Sri Lankan doctoral researcher awarded prestigious academic prize in Ireland

A Sri Lankan lecturer pursuing her doctoral studies in Ireland has been awarded one of the country’s most prestigious academic awards.  Ms Charitha Marcus has been awarded the Eda Sagarra Medal of Excellence at the annual Irish Research Council Researcher of the Year awards, 2022.  The medal is awarded to the highest ranked Government of Ireland Postgraduate Scholarship recipient in the Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences domain.

Charitha’s doctoral research in the School of Media at Technological University Dublin  ‘Constructing female identity in Irish politics: the impact of digital media’ examines digital media tactics used by Irish female politicians to build their political identities, and proposes improved digital media strategies to increase women’s role at local, national, and EU levels. 

Speaking about the award, Charitha, who is a lecturer in Mass Communication on study leave from the University of Sri Jayewardenepura, said:

‘It’s an honour to be awarded the Eda Sagarra Medal of Excellence.  Coming from an advertising background, I was always fascinated by how communication strategies could be used to create strong personal and professional identities. There is a demanding need to understand how gender representation in politics can be increased in Ireland using modern communication methods while avoiding common barriers. My research will be applicable not only to Ireland, but to any country in need of increased women political participation. I would like to dedicate this award to the free education system in Sri Lanka and the faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences of the University of Sri Jayewardenepura,’

The medal is awarded in honour of Professor Eda Sagarra, Fellow Emeritus in the Department of Germanic Studies, Trinity College Dublin, who was the first chairperson of the Irish Research Council for Humanities and Social Sciences, the forerunner of the IRC.

Dr Brendan Jennings, Vice President, Research and Innovation at TU Dublin commented: ‘We are very pleased that Charitha chose to pursue her doctoral studies here in TU Dublin, and proud of her achievements in winning this award. As Ireland’s first and largest technological university we are committed to exactly the kind of academic excellence Charitha exemplifies across all our disciplines.  Her research, at the forefront of examining female political representation in the digital sphere is timely, relevant and necessary.’

Dr Orla McDonagh, Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Humanities at TU Dublin commented: ‘Charitha’s remarkable achievement in receiving this honour underscores the importance of Humanities research into understanding our relationship with digital world, and especially the all too real issues faced by women politicians.  All IRC awards are reasons to celebrate, but this award heralds the start of a new, very special academic career, and the Faculty is enormously proud of her achievement.’

Charitha’s research is co-supervised by Dr Caroline Ann O’Sullivan, Head of the School of Media, and Dr Kevin Hora, MPRII, Assistant Head of School and Head of Discipline of Journalism and Communications. Dr O’Sullivan commented: ‘This award is a wholly-deserved endorsement of Charitha’s scholarship as she embarks on what promises to be exciting and impactful research at a time when female political representation and discourse face existential issues online. We are delighted that she is a member of the School’s research community.’