UCD Governing Authority has appointed Professor Orla Feely as the new Vice-President for Research, Innovation and Impact. Prof. Feely joined UCD as a lecturer in 1992 and is currently subject head of Electronic Engineering in the UCD School of Electrical, Electronic and Communications Engineering and has been the chair of the Irish Research Council since 2012.
The professor earned her primary degree in electronic engineering at UCD and holds a PhD in the same field from the University of California, Berkley. While at UC Berkley, she won the Outstanding Graduate Student Instructor Award and her thesis won the DJ Sakrison Memorial Prize for outstanding and innovative research.
Today she continues to win both national and international grants and prizes for her work, and heading a research group on nonlinear circuits has won her the three consecutive Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) principal investigator awards.
Speaking to the University Observer about her new job responsibilities, Prof. Feely said, “I will be leading our activities in both research and innovation, and seeking to maximise the impact they deliver to the economy and society, and within the education system.”
She feels that it is the ideal time to be taking on the job and an exciting time for UCD, which has the opportunity to be “a driving force in a recovering economy and a changing society.
“I have long been aware of our national research strengths in engineering and science, but through my role on the Irish Research Council I have developed an understanding of our tremendous complementary strength in humanities and social sciences.”
Prof. Feely believes it is crucial to draw upon all different areas of the College to ensure UCD contributes to solving the pressing global issues that face society. “Solutions to the big research challenges of our time, such as energy and connected health, will rely on expertise that spans these domains, and a university of the breadth and quality of UCD is ideally positioned for this.”
There will be challenges to her new position as well, she feels. “Irish higher education is currently operating under extraordinarily difficult financial constraints, and the demands on academic staff time are greater and greater.
“Research and innovation are highly competitive global activities, and we have some very ambitious and well-resourced competitors.” She says that reconciling these two issues will be a major difficulty during her tenure.
Speaking of her appointment, UCD President, Andrew Deeks, emphasised her impact at a national level through the Research Council and her international reputation as a researcher as the reason she is perfect for the role. He spoke of her leadership both in her own College and the University as a whole.
Prof. Feely says she looks forward to this new leadership role, although she will miss her daily interactions with “the incomparable UCD engineering students.”