About Me

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I was appointed Interim President at University College Cork in September 2020. Prior to taking up that role I had been Deputy President and Registrar since 2018. I am passionate about learning, enquiry and student-centred education.  I am inspired by students, by their questions and by their thirst for knowledge. I enjoy working with people: developing ideas, generating evidence, seeking out best practice, sharing ambition and leading change through collaboration. I also greatly enjoy engagement and collaboration across the campus, external to the university and globally. I am inspired to connect the different elements of the educational ecosystem: society; schools; industry; and local, national and European Governments, to enable high quality education. I am passionate about growing support for staff, students and researchers through motivation, provision of development opportunities and support for growth.

My philosophy is that a university must be student and researcher focussed, staff supported and globally informed.


I Meán Fómhair 2020 ceapadh im Uachtarán Eatramhach mé ar Choláiste na hOllscoile, Corcaigh. Sular ghlacas an cúram sin orm, ba Leas-Uachtarán agus Cláraitheoir mé ón mbliain 2018 ar aghaidh. Tá mé paiseanta faoin léann, faoi fhoghlaim agus faoi oideachas atá lárnaithe ar na mic-léinn. Spreagann mic-léinn mé, lena gceisteanna agus lena ndúil sa léinn.  Is breá liom a bheith ag obair le daoine: ag forbairt smaointe; ag gineadh fianaise, ag aimsiú sár-chleachtais, ag roinnt glóirmhianta, agus athraithe a thabhairt chun tosaigh i gcompháirtíocht leo. Is aoibhinn liom teangabháil agus comhpháirtíocht lasmuigh de mo réimse féin, lasmuigh den Ollscoil agus seachtrach d’Éirinn. Spreagann sé mé a bheith ag nascadh na míreanna éagsúla den chóras oideachais: an tsochaí, scoileanna, tionsclaíocht, Rialtais Áitiúil, Náisiúnta agus Eorpacha, chun oideachais d’árd-chaighdeán a chur ar fáil. Tá mé paiseanta faoi thacaíocht a mhéadú don fhoireann, do na mic léinn agus do thaighdeoirí, trí inspreagadh, seansannaí forbartha agus tacaíocht fáis a chur ar fáil.

Is é m’fhealsúnacht pearsanta go gcaithfidh an Ollscoil a bheith dírithe ar mhic-léinn agus taighdeoirí, bunaithe ar thacaíocht don fhoireann agus é a bheith ar an eolas go Domhanda

My Background
A proud alumnus of University College Cork, I graduated with a degree in Zoology in 1984 and was awarded my PhD in 1987. In 2009 I was awarded a DSc for my published works  by the National University of Ireland. I have published over 200 research papers and a number of books, details of which are set out in my publication list.

In September 2020 I was appointed Interim President at University College Cork. Prior to taking up that role I had served as the Deputy President and Registrar since 2018. There I have the privilege to lead a team of passionate people with responsibility for academic affairs and strategy of the university.  You can read about the activities of this office on the website. I am Chair of the University Management Team and also chair a range of other committees including the AthenaSWAN Steering Group.

I was the founder and am the current Director of UCC’s Quercus Talented Students Programme.  I am co-chair of the Green Campus Forum at UCC which has received many awards in recognition of its efforts to promote the Green Agenda at UCC, including the first green flag ever awarded to a university. One of the annual highlights for me is to judge the prestigious UNESCO-L’Oréal-Royal Society Women Science Scholarship in London, which I have done each year for the past 5 years, and the other is to chair the judging panel for Biology and Ecology at the BT Young Scientist Competition. I was honoured to be awarded honorary membership of the Students’ Union of Ireland in 2005 for my contributions to graduate education and policies.

I was previously Vice-President for Teaching and Learning at UCC where I led a team that supported the provision of high quality teaching and learning, adult and continuing education, online learning, staff development, talented students, engagement, collaboration and research at UCC.

Prior to that, I was Head of School of Biological, Earth & Environmental Sciences at UCC, where I still hold the Chair in Zoology. I am also a former Vice-Head of the College of Science, Engineering & Food Science at UCC and have previously held academic posts in Cardiff, Wales and Maine, USA. I have delivered lectures widely in Ireland and across Europe and North America.

My discipline is biology, and my main area of research is ornithology with a particular interest in both swans and dippers. I have also undertaken a significant amount of research on forest ecology and forest biodiversity and have led a large number of research projects in each of these fields with considerable input to local and EU policy and practice. I am the Chair or Ireland’s Countryside Bird Survey Steering Committee, former Vice-President of the British Trust for Ornithology, and an advisor to the European Environment Agency.  I greatly enjoy outreach and collaboration with industry, government agencies and non-government organisations, both locally and internationally, and have undertaken a large body of work on research translation through conferences and workshops.

I am very active in the local community and am the Chair of the Board of Fota Wildlife Park. I enjoy being in the countryside, bird watching and also sea fishing on my boat. I am married to Deirdre and we live in Cork with our three children.