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UCD appoints new Vice-President for Research, Innovation and Impact

Posted 13 November 2023

Professor Kate Robson Brown has been appointed Vice-President for Research, Innovation and Impact at University College Dublin.

In the role, Professor Robson Brown will enhance UCD’s delivery of research and innovation that advances knowledge, supports the development of outstanding researchers within a positive research culture, and has a clear, positive impact on society and the economy in Ireland and in the wider world.

“Kate Robson Brown is a dynamic and strategic academic leader with a track record of working across disciplines in highly creative ways. I am delighted that she is to take up the position of Vice-President for Research, Innovation and Impact, and I greatly look forward to working with her,” said UCD President, Professor Orla Feely.

Professor Robson Brown is Professor of Engineering, Mathematics and Biological Anthropology and Director of the Jean Golding Institute for Data Science and AI at the University of Bristol in the UK.

She is a Fellow of the national UK Alan Turing Institute for Data Science and AI and Chair of their Research and Innovation Committee.

She currently serves as co-Chair of the UK Space Academic Network, a Board member of the UK Life and Biomedical Sciences Association and a member of the new national UK Space Partnership Board which advises science ministers and the civil service.

"I am delighted to be joining University College Dublin and I am keen to work with colleagues in all areas of the University to develop and deliver our shared ambitions for research, innovation and impact,” said Professor Kate Robson Brown on her appointment.

“It will be exciting to work with colleagues to maximise the opportunities for impact across sectors, to drive the research agenda at a national level, and to grow and enhance the global reach of the university’s world leading research.”

“This is a great honour and I look forward to meeting the UCD research and innovation community and all other colleagues across the University,” she added.

Professor Robson Brown is the University of Bristol lead in the West of England Space Cluster ‘SpaceWest’, a lay chair for NHS Postgraduate Medical Education South West (Severn Deanery) and Visiting Professor in Data Science at Strathmore University in Nairobi.

She is the applications and academic research lead on the recently awarded national exascale computer facility awarded by the UK Government to the University of Bristol in October 2023. This is a £100M investment and will be launched as ‘Isambard-AI’ in 2024. 

Professor Robson Brown began her career at the University of Cambridge, graduating in Biological Anthropology (seNewnham College) in 1991, and receiving her PhD in Human Phylogenetics (Newnham College) in 1995.

In 1997, she joined the University of Bristol as a lecturer in Biological Anthropology, later being offered a fractional appointment with Engineering and now her Professorship is shared across both Faculties (Science and Engineering / Arts Social Sciences and Law).

Within the Faculties, she has held continuous and significant leadership roles since 2002 including Head of Department, Faculty Graduate Education Director, and Faculty Research Director before stepping up into the role of Institute Director, which is a senior position within the University responsible for research leadership with particular emphasis on building multidisciplinary and multi-sector research communities.

In parallel to this role, Kate has been academic lead for Bristol Innovations (the University’s accelerator for enterprise) and was co-Director of spinout company ‘HuSCO’ to provide data science and biosciences consultancy services to the space industry. 

Her research has explored intersections between the body, the environment, and technology; investigating the microstructure of living tissues and other materials and their response to changing and extreme environments including micro and hyper gravity; innovating methodologies for the imaging and capture, computational modelling and analysis of data describing complex material and structural characterisation and performance.

She is currently working on a project investigating the use of data science and AI in humanitarian solutions and peacebuilding, and the peaceful and equitable use of data generated from space technology; she is a co-founder of the Interdisciplinary PeaceTech Group (IPTG) and is working with the Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP) in Brussels on a ‘white’ policy paper to inform the development of a new index for reporting how technology and AI contribute to positive peace.

Professor Kate Robson Brown will take up her new role on 1st March 2024.

By: Dominic Martella, Head of External Communication, Media Relations and Content, UCD University Relations