She will use the funding of approximately €2 million to pursue ground-breaking research that will enable significant advances in scientific knowledge.  

Project CosmicLeap

Kate’s project (CosmicLeap) will explore the ‘deaths’ of white dwarfs (the remnants of burned-out stars), mapping the full diversity of ways in which these bodies explode. The project will work to provide the first complete census of the multiple ways that white dwarfs can explode by mapping observations to their explosion physics. This will be crucial for defining new precision samples for cosmology, as well as determining the rates and contributions of white-dwarf explosions to the origin of the elements. 

She said: “I was really delighted to find out that my ERC Consolidator Grant project, CosmicLeap, had been successful. My research focuses on understanding some of the most dramatic explosions in the Universe, and this award will allow me to build a diverse team of researchers that would not be possible without a grant of this scope.

“It will link state-of-the-art observations of white-dwarf explosions to detailed theoretical models via novel machine-learning techniques. I hope that it will allow us to gain the most comprehensive understanding yet of the mysterious deaths of white dwarf stars.”

“The ERCs support of ‘blue skies’ research offers a lifeline for pursuing this frontier work, which will have a significant impact in materials chemistry and medical devices. Previous internal funding support from Trinity and from our national agencies has led to this award, underlining the significance of national endorsement in securing non-exchequer funding. I’d like to specifically acknowledge past and present lab members who inspire me with their motivation, creativity and dedication, and I’m very excited for this next chapter in our lab.” 

Professor Michael Monaghan from the School of Engineering has also won  a European Research Council (ERC) Consolidator Grant worth €2.6 million for his Project PiezoMac focussing on the development of biomaterials for heart muscle injuries.

Dr Linda Doyle, Provost of Trinity, said: “ERC Consolidator Grants come at a critical point in a researcher's career, allowing awardees to cement their reputations as leaders in their fields and freeing them to pursue truly innovative, 'blue skies' ideas and I warmly congratulate Kate and Michael in securing these prestigious and highly competitive awards.

“Winning an ERC grant is an acknowledgement that their projects are not only scientifically excellent, but will break new ground for their disciplines, illuminating the unknown. At the frontiers of physics and engineering respectively, both researchers are expanding the boundaries of scientific knowledge and what we understand about the natural world. While such projects initially deliver new knowledge, picked up and built on by our colleagues and, critically, our students, the baton is soon passed through the structures of education, research and innovation to deliver the university’s core remit: benefit for wider society.”

Professor Sinead Ryan, Dean of Research at Trinity, said: “Many congratulations to Kate and Michael on securing funding for these ambitious and exciting projects. ERC awards are becoming more and more competitive, so their success is a real indicator of the world-leading quality of their research. Both projects reflect the researchers' abilities to embrace new cutting-edge technologies and to build networks of collaborators within Ireland and far beyond. The projects will allow them to grow their teams and support even more talented early career postdoctoral and PhD researchers to launch a career at Trinity.” 

Since the ERC programme was launched in 2007, Trinity has been awarded over €100 million in funding and its researchers have won over 50 investigator grants across all three faculties. Under the latest European Commission funding programme, Horizon Europe (2021-27), Trinity has secured 24 awards under the ERC programme with a total value of nearly €30 million. Trinity currently hosts four Starting Grants; six Consolidator Grants; two Advanced Grants; and nine Proof of Concept projects.