June 2016 | Meitheamh 2016

Five UCD Academics Elected to Royal Irish Academy

Fri, 3 June 16 15:08

Pictured top (l-r): Prof Walter Kolch, Systems Biology Ireland; Prof Emma Teeling, UCD School of Biology and Environmental Science; Prof Frédéric Dias, UCD School of Mathematics and Statistics; Professor Mary E. Daly, UCD School of History and President of Royal Irish Academy; Prof Diane Negra, UCD School of English, Drama and Film; Prof Paul Devereux, UCD School of Economics.

The Royal Irish Academy (RIA) has elected five new members from University College Dublin in recognition of their academic excellence. The group includes Professor Walter Kolch, Director of Systems Biology Ireland and Professor Garret A. FitzGerald (UCD Medicine UCD Medicine 1974, UCD MD 1980 and UCD DSc 2004 ) who is Chair of Systems Pharmacology at University of Pennsylvania. Membership to the RIA is by election only and is considered the highest academic honour in Ireland.

Professor Paul Devereux – UCD School of Economics

The work of Professor Devereux covers the economic impact of education, intergenerational mobility and the effects of family characteristics and family structure on child outcomes.

He has collaborated extensively with Professor Sandra E. Black who was nominated by US President Barack Obama to join the White House Council of Economic Advisors.

His work has been published in Quarterly Journal of Economics, American Economic Review and Economic Journal.

Professor Devereux currently serves on the council of the European Society for Population Economics.

Professor Diane Negra – UCD School of English, Drama and Film

Professor Negra is Professor of Film Studies and Screen Culture. Her work examines the insights offered by popular media into the societies that produce and view them.

Her work has been featured by CNN, BBC, The Guardian, Newsweek, The Independent and the International Herald Tribune (now International New York Times).

Her previous work includes Extreme Weather and Global Media; Gendering the Recession: Media and Culture in an Age of Austerity; In the Limelight and Under the Microscope: Forms and Functions of Female Celebrity and Old and New Media After Katrina.

Professor Negra will publish The Aesthetics and Affects of Cuteness in 2017. 

Professor Frédéric Dias – UCD School of Mathematics and Statistics

The work of Professor Dias is at the forefront of research in fluid mechanics. It covers a range of ocean-based areas including tsunami warning systems, rogue waves and wave energy.

Professor Dias was awarded a European Research Council (ERC) grant to jointly lead a project that aimed to unravel the mysteries of the origin of rogue ocean waves.

He received a Principal Investigator Award from Science Foundation Ireland in 2011 for his research into “High-end computational modelling for wave energy systems.”

Professor Dias is serving co-editor of the European Journal of Mechanics B/Fluids and member of the French National Committee on Mechanics.

Professor Walter Kolch – UCD School of Medicine

Professor Kolch is Director of Systems Biology Ireland (SBI) and Fellow at UCD Conway Institute.  His work on quantitative biological mechanisms has led to improved therapies, particularly in the treatment of cancer.  Professor Kolch aims to ‘decipher the networks of life with his work’. He co-ordinates interdisciplinary research to simulate biochemical networks to understand the dynamic interactions within them.

Prof Kolch has been Director of Systems Biology Ireland (SBI) since its inception in 2009, and served as Director of the UCD Conway Institute of Biomolecular and Biomedical Research from 2010-2016. Prior to his appointment to SBI, Kolch spent his academic career in Austria, the US and Germany before moving to Scotland where he was appointed Group Leader at the Beatson Institute for Cancer Research, Glasgow in 1998. He became Professor of Molecular Cell Biology at the University of Glasgow in 2000 and within this role, was the founder and Director of the Sir Henry Wellcome Functional Genomics Facility from 2001-2004. This facility was one of the first worldwide, which integrated bioinformatics, proteomics, genomics and transcriptomics research and service. From 2005 to 2009, he was Scientific Director of the Interdisciplinary Research Collaboration (IRC) Proteomics Technologies - RASOR, a £15M multidisciplinary project between the Universities of Glasgow, Edinburgh, Strathclyde and Dundee, which focused on developing innovative proteomics technologies and which incorporated an associated doctoral training centre.

In the last ten years, Kolch has built an international reputation across three areas: MAPK signalling, proteomics, and cancer research, especially in regard to using systems biology approaches. As principal or co-applicant he has secured grants worth in excess of €90M, has published over 230 original articles and currently coordinates 2 multi-partner EU-FP7 Health programmes and a Marie Curie COFUND postdoctoral fellowship programme in addition to the SBI CSET programme.

Professor Emma Teeling – UCD School of Biology and Environmental Science

Professor Teeling is a world authority on bat ecology and evolution. She studies bats for insights into human diseases such as blindness and deafness as well as aging.

Her research into the fields of zoology, phylogenetics, genomics and conservation biology uncovers the genetic signatures of survival that enables species to adapt to an ever-changing environment.

She established the Laboratory of Molecular Evolution and Mammalian Phylogenetics in 2005 and is Director of the Centre for Irish Bat Research at UCD.

Professor Teeling and her team have been awarded more than €4 million in funding to support their research.

Two UCD alumni elected as honorary members

The Royal Irish Academy also inducted two UCD alumni as honorary members. Previous honorary members include Albert Einstein and Charles Darwin.

Conor Gearty is Professor of Human Rights Law and Director of the Institute of Public Affairs at London School of Economics. He is also a practising barrister.

His scholarship has covered civil liberties, human rights and the risk to freedom and democracy posed by state security responses to terrorism.

Garret A. FitzGerald is chair of Systems Pharmacology at University of Pennsylvania.

His work contributed to the development of low-dose aspirin and revealed how non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs present a cardiovascular hazard.

The Royal Irish Academy is an all-Ireland academic body that promotes study and distinction in the sciences, humanities and social sciences. It was founded in 1785.

Professor Mary E. Daly, UCD School of History, is the current president of the RIA. She became the first woman to hold the post in its 229-year history when she was elected in 2014.

Ten additional members were inducted at the ceremony. They are Tom Arnold (IIEA); Catherine Day (UCC governing body); Michael Marsh (TCD); William J. Mc Cormack; Máirín Nic Eoin, (St Patrick’s College, Drumcondra/DCU); Geoffrey Roberts (UCC); Stefano Sanvito (TCD); Justin D. Holmes (UCC); Andrew Mills (QUB) and Brian Norton (DIT).


Adapted from article by Jonny Baxter, digital journalist, UCD University Relations with additional reporting by Systems Biology Ireland