaboration with enterprise partner Udaras na Gaeltachta.
From HealthCORE - Centre of Research and Enterprise for Men's Health & Rehabilitative Sciences - SETU Carlow, Jack Sweeney, was proud to be awarded an Employment-based Postgraduate Scholarship.
Developing and Evaluating Universal Approaches to Reduce Suicide Among Construction Workers in Ireland is the title of Jack Sweeney’s project in collaboration with enterprise partner Men's Health Forum in Ireland.
EnviroCORE - Centre of Research and Enterprise in BioEnvironmental Technologies - SETU Carlow, was delighted to see Anusha Pulavarty awarded an Enterprise Partnership Scheme Postdoctoral fellowship.
Evaluation of a peatland restoration project using nematodes and their communities as environmental indicators is the title of Anusha Pulavarty’s project in collaboration with enterprise partner Green Restoration Ireland Cooperative Society.
Dr Geraldine Canny, Head of Research, SETU Waterford congratulated all the awardees stating, “The high success rate in these competitive postgraduate scholarships and postdoctoral fellowships across a range of disciplines is testimony to the quality of research being carried out at SETU. These projects involving collaborations with enterprise will equip our young researchers with valuable skills, rendering them highly employable.”
Speaking of the success Brian Jackson, Head of Postgraduate Studies, SETU Carlow said, “It is great to see the quality, focus, and dedication of our research student body is being recognised by external funding bodies such as the Irish Research Council.”
Research Project Overviews
DEFRAIL (Diet and Exercise for Frailty): The effect of a community delivered exercise and nutritional intervention on clinical and biochemical markers of frailty in older adults
Sarah Fagen’s research project will be carried out in collaboration with her enterprise partner Glanbia Ireland DAC.
Sarah will commence her PhD research project at SETU Waterford’s School of Health Science under the supervision of Dr Brona Kehoe, Department Sport and Exercise Science, and John Cooke, Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland.
Frailty is a common condition among older adults characterised by reduced ability to withstand external stressors (such as infection/surgery) and vulnerability to negative health outcomes. It is a growing challenge for healthcare services and society. Frailty can be reversed. The greatest benefit is seen with combined exercise and dietary interventions. However, there is limited availability of such interventions, partly due to a lack of capacity in healthcare. Community-based programmes represent a feasible, accessible, and scalable delivery model but the effectiveness is not yet established. This research will follow international guidance in the development and evaluation of complex interventions. Firstly, it will develop a community-based exercise and nutrition intervention through consultation with frail older adults via focus group discussions, and an expert stakeholder panel. The usability and acceptability of the intervention among frail older adults will then be trialled, and the intervention refined based on this feedback. Finally, the effect of 8 weeks of the intervention on health-related outcomes in frail older adults will be compared to usual patient care, including the effect on frailty status, functional capacity, body composition, mental well-being and blood markers of frailty. The development of a patient-centred, practical, easily accessible and effective intervention for frailty is likely to increase engagement and promote widespread participation. This will contribute significantly to patient care in the face of the increasing numbers of frail older adults as a consequence of the ageing population.
Impact of weight regulation on bone metabolism and function in Irish male and female jockeys
Arthur Dunne’s research project will be conducted in collaboration with enterprise partner Jockey's Accident Fund. Arthur will commence his Postdoctoral research project at SETU Waterford’s School of Health Science under the supervision of Sarah Jane Cullen, Department of Sport And Exercise Science, and Jennifer Pugh, Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board.
Elevated fracture risk and long-term health of jockeys are of growing concern for the horse racing industry, given the prevalence of poor bone health in these athletes. The Irish Jockey Research Group have been researching this area since 2006 and many recommendations for future research have emerged from the ongoing research programme that warrant investigation to further the knowledge and understanding of the impact of weight regulation on bone health in jockeys. This project through 3 interrelated studies, therefore, will further investigate bone health in jockeys using more detailed assessment techniques to provide a greater understanding of bespoke health and safety interventions and considerations to improve this worrying trend seen in jockeys worldwide. Study 1: A follow up bone density assessment via DXA will be conducted on a large cohort of professional jockeys as well as recently retired jockeys to longitudinally track the bone health and fracture incidence of a career in horse racing. Study 2: An investigation to compare the bone mass, turnover and endocrine function in a group of male and female professional jockeys and to identify whether low energy availability is a potential cause of suboptimal bone health. Study 3: Finally, co-establish standardised bone health data collection and reporting systems in racing jurisdictions internationally. Therefore, understanding the bone health in jockeys will allow the development and implementation of essential bespoke evidence-based intervention strategies into the on-going education and support programme in Irish horse racing, ultimately improving jockey health, safety and well-being throughout their racing career and beyond.
Bridging Peripheral Business Communities through Native Culture Engagement Leveraging Digital Technologies
Nadia Blanchfield’s research project will be conducted in collaboration with enterprise partner Udaras na Gaeltachta . Nadia will commence her research project at SETU Waterford’s School of Humanities under the supervision of Prof Felicity Kelliher, Department of Management and Organisation, and Dr Eugene Crehan, Director of Programmes, Centre for Enterprise Development and Regional Economy, SETU.
National and European development plans regularly refer to technology access and use as a catalyst for sustainable rural development. However, the role of technology in rural indigenous business communities is poorly understood, necessitating this study. To date, rural communities and peripheral businesses have limited access to technology-enabled capability development. Native Irish speakers have an additional challenge as technology specialists may not have proficiency in their native tongue, lowering the potential for optimum technology transfer. Despite these challenges, technology has the capacity to bridge the native culture gap and cultivate social ties within and beyond the community. This research adopts dynamic capabilities theory to explore the impact of digital technology capability development on Gaeltacht business communities' cultural ties. This is an action research project that will embed Nadia, as the researcher, as an intern in Údarás na Gaeltachta and RIKON/ CEDRE at SETU. Nadia will work with both teams to develop and implement a pilot technology-enabled capability development program in liaison with business owners in Gaeltacht na nDéise (Waterford Gaeltacht). Pilot impact analysis will pursue a framework of native cultural digital engagement. Findings will advance dynamic capabilities theory and rural business practice, a core objective of Project Ireland 2040.
Developing and Evaluating Universal Approaches to Reduce Suicide Among Construction Workers in Ireland
Jack Sweeney’s research project will be conducted in collaboration with enterprise partner Men's Health Forum in Ireland. Jack will commence his research project at HealthCORE, SETU Carlow under the supervision of Dr Noel Richardson.
In many high-income countries, men are disproportionately affected by suicide, with the male-dominated construction industry having particularly high suicide rates. Despite this, there has been an absence to date of any tailored workplace suicide prevention interventions targeted at this sector. Building upon an evidence-based Australian multilevel, suicide prevention model, this proposal will form part of a wider study that assesses the acceptability of "universal" suicide prevention interventions targeted at the construction sector in Ireland. Mixed methodologies will be used to investigate the principal research questions. The behaviour change wheel (BCW) and masculinities theories will guide the study methodology, which will comprise four phases. Phase 1 will comprise a systematic mixed studies review – appraising quantitative, qualitative, and mixed methods studies– reporting on evidence of effectiveness for mental health promotion and suicide prevention workplace programmes in male dominated industries. In Phase 2, co-design workshops will be facilitated with key stakeholders to develop the training and resources to ensure their acceptability and relevance, improve access and engagement with services/programmes to support mental health, address suicidal behaviour, and establish channels for referral and follow-on support. This will align with the key steps of the BCW. Phase 3 will consist of the implementation & evaluation of the training/resources. A pre-post test design will be utilised to assess the impact of the general awareness training on suicide literacy, suicide stigma and intention to seek help among participants. In Phase 4, semi-structured interviews will be conducted approx. 1-month post-training to explore the acceptability of the training/programmes from the perspective of both providers (n=6) and end users (n=6; those who, at the time of participating in the training, consent to make themselves available for interview with the researcher at a later stage). Findings will inform more targeted approaches to suicide prevention strategies in the construction sector.
Evaluation of Peatland restoration project using nemotades and their communities as environmental indicators
Anusha Pulavarty’s research project will be conducted in collaboration with enterprise partner Green Restoration Ireland Cooperative Society. Anusha will commence her Postdoctoral research project at EnviroCORE, SETU Carlow under the supervision of Dr Thomae Kakouli-Duarte and Douglas McMillan, Green Restoration Ireland Cooperative Society.
Climate change is a serious problem posing many dangers for future generations. Capturing CO2 from the atmosphere is a good way to abate this phenomenon. Natural bogs and peatlands have a major role to play in this respect, as they are natural carbon sinks. We have been approached by the industrial partner in this proposal and have been in discussions with them as to how expertise in enviroCORE of IT Carlow will be able to help them in a peatlands restoration project they have commenced. The partner is developing hands-on technology in the form of an app, to be provided to farmers with land in peatland areas as a tool to enable better management of European Innovation Partnerships (EIP). The EIP scheme funds projects that allow farmers, scientists and other experts to collaborate to develop new practices that are environmentally friendly and economically sustainable. The ultimate aim of EIP is to road-test new ideas and practices which can then be used more widely by farmers and others to improve productivity and enhance resource efficiency. The enterprise partner works to optimise this scheme in Ireland, in relation to peatlands, and enviroCORE has been invited to collaborate with them on this, bringing nematode biomonitoring expertise to confirm that their approaches are successful in restoring the ecosystems in these peatlands. Nematodes are excellent environmental bioindicators because of their high abundance and diversity. Therefore, the proposed research will assess nematode biodiversity as a means to assess the ecological status of the restored sites.