By Dean Egan.
A Waterford researcher has won a prestigious European fellowship worth more than €170,000 that will allow her to further develop her postdoctoral research on the role that nutrition plays in cognitive health.
Dr Rebecca Power is a Howard Research Fellow at the Nutrition Research Centre Ireland (NRCI) in the School of Health Sciences at Waterford Institute of Technology and a Research Technician at the VistaMilk Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) Research Centre.
Part of Horizon 2020, the EU Framework Programme for Research and Innovation, the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions (MSCA) Individual Fellowship will support Dr Power in her research training and career development by spending a year in the United States before returning to Waterford for a further 12-month period. This is the first direct MSCA Individual Fellowship where Waterford Institute of Technology is the beneficiary.
In the United States, Dr Power will work alongside Aron Barbey, Professor of Psychology, Neuroscience and Bioengineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and Director of the Decision Neuroscience Laboratory at the Beckman Institute for Advanced Science & Technology.
Speaking about the fellowship, Dr Power said: “I’m obviously delighted to have been selected. The support provided will allow me to build on the work that has already been performed here in Waterford and elsewhere in this exciting research area.
“We already know that good nutrition and a balanced diet with lots of fruit, vegetables and fish is important for brain health and function as well as reducing our risk of Alzheimer’s Disease as we grow older. The work that I will undertake during the MSCA fellowship will further improve our understanding of the parts of the brain and neural networks that are strengthened by specific foods.
“With colleagues in the U.S. and here in Waterford, I will also examine the longer-term effects of dietary patterns on how our brains organise and communicate information. We will also examine potential differences between males and females in this regard.”