Speaker Profiles

Prof Ijeoma F. Uchegbu

Professor of Pharmaceutical Nanoscience at University College London (UK) and Chief Scientific Officer of Nanomerics.

Ijeoma Uchegbu FMedSci is UCL’s Professor of Pharmaceutical Nanoscience, a fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences, an honorary fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry, a governor on the Wellcome board (one of the largest biomedical sciences research charities in the world) and Chief Scientific Officer of Nanomerics Ltd, a UCL spin out company. She has served as Chair of the Academy of Pharmaceutical Sciences and chaired EPSRC and Science Foundation Ireland grant prioritisation panels. Uchegbu is the immediate past UCL Provost’s Envoy for Race Equality, a role in which she led on race equality work at UCL.

Her initiatives (e.g. Dean’s Pledges on Race Equality) were instrumental in achieving UCL’s Bronze Race Charter in 2020. Uchegbu has also presented to the UK House of Commons on the educational racial disparities that lead to a lack of ethnic minority representation in scientific research.

She has studied the mechanisms of drug transport across biological barriers and created transformational drug transport nanoparticles. She was the first to show that peptides could be delivered across the blood brain barrier to elicit a pharmacological response, when presented as peptide drug nanofibers and the first to demonstrate, via definitive pharmacology and pharmacokinetics evidence, peptide transport into the brain, using peptide nanoparticles delivered via the nose to brain route. These findings led to the enkephalin pain medicine candidate Envelta™, which was designed to address the opioid crisis. In preclinical studies, Envelta™ showed no analgesic tolerance, reward seeking behaviour or potential to cause significant constipation. Envelta has been out licensed to Virpax Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ:VRPX) and is currently being developed by the US National Center for Advancing Translational Studies. If successful, this will be the first neuropeptide medicine approval and it will have been made possible by the innovation originating in Uchegbu’s group.

The technology underpinning Envelta™ won first prize in the Royal Society of Chemistry’s Emerging Technologies competition in 2017 and the Academy of Pharmaceutical Sciences Science Innovation Award in 2016.

Three other medicine candidates based on this nanotechnology have been out-licensed to pharmaceutical companies in the US. Uchegbu’s work has been funded continuously for 21 years by the EPSRC and she serves on the BBSRC Council. Uchegbu is the immediate past Pro Vice Provost for Africa and the Middle East and in this role Uchegbu led on the international research and teaching engagement strategy in this region.

Prof Séamus Davis

Emeritus Professor of Physics, Cornell University (USA), Professor of Quantum Physics at University College Cork, and Professor of Physics at the University of Oxford, UK.

Séamus Davis hails from Skibbereen, Co Cork. He received his B.Sc from University College Cork, Ireland in 1983 and his Ph.D. from the University of California – Berkeley, CA, USA in 1989. He was appointed Professor of Physics at the University of California – Berkeley and a Faculty Physicist at Berkeley National Laboratory between 1993 and 2003. He became Professor of Physics at Cornell University, New York, in 2003 and a Senior Physicist at Brookhaven National Laboratory in New York in 2006. In 2007 he was appointed SUPA Distinguished Professor of Physics at St. Andrews University, Scotland, and in 2008 the J.G. White Distinguished Professor of Physical Sciences at Cornell University, USA. He has served as Director of the Center for Emergent Superconductivity for the US Department of Energy (2009-2014). In 2019 he became J.G. White Distinguished Professor Emeritus, Cornell University, USA; Senior Fellow of Wadham College, University of Oxford, UK; Professor of Physics, University of Oxford, UK; and Professor of Quantum Physics, University College Cork, Ireland.

Davis’ active research interests are in the macroscopic quantum physics of emergent quantum matter including studies of superconductors, superfluids and supersolids; Kondo, Weyl and Hund metals; magnetic and Kondo topological condensates; spin & monopole liquids.

Davis’ physics research has been recognized by the Outstanding Performance Award of Berkeley National Lab. (2001), the Science and Technology Award of Brookhaven National Lab. (2013), the Fritz London Memorial Prize (2005), the H. Kamerlingh-Onnes Memorial Prize (2009), Science Foundation Ireland – Medal of Science (2016), Science Foundation Ireland Research Professorship (2019), O.V. Lounasmaa Memorial Prize (2020), and UK Royal Society Research Professorship (2020). Davis is a Fellow of the Institute of Physics (UK), the American Physical Society (USA), the Max Planck Gesellschaft (Germany), the Royal Irish Academy (IE), the America Assoc. for Advancement of Science (USA), and of the US National Academy of Sciences (USA).

In October 2022, Prof Davis became the first ever Irish recipient of the prestigious Buckley Physics Prize for his work in developing quantum microscopes. Awarded annually by the American Physical Society, the Oliver E Buckley Condensed Matter Prize is given to individuals who have made “outstanding theoretical or experimental contributions to condensed matter physics.”

Lieutenant General Seán Clancy

Chief of Staff of the Irish Defence Forces

Lt Gen Seán Clancy has 38 years’ service in the Irish Defence Forces. He is the first Airman inthe Irish State to serve as Chief of Staff, having
previously served as Deputy Chief of Staff (Support) and General Officer Commanding Irish Air Corps and Director of Military Aviation.

Lt Gen Clancy joined the Irish Defence Forces in 1984 as a cadet and commenced his flight training in 1986. He has flown both fixed and rotary wing aircraft and has accumulated nearly 5,000 flight hours. Lt Gen Clancy has spent a considerable period of his career as a Search and Rescue pilot and was the Commander of the crew who received the Marine Medal for Meritorious Service in 2002. Lt Gen Clancy has served for a year with the European Union Force in Bosnia as the Military Advisor to the Force Commander and spent two years as air advisor to the permanent element of SHIRBRIG, the UN standby Brigade.

He holds a Bachelor of Science Degree from Trinity College, Dublin and a Masters in Military Leadership and Defence Studies from the National University of Ireland, Maynooth. He is a graduate of the Defence Forces Command and Staff College where he was the recipient of the Lt Gen Tadgh O’Neill Award. In 2017 he completed a Diploma in Advanced Management Performance with Smurfit Business School.

In 2021, a new €2.4M SFI-Defence Organisation Innovation Challenge was launched to support academic research teams to work with the Irish Defence Forces to develop innovative solutions to a number of challenges that will positively impact Irish society.

Prof J. Peter Clinch

Chairman of the Board of SFI

Prof J. Peter Clinch was appointed Chairperson of the Board of SFI in August 2019. He was previously Chairperson of the National Competitiveness Council where he served as a senior independent adviser to Government on competitiveness, trade and economic policy.

Peter is a former Vice President of UCD where he holds the Jean Monnet Chair of Public Policy and he is an Affiliate Faculty member of the competitiveness programme at the Institute for Strategy, Harvard Business School. He has held visiting positions, or has been an invited speaker at, amongst others, the University of California, Berkeley and San Diego, Oxford University, Cambridge University, the University of Southern California, and the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. Peter has advised, amongst others, the World Bank, OECD, and several national governments and agencies. He is regularly consulted on strategy by leading national and international organisations and has made significant contributions to a broad range of policy domains at national and European level.

He holds first-class BA and MA degrees in economics, a PhD, a Diploma in Environmental Impact Assessment, and is a graduate of the Advanced Management Programme at Harvard Business School and the International Directors’ Program at Insead. He has authored over 200 publications and papers on various aspects of sustainable economic development. In 2017, Peter was conferred with a Fellowship of the Academy of Social Sciences for distinguished research and contributions to policy

Mr Pat Cox

European Coordinator for the Scandinavian-Mediterranean TEN T (transport) Core Network Corridor and former President of the European Parliament (2002-2004)

Pat Cox was educated at Ardscoil Rís, C.B.S. Limerick and Trinity College Dublin. From 2022-2004 he was President of the European Parliament, following which he was President of the European Movement International. He has been a lecturer in Economics, a Current Affairs television broadcaster, a member of the European Parliament and a member of Dáil Éireann.

Today, Pat is the European Coordinator for the Scandinavian-Mediterranean TEN T (transport) Core Network Corridor (EU), a role he has held since 2010. He is a member of the Appointment Advisory Committee of the European Investment Bank, and holds Director and Chairman roles for several organisations, including Director of the Institute for International and European Affairs in Ireland and Director of the Ireland China Institute. He is Honorary Vice President of the European Movement Ireland and has been President of the Jean Monnet Foundation for Europe since 2014.

In 2001, Pat was recognised as European Voice MEP of the Year, and in 2002, the European Movement’s Irish European of the year. In 2004, he was awarded the Charlemagne Prize, in Aachen, Germany, and is a Commandeur de la Légion d’honneur and Commandeur de l’ordre des Palmes académiques, France. Since 2015, he has been Leader of Needs Assessment and Implementation Mission on parliamentary reform for the European Parliament and the Verkhovna Rada, Kiev, Ukraine. He holds honorary doctorates from National University of Ireland, Trinity College Dublin, University of Limerick, American College Ireland and Open University.

Through his work with Sustainable Nation Ireland, Pat acted as Societal Champion on the GreenWatch Team, as part of the SFI-Challenge Funding in AI for Societal Good Award. This work focuses on AI for anti-greenwashing.

Prof Hannah E. Daly

Professor in Sustainable Energy at University College Cork

Hannah Daly is a Professor in Sustainable Energy at University College Cork. She leads research within the MaREI SFI Research Centre for Energy, Climate and Marine, focusing on achieving rapid, sustainable climate mitigation pathways.

Her work informs policy and the media, reaching wide audiences, including through her monthly column in the Irish Times. She is currently supervising five PhD students, and coordinating and delivering four academic modules. Hannah was a winner of the 2021 UCC President’s Award for Excellence in Teaching.

Dr Brendan Dolan

Science Advocacy Training development officer, CÚRAM SFI Research Centre for Medical Devices.

Dr Brendan Dolan is a transdisciplinary researcher based in University of Galway, with expertise in research impact, scientific leadership and principal investigator research, ecological theory and science advocacy. Brendan currently serves as the Science Advocacy Training development officer at CÚRAM SFI Research Centre for Medical Devices. Science Advocacy Training is a new initiative in development as part of CÚRAM’s public engagement programme ‘Breaking Barriers’. The aim of the programme is to support and encourage individual researchers to communicate their research to policy audiences and to engage with the policymaking process in Ireland and internationally.

Brendan is also lead postdoctoral researcher on the Principal Investigator Impact: Research in Medical Devices project. This interdisciplinary project focuses on supporting researchers in the MedTech field to take on the principal investigator role in publicly funded research projects and plan for impact. This project arose from a multidisciplinary collaboration between CÚRAM, the School of Political Science and Sociology at University of Galway, and Newcastle University. A key output of the project, piimpact.com offers a variety of toolkits and resources for researchers of medical device research and publicly funded research more generally, to prepare them in becoming PIs and planning for impact.

Trudy Duffy

Principal Officer, Evidence for Policy Unit, Dept. of Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science.

Trudy Duffy is Principal Officer in the Evidence for Policy Unit of the Department of Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science. Her current responsibilities include leading the development of policy and structures to support increased engagement between the higher education research sector and policy-making across the civil service as set out in Impact 2030.

Trudy has over 15 years of experience in policy development across the education and training sector from primary level education to international qualifications, further education and training and higher education policy.

Dr Patrick Kavanagh

SFI-IRC Pathway Programme Principal Investigator

Dr Patrick Kavanagh is an astrophysicist based at the Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies (DIAS). He is an expert in studies of supernova remnants, superbubbles and the hot interstellar medium. Since moving to DIAS he has worked on the development of calibration and software tools for the Mid-Infrared Instrument (MIRI) on the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), and on the Supernovae and Protostars science working groups.

He recently returned from supporting MIRI commissioning at the Webb Mission Operations Center at the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore, US, and now holds an SFI-IRC Pathway Fellowship to study the iconic supernova SN1987A and star formation in the low-metallicity Large Magellanic Cloud using JWST observations.

​Prof Andrew Keane

​Director of NexSys and the Energy Institute at University College Dublin, and Professor in the School of Electrical & Electronic Engineering at UCD

​Andrew is Director of NexSys, an All Island SFI research partnership. NexSys is hosted by the UCD Energy Institute in partnership with eight other leading research institutions: ESRI, Dublin City University, Queen’s University Belfast, University of Galway, Maynooth University, Trinity College Dublin, University College Cork, and Ulster University. It involves 46 academics working in partnership with industry to tackle the challenges of energy decarbonisation, developing evidence-based pathways for a net zero energy system.

Andrew is also a Professor in the School of Electrical & Electronic Engineering at UCD where he leads a group focused on power system planning and operation, especially distribution networks. Previously, Andrew has served as Head of the School of Electrical & Electronic Engineering at UCD and held positions in industry with ESB Networks in Dublin and Smarter Grid Solutions in Glasgow. In 2015 he co-founded NovoGrid a grid automation company developing software solutions for renewable generators and utilities. He is a Senior Member of the IEEE and past chair of the IEEE Power and Energy Society UK and Ireland Chapter. He has published over 180 peer reviewed publications, including 6 book chapters and over 80 papers in leading journals.

Prof Norelee Kennedy

Vice President Research and Associate Professor of Physiotherapy at University of Limerick.

Prof Norelee Kennedy is Vice President Research and Associate Professor of Physiotherapy at University of Limerick. She holds a BSc Physiotherapy, a Postgrad Diploma in Statistics and a PhD from Trinity College Dublin and Postgraduate Certificate in Teaching and Learning from NUI Galway.

Her research is in the area of inflammatory arthritis and exercise/physical activity and she has been awarded grants from a number of national and EU sources. Prof Kennedy is a registered Physiotherapist with CORU, the Health and Social Care Professionals Regulator. She has served as a member of the EULAR Health Professions Committee and is a current member of the EULAR Education committee in addition to various board memberships.

Maureen Kennelly

Director, Arts Council of Ireland

Maureen Kennelly was director of Poetry Ireland from 2013 until April 2020. She was previously director of Kilkenny Arts Festival, artistic director of the Mermaid Arts Centre, general manager with Fishamble Theatre Company, and she also worked with Druid Theatre Company, the Cat Laughs Comedy Festival, The Arts Council and the Design and Crafts Council of Ireland. On a freelance basis, she worked with a wide range of organisations including Theatre Forum, Sing Ireland, the Performance Corporation and Age & Opportunity. She was Primary Curator with the Mountains to Sea DLR Book Festival and Programme Director with the Cúirt International Festival of Literature.

Maureen was appointed to the Expert Advisory Committee of Culture Ireland in 2013 and she was a member of the governing body of University College Cork from 2014 to 2018. Maureen grew up in Ballylongford, Co Kerry, and is a graduate of NUI Galway and of University College Dublin. She has been a board member of Kilkenny Arts Festival, the Tyrone Guthrie Centre, the Butler Gallery, Barabbas Theatre Company and the Dock Arts Centre.

Dr. Deirdre Lillis

Assistant Secretary General in the Department of Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science in Ireland

Dr. Deirdre Lillis is Assistant Secretary General in the Department of Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science in Ireland, with responsibility for the Research, Innovation, Evidence for Policy and EU/International Division.  A proven senior executive, her prior experience includes university leadership roles in university-enterprise engagement in TU Dublin and as Head of Computer Science in Dublin Institute of Technology. She has a track record of research capacity building and transformation in higher education including principal investigator for an unprecedented national investment of €17.5m in university-enterprise engagement (www.convene.ie), the €4m global HubLinked Knowledge Alliance (www.hublinked.eu) and Marie-Curie RISE GETM3 Global Entrepreneurial Talent Management programme.

She is a Chartered Director and has served on the Board of the Higher Education Authority in Ireland, the Senate of the National University of Ireland and the Board of the Irish Writers Centre. Her research interests include national research and innovation systems, higher education policy, university-industry innovations and young talent management. She has won European awards for her sustained commitment to developing the careers of female academic staff and for increasing the participation of females in technological higher education programmes.

Dr Fergal Lynch

Senior Lead in Government and Public Policy Engagement, University of Galway

Dr Fergal Lynch works with the University of Galway to help foster closer links between policy practitioners and academics in the development, implementation and evaluation of public policy. His work areas within the University include supporting research, teaching and civic engagement on policy development, analysis of policy issues with a focus on lessons for the future, and lecturing on selected postgraduate courses. He is also an external adviser to the OECD project on Strengthening Public Policy and Strategic Foresight in the Irish Public Service, in conjunction with the Department of the Taoiseach and the Department of Public Expenditure.

Dr Lynch was previously Secretary General of the Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth (2015-2022) and Deputy Secretary General of the Department of Health (2012-2015).

Prof Patricia Maguire

Professor of Biochemistry at University College Dublin (UCD) and Director of the UCD Institute for Discovery

Professor Patricia Maguire is a biomedical scientist focused on the important cargo that platelets sequester, store and release upon activation. Her current work is in translational diagnostics research, developing a novel non-invasive blood-based diagnostics platform PALADIN (PlAteLetbAsed DIagNostics) that harnesses the power of circulating platelets combined with AI to uncover secrets of health and disease.

She is Professor of Biochemistry at University College Dublin (UCD), Ireland and Director of the UCD Institute for Discovery, a major transdisciplinary research institute within this university, which cultivates interdisciplinary connections aligned to the UN Sustainable Development Goals. She is also Scientific Director the UCD Conway SPHERE research group and author on over 60 peer-reviewed publications in journals, including Nature Communications and the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Prof Maguire leads the AI_PREMie team, who were winners of a special prize in the SFI AI for Societal Good Challenge,. Their work has discovered that information carried by platelets combined with powerful AI can help doctors diagnose pre-eclampsia.

Dr Fergus McAuliffe

Professor of Biochemistry at University College Dublin (UCD) and Director of the UCD Institute for Discovery

Dr Fergus McAuliffe is an award-winning science communicator and holds a PhD in Environmental Science. He is the Communications and Public Engagement Manager at iCRAG – the Science Foundation Ireland Research Centre in Applied Geosciences based at University College Dublin, Ireland where his science communication activities include working with artists, teachers, and the media.

Fergus is currently a TV presenter on “10 Things to Know About” on RTÉ1 TV where he presents science stories focussing on the unexpected and uncanny aspects of science, the natural world and the environment. Fergus was the 2013 winner of FameLab International, the world’s largest science communication competition and has been previously selected by Pirelli Inc. as one of the Top 10 Global Young Talents and has also been shortlisted for The Guardian science writing prize. Fergus is a contributor to the science radio show Futureproof on Newstalk FM, on the board of SCI:COM and has delivered keynote presentations on storytelling in science across Europe, the US and at the TEDx Dublin conference.

Joseph Moore

Principal Officer at the Department of Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science

Joseph has responsibility for the development, coordination and implementation of cross Government national, EU and international Research, Development and Innovation policy.  This includes implementation of Impact 2030 and managing Ireland’s participation in the European Research Area and the EU’s Research and Innovation Framework Programmes. Prior to joining the Civil Service in 2017, Joseph worked for 20 years with an international bank-insurance company.

Kate Morris

Director of Campus Engage

Kate leads Campus Engage on behalf of the Irish Universities. Campus Engage was established to better connect research and innovation with society, to address our most complex societal challenges and maximise impact.

Kate’s work is dedicated to creating systems change, to better connect the research and innovation process with the public, to realise new or improved impactful public policy, services, and products.

In 2014, Kate led the co-production of Ireland’s first Higher Education Charter for Civic and Community Engagement, signed by each President of Ireland’s universities and institutes of technology.  She also led a consultation across Ireland to build a stakeholder-designed Framework for Engaged Research and Innovation for Societal Impact. This Framework was invested in by Science Foundation Ireland, Irish Research Council and Enterprise Ireland to develop a national capacity building programme. This programme has now provided a benefit to thousands of researchers across Ireland and the EU.

Kate works in multiple advisory roles and is an advisor to the European Research Council; the Global Talloires Network of Engaged Universities; Italian Network for Public Engagement of Research, amongst others. She also sits on the Public Patient Involvement (PPI) Steering Committee for the Health Research Board and Irish Research Council Ignite Network.

Prof Philip Nolan

Director General of SFI

Prof Philip Nolan was appointed Director General of SFI, the primary national funder of basic and applied research in the areas of science, technology, engineering and mathematics, with effect from 17 January 2022. Previously President of Maynooth University, from 2011-2021, he established a new strategy for the University in its research, teaching and engagement activities, which saw unprecedented growth and diversification of teaching and research, and a doubling of the research capacity of the University.

He has contributed to important developments in higher education in Ireland, specifically in reforming the transition from second to third level, in widening participation in higher education, and in promoting equality and diversity. Prof Philip Nolan earned his degrees in Physiology (1988) and Medicine (1991) at UCD and was subsequently awarded a PhD in Physiology for his research on the control of breathing and the cardiovascular system during sleep. He is an accomplished researcher, with interests in physiological signal processing and control systems, and publications in the leading journals in the field. He joined the academic staff of the Department of Human Anatomy and Physiology at UCD in 1996, winning President’s Awards for both Research and Teaching. He was appointed Director of the UCD Conway Institute for Biomolecular and Biomedical Research in 2003, before becoming Registrar and Deputy President at UCD in 2004, where he led an institution-wide reform of the undergraduate curriculum, the UCD Horizons programme, and was responsible for access and widening participation, postgraduate studies, international partnerships, and library and information technology services.

During 2020 and 2021, Professor Nolan was centrally involved in the management of the COVID-19 pandemic, as a member of the National Public Health Emergency Team, chairing its disease modelling subgroup. He is a member of the Royal Irish Academy, and an Honorary Fellow of the Faculty of Public Health Medicine of the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland.

Dr Claire O’Connell

Irish Times Journalist and Science Communicator

Dr Claire O’Connell is a science communicator. She holds a PhD in cell biology from University College Dublin and a Master’s in Science Communication from Dublin City University. She has written for The Irish Times since 2005 and was named Irish Science Writer of the Year in 2016.

Seán Ó Foghlú

Senior Fellow in Public Policy, Social Sciences Institute, Maynooth University.

Seán Ó Foghlú is a Senior Fellow in Public Policy in the Social Sciences Institute in Maynooth University. He is supporting research, teaching and civic engagement, relating to public policy development and implementation and is working across the university in advancing the aims of the university in this regard. He is working with the Department of Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science in advising it on the development and implementation of its policy approach on linking research in higher education and policy-making in the civil service.

He was Secretary General of the Department of Education for 10 years until February 2022. He has 30 years of experience in Irish civil and public service, including four at Assistant Secretary level in the Department of Education and seven years as chief executive of the National Qualifications Authority of Ireland.

Prof Derek O’Keeffe

Consultant Physician at University Hospital Galway and Professor of Medical Device Technology at the University of Galway

Prof Derek O’Keeffe holds dual first-class honors degrees and dual doctorates in Medicine and Engineering. He was a Fulbright Scholar at Harvard, a Green Templeton Scholar at Oxford and is a graduate of the Endocrinology Clinical Fellowship at the Mayo Clinic.

As well as multiple academic publications, he holds biomedical patents and several international research prizes. He has previously worked with NASA, placing a sleep experiment onboard the International Space Station. He was awarded the St Lukes medal by RCPI and won a silver guild award for his health education themed garden at Bloom in May 2022. He has carried out volunteer work in Ireland, USA, Ghana and Papua New Guinea, travelled in over 120 countries and was awarded The Outstanding Young Person of the World by Junior Chamber International. He is a Black Belt Taekwondo instructor, qualified pilot, advanced scuba diver and triathlete.

Prof O’Keeffe currently works as a Consultant Physician (Endocrinologist) at University Hospital Galway (UHG) and is the Professor of Medical Device Technology at the University of Galway.

Prof Kevin M. Ryan

Chair in Chemical Nanotechnology, Dept. Chemical Sciences (Bernal Institute, UL)

Professor Kevin M. Ryan holds a Personal Chair in Chemical Nanotechnology at the Department of Chemical Sciences in the School of Natural Sciences at the University of Limerick and is also an academic member of UL’s Governing Authority.

He is coordinator of the H2020 EU projects Si-Drive (2019 start-www.sidrive2020.eu) and SiGNE (2022 start) in the area of Li-ion batteries for EVs. He is Co-Principal Investigator with the SFI Research Centres AMBER and MaREI, and is a funded Investigator with both SFI Research Centres, SSPC and Confirm. He is theme leader for the Molecular/Nano cluster at the Bernal Institute and holds SFI IVP and IRC Laureate awards.

He is a native of Limerick and graduated with a BSc in 1999 and a PhD in 2003 in Chemistry from University College Cork. He subsequently held Marie Curie Fellowship positions at Merck Chemicals Southampton, UK and at the University of California, Berkeley, USA, prior to joining University of Limerick in 2006 as a Stokes Lecturer. He has published over 150 academic papers and holds 10 patents with research interests in semiconductor nanocrystals and nanowires for applications in electronic devices and batteries. His research group currently 5 postdoctoral researchers and 16 PhD students are based at the Bernal Institute (www.nanoresearchul.org).

Dr. Niall Smith

Head of Research, Munster Technological University and Head of Blackrock Castle Observatory, Cork

Dr. Niall Smith has a PhD in astrophysics from University College Dublin. He is currently Head of Research at Munster Technological University and Founder-Director of the internationally award-winning Blackrock Castle Observatory (BCO) which is celebrating its 15th anniversary and over 1.2 million visitors. He has been awarded circa €10M in research grants as PI or co-I and a further €21.7M as strategic/administrative lead.

Niall recently served as a member of the Expert Committee of the Government’s Creating Our Future initiative which has fed directly into the next national R&I Strategy, Impact 2030. He writes a monthly column in the Irish Examiner national newspaper called “Skymatters” and is a regular contributor to newspaper articles and radio programming.

Niall’s research focuses on space topics including ultra-high precision photometry and the uses of small satellites in low earth orbit for a wide range of functions from high resolution imaging to space cybersecurity to rural broadband. He was the Higher Education representative on the National Steering Group for the Irish Government’s Space Strategy for Enterprise (2019-2023) and considers Space 4.0 to be a significant opportunity for business and educational communities across the globe. He is a member of a number of national R&I related committees, a co-author on a number of national green and white papers on R&I and a Board Member of the National Sculpture Factory.

Dr Nanasaheb Thorat

SFI-IRC Pathway Programme-funded Principal Investigator at the Department of Physics, University of Limerick

Dr Thorat is a three time winner of the prestigious Marie Curie Fellowships: Politechnika Wrocławska (2018-2020) University of Oxford (2020-2022) and Harvard Medical School (2022) and the first Indian awardee of the European Commission’s Innovation Radar “Grand Prix of the Innovation Radar Prize 2020.”

He has 100 publications on his credit including 70 peer-reviewed SCI journal research papers, seven books, 25 book chapters, one European patent filled, two European innovations/inventions registered in the European Union’s Innovation Radar Project, delivered keynote speeches and talks at prestigious scientific peer-conferences in Singapore, France, Germany, USA, Ireland, Poland, South Korea, and India. He has received international acclaims and awards for his research contributions and generated research funding in excess of €1.5M. He has supervised students/junior researchers and actively participated in outreach and scientific dissemination for the service of the wider community.

On-time diagnosis and chemotherapeutic resistance is a major obstacle to breast cancer treatment which presents multiple challenges for optimal management of this deadly disease. A study by Dr. Nanasaheb Thorat which could lead the future for breast cancer therapy was named a Top Invention in 2020 by the European Commission. The study proposed innovative #nanomedicine coupled with #theranostics as an optimal solution for cancer management rather than the conventional Chemo + radiotherapy along with surgical resection. Patients who have had chemotherapy know that as effective as it may be, it also causes damage to otherwise healthy cells. Dr. Thorat’s research offers a treatment for breast cancer that would avoid such damage.