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Burning Questions

Burning Questions is a conversation podcast that shines a spotlight on expertise in the fields of the engineering, mechanics and computer science across the island of Ireland. Each episode is structured around an interview with a leader/leaders in their field who will share insights into projects and research that have a tangible impact on the world around us.

Lorraine Hanlon is Professor of Astronomy at UCD and Director of UCD’s Centre for Space Research. She did her undergraduate (BSc) and graduate (MSc and PhD) degrees in Experimental Physics and was a research fellow and an EU Human Capital and Mobility fellow at the European Space and Technology Research Centre (ESTEC) in the Netherlands, ESA’s establishment for space mission development. Lorraine is currently Chair of ESA’s Astronomy Working Group and is a member of the ESA Space Science Advisory Committee. She also serves as science advisor to the Irish delegation to the ESA Science Programme Committee and is a member of the National Advisory Committee for the European Southern Observatory. She is a former trustee of the Royal Astronomical Society and Chair of the INTEGRAL Users’ Group. Her main research interests are in high-energy astrophysics, gamma-ray bursts, multi-messenger astronomy, robotic telescopes, and space instrumentation. She is the Endorsing Professor for EIRSAT-1, Ireland’s first satellite, a CubeSat developed by an interdisciplinary team of UCD students and staff under ESA’s ‘Fly Your Satellite!’ programme.

David McKeown is Assistant Professor in the School of Mechanical and Materials Engineering, University College Dublin. His research focuses on the modelling and control of large flexible aerospace structures and the testing and verification of attitude determination and control systems (ADCS) for Nanosatellites. He was the Engineering Manager for the EIRSAT-1, Ireland’s First Satellite which was recently launched. He is also the Principal Investigator on the European Space Agency funded DEAR project, building a robotic arm breadboard to test Lunar dust mitigation strategies. In collaboration with Lorraine, his team is building an ADCS testbed as part of the SFI funded NANO-SPACE project. He is a founding member of the UCD Centre for Space Research (C-Space) and the Lead academic for the Space Structure Dynamics and Control Theme.

Vikram Pakrashi is Associate Professor in Mechanical Engineering and Director of Dynamical Systems and Risk Laboratory (DSRL) in UCD. Vikram is a Chartered Engineer and has served both industry and academia working on numerical and experimental applications of dynamics and risk/probabilistic analysis on traditional (roads, bridges) and bourgeoning (wind/wave energy devices and platforms) sectors of built infrastructure. is recent research activities involve structural health monitoring, analysis of dynamic systems, vibration control, experimental methods in dynamics, damage detection algorithms and the use of new technologies for such applications. Vikram has supervised and mentored several doctoral and postdoctoral researchers and has received multiple awards for his research and leadership activities. He currently works with a dynamic and motivated team in DSRL close to industrial needs.