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2020 VIA Awards

Recognising colleagues who bring the University’s values to life

Now in their third year, the Values in Action (VIA) awards celebrate individuals or teams/committees who act as ambassadors for the UCD Values through their daily work, or establish initiatives that bring the UCD Values to life or volunteer. The awards were established by the Employee Engagement Network.

For the 2020 awards, 73 submissions nominating 38 individuals or teams were received. To reflect the huge efforts of colleagues in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and elsewhere across the University,  the adjudication committee has awarded 12 UCD VIAs, out of a pool of high quality nominations that captured the diverse achievements of colleagues to bring our shared values of Collegiality, Creativity, Diversity, Engagement, Excellence and Integrity to life.

The Adjudication Committee was chaired by Prof Joe Carthy, Chair, UCD Employee Engagement Network and College Principal, UCD College of Science; Prof. Amanda McCann, previous VIA recipient, UCD School of Medicine; Dr Danielle Petherbridge, previous VIA recipient, UCD School of Philosophy; Rory Carey, Director Culture & Engagement; and Mark Simpson, Culture & Engagement.

2020 VIA Awardees

All awards are awarded with equal merit.

Recipient: Access Classics Team

Members: Dr Bridget Martin, Tasneem Filaih, Dr Christopher Farrell

Nominator(s): Dr Martin Brady

The team is being recognised for their Access Classics outreach project. Their vision is that everyone should be afforded the opportunity to explore the art, architecture, history, languages, literature, and philosophy of ancient Greece and Rome. The project visits and host schools and adult education institutions that offer Classics as a subject, and those that do not. These schools are located outside Dublin and in areas of the city currently under-represented at UCD. The aim of their project is to increase awareness of Classical Studies within these schools to increasing undergraduate numbers, increasing the number of potential Classics teachers, expanding the number of schools that formally teach Classics, and more generally enriching the educational experience of second level students. In addition, the team have developed a Transition Year(TY)  module for school students which has been approved and rolled out by the Department of Education, and is in the process of designing a website that will further support teaching, learning and engagement. Within UCD, a module, Access Classics, has also been developed in which students on the BA (Humanities) Programme will work to create materials to support the delivery of this outreach work to schools. The project was initiated as a voluntary effort by the three participants, but as the scale and impact of their work became evident the project has been built into their workloads. Together these colleagues have  demonstrated tremendous collegiality, creativity, diversity and engagement.

Recipient: Conway COVID-19 Urgent Response Team 

Conway staff: Emer Bonham, Eimear Ryan, Catherine Moss, Alison Murphy, Maynard Sanchez, Luke Millington, Nicola Pellegrini, Annette Wallace, Des Butler, Mark Crowley, Michael O'Sullivan (retired June 2020) and Volunteer Conway ECRs, Dr Eric Brown, Dr Darrell Andrews, Mariam Marai, Ruoyao Ma, Rebecca Ward

Nominator(s): Prof. Brendan Kennedy, Elaine Quinn, Prof. William Gallagher

The core Conway staff and volunteer Early Career Researchers (ECRs) that made up the UCD Conway COVID-19 Urgent Response Team are being recognised for their contribution to the national effort to combat COVID-19 since the beginning of the pandemic. Following their work with the National Virus Reference Laboratory (NVRL) to sequence the genome of the SARS-COV2 virus, it quickly became evident that equipment, reagents and expertise would be vital in the national response to this crisis. During the weekend of 14-16 March, UCD Conway staff collated inventories of relevant equipment and reagents to facilitate COVID-19 testing. They also created a survey form to collate details of individuals with relevant DNA and RNA extraction and PCR experience, issued an invitation for volunteers and by the 17th  March, had established a database of more than 180 volunteers with relevant expertise for COVID-19 testing available for deployment to local clinical sites. The ECR volunteers were deployed to the Enfer Group laboratory in Naas, Co Kildare and to St Vincent's University Hospital (SVUH) where they staffed a third clinical laboratory, greatly increasing testing capacity. At the same time, UCD Conway staff led an orderly wind-down of research activities among the 400 researchers, while maintaining essential equipment and provided technical and administrative support to critical research. Additionally, they led on reagent/consumables procurement, preparing stocks of essential reagents, transport medium for patient swabs and disinfectant hand wash, as well as delivery of equipment, reagents and items of personal protective equipment (PPE) from local stocks to clinical sites including SVUH and St Michael’s, Dun Laoghaire. This team demonstrated immense collegiality in supporting clinical staff in local hospitals and labs, they engaged proactively with people within and outside of the university and they found creative ways to go beyond traditional academic-clinical boundaries, all in the national interest. 

Recipient: Dr Andrew Dickson

School: UCD School of Mechanical and Materials Engineering (i-Form Research Centre)

Nominator(s): Sylvia Leatham

Dr Andrew Dickson, an early career researcher in I-Form, the SFI Research Centre for Advanced Manufacturing, is being recognised for his efforts to make much-needed PPE (personal protective equipment) for frontline workers using creative engineering skills. In March 2020, when a request was made from Tallaght Hospital for face shields, Andrew sprang into action working all weekend to optimise and 3D print 300 face shields for the hospital. Over the next weeks and months, Andrew worked tirelessly and with the help of other researchers produced over 4,000 face shields. PPE was distributed initially to local hospitals such as St Vincent’s University Hospital, Tallaght University Hospital, Beacon Hospital, and St Columcille’s Hospital; to HSE Covid-19 test centres; and to community healthcare services. Distribution was then extended to hospitals further afield, to nursing homes, to GPs, and to ambulance services around the country. Face shields were also sent overseas to a mission hospital in Tanzania, and knowledge and expertise were shared with researchers in Namibia. In addition, he worked on designing and printing ventilator parts, in consultation with doctors in hospitals around the country, and exploring options for alternative breathing devices. All of this voluntary work was undertaken outside of and in addition to his normal area of research. Andrew’s application of ingenuity and problem-solving skills to a practical, societal need shows the value of creativity in action.

Recipient: Staff of the National Virus Reference Laboratory (NVRL)

Nominator(s): Dr Joanne O’Gorman

The team of the National Virus Reference Laboratory (NVRL) is being recognised for their outstanding commitment in responding to an unprecedented global health emergency and in rising to the challenge of delivering a SARS CoV2 (COVID-19) testing service for Ireland. The SARS CoV2 testing service expanded from 20 tests to over 4000 tests per week. In addition the NVRL has supported other laboratories in developing their capacity to provide testing for COVID-19 and made valuable contributions to epidemiological research. Members of this team have contributed their expertise to national committees, advisory groups, government agencies and spent many hours supporting colleagues in medicine and public health during this pandemic. They have also played a role in communicating vital health messages not only in national/local media but on a day to day basis with the many members of the public who contacted the laboratory. The major contribution of the NVRL to the ongoing public health emergency has had and continues to have national impact at both society and individual level. The work of the whole team exemplifies UCD’s values of excellence, collegiality, integrity and engagement.

Recipient: Dr Aoibhinn Ní Shúilleabháin 

School: UCD School of Mathematics and Statistics 

Nominator(s): Prof. Cathal MacSwiney Brugha, Prof. Kathleen James-Chakraborty, Assoc. Prof. Katherine O’Donnell, Dr Daniel Esmonde Deasy, Prof. Lorraine Hanlon

Dr Aoibhinn Ní Shúilleabháin is being recognised for her role as a socially engaged academic, communicator and leader. Her scholarship focuses on making mathematics more accessible and exciting for those who have historically been left out, whether because they are underprivileged economically or because they are female. She is committed to making the teaching of mathematics more effective and this commitment has taken her well out of the university classroom. Through her work as a television presenter, and as a Discover Science and Engineering Ambassador for SFI, and more recently her funded projects with SFI, she has not only advanced her research but insured that its results were presented to teachers both in Ireland and globally. Her effectiveness has been recognised by being awarded, among other honours, for her Outstanding Communication of STEM from Science Foundation Ireland, named as one of the 40 under 40 European Young Leaders and recently recognised by Maths Week Ireland. Nationally, she became a member of the executive committee of WITS (Women in Technology & Science) Ireland. More recently Aoibhinn’s willingness to go public with the sexual harassment she endured at UCD, and to work with the UCD community,  Minister for Higher Education and Skills, and the National Women’s Council of Ireland, to ensure meaningful change in the way in which all Irish third level institutions address this issue has been a profile in courage. Her leadership has changed the discussion of the issue of sexual harassment at UCD and in Ireland as a whole. Her action, leadership and courage embody all of UCD’s values. 

Recipient: Dr Arman Rahman

School: UCD School of Biomolecular & Biomedical Science

Nominator(s): Haleema Azam, Chowdhury Arif Jahangir, Neil Daniel, Prof. Walter Kolch, Katima Khalifa, Dr Fiona Lanigan, Romina Silva, Dr Antoinette Perry, Dr Maria Prencipe, Elaine Quinn, Alexandra Tuzova, Michael Feely, Prof. William Gallagher, Flavia Genua

Dr Arman Rahman, a senior researcher in the UCD Conway Institute, is being recognised for his exceptional effort during the pandemic, becoming a trusted and expert voice for scientific advances in the COVID-19 space for the Bangladeshi community, within Ireland and globally. When the pandemic struck in March 2020, Arman, originally from Bangladesh, used his medical background and scientific expertise to act as an interpreter of published research on COVID-19 to simplify the information in Bengali, his native language. One concerning aspect of the rapid rise in social media over the past decade is the extent of misinformation being circulated and amplified. With his work, Arman helped to debunk the misinformation circulating on social media while sharing scientific information in a format that was easily understood by journalists, politicians and the public. Since April 2020, Arman has written more than 25 articles on different aspects of COVID-19 which were published in national newspapers in Bangladesh. He was also invited to numerous Bangladeshi TV talk-shows, online platforms and social media live events, becoming a trusted voice on COVID-19 scientific developments. Due to his outstanding contribution to scientific dissemination, Arman is part of a prestigious advisory committee for a study which will analyse the seroprevalence of COVID-19 in Bangladesh. The voluntary public engagement and science communication work undertaken by Arman have a far-reaching impact both locally, nationally, and globally and bring to life UCD’s values of engagement, excellence, diversity and integrity.

Recipient: Prof. Frank Monahan

School: UCD School of Agriculture & Food Science

Nominator(s): Prof. Alex Evans

Frank Monaghan is being recognised for his selfless and continuous quest to improve opportunities for UCD students and staff through his work and volunteering over the past 10 year and more. Frank was a member for 10 years, and Chair for 3 years, of the Board of Trustees of the UCD Volunteers Overseas (UCDVO) with responsibility for the overseas volunteering experiences of up to 140 UCD students annually in challenging environments including Haiti, Nicaragua, India, Tanzania and Uganda. He developed and implemented the UCDVO’s first strategic plan and oversaw the development and implementation of policies underpinning the charity’s activities and governance. These actions have had long-lasting and significant impact on the charity and the UCD students that benefit from UCDVO participation. In addition, Frank has had a hands-on role selflessly volunteering overseas.  In his years of service as the UCD School of Agriculture & Food Science’s International Relations Officer, Frank oversaw the study abroad of in the region of 500 outbound UCD students and was the point of contact for a similar number of inbound international students, nearly all needing individual attention at times. In his capacity as Head of Section, he oversaw the development of about a dozen young Faculty (some of whom received promotions during his tenure), ensured the graduation of about 1,000 undergraduate and postgraduate students and provided leadership and vision for the research experience of about 80 contract researchers. As a recent Associate Dean for Equality Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) it is too early to assess the scale of his contribution, but his work has already directly affected individual people and raised awareness. Moreover, in the School, Frank has been on many committees and is a founder member of the Student Experience Committee that works to expand opportunities for our students in areas that are not-for-credit. Through his work and volunteering he daily brings all of the UCD values to life.

Recipient: Dr Deirdre O’Connor

School: UCD School of Agriculture & Food Science

Nominator(s): Dr Monica Gorman

Dr Deirdre O’Connor is being recognised for her work to opened up a sensitive topic in a way that has empowered others to tell their stories on the challenges of invisible disabilities and how we might be better colleagues to each other. Deirdre has lived with Multiple Sclerosis for the past 13 years. She has brought this lived experience of an invisible disability to bear on her work in chairing the UCD EDI Sub Committee on Disability, as well as in her membership of the School of Agriculture and Food Science EDI Committee. Her graciousness and generosity in sharing her experience has been instrumental in building awareness of the issues of invisible disabilities and shaping a culture of support and understanding that has helped many colleagues in their journey of discussing and perhaps disclosing the challenges they face. In the current COVID-19 crisis, these issues became particularly important, given that people with disabilities have been disproportionately impacted, and in many cases, forced to reveal disabilities before they were ready to do. She has been central in a number of recent initiatives, including a range of events to mark Invisible Disabilities Week, raising awareness of the issues and giving voice to staff who live with these conditions. Deirdre is also a member of UCD’s Mental Health First Aid Panel offering peer support to colleagues in the University who may be going through difficult times, where she provides a non-judgemental listening ear. She embodies and models UCD’s values and inspires others to live these ideals.

Recipient: Dr Aideen Quilty 

School: UCD School of Social Policy, Social Work and Social Justice

Nominator(s): Assoc. Prof Ursula Barry

Dr Aideen Quilty is being recognised as the originator, designer and presenter of the UCD Active Bystander Programme, successfully piloted in September 2019 and rolled out across the undergraduate programme in September 2020. The UCD Bystander Programme is a ground breaking initiative that brings to the UCD undergraduate body a new understanding of consent as well as an awareness of different forms of sexual assault, harassment and violence. In the context of UCD’s commitment to Equality, Diversity and Inclusion, the UCD Active Bystander Programme puts UCD at the forefront of developing creative and imaginative ways in which to generate a stronger understanding of the harm and damage linked to inappropriate sexual behaviours. In both her teaching and research, she is an educationalist that always seeks out ways to enhance engagement with students and staff in UCD. In addition, her recent original research (with Prof Michelle Norris) on the experience of homelessness among the LGBTQ+ youth – carried out in partnership with Focus Ireland - provides clear evidence of a commitment to research that seeks excellence while at the same time confronting issues of critical importance to Irish society. Through her work on the Outreach Programme of the UCD School of Social Policy, Social Work and Social Justice she brings gender and social justice studies to women in working class communities in Dublin, and by actively contributing to the Widening Participation programme of the College of Human Sciences and Law, she represents the highest levels of commitment to ensuring the values of UCD are translated into practices on the ground, both inside and outside UCD. The Bystander Programme further consolidates Aideen’s progressive work and reflects her passion for social change and gender justice.

Recipient: Elaine Quinn

Institute: UCD Conway Institute of Biomolecular and Biomedical Research

Nominator(s): Emer Bonham, Mark Crowley, Prof. William Gallagher, Dr David Gomez, Prof. Amanda McCann, Dr Maria Prencipe

Elaine Quinn is the UCD Conway Institute Manager for communications and education and UCD Site Director for the Amgen Biotech Experience. She is being recognised for her steadfast, collegial, informed, altruistic and intellectual approach to her work as an individual who excells in bringing the UCD values to life, both in response to COVID-19 and elsewhere in the University Community. During the pandemic Elaine has work tirelessly to being the 350 PIs, post-docs, PhD students and core UCD Conway staff within the Conway Institute and affiliated hospitals together virtually and keep them informed. Having organised the UCD Conway Festival for the past 15 years, she successfully turned it into a virtual festival for 2020. Elaine has worked on the Patient Voice in Cancer Research (PVCR) UCD initiative since its inception in 2016, running 10 workshops to date and establishing a PVCR cancer network of circa 250 membership across the island of Ireland.  Moreover, through her Amgen Biotech Experience she has worked with Schools and teachers across the country in demystifying science complexity for secondary school students and has organised laboratory and UCD campus tours. In addition she has annually coordinated “World Cancer Day”, “Movember”, “Choirs on Cancer” and “Breast Health Day” within the UCD Conway Institute and UCD Campus. Throughout her leadership of the Amgen Biotech Experience, she has altruistically covered several Amgen Staff transitions, including the delivery of workshops, to cover gaps both within and outside of Dublin, many times at weekends. Over the past 18 years of exceptional selfless commitment, not only to her UCD Conway appointment, but also to all of the additional work that she undertakes in her own time, Elaine has demonstrated a continued commitment to  bringing the UCD values to life.

Recipient: UCD Contact Tracing Team

Led by: Assoc. Prof. Mary Codd and Prof. Patrick Wall, UCD School of Public Health, Physiotherapy and Sports Science

Nominator(s): Dr Jacqueline Burke, Gisela Tuchszer

The UCD Contact Tracing Team, led by Assoc. Prof. Mary Codd and Prof. Patrick Wall, are being recognised for their extraordinary dedication in developing a vital contact tracing programme for the management of the COVID-19 pandemic. The aim of the UCD Contact Tracing Team was to be functional and ready to support HSE efforts to reach out to COVID-19 infected people in the shortest time possible. The team managed to consolidate a task force within a week with many staff and students trained to operate as contact tracers. The team developed different guides, provided support and coaching to all the volunteers involved, and designed additional material to improve the sessions and the experience for the volunteers. In total, over 100 UCD community members have been trained. Mary and Pat led a wonderful team of dedicated people during the peak of the pandemic and continued their outstanding work and involvement during the off-peak weeks as well.  The UCD centre was quickly recognised for its leadership in this evolving process and both Mary and Pat were frequently on national media as recognised experts in contact tracing and public health. The efforts of those who established the UCD Contacting Tracing Centre and the team of volunteers have had a national impact at a time of crisis. The voluntary effort of all involved, while in many cases maintaining their UCD workload, demonstrate exceptional commitment and truly reflects the UCD values in action.

Recipient: UCD Multicultural Employee Network (MENU)

Co-chairs: Chiara Zaccheo and Dr Arun Kumar 

Nominator(s): Marcellina Fogarty

The Multicultural Employee Network (MENU) is being recognised for its role to support the 30% of employees who are international. It is important that these colleagues are supported to integrate into the University community and connect with both international and national colleagues. The group was established by the Equality Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) Multicultural subgroup in the Winter of 2018 following feedback from international employee focus groups. MENU’s aim is to make International employees feel welcome and to help integrate them into the UCD Community. Since its inception MENU has rapidly grown to 198 members, representing 47 different countries, from 80 different Schools and units across UCD. The group has formed a committee of 12 members to coordinate and organise the wide range of creative events they run for international and Irish colleagues. The existence of a network such as this has never been so vital as during this period of COVID-19 where colleagues are working remotely. This presents many challenges for our international colleagues where some may feel more isolated, many are separated from their families in other countries and cannot make the trip home. Moreover new international employees cannot meet their colleagues in person and build friendships through onsite activities and discussions. MENU has played a very important role during Covid-19 in connecting international and national colleagues and supporting mental health and wellbeing. MENU has organised many virtual coffee mornings and have been very innovative in engaging its members as well as other UCD groups and networks. MENU have also been contacted by other Universities to present to their new international staff networks and are planning to engage with them further. This network also plays an integral role when consultation with international staff and those from minority ethnic groups is required. For example, one of the co-chairs of MENU is an ex-officio member on the Gender Equality Action Group and sits on the EDI Multicultural group. MENU strongly supports UCD’s value of diversity but also collegiality, creativity and engagement.

2020 VIA Nominees

73 nominations were received. Some nominees were nominated by more than one nominator.

  • Access Classics Team
  • Dr Andrew Dickson
  • Dr Arman Rahman
  • Prof. Billy Kinsella & Prof. Judith Hartford
  • Frank Monaghan
  • Biomedical Facility Team
  • Conway Core Staff & Volunteer Early Career Researchers
  • Dr Peter Coulahan
  • Dr Deirdre O’Connor
  • Dominic O’Keeffe
  • Elaine Quinn
  • Hugh Campbell
  • John Lambert
  • IT Services Network Team
  • Jim Pierson
  • Maryann Kelly
  • Michelle Doyle
  • Dr Mirjam Heinen
  • Dr Aoibhinn Ní Shúilleabháin
  • Prof. Niamh Moore Cherry
  • Peter Doran
  • Paolo Virtuani
  • Professional Masters of Education Team
  • Dr Aideen Quilty
  • Dr Roderick Jones
  • Science programme Office Team
  • Dr Sinead McMahon
  • Staff of the National Virus Reference Laboratory (NVRL)
  • Student Experience Committee
  • Take on the Week Team
  • Technical Development Network
  • UCD ALL Team
  • UCD Contact Tracing Team
  • UCD Community Choir Committee
  • UCD Innovation Academy 
  • UCD Multicultural Employee Network (MENU)
  • UCD Institute for Discovery Team
  • Unified Model Support Group

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