Prestigious Fulbright Awards Presented to Four Trinity Recipients

Posted on: 09 June 2015

One Trinity College Dublin student and three Academics were recently honoured with renowned Fulbright Awards. The Trinity recipients were among 31 Irish awardees officially announced at the recent awards ceremony by Minister for Diaspora Affairs, Jimmy Deenihan T.D. and the US Ambassador to Ireland, Kevin O’Malley.

Two of the Trinity recipients, Dr Gareth Bennett and Dr Ann Devitt, are married to one another, making this the first husband and wife Fulbright awards presented and within the same institution.

Dr Gareth Bennett and Dr Ann Devitt celebrate together at the official announcement ceremony

The Trinity 2015-16 Fulbright Awardees are:

Dr John Ahern is dually qualified in Medicine & Dentistry. As a Fulbright Student Awardee, John will collaborate with Harvard University to strengthen human resources for health in developing countries, through the integration of oral health training for primary care health workers. John will focus on the use of HIV-related oral manifestations as clinical markers of disease progression.

Dr Francesco Pilla is an Assistant Professor in Civil Engineering. His research focuses on understanding complex environmental phenomena to pre-empt the impacts resulting from the interactions between human population and the environment. Sponsored by the Environmental Protection Agency, Dr Pilla’s Fulbright Tech Impact project focuses on sensing cyclists’ health risk related to environmental pollution, spatial constraints and interactions with other road users.

Dr Gareth Bennett is an Assistant Professor in the School of Engineering.  As the Fulbright-CRH Scholar, Dr. Bennett will be hosted in the Department of Aerospace at the University of Notre Dame and will also collaborate with NASA Glenn to research innovative solutions for the reduction of aeronautical environmental noise for a sustainable environment.

Dr Ann Devitt is an Assistant Professor in the School of Education working in the area of language and literacy. As a Fulbright TechImpact Scholar at the University of California Berkeley, Ann will investigate the semantic distributional properties of language which optimise second language acquisition.

Speaking at the awards ceremony, Minister for Diaspora Affairs Jimmy Deenihan T.D. said:  “The range of specialist knowledge amongst Fulbright Awardees makes them a very strong group of representatives for Ireland. This year’s awards reflect the rapid global developments in digital technology. Through the Fulbright TechImpact Awards and the Fulbright-University of Notre Dame TechImpact Scholar Awards, six awardees will explore digital advancement in areas including wearable sensing technologies, app development and language-learning resources.”

The Chair of the Ireland-United States (Fulbright) Commission for Educational Exchange and former Provost of Trinity College Dublin, Professor John Hegarty commented: “We are very thankful to the state agencies that sponsor Fulbright Awards including CRH plc, Enterprise Ireland, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Marine Institute, and Teagasc. We were delighted to welcome SEAI as a new sponsor this year. We would also like to acknowledge the ongoing support of Irish and US higher colleges, the Irish Department or Foreign Affairs & Trade, the US Department of State; and the Department of Arts, Heritage, and the Gaeltacht and the National Lottery who support the Irish Language Awards.”

Since 1957, the Fulbright Awards are awarded annually by the Irish and U.S. governments and provide Irish and American students, scholars, and professionals with the opportunity to study, lecture, and research at top universities and institutions throughout the Ireland and the United States respectively. The awards are jointly funded by the Irish and US governments under the Ireland-United States (Fulbright) Commission for Educational Exchange.

The next round of applications for Irish Fulbright Awardees will open on Monday, August 31st, 2015. Interested applicants in all disciplines are encouraged to visit the Fulbright Commission’s website, for more information. All applications for the 2016-2017 academic year will be due on Friday, October 30th 2015.

Fulbright awardees at the announcement ceremony