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IOP Chief Executive visit to Ireland September 2022

30 September 2022

IOP Ireland was delighted to welcome IOP Chief Executive Tom Grinyer in September. Tom and the team had a busy schedule consisting of government and industry meetings, engaging with the local physics community in Dublin, and launching the research and development (R&D) blueprint consultation

Speaking of his recent visit to Dublin, IOP Chief Executive Tom Grinyer said: “I had a great week in Ireland. The highlight was launching the IOP’s blueprint for R&D to a packed room of members, politicians, senior civil servants, media and other stakeholders. There was real interest and a springboard for greater input into the science debate in Ireland, which we followed up in a whole series of meetings.
“I also really enjoyed meeting the IOP team in Ireland, seeing our super new building, meeting members – in particular students at Trinity, the future of physics - and seeing first-hand how IOP funding is making a difference. This included hearing about how IOP funding had gone into producing a full set of physics terms in Irish Sign Language – which we all found inspirational.” 

Summary of events

Wednesday morning kicked off early with a press launch for the R&D blueprint consultation which received coverage in the Irish Times and across other media channels.

Tom Grinyer, Professor Philip Nolan, Dr Sinéad Keogh and Dr Yvonne Kavanagh

Clockwise from top left: Tom Grinyer, IOP Chief Executive; Professor Philip Nolan, SFI Director; Dr Sinéad Keogh, IBEC Director of MedTech & Engineering; Dr Yvonne Kavanagh, IOP Ireland Chair.

Our first meeting was with Dr Shaun O’Boyle to hear more about the brilliant progress and activities of the Irish Sign Language (ISL) STEM Glossary Project. The IOP is supporting the project in the development of physics Irish Sign Language terms.

Dr Shaun O’Boyle from the ISL STEM Glossary Project meets with IOP's Elora McFall

L to R: Dr Shaun O’Boyle, ISL STEM Glossary Project, and Elora McFall, IOP Programme Officer for Ireland and Northern Ireland

It was great to discuss with Sinn Féin’s Spokesperson on Further and Higher Education, Rose Conway Walshe, the contribution of physics to jobs and productivity, as well as its greater contribution if the challenges in education, and research and development were tackled.

The team then met with Dr Sinéad Keogh, Irish Business and Employers Confederation's Director of MedTech and Engineering, for a wide-ranging discussion on the opportunities for a deeper partnership to tackle common concerns to deliver future jobs and industries and participation in our R&D blueprint survey.

After lunch the delegation met with Professor Ronan McNulty of University College Dublin to identify next steps in a renewed campaign for Irish associate membership of CERN, a necessity to fill the gaping hole in science infrastructure and denial of opportunities to our innovators that non-membership creates.

IOP’s Director of Policy and Public Affairs Tony McBride visited AMBER to learn about how the Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) centre is driving advances in material science and translating their research into new discoveries and devices to tackle global challenges. After a tour of the research facilities, the team sat down with Trinity College Dublin’s Ultramicroscopy group and listened to the ongoing issues faced by PhD researchers in Ireland; unfair pay, the cost of living, an accommodation crisis and not being recognised as staff.

Dr Lewys Jones spoke of his experience as a PhD supervisor: “PhD students are the engines that drive research output. Growing my team, I want to recruit the best possible talent, regardless of background, gender, geography, nationality, or family-wealth. Once students arrive then, I want them to work to their best free from distractions or worry about rent, bills, or wellbeing.”

TCD Ultramicroscopy’s PhD researchers, Dr Lewys Jones, IOP's Elora McFall, Tony McBride and Danielle Rawlings

TCD Ultramicroscopy’s PhD researchers, Dr Lewys Jones, IOP's Elora McFall, Tony McBride and Danielle Rawlings

Wednesday’s final meeting was with Professor Philip Nolan, Director of Science Foundation Ireland. We explored key findings of the IOP’s Paradigm Shift report, the contribution of physics to R&D and future engagement with our blueprint survey.

The delegation spent the evening at the Royal College of Surgeons Ireland engaging with representatives from physics departments in the Dublin area.

Representatives of physics departments in the Dublin area with the IOP delegation

Representatives of physics departments in the Dublin area with the IOP delegation

Thursday morning was launch day for IOP’s Ireland R&D blueprint consultation. Representatives from industry, research and government joined together to discuss the demand for physics skills and the barriers blocking development. Do you want to contribute to the support of Ireland’s physics R&D ecosystem? Voice your opinion here.

Chaired by Kevin O’Sullivan of the Irish Times, the panel of Professor Philip Nolan (SFI), Dr Jennifer Gaughran (Dublin City University and IOP Ireland committee) and Dr Sinéad Keogh (IBEC) provided a wealth of expertise on Ireland’s physics R&D ecosystem.

Read more about IOP’s Paradigm Shift reports and the R&D blueprint survey.

Kevin O’Sullivan, Professor Philip Nolan, Dr Jennifer Gaughran and Dr Sinéad Keogh

R&D blueprint consultation launch panel 

The breadth of physics was on show as the team met with Declan Hughes and a cross section of the units at the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment covering smart industries, space, research funding and how IOP can contribute to policy and sustainable growth.

At Thursday’s lunch we gathered with students from across Trinity College Dublin and Dublin City University to chat about their work organising PLANCKS Dublin 2024; the International Final of IAPS theoretical physics competition-conference.

Students from Trinity College Dublin and Dublin City University with the IOP delegation

Last but by no means least we met with Dr Deirdre Lillis and Joseph Moore of the Department of Higher and Further Education, Research, Innovation and Science about the demand for physics skills and knowledge needs, its contribution to innovation, our blueprint survey and of course the campaign for Ireland’s CERN membership.

A massive thank you to everyone who met and engaged with us during this visit, and we hope you will continue to!

Elora McFall, IOP Programme Officer for Ireland and Northern Ireland.