Awards & Submissions

Submissions and nominations for the SFI Awards 2021 are now closed. 

Winners will be announced at Summit.


2020 Winner: Professor Kingston Mills, Professor of Experimental Immunology and Director Trinity Biomedical Sciences Institute, Trinity College Dublin

Eligibility Criteria

The Science Foundation Ireland Awards celebrates outstanding male and female researchers funded by Science Foundation Ireland who have contributed greatly to scientific progress or have a highly significant scientific breakthrough.

Nominations should clearly demonstrate leadership in the following four categories:

  1.  Generation of Knowledge;
  2.  Development of Individuals and Collaborations;
  3.  Supporting Broader Society and the Economy and
  4.  Supporting the Research Community.


2020 Winner: Dr Niall Smith, Head of Research/Head of Blackrock Castle Observatory, Cork Institute of Technology

Eligibility Criteria

The SFI Science Image competition celebrates images captured by Science Foundation Ireland-funded researchers during the course of their research.  This Award is open to active SFI funded team members including PhDs.  The successful image will be used on the cover of the SFI Annual Report.


Joint 2020 Winners:  Dr Matthew Campbell, Smurfit Institute of Genetics, Trinity College Dublin and Dr Lorna Lopez, Department of Biology, National University of Ireland Maynooth

Eligibility Criteria

The Early Career Researcher Award is to recognise outstanding early career research talent.

Nominations should clearly demonstrate that the nominee is:

  • a Science Foundation Ireland funded investigator or team member
    in the early stage of their research career
  • making a significant contribution to their field of research
  • able to demonstrate the potential to achieve world-leading status
  • showing excellent ability in the communication of their research
  • a researcher with a maximum of eight years of research experience (cumulative) since their PhD*

* This is to facilitate nominees that may have taken a career break e.g. for family care or health reasons.



2020 Winner: Professor Fergal O’Brien, RCSI University of Medicine and Health Sciences and Deputy Director AMBER SFI Research Centre for his partnership with Integra LifeSciences

Eligibility Criteria

This award is to recognise and celebrate collaboration between academic research groups and industry supported by Science Foundation Ireland. Nominations should demonstrate how the collaboration benefited both the academic research group(s) and the company(s).  Please note that only partnerships that can be discussed publicly should be nominated.


Joint 2020 Winners: Professor Fergal McCaffery, Founder and Director of the Regulated Software Research Centre and Professor of Computing Science in Dundalk Institute of Technology and Dr Anita Finnegan, Founder and CEO of Nova Leah

Eligibility Criteria

This award recognises an entrepreneurial or innovation leadership achievement that has led to a demonstrable commercial impact. The award will be presented to an individual researcher or research group that is currently, or that has previously been, supported by SFI as an SFI award holder.

The award celebrates the important role of entrepreneurship in translating publicly funded research to market and serves to underline the importance of entrepreneurial activity in Ireland’s academic research and innovation ecosystem.

The award will be presented to an individual or group who have:

  • previously been or currently are supported by an SFI award
  • demonstrated innovation and leadership
  • had a clear commercial impact of their business, product or services.


2020 Winner: Professor Luke O’Neill, Chair of Biochemistry, School of Biochemistry and Immunology, Trinity College Dublin

Eligibility Criteria

The Science Foundation Ireland Award for STEM Public Engagement and Communication recognises outstanding contribution to the popularisation of science, in particular, where it raises public awareness of the value of science to human progress. This Award is also open to STEM Communicators that are not directly funded by SFI.


2020 Winner: Professor Brian O’Gallachoir, University College Cork, Director of MaREI, SFI Centre for Energy, Climate and Marine 

Eligibility Criteria

This award recognises the accomplishments of a researcher/group specifically in the context of their international activities. The successful nominee(s) will be recognised for their strategic vision and have demonstrated an ability to drive and grow impactful collaborations (industry/academic) between their research team(s) in another country(ies). Nominees must be an active SFI award holder at the time of submission of nomination.

The nominations are judged on:

  1. The clear development of international collaborations (academic/industry) with demonstrable relationships, for example involvement in international consortiums, joint publications, white papers, significant team mobility and/or co-funded projects.
  2. The researcher’s ability and willingness to work with Ireland’s wider international stakeholder group, e.g., Ireland’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Embassies and Consulates based in Ireland, the EU Commission, Team Ireland overseas (IDA, Enterprise Ireland, Bord Bia etc.)
  3. The success of the nominee in influencing policy at a national and international level to create change.
  4. The nominee’s ability to identify and leverage sources of domestic and international funding to support their international activities.


Joint 2020 Winners: Professor Patrick Guiry, Full Professor of Synthetic Organic Chemistry, Director of the Centre for Synthesis and Chemical Biology, School of Chemistry, University College Dublin and Professor Patricia Maguire, School of Biomolecular and Biomedical Science UCD and Director UCD Institute for Discovery

This award recognises outstanding mentorship provided by a researcher funded by Science Foundation Ireland.

Eligibility Criteria

The mentor must be a Principal Investigator (PI), Funded investigator (FI) or a contract research staff member (postdoc/research fellow) funded by an SFI award that was active at the time of submission of nomination.

The mentor must be nominated for the SFI Mentorship Award by two or more individuals, one of which is, or has been, mentored by the nominee. Separate nominations must be submitted. Self-nominations will not be accepted.

Evaluation Criteria

To be eligible for nomination a mentor should have:

  • demonstrated a commitment to nurturing the intellectual, creative, scholarly and / or professional growth of their mentees
  • enabled their mentees to become independent and be recognised in their own right as a subject matter expert
  • shown a sustained commitment to a mentoring relationship that has supported the career progression and / or the personal development of mentees.