The Royal Irish Academy/Acadamh Ríoga na hÉireann champions research. We identify and recognise Ireland’s world class researchers. We support scholarship and promote awareness of how science and the humanities enrich our lives and benefit society. We believe that good research needs to be promoted, sustained and communicated. The Academy is run by a Council of its members. Membership is by election and considered the highest Academic honour in Ireland.

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Cunningham Medal

The Cunningham Medal is the Academy’s premier award and dates back to 1796. It is awarded every three years in recognition of “outstanding contributions to scholarship and the objectives of the Academy”.

Previous recipients include Nobel laureate, Seamus Heaney, John McCanny (microelectronics expert), Maurice Craig (architectural historian), Sir William Wilde (polymath and father of Oscar Wilde) and Robert Mallet (father of Seismology).

In 2017 the medal was awarded to Dervilla M.X. Donnelly,  who was recognised for her outstanding contributions to scholarship and the objectives of the Academy.  Pat Guiry, the RIA's Science Secretary, was in conversation with Dervilla Donnelly. They discussed Dervillas' extensive, distinguished career as a scientist and afterwards, the Academy's President, Mary E. Daly, presented the Cunningham Medal, to Dervilla Donnelly. This event was live streamed.

2017 - Professor Dervilla M.X. Donnelly, MRIA

Professor Dervilla M.X. Donnelly MRIA is being awarded the Cunningham Medal in the area of the Sciences. She has been a generous and enlightened leader in scholarship and the wider community, nationally and internationally. She has combined contributions in education and research of public service commitments. As Chair of Phytochemistry at UCD she supervised 85 PhD students to completion. She has been recognised by numerous honours and awards and holds honorary doctorates from the University of Nottingham, QUB, TCD, NUI and UCD. She has contributed extensively to the work of the Academy and served on Council and in Office.


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