Issue 6
Facebook Twitter Linkedin Website

School Newsletter

Issue 6 | June 2019


Welcome to the latest issue of our School of Chemistry newsletter. The publication focuses on school news, events, highlights recent achievements from staff and students and also includes some special features.


Issue Highlights

- New Head of Chemistry

- National Workplace Wellbeing Day

- Viewing of Examination Scripts

- Annual Undergraduate Awards

- Postgraduate Spring Conferrings

- Research News

- Athena SWAN Updates

- On Our Travels to Ayia Napa


New Head of Chemistry

Dr. Humphrey Moynihan took up the role of Head of School from the start of January for a three year term. Humphrey is a UCC graduate and postgraduate, doing his PhD under the supervision of Dr. Dan McCarthy. After postdoctoral work in the UK and lecturing in Liverpool John Moores University, Humphrey joined UCC in 2002 as Lecturer in Organic Chemistry. Humphrey is really enjoying the role of Head of School, especially at this very exciting time following the achievements of Prof. Justin Holmes’ headship which saw the move to School status.

Viewing of 2018/19 Examination Scripts

The viewing of examination scripts will take place in the School of Chemistry, Second Floor, Room 224, on Friday June 14th, 10.00am – 12.00pm and 2.00pm – 4.00pm.

The deadline to apply to view 2018/19 examination scripts is 4pm on Wednesday June 12th. The signed and completed application form can be returned to the School of Chemistry Office (Kane Building, 2nd Floor) by hand, post or email (

Viewing of Scripts Application Form 2019 - PDF File
Viewing of Scripts Application Form 2019 - Word File

Examination Consultation Arrangements

Consultation arrangements for students who failed Chemistry Modules during the 2018/19 academic year, will take place in the School of Chemistry on Friday, June 14th, 10.00am – 12.00pm and 2.00pm – 4.00pm.

To arrange a consultation, please send an e-mail to the relvant member of staff (see timetable link below) before Friday June 14th.

Please note that only students that failed modules and will be repeating these in Autumn 2019 can arrange a consultation. Students who do not wish to view their scripts, if they failed their modules, can still meet with the academic staff. If a student views their scripts but has passed all their modules, then they cannot arrange a consultation.

Consultation Arrangements for Students 14th June 2019 - PDF File

Student Support Services

Our website now contains a Student Support Section, offering Chemistry students advice, contacts and assistance if they are having difficulties which are impacting on their academic studies and/or on their well-being.‬ Within the School of Chemistry, we have designated points of contact for all taught chemistry degree programmes, in addition to a Student Experience Officer (Dr. Orla Ni Dhubhghaill).


Green Ribbon Campaign 2019

The School of Chemistry hosted a coffee morning on Thursday May 30th, as part of the nationwide See Change “Green Ribbon” campaign. The Green Ribbon is worn to encourage people to talk openly about mental health. This campaign particularly aims to reduce the stigma often associated with mental health issues in Ireland. On May 30th, we invited everyone in the School of Chemistry to promote mental health awareness in our workplace by wearing something green.

National Workplace Wellbeing Day 2019

On Friday April 12th, the School of Chemistry hosted a number of events for National Workplace Wellbeing Day.

We gathered for morning break in the School’s staff tea room where we created a thought-provoking wall of inspirational and positive quotes, which we discussed while drinking medicinal Chai tea which our Indian research staff demonstrated how to make.

Throughout the year we have been growing our plant collection in the School’s Administration office to include many air purifying plants, which create and promote cleaner air in our office space and workstations. One of our environmental scientists explained that plants can enhance indoor air quality because they remove pollutants in a natural and sustainable way.

To add colour to the greenery of our air purifying plants, we hosted an art therapy lunchtime session painting pot plants. We used aesthetically pleasing colour combinations to promote harmony, warmth, happiness and compassion.

We also took to the outdoors where one of our academic staff, Dr. Dara Fitzpatrick, facilitated a short-guided Birdwatching walk and talk. We strolled around the Presidents garden and down by the River Lee, where we actively listened to bird calls and identified some garden and river species in the University grounds such as Gold Finch, Black Cap Warbler, Raven, Tree Creeper and Blackbird.

UCC 'Marchaton' Step Challenge

Congratulations to the School of Chemistry team (called Between a Walk and a Hard Place), who came 3rd place in the Marchaton for 2019. The challenge consists of each team member wearing a step counter every day and keeping a record of their steps daily for the 4 weeks of the challenge. The School of Chemistry team is made up of four members:

Dr. Dave Otway (Lecturer in Inorganic Chemistry)
Dr. Elizabeth Gilchrist (Lecturer in Analytical Chemistry)
Dr. Anna Hogan (Technical Officer in Analytical Chemistry)
Dr. Atul Thorat (Postdoctoral Researcher in Materials Chemistry)

Postgraduate Masters in Teaching & Learning in Higher Education 2018/19

Recently, staff from across the university graduated with postgraduate masters, certificates and diplomas in Teaching & Learning in Higher Education. President, Professor Patrick O'Shea, presented the parchments to the graduates. Well done to our staff members that graduated with a qualification in Teaching and Learning.

Dr. JJ Keating - Postgraduate Masters in Teaching and Learning
Dr. Eric Moore - Postgraduate Masters in Teaching and Learning

Research News

Prof. Justin Holmes appointed Deputy Director of AMBER

Prof. Justin Holmes was appointed as Deputy Director of the Advanced Materials and BioEngineering Research (AMBER) Centre on 30th January 2019. AMBER is a Science Foundation Ireland funded centre that provides a partnership between leading researchers in materials science, bioengineering and industry. One of Justin’s roles as Deputy is to develop the area of sustainable materials in AMBER which will be led out of UCC’s Environmental Research Institute (ERI).

Science Foundation Ireland Future Innovator Prize

Congratulations to Dr. Eric Moore and the SmartProbe team including Martin O'Sullivan, Lead Surgeon and Liosa O'Sullivan, Patient Advocate, who were announced by Ministers Heather Humphreys and John Halligan as one of six finalists in the €1 million Science Foundation Ireland Future Innovator Prize.

The SmartProbe technology will allow clinicians to improve the breast cancer diagnostic pathway through real time point of care detection of breast disease. "SmartProbe has the potential to immediately reassure the majority of women who currently wait several days for benign biopsy results. It can also enable those with breast cancer to have their treatment fast-tracked.”


2019 Advanced Laureate Awards Programme

Prof. Colm O’Dwyer is amongst 12 established researchers awarded for groundbreaking projects under the 2019 Advanced Laureate Awards programme. The investment of €11.8 million in frontier research was recently announced by Minister for Education and Skills Joe McHugh T.D. and Minister of State for Training, Skills, Innovation, Research and Development John Halligan T.D.


Five UCC and Tyndall Research Projects win TIDA Funding

Five research projects at UCC and Tyndall, including one from Dr. Ger McGlacken, have been awarded funding through Science Foundation Ireland’s Technology Innovation Development Award (TIDA) programme to support their commercialisation for 12 months.

Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation, Heather Humphreys TD, and Minister for Training, Skills, Innovation, Research and Development, John Halligan TD, today announced €4.5 million in funding for 38 research projects; the awards will support 47 research positions in areas such as cancer research, preterm infant care, medical devices, agriculture, energy and food technologies. 


Undergraduate Student Focus

SEFS Quercus Scholars

42 students received awards at the College of Science, Engineering & Food Science (SEFS) Awards Ceremony in March. Congratulations to the three School of Chemistry undergraduate recipients:

Killian Horgan, B.Sc. Chemistry of Pharmaceutical Compunds II
Nicola Sheahan, B.Sc. Chemistry of Pharmaceutical Compunds II
Gerard Collins, B.Sc. Chemistry of Pharmaceutical Compunds IV
Hayley Furnell, B.Sc. Chemistry IV

SEFS Summer Research Bursaries

Congratulations to 3rd year B.Sc. Chemistry students Dara Curran and Si Lok Ko, recipients of 2019 SEFS Summer Research Bursaries.

Details on their chosen projects and supervisors are as follows:

Recipient: Dara Curran
Supervisor: Dr. Davide Tiana
Project: Computational driven improvement of the Haber-Bosch process.

Recipient: Si Lok Ko
Supervisor: Dr. Ger McGlacken
Project: Interrupting Bacteria Talk! Using Organic Chemistry in the McGlacken Lab.

CFS4 Visit To The Netherlands Forensic Institute

Final year undergraduate students in Chemistry with Forensics (CFS) recently paid a visit to The Netherlands Forensic Institute (NFI) in The Hague. Accompanied by Dr. Eric Moore and Dr. Elizabeth Gilchrist, this was the second time a group of students from UCC visited the NFI. The visit included talks on careers in Forensics, insights into Forensic Toxicology and a detailed tour and explanation on latent fingerprints.

A special thank you to Ed van Zalen in NFI for facilitating this tour and giving our students a high level overview of the NFI. 

Undergraduate Poster Session 2019

Well done to all 3rd year and 4th year students that presented their posters at the undergraduate poster session in the Aula Maxima on April 3rd. Full details on the winners from the event, sponsored by Eli Lilly, are as follows:

3rd Year SCILs module
1st Place | Aoibhinn Christie & Sineád Corkery

4th Year B.Sc. Chemistry
1st Place | Eimear Courtney
2nd Place | Shane Ryan

4th Year B.Sc. Chemisty of Pharmaceutical Compounds
1st Place | Lucy Byrne
2nd Place | Mark Power

4th Year B.Sc. Chemistry with Forensics
1st Place | Sarah Clarke
2nd Place | Ifedolapo Folorunso

Annual Undergraduate Awards

Annual undergraduate prizes in Chemistry were recently awarded to a number of students. The ceremony took place in the Aula Maxima. Thanks to Eli Lilly and Oxford University Press for their continued support with these awards. Full details on this year's winners are as follows:

Eli Lilly Chemistry Prize
Recipient: Deirbhile Fitzgerald

The Eli Lilly Chemistry Prize is awarded annually to the student who has obtained the highest mark in Chemistry and passed the Summer First University Examination in Science in 2017/18, at the first attempt, and who subsequently registers for an honours degree in Chemistry at UCC.

Reilly Chemistry Prize
Recipient: Anne Gayer

The Reilly Chemistry Prize is awarded to the candidate who has obtained first place in the fouth year B.Sc. (Hons) degree examination in 2017/18 and has obtained first class honours. The prize is named in the memory of the late Professor J. Reilly, who was professor of Chemistry and Head of the Chemistry Department in UCC for the period 1924-1959.

Oxford University Press Book Prize
Recipient: Hayley Furnell

The OUP award is presented to the student with the highest marks from 3rd Year Chemistry in the 2017/18 academic year.

George Guilbault Medal
Recipient: Anne Gayer

The George Guilbault medal is awarded to the student who has achieved the highest aggregate performance in 4th year Analytical Chemistry. The prize is named in the memory of the late Professor George G. Guilbault, who was the 1st Chair Professor of Analytical Chemistry at University College Cork.

History of all our award winners (1990 - 2018)

Postgraduate Student Focus

Spring Conferrings 2019

Congratulations to a number of our postgraduate students on their recent Ph.D. and M.Sc. graduation, and to our taught M.Sc. classes of 2019.

Dr. Mohammed Rizwan Ahmed (Ph.D.)
Supervisor: Dr. Dara Fitzpatrick
Thesis Title: Applications of BARDS spectroscopy in the pharmaceutical, food and animal nutrition industries.

Dr. Aoife Foley (Ph.D.)
Supervisor: Prof. Anita Maguire
Thesis Title: Biocatalysis in organic synthesis.

Dr. David Jones (Ph.D.)
Supervisor: Dr. Tim O'Sullivan & Dr. Eileen O'Leary
Thesis Title: Design and synthesis of novel sulfur-containing antiviral analogues.

Dr. Jan Kegel (Ph.D.)
Supervisor: Prof. Martyn Pemble
Thesis Title: Fabrication and characterisation of ZNO-based water splitting devices by atomic layer deposition and hydrothermal synthesis.

Ms. Eadaoin Casey (M.Sc.)
Supervisor: Dr. Colm O'Dwyer

Thesis Title: Developing value-added graphitic carbons at low temperatures for Li-ion battery anodes from pyrolyzed waste coffee ground.

M.Sc. (Analysis of Pharmaceutical Compounds) Class of 2019 (4)
Ramisha Chaudhry, Aisling O'Sullivan, Shivaji Satav, Giovanni Serra.

M.Sc. (Analytical Chemistry) Class of 2019 (14)
Mohammed Abujennah, Noel Browne, Rickard Cahalane, Joshua Duffy, Colm Hennessy, Azad Kdro, Mairead Madden, Melvin Mathew, Rachel McKeon, Michael O'Riordan, Emma O'Sullivan-Carroll, Bolaji Ojofeitimi, Peter Scales, Krishna Sridharan.

M.Sc. (Environmental Analytical Chemistry) Class of 2019 (1)
Bernd Steiger.

Sigerson Cup Success

Congratulations to School of Chemistry Ph.D. student Conor Horgan, part of the successful UCC football team that won the 2019 Sigerson Cup. UCC beat Athlone IT, IT Carlow, NUI Galway and St. Mary's University College on route to their 22nd Sigerson Cup win.

Conor conducts his IRC funded postgraduate research in the School of Chemistry under the supervision of Dr. Tim O'Sullivan. He recently brought the Sigerson Cup back to his secondary school, Coláiste Chríost Rí, under our outreach programme Spectroscopy in a Suitcase.

On Our Travels

Meeting of the CHAOS COST action - Ayia Napa, Cyprus.

Words by Dr. David Jones

Recently, Aobha Hickey (Ph.D. II) and I represented the McGlacken group at the April meeting of the CHAOS (C-H Activation in Organic Synthesis) EU COST action in Ayia Napa, Cyprus. The main aim of this COST action is to render C-H activation a truly versatile, practical and general tool for organic chemistry, applicable in both industry & academia. I delivered an oral presentation on the group's recent publications in the area, while Aobha presented a poster on her work involving the synthesis of highly functionalised fluorescent molecules. 

The meeting took place in the Grecian Bay hotel which was located beachside, fairly close the centre of Ayia Napa. Thankfully, we were lucky with the weather and were able to enjoy a few hours by the pool or on the beach outside of the meeting. As early April is before the tourist season, we were able to explore the area with ease. Overall we were genuinely impressed with the food and the friendliness of the local people, especially in the hotel. We also have to give a special shout out to one particular receptionist at the hotel who negotiated a massive discount for our taxi to the airport on the last day! 

Although Ayia Napa is known as a Summer party destination, this time of the year it is fairly quiet so we have no reports on the nightlife. A return trip may be on the cards! 

Chemical Society Update

John Tobin Chemistry Quiz 2019

The 35th annual John Tobin Chemistry Quiz took place on February 25th in Cafe Oasis, Áras na Mac Léinn. In memory of the late John Tobin, a former Ph.D. student in the school who sadly passed away in 1983, a great night was organised by the UCC Chemical Society. MC on the night was Dr. Trevor Carey. Congratulations to the 2019 prize winners:

1st place: Paul Buckley, Eimear Heffernan, Emma Coleman, Mary Hennessy and Michael Dillane.

Outreach Focus

Disability Support Service Chemistry Workshop

Last week, our Forensic Chemistry team hosted secondary school students as part of the Disability Support Service Summer Workshop for secondary school students with disabilities.

Schools Analyst Competition 2019

Congratulations to Clonakilty Community School, winners of the 2019 Schools Analyst regional competition in UCC. The competition tests the practical skills of 5th year secondary school students in areas such as Volumetric Analysis, UV-Vis Spectroscopy and High Performance Liquid Chromatography. Clonakility Community School now advance to the UK & Ireland finals in Manchester this summer.

1st Place | Clonakilty Community School.
2nd Place | St. Francis College, Rochestown.
3rd Place | Mount Mercy College, Cork.

2019 Salters' Festival of Chemistry

The 2019 Salters' Festival of Chemistry took place in UCC in May. Thanks to all schools, students and teachers for taking part and congratulations to this year's winners:

Salters' Challenge
1st Place: Scoil Mhuire, Ballincollig, Co. Cork.

2nd Place: Coláiste na Sceilge, Cahirciveen, Co. Kerry.
3rd Place: Pobailscoil Inbhfear Sceine, Kenmare, Co. Kerry.

University Challenge
1st Place: Coláiste Ghobnatan, Ballyvourney, Co. Cork
2nd Place: Presentation Secondary School, Mitchelstown, Co. Cork.
3rd Place: Christ King Secondary School, Douglas, Co. Cork.

UCC Plus+ Easter Camp

On April 11th, we hosted a Chemistry practical session for students as part of their UCC PLUS+ Easter School. Easter School is an activity-packed, fun-filled 5-day university taster programme where 200 Transition Year and 5th year students in linked DEIS schools enjoy a real UCC student experience. Spending each day on campus, students attend a variety of interactive workshops, lectures and participate in a host of activities that give them a real feel for student life. The purpose of the week is to offer students a taste of the many aspects of UCC that will inspire and encourage them to progress to third level.

Where Are They Now?

In this section, we will profile and focus on alumni students. Each graduate will go through their student memories, experiences and update us on what they have done since leaving UCC.

In this issue, we spoke to Ryan O'Neill. Ryan recently graduated with a B.Sc. honours degree in Chemistry of Pharmaceutical Compounds and is now Founder & CEO of LegitFit - a Business Software for Health, Fitness & Wellness Professionals.

Ryan O'Neill

Degree Course
B.Sc. Chemistry of Pharmaceutical Compounds (2016).

What year did you arrive in UCC?
I arrived to UCC in 2011.

What course did you study?
In first year I studied Biological and Chemical Science (CK402) and then I progressed to a degree in Chemistry of Pharmaceutical Compounds.

What was your favourite Chemistry topic?
My favourite topic was Neuropharmacology or Pharmaceutical Chemistry.

What was your best ‘Chemistry’ moment and why?
My best moment was working with Dr. Dan McCarthy up on the 4th Floor, troubleshooting my final year project.

Who was your favourite chemistry staff member?
I really enjoyed Dr. Stuart Collins' lectures. He was very helpful and taught the subject really well.

When did you leave UCC and what did you do straight after graduating?
After leaving UCC, I went working for MSD in Brinny. I worked as a QC lab analyst for 18 months before leaving to look at other career opportunities. I went back to do a Masters in Marketing & Management in UCC in September 2017 and I was also accepted into the IGNITE Innovation Programme. I spent the next eight months completing my Masters and trying to set up an online business. 

What are you doing now?
I now run a software company called LEGIT FIT. It's essentially an online platform that helps Health & Fitness Professionals to manage and grow their business. This year, we're opening up the platform as a marketplace and looking to become the "Airbnb of Fitness".

Have you any advice for current students?
Do what you love doing, not what you think you ought to be doing. You'll spend the rest of your life working, so make sure you spend that time wisely, and doing something worthwhile. Forget the money, the social norms and all that stuff. Just do something that you are really passionate about. As the quote goes: "If you do what you love, you'll never work a day in your life!" Once you've found the thing that you want do, be relentless in your execution and in your character. Resilience always trumps talent! 

Athena SWAN

The School of Chemistry received an Athena SWAN Bronze Award in April 2018 and is currently carrying out an Action Plan for change. Some of the main achievements to date include:

Staff Induction Booklet
A new Staff Induction Booklet has been introduced to improve staff experience of induction into the School of Chemistry. This booklet provides a comprehensive guide to the workings of the School and outlines supports and facilities available to staff. We have also worked closely with the HR Manager in SEFS to develop a SEFS wide induction check-list to be used by line managers when they have a new recruit, this will ensure all areas are covered for new employees and they get a robust induction into their new working environment, making the transition more comfortable.

Seminar Speakers
In previous years, the School of Chemistry Research Seminar Series had a poor gender balance, with only 20% female speakers. As part of our Athena SWAN action plan, the School is now committed to ensuring that 50% of speaker invitations are issued to women. This action has reaped rewards already, with 50% female speakers in the our recent 2018-2019 Research Seminar programme. This action is part of the School’s ongoing efforts to enhance the promotion of woman as successful role models in Chemistry.

Aurora 18/19
Two of our staff members, Claire Tobin and Elena Gomez Alvarez, were successfully selected to take part in 18/19 Aurora Women Only Leadership Programme. The Aurora programme was developed by Advance-HE in the UK in response to research which indicates that the level of women in influential and senior positions in higher education is now lower than 10 years ago. The programme is targeted at women in lecturer, senior lecturer, research and professional services roles (administrative & technical) across all academic disciplines and throughout university administration.  It is designed to introduce key leadership topics and skills through workshops, action learning days and networking. Further on-going support is ensured through online resources and institutional level support including mentoring. A call has been issued for applications for Aurora 19/20, full details can be found Here for those wishing to apply.

Special Feature

UN World Environment Day (June 5th)

Every year the United Nations organises a World Environment Day to raise awareness in a particular area of environmental concern. This year the theme is Beat Air Pollution and the Day is 5th June.

To mark the occasion, the Centre for Research into Atmospheric Chemistry (CRACLab) at UCC has selected five iconic images that reflect our understanding of matters controlling air quality. The success stories (acid rain and ozone depletion) are clearly environmental problems in which scientists, politicians and the general public acted as one and for the same positive outcome. These victories give hope that we can defeat the inter-connected worldwide problems of air pollution and climate change. A solution has been proposed by scientists and that is to keep carbon in the ground. Unfortunately, this advice has not yet brought politicians or the public on board. And so the only way to proceed is for scientists to raise awareness about air pollution in a user-friendly way to decision makers. And that includes you too.

This mini-exhibition is our way of reaching out to decision makers and the general public about the ways in which we have defeated some of our previous environmental challenges and to give hope that if we all row the boat in the same direction then we can win the tough battles associated with the climate emergency.


Countdown to Key Date

2019/20 Semester 1 Start


Next Issue

We hope you enjoyed the latest issue of our newsletter. The next issue will be released in December 2019. To submit news, features and feedback, please contact us.

Best Regards
Dr Humphrey Moynihan | Head of School
021 4902379

University College Cork and the School of Chemistry is proud to hold an Athena SWAN Bronze Award. Advancing gender equality: representation, progression and success for all.

Editor | Dr Trevor Carey
© School of Chemistry @ UCC

Facebook Twitter Linkedin Website