Four NUI Galway Researchers Receive SFI Public Service Fellowship Funding

Oct 27 2020 Posted: 08:59 CDT

Projects created to foster innovation and collaboration between the research community and public sector

Four NUI Galway researchers have received SFI Public Service Fellowship funding awards announced (22 October) by Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science, Simon Harris, TD. The Minister announced 12 research Fellowship awards representing a total grant funding in excess of €700,000.

The SFI Public Service Fellowship programme offers academic researchers a unique opportunity to be seconded to Government Departments, agencies and the Library and Research Service of the Oireachtas, to work on specific collaborative research projects. The fellowships awarded will foster innovation within the Public Sector by supporting the development and implementation of data-driven and evidence-based approaches.

Minister Harris, said: “I am delighted to support the SFI Public Service Fellowship initiative which will contribute to the Government’s objective of promoting a culture of innovation through collaboration, knowledge exchange and the development of data-driven and evidence-based solutions. The successful researchers will play a pivotal role in enhancing collaboration between the research community and Government for the benefit of society.”

The Fellowships will have a duration of between three and 12 months and the researchers from NUI Galway will undertake the following research projects:

Dr Áine Ní Leime, Deputy Director, Irish Centre for Social Gerontology, received a funding award of €88,751 and will be hosted by the Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth for her project, The Economic Cost of Discrimination and the Benefits of Diversity in the Workplace.

Dr Ní Leime’s project will measure the cost of discrimination and assess the benefits of diversity in the workplace in order to understand both the needs and potential of a more diverse workforce in Ireland. The research will also assess how the benefits of workplace diversity can be measured and the factors that maximise those benefits both for the economy and for individual organisations. It will assess the cost to the economy of not managing workplace diversity and will help identify the barriers that prevent access to the workplace of people in specific groups - particularly people with disabilities and migrant groups. It will also identify barriers to promotion for certain groups, including migrants and certain groups of women.

Dr Rónán Kennedy, School of Law, NUI Galway, received a funding award of €26,460 and will be hosted by the Oireachtas Research and Library Services for his project, Algorithms, Big Data and Artificial Intelligence in the Irish Legal Services Market.

Dr Kennedy’s project will examine how information technology is enabling new approaches to legal practice and the work of courts, and how Irish law should respond to the rapid innovation that is taking place. Artificial Intelligence-based tools could reduce legal costs and make it easier for individuals to get better-quality legal advice where and when they need it. However, they could also lead to smaller firms being left behind, and the use of Artificial Intelligence to assist with judicial decision-making (as already happens in other countries) could take control away from judges and strengthen existing social biases and prejudices.

Dr Kosala Yapa  Mudiyanselage, Discipline of IT, Insight Centre for Data Analytics, NUI Galway, received a funding award of €67,288 and will be hosted by the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform for his project, Distributed Ledger Technology - Identifying and Solving Public Service Problems Using the Blockchain.

Dr Kosala’s project will explore how to use blockchain technology to improve public sector services. Blockchain is a promising technology to develop trusted and transparent applications. He investigates potential use cases and develops prototypes while discussing with relevant departments. Currently, Dr Kosala has developed a prototype to check the authenticity of courts’ judgements for the courts service in Ireland.

Dr Fatemah Ahmadi Zeleti, Insight Centre for Data Analytics, NUI Galway, received a Fellowship award for her project, Research on measuring the benefits and impact of Ireland’s Open Data Initiative, and will be hosted by the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform.

Dr Ruth Freeman, Director Science for Society, Science Foundation Ireland said: “Congratulations to all of the Public Service Fellowship award recipients announced today during Public Service Innovation Week. The SFI Public Service Fellowship programme recognises the importance of connecting the Irish research community with public sector organisations to help inform new policy and improve the services that they deliver. The projects announced today will enhance collaboration of the research community with public bodies while also allowing researchers to advance their work and further develop their careers.”

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