Archive for Professor Philip Nolan

From Maynooth to SFI

Posted in Maynooth, Science Politics with tags , , , on October 20, 2021 by telescoper

Last month I mentioned that I attended an event to mark the departure of Professor Philip Nolan at the end of his term as President of Maynooth University. Over drinks afterwards he wasn’t very forthcoming about what he was planning to do next, but yesterday news broke that he is to become the Director General of Science Foundation Ireland.

Amusingly, I see the slogan for SFI is ‘For What’s Next…’

Congratulations to Professor Nolan on this appointment! For the last 18 months, as well as being President of Maynooth University, he has been chairing the Epidemiological Modelling effort as part of National Public Health Emergency Team dealing with Covid-19. He won’t be starting his new job until January, so is now probably taking a bit of a rest.

The job at SFI will be a big challenge. Science in Ireland is in a dire state of under-investment, especially in basic (i.e. fundamental) research. Until recently SFI really only funded applied science, but recently seemed to have shifted its emphasis a little bit in its latest strategic plan.

Currently Ireland spends just 1.1% of its GDP on scientific research and development and SFI currently has a heavy focus on applied research (i.e. research aligned with industry that can be exploited for short-term commercial gain). This has made life difficult for basic or fundamental science and has driven many researchers in such areas abroad, to the detriment of Ireland’s standing in the international scientific community.

The new strategy, which covers the period from now to 2025, plans for 15% annual rises that will boost the agency’s grant spending — the greater part of the SFI budget — from €200 million in 2020 to €376 million by 2025. Much of this is focused in top-down manner on specific programmes and research centres but there is at least an acknowledgement of the need to support basic research, including an allocation of €11 million in 2021 for early career researchers. The overall aim is to increase the overall R&D spend from 1.1% of gross domestic product, well below the European average of 2.2%, to 2.5% by 2025.

Obviously this increase in funding is welcome and that is a big positive for the incoming Director General, but important strategic decisions will need to be taken about the overall balance of the programme. I wish Professor Nolan well as he takes over the helm.

The Next President of Maynooth University

Posted in Maynooth with tags , on March 8, 2021 by telescoper


After a process that has taken several months to complete, Maynooth University has at last appointed its next President!

Here is the official press release (I added the link to Professor Leinonen’s current affiliation):

Maynooth University appoints an international researcher and current Vice-Chancellor as its next President

The Governing Authority of Maynooth University today appointed Professor Eeva Leinonen to be its next President effective from 1 October 2021.  Professor Leinonen will succeed Professor Philip Nolan who has led the University for the past 10 years.

Professor Leinonen has held the role of Vice Chancellor of Murdoch University, Perth, Australia since 2016, having previously been Deputy Vice Chancellor (Academic) at the University of Wollongong, New South Wales, Australia.  Prior to moving to Australia in 2012, she was Vice Principal (Education) at King’s College London.

Originally from Finland, Professor Leinonen has a background in linguistics and psychology.  She engages with researchers in Finland and Italy in ongoing research into pragmatic language development in children and contextual processing deficits of children and young adults with autistic spectrum disorders.

The Chairperson of the Governing Authority, Dr Mary Canning, said she was delighted to announce the appointment of Professor Leinonen as the next President of Maynooth University. Dr Canning believes that Professor Leinonen’s track record in the leadership and management of higher education institutions internationally will be of great benefit to Maynooth University, the Irish Universities Association and the higher education system in general at this critical time.  She wished Professor Leinonen well as she takes up her new role.

In accepting her appointment, Professor Leinonen said that she was honoured to have the opportunity to lead this fine university in the next stage of its development.

“High quality innovative education, world class research that has positive societal impact and transformational educational opportunities for all who can benefit irrespective of background are hallmarks of Maynooth University and resonate closely with my approach to university education.”

“I am very much looking forward to working collaboratively with colleagues across the University, with students, the Governing Authority, Academic Council, the Irish education sector and the many partners and supporters of Maynooth University to build on the University’s impressive achievements gained under the leadership of Professor Nolan and previous Presidents.”

I’d like to take the opportunity to wish Professor Leinonen all the very best for her time in the role!



Who will be the next President?

Posted in Maynooth with tags , , on October 11, 2020 by telescoper

The question on everyone’s lips here at Maynooth University is who will take over from Professor Philip Nolan when his ten-year term as President of the University comes to an end in August next year.

Over the last few months the current President has had to combine the duties of his office with those as Chair of the Epidemiological Modelling Advisory Group within the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET).

Whoever gets the job will face tough challenges even if the Covid-19 has improved by next summer because the University’s finances will have been seriously affected by the pandemic, as will those of many other institutions. That said, it is still a great opportunity in a lovely part of the world.

To quote from the advert

Following impressive growth over the past 10 years under the leadership of Professor Philip Nolan, the Governing Authority is now seeking to appoint a new President to lead this outstanding University and to build on its strategic role at regional, national and international levels. Coming at a time of great change and challenge, the new President will be expected to create, articulate and deliver, in a collegial manner, a shared vision for the future to drive the continued development of Maynooth University.

If you’re interested in applying you can find the details here.

Flattening the Covid-19 Curve in Ireland

Posted in Covid-19, Maynooth with tags , , , on March 31, 2020 by telescoper

Last night a statement was issued by Ireland’s National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) , accompanied by a press conference part of which is shown below.

On the right is the Chair of the Irish Epidemiological Modelling Advisory Group (IEMAG), Professor Philip Nolan, who gives a very clear explanation of the situation, especially with respect to the uncertainties in data and modelling. Professor Philip Nolan is President of Maynooth University.