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UCD School of Biology and Environmental Science

Scoil na BitheolaĆ­ochta agus na hEolaĆ­ochta Comhshaoil UCD

Diana Wall and John Hearn Honoured at 2015 Bloomsday Celebrations

Diana Harrison Wall was awarded the Ulysses Medal, the highest honour that the University bestows at the Bloomsday Celebrations

Diana is the director of the School of Global Environmental Sustainability, a University Distinguished Professor of Biology, and Senior Research Scientist at the Natural Resource Ecology Laboratory at Colorado State University.

Diana is actively engaged in research exploring how soil biodiversity contributes to healthy, productive soils and thus benefits society, and the consequences of human activities on soil sustainability. Her global research includes almost thirty years of research in the Antarctic McMurdo Dry Valleys examining how global climate changes impact soil biodiversity, ecosystem processes and ecosystem services. Her work on these low diversity systems has contributed not only to our knowledge of the functioning of soil biological systems but also to our realisation that these delicate systems are likely to be particularly impacted by human activities. In 2004, the Antarctic Wall Valley was named after Diana in honour of her extensive research in the area.

She has been an untiring advocate for the discipline of soil biology which has been central to the research activities of UCD since the Universitity’s formation through a continuous line of researchers such as Prof. George Carpenter, Prof. Gwilym Evans, Prof. Jim Curry and currently Professor of Zoology, Tom Bolger, and Dr. Olaf Schmidt from the School of Agriculture and Food Science.


Prof John Hearn was awarded an Honorary Doctor of Science. John graduated from University College Dublin with a 1st honours BSc and MSc in Zoology. He worked in the area of Developmental Biology using Xenopus and salmon as his model organisms.  He acknowledges the early theoretical and practical training in cell development which he received here as the basis for his PhD, at the Australian National University, and early research career in developmental embryology and the “biology of shape” which led to stem cell biology, an area which his lab was engaged in during the early 1980s long before it became fashionable.

John’s research, teaching and mentorship have concentrated on basic questions in biology and how they apply to biomedicine and to conservation.  He is a reproductive and developmental physiologist who has worked with species such as kangaroos, pandas and primates, species with which many young zoologists dream of working.  He has published more than 220 research papers and six edited books on human and animal fertility, stem cell biology and biotechnology.  In recent years his research has been on the science and ethics of stem cell biology, and on reform in international higher education.