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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Reflections on the role of a Learned Academy

05 February 2020

Listen to Professor Michael Peter Kennedy reflect on the role of a Learned Academy in the Royal Irish Academy Presidential Discourse.

About the Discourse

Since the foundation of the Royal Society in 1660, learned academies around the world have shared a common mission of fostering science, learning and academic research. Today, academies are independent self-governing bodies of distinguished scholars drawn from the fields of natural sciences, social sciences and humanities. They contain a unique human resource of intellectual excellence, experience and multidisciplinary knowledge dedicated to the advancement of science and scholarship. Some academies perform research, some are publishers, many are custodians of national cultural treasures, most recognise excellence through prizes and grants, all contribute to public debate in their home countries. This Discourse by the President of the Royal Irish Academy, Professor Michael Peter Kennedy explores the invaluable contributions that learned academies already make to society, opportunities for them to contribute more, and the challenges to their remaining vibrant and relevant in a world that needs but does not always understand evidence-based research.

About the speaker

Michael Peter Kennedy is Professor of Microelectronic Engineering at University College Dublin. (UCD) and Scientific Director of the Microelectronic Circuits Centre Ireland. He received the BE (Electronics) degree from UCD, the MSc and PhD from the University of California at Berkeley, and the DEng from the National University of Ireland. He worked with Philips, UCC and UCD and has held visiting academic appointments in Hungary, Italy, Poland, Switzerland, the UK and the United States.


He has over 400 publications, including monographs and patents, ranging from “blue skies” to applied research, in the fields of chaos theory, neural networks, nonlinear dynamics, mixed-signal test, and frequency synthesis. He was made a Fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE) in 1998 “for contributions to the theory of neural networks and nonlinear dynamics and for leadership in nonlinear circuits research and education.”

He was elected to membership of the Royal Irish Academy in 2004, served four years as Secretary for Policy and International Relations, and is currently serving as President.

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