The ADAPT Centre Recognition Awards 2021

17 December 2021

This year’s ADAPT Centre Recognition Awards received an incredible response from the ADAPT community in the form of 69 nominations across the 6 categories. We are delighted to see ADAPT members recognise and rejoice in the success and hard work of one another. These awards recognise and reward outstanding service, notable research excellence, contributions to society, and scientific collaboration and impact. This year in total six awards were distributed to members who displayed these outstanding qualities.

Researcher of the Year Award

Sheila Castilho wins Researcher of the Year, her impactful work on the IRC fellowship and in Machine Translation is consistently being recognised by the MT community as seen by her increased citations and her voice sought at impressive conferences. 

The shortlist included Natalia Resende for her work on the prestigious and competitive Marie-Curie Fellowship for the MTrill project and Giovanni Di Liberto for his provocative view of how the brain processes music and innovative research framework. 

Early Stage Researcher Award

Aritra Banerjee wins the Early Stage Researcher Award for his contribution to the fields of Cryptography, Zero-Knowledge Proofs, and Multi-Party Computations and his authoring of IEEE Best Paper Award, and IACR (International Association of Cryptologic Research) Student Scholarship to attend the biggest Cryptographic conference of the year 2022 (Real World Crypto 2022). His research will be utilized as a post-PhD application by the Bank of New York, New York. 

The shortlist included Peru Bhardwaj for her PhD research which investigates the adversarial robustness of Knowledge Graph Embedding (KGE) models by designing adversarial attacks that lead to unintended predictions from the learned models and Lifeng Han for his development of the new metric cushLEPOR, which was submitted to WMT2021 Metrics task and achieved Cluster-1 ranking in News domain on the WMT official data of Chinese-English, English-German and English-Russian, which result is published in WMT21 findings paper in addition to several other publications. 

Outstanding Professional Staff Member Award

Paulo Soncini wins the Outstanding Professional Staff Member Award for consistently exceeding expectations, over delivering as the norm and always seeking out a way to go the extra mile to do his job and to help others succeed in their work. In particular, his hard work and dedication, as well as the quality of his work in the area of RMA practice, and for tirelessly volunteering to take on these challenges bringing new thinking to the table every time.

The shortlist included Caitríona Campbell for being a brilliant member of the team, an authority on Sesame, SFI, and for her solution orientated approach to the complex transition from Phase 1 to Phase 2 reporting processes and protocols and Alex Irwin for repeatedly and consistently going above and beyond her role to deliver marketing material, giving 110% to every task and her efficiency, good spirit and resourcefulness that contributes towards a pleasant working environment for everyone she collaborates with. 

International Collaborator Award for Scientific Impact

Maria Chiara Leva wins the International Collaborator Award for Scientific Impact for her prestigious industrial doctoral training programme from the European Commission for ‘Collective Intelligence in Safety Critical Systems’ (

The shortlisted included Haithem Afli for his instrumental role in establishing new international collaborations with the Brazilian national research centre EMRAPA, with Ulster university and C-TRIC in Northern Ireland and the collaboration led to the submission of new HEA North-South Research Programme 2021 project.

Industry Engagement and Spin Out Award

Haithem Afli wins the Industry Engagement and Spin Out Award for securing an EI commercialisation for the PigInvest project and H2020 funding for the DIETARY DEAL project thereby strengthening MTU’s position in leading research in the use of artificial intelligence, natural language processing and machine learning in the domains of Healthcare, Life Sciences, Digital Humanities and Fintech. 

The shortlist included Vasudevan Nedumpozhimana for his professional commitment, growth and development on several industry projects and Clare Conran for her outstanding stamina, commitment, patience and perseverance in successfully fulfilling two full-time roles for the last number of years. 

Education & Public Engagement Research Excellence Award

PJ Wall wins the Education & Public Engagement Research Excellence Award for his involvement across a wide-range of ADAPT EPE activities and for adapting his research in the area integrity for multiple audiences including his academic leadership of the Junior Cert STE(A)M teacher training around AI & data, leading the DCU leg of the Citizens’ Think-in for the Nationwide conversation around AI during Science Week and feeding into the AI in my Life Programme.  PJ is always the first to respond and help. He is enthusiastic, a great team player and committed to co-creating engaging content for whatever community he is preparing for. 

The shortlist included Gaye Stephens for her research in Health Informatics and running the Citizens Think-In on Health Information. Gaye put patients’ voices at the core of digital health solutions for Ireland and fed the results to the oversight committee of the IPPOSI Citizens’ Jury which deliberated on the topic of “Access to Health Information in 2021.

Congratulations to this year’s winners and we look forward to seeing what we can achieve next year!