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Gold for top Irish researchers

Colm O’Reardon, Secretary General of the Department of Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science presented the 2024 Royal Irish Academy Gold Medals to Máire O’Neill MRIA in the Engineering Sciences and to Brigid Laffan MRIA in the Social Sciences.

The RIA awards two Gold Medals annually to recognise and foster excellence in research which advances the public good, both nationally and internationally. The awards showcase the exceptional research taking place in higher education in Ireland that impacts our lives, benefits society and inspires future generations of researchers. Since 2005, a total of 34 Gold Medals have been awarded; notable recipients have included Immunologist, Luke O’Neill MRIA, European Central Bank Chief Economist, Philip Lane MRIA and historian, Jane Ohlmeyer MRIA.

Hosted by the President of the Royal Irish Academy, Pat Guiry MRIA, this evening’s ceremony took place in the Royal Irish Academy before an invited audience of members of the Irish higher education system, AIB who sponsor the 2024 RIA Gold Medals, colleagues, friends and family members of the winners.

Minister Simon Harris TD congratulated the winners by saying

‘As Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science, I wish to congratulate Professor Máire O’Neill and Professor Brigid Laffan on winning this year’s RIA Gold Medal Awards. Their achievements serve as a source of inspiration for current and future generations of researchers.

The Medals recognise significant achievements in the areas of cyber security and political science – both areas of ever increasing importance and relevance. Ireland should be proud of the international impact of the work of these two outstanding academics, and the valuable research that they have carried out in Ireland and with international partners’.

Pat Guiry MRIA further commented

‘The Academy’s Gold Medals are a prestigious honour bestowed to exceptional leaders in Higher Education research across Ireland. Today, our two Gold Medal award recipients have been recognised for their pioneering work and their commitment to challenging existing paradigms. Their contributions in engineering sciences and the social sciences are invaluable in pushing the boundaries of understanding in their respective fields.’

Mr Colin Hunt, CEO of AIB who kindly sponsor the 2024 RIA Gold Medals, remarked

‘I would like to congratulate Professor Máire O’Neill and Professor Brigid Laffan on their achievements. It is heartening to see Irish academics making a global impact in the fields of engineering and social sciences as Irish higher education continues to deliver on its rich potential to energise Irish society, the economy and the wider world.’

Brigid Laffan MRIA said

‘I am truly honoured to receive the Academy Gold Medal and humbled by the recognition of my fellow scholars and colleagues. I regard the life of a university Professor with its combination of education and research as a privilege. My research on that distinctive polity, the European Union, has focused my attention on the many tensions that run through contemporary politics and political economy.’

Máire O’Neill MRIA said

‘I am absolutely delighted to be awarded the 2024 Royal Irish Academy Gold Medal in the Engineering Sciences and to have my work and that of my team at Centre for Secure Information Technologies recognised at this level. Cyber security is more important than ever in our digital world and in all our daily lives. The research that we do at Queen University College is vital in addressing the security needs of embedded devices and Information and Computer Technology systems.’

Watch the 2024 RIA Gold Medal winners speak about their achievements below: