About Me

JOH Dec 2020I was appointed President of University College Cork in September 2021. Prior to taking up that role I had been Interim President for one year and, prior to that, Deputy President and Registrar since 2018. I am passionate about learning, research 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 am inspired to connect the different elements of the educational ecosystem: society; schools; industry; and governments, to enable high quality education. I am passionate about growing support for students, staff and researchers through motivation, provision of development opportunities and enhanced accessibility.

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

Ceapadh mé im Uachtarán ar Choláiste na hOllscoile, Corcaigh, mí Mheán Fómhair 2021. Sular ceapadh mé bhí bliain tugtha agam im Uachtarán Eatramhach, agus roimhe sin arís bhí mé im Leas-Uachtarán agus Cláraitheoir ó 2018 i leith. 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, a PhD in 1987 and was awarded a DSc for my published works in 2009. I have published almost 250 research papers and a number of books, details of which are set out in my publication list.

In September 2021 I was appointed President of University College Cork. Prior to taking up that role I had served as Interim President for one year and, prior to that, as Deputy President and Registrar since 2018. As Registrar, I had 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 that office on the website. I am Chair of the University Management Team and also chair a range of other UCC committees including the Athena SWAN Steering Group.

I was the founding Director of UCC’s Quercus Talented Students Programme. I am co-chair of the Green Campus Forum 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 and our recent placing at 8th in the world in the prestigious Times Higher Education (THE) Impact Rankings. 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 10 years, and the other is to chair the judging panel for Biology and Ecology at the BT Young Scientist and Technology Exhibition. I was also honoured to be awarded honorary membership of the Students’ Union of Ireland in 2005 for my contributions to graduate education and policies. I am very active in the local community and am the Chair of the Board of Fota Wildlife Park in Cork.

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 and staff development at UCC.

Prior to that, I was founding 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 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 body of research on forest ecology and forest biodiversity and have led a number of research projects with considerable input to local and EU policy and practice in the area of human influences on environmental change. 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, locally, nationally and internationally, and have undertaken a large body of work on research translation through conferences and workshops.