The Teagasc Authority recently announced the award of 49 new postgraduate fellowships, mainly to PhD level, under its Walsh Fellowship Postgraduate Programme. These awards represent an overall investment of over €4 million in training the young scientists who will help drive forward Ireland’s growing agri-food industry.
The new young graduates will join about 140 existing Walsh Fellows, under the joint supervision of Teagasc and University staff members in undertaking research in agriculture, food, environmental science, agri-food economics, rural development, horticulture and other related disciplines.
The Walsh Fellowship Programme is named after Dr Tom Walsh, the first Director of the Agricultural Research Institute (now Teagasc), and a prime mover in developing agricultural and food research in Ireland. The Programme is a key component of Teagasc’s national research programme and promotes closer liaison and collaboration between Teagasc and the nine universities on the island of Ireland, as well as with Institutes of Technology in Ireland and with universities in Europe, the US and New Zealand.
The postgraduate programme has taken on an increasingly international dimension in recent years and thirteen of the 2012 awards will involve students training in universities outside of Ireland. Professor Gerry Boyle, Director of Teagasc, stated that “science is becoming an increasingly global discipline and it is vital that our best students are exposed to the best international science and research outside of Ireland. I am particularly pleased that three of this year’s international awards involve an innovative collaboration between Teagasc, Wageningen University in the Netherlands, VITA and Irish Aid, to train young Ethiopian researchers as part of a broader programme on promoting sustainable agricultural practices in Ethiopia.”
Dr Frank O’Mara, Director of Research, Teagasc, stated that “the training of Walsh Fellows is very much focused on advancing Teagasc’s mission of promoting innovation in the agri-food sector. It is important that our Walsh Fellows identify with this mission and that their training is innovation-focused. PhD students today must be prepared for a variety of careers outside of academia and they must above all be to the forefront in helping build Ireland’s agri-food sector as a dynamic, consumer-focused and future–oriented industry which avails of new opportunities in expanding international markets for high quality, safe and naturally-produced products.”
The Programme is funded through Teagasc Grant-in-Aid, the FIRM and STIMULUS research funds operated by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, other national research funds and the EU Framework programme.
For further details, see www.teagasc.ie/research/postgrad