Explore UCD

UCD Home >

Ulysses Medal Recipients

Ulysses Medal Recipients

The UCD Ulysses Medal is the highest honour that the university can bestow. It was inaugurated in 2005, as part of the university’s sesquicentennial celebrations, to highlight the ‘creative brilliance’ of UCD alumnus James Joyce. It is awarded to individuals whose work has made an outstanding global contribution.

Date Name of Recipient Details of Recipient

Dr Michael Somers


Dr Michael Somers is widely considered to be the most influential public servant of his generation, for his work in managing the public finances of Ireland through good times and bad, and especially for helping the country to navigate its way through the global financial crisis of the past decade. 


Professor Frank McGuinness

Frank Mc Guinness has combined a career in academia with a vocation as a writer. He joined UCD in 1997 as lecturer in English and creative writing. He has traversed topics as diverse as the life of Caravaggio, the Lebanese hostage crisis, Shakespeare in Ireland, the Gunpowder plot and the lives of Lizzie and Mary Burns, the Irish consorts of Engels and Marx in Manchester. He is known to most as a playwright and poet but he has also written film scripts, TV scripts, and libretti as well as a stage musical, Donegal.  In recent years he has turned to fiction and written two novels and one collection of short stories. Song and adaptation are the enduring threads running through his body of work.


Dr Douglas R Lowy


Dr Douglas R Lowy, whose research on the molecular biology of viruses led to the development of the HPV vaccine. Chief of the Laboratory of Cellular Oncology and Deputy Director at the United States’ National Cancer Institute, his research was undertaken in collaboration with his colleague Dr John Schiller. 


Professor Elizabeth Loftus

Professor Elizabeth Loftus is the undisputed world leader in the field of false memory and eyewitness testimony. Her key research insights include the recognition that human memory is malleable and suggestible; that false memories of childhood events can be easily implanted; and that that leading questions can have a dramatic effect on the memory and testimony of eyewitnesses. Her work has revolutionised both academic investigations of memory and legal procedure for eyewitness testimony.

2019 Yvonne Farrell and Shelley McNamara

Yvonne Farrell and Shelley McNamara are the founding directors of Grafton Architects. They boast an impressive list of awards and accolades, including the World Building of the Year award in 2008, RIBA International Award in 2016, and the RIAI Gold Medal in 2018. They have held distinguished academic positions, including the Kenzo Tange Chair at Harvard and the Louis Kahn Chair at Yale, as well as their role as curators of the 2018 Venice Biennale. 


Margaret Atwood


Cass Sunstein


Samantha Power

2017 Onora O’Neill  
2016 Jeffrey Sachs  
2016 Susan Haack  
2016 Leroy Hood  
2016 Axel Honneth  
2016 Thomas Kilroy  
2015 Arlie R Hochschild Prof Hochschild has produced an influential body of work exploring the ways in which humans manage emotions in their personal lives as well as in the workforce, an area she calls ‘emotional labour’. Her work in this area has been mentioned in over half a million publications and cited in more than 10,000 academic papers.
2015 Diane H Wall A passionate soil ecologist and environmental scientist, the American academic has devoted her research career to raising awareness of the importance of soil biology. She is actively engaged in research exploring how soil biodiversity contributes to healthy, productive soils and thus benefits society, as well as the consequences of human activities on soil sustainability.
27 March 2014 Mr Justice Albie Sachs

Mr Justice Sachs’s contribution to the transition to a peaceful and multiracial South Africa was unique. He took part in the drafting of the new South African Constitution, in setting out the terms of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and served as first judge of the Constitutional Court of South Africa.

16 June 2014

Mary McAleese

Mary McAleese was the eighth President of Ireland, holding office for two terms. The theme of her presidency, ‘Building Bridges’, culminated in 2011 when she became the first Irish head of state to host a visit by a reigning British monarch to the Republic of Ireland. 

12 December 2014

Professor Stephen L. Buchwald

Professor Buchwald is one of the most influential and frequently-cited organic chemists in the world. His pioneering research revolves around the theme of organic synthesis, but includes elements of physical organic chemistry and organometallic chemistry. 
14th October 2013

Professor Barry Trost

A member of the National Academy of Sciences and a Fellow of the American Chemical Society, Professor Trost is the Tamaki Professor of Humanities and Sciences at Stanford University. He is one of the most highly cited chemists in the world, with over 63,000 citations of his 966 publications.
11th September 2013 Professor Sir Stephen O’Rahilly Professor of Clinical Biochemistry and Medicine at the University of Cambridge and Honorary Consultant Physician at Addenbrooke’s Hospital, Professor O’Rahilly’s research has made an outstanding contribution to the understanding of the  genetic causes of diabetes and endocrine obesity
15th June 2013 Tom Murphy Renowned 20th century Irish playwright, theatre director, novelist and screenwriter for RTE, Thames Television, and the BBC. He is a member of Aosdána, a patron of the Irish Theatre Institute and holds several honorary degrees.
02nd April 2013 Professor Noam Chomsky One of the world’s leading intellectuals and political activists. Professor of linguistics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), he is credited with the creation of the theory of generative grammar, often considered the most significant contribution to the field of theoretical linguistics of the 20th century.
28th November 2012 Kevin Roche Ireland’s most famous architect, UCD graduate Kevin Roche who is globally recognised as a leader in his field, was presented with the Ulysses Medal on the centenary of the foundation of the UCD School of Architecture.
18th September 2012 Dr Denis Selkoe Medical doctor and Vincent and Stella Coates Professor of Neurologic Diseases, Harvard Medical School, Denis Selkoe is a world-renowned researcher working to advance the understanding of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases
16th June 2012 Dr Tony Scott Physics researcher specialising in atmospheric pollution and the structure of human corneas, gifted teacher and founder of the Young Scientist Exhibition which has grown over the years from 230 participants and 5,000 visitors to over 1,600 entries attracting over 37,000 visitors.
September 2011
Professor Peter Doherty Professor Doherty won the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1996 (with co-recipient Professor Rolf Zinkernagel) for his groundbreaking research into the role of T Cells in the body’s immune system.
16th June 2011 Seamus Heaney “While elsewhere the role of the public intellectual is the preserve of the philosopher, in Ireland it is the poet who stakes that claim; challenging us through his and her interpretation of what is commonplace in our lives, stretching our imaginations, questioning our values and presenting us – through their words – with a view of the world that shakes us out of our complacency.”
30th September 2010 Bill Clinton

42nd President of the United States, Bill Clinton, was presented with the Ulysses Medal by the President of University College Dublin, Dr Hugh Brady, in recognition for his ongoing commitment and contribution to the peace and prosperity of this island and to the elimination of poverty, disease and suffering worldwide.

16th June 2010 Professor Jürgen Habermas Regarded as the single most influential philosopher and social theorist in the world today, Habermas’s extensive work spans a wide range of disciplines, engaging with questions of central concern to philosophers, social and political theorists, legal theorists, psychologist, educationalist and historians.
21 September 2009 Professor Eric R Kandel Nobel prize-winning scientist who is recognised for his outstanding contribution to Neurobiology and the mechanism of memory formation.
15 October 2009 Professor James Smith US health economist Professor Smith received the award in recognition of his global contribution to the study and understanding of health economics.
16 June 2009 Brian Friel Widely recognised as Ireland’s greatest living playwright, Friel’s works include: Philadelphia, Here I Come (1964), Aristocrats (1979), Translations (1980) and Dancing at Lughnasa (1990).
15 June 2009 Professor Richard A Lerner The world’s leading chemist working on the immune system, his discovery of combinatorial antibody libraries has revolutionised immunochemistry.
14 May 2009 Professor Richard Ernst Professor Ernst received the Nobel Prize in Chemistry (1991) for his methodological developments within nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy. As a result of his scientific developments, which enabled a dramatic increase in both the sensitivity and the resolution of the instruments, NMR spectroscopy has possibly become the most important instrumental measuring technique in chemistry.
24 April 2009 Dr Michael Smurfit UCD Michael Smurfit Graduate School Business School, the graduate arm of the UCD Business Schools, was established in 1991 as a result of a substantial contribution from Dr Michael Smurfit.
24 April 2009 Lochlann Quinn The new building of the UCD Quinn School of Business, the undergraduate arm of the UCD Business Schools, was opened in 2002, following a substantial contribution from Lochlann Quinn and his wife Brenda.
16 March 2009 John L. Hennessey Stanford University’s 10th President, John L Hennessey in recognition of his outstanding global contribution to academic research, innovation and university education
16 June 2008 Thomas Kinsella Poet - in recognition of his works, which reverberate with what the poet calls ‘established personal places’, the city of Dublin being at the heart of his work.
23 May 2008 Professor Shuh Narumiya Professor of Cell Biology - in recognition of his scientific research and discoveries in the area of cell biology
23 November 2007 Dermot Desmond In recognition of his outstanding contribution to business innovation and enterprise in Ireland
17 September 2007 Professor Ferid Murad Nobel Prize winning scientist - in recognition of his discovery of the use of nitric oxide in drug development and disease therapy
13 July 2007 Professor Robert H. Grubbs US Nobel Laureate - in recognition of his ground-breaking work in organic chemistry.
5 March 2007 Professor Hilary Putnam US Philosopher - in recognition of his outstanding lifetime contributions to the world of philosophy
15 June 2006 Edna O'Brien Novelist - in recognition of her contribution to Irish literature over five decades. She has written plays, children's books, essays, screenplays and non-fiction works about Ireland
7 June 2006 Professor James Heckman University of Chicago, winner of a Nobel prize for economics (2000). Presented with Ulysses Medal for his contribution to research in economics and human behaviour
13 May 2006 Professor Klaus Schwab Founder and executive chairman of the World Economic Forum - in recognition of his work for entrepreneurship in the global public interest over the past 35 years.
10 March 2005 Dr Phillip Sharp (MIT) Nobel Prize winner for his discovery that an individual gene does not have to be a single, continuous stretch of DNA, but instead can be made up of several DNA segments. Inaugural Ulysses Medal for his outstanding contribution to biomolecular discovery and to advances in medical treatment of diseases, such as multiple sclerosis, hepatitis and cancer.

UCD President's Office

University College Dublin, Belfield, Dublin 4, Ireland.
T: +353 1 716 1618