presidents news 2018


March eZine

Emma and the Beast!

The severe weather conditions of last week posed major challenges for students, staff and the University as a whole. I hope you will agree that the communications and management of the crisis were carried out very professionally. I want to thank everyone involved across the University and the DCU Commercial group of companies for their contributions and cooperation throughout the ‘snow period’. I want to make special mention of the great work of the Emergency Management Team, including the Estates Office, Security and Health & Safety teams. The photograph above of Vlad from Trispace Catering captures the resilience of the University community very well!

Project Ireland 2020

The Government’s recently launched initiative, Project Ireland 2040, has laid out a multi-billion euro national planning framework for the country.  There is much in the associated documents that will be of interest to the DCU community.  It is very pleasing to note the commitment to the construction of Metro Link, a much needed addition to public transport infrastructure in North Dublin.  There will be a number of Metro stations adjacent to DCU campuses, although not in the locations indicated over recent years.  The three most relevant stations will be at Crossguns Bridge, Griffith Park West, and at the junction of Ballymun Road and Collins’ Avenue

In addition, exchequer funding of €2.2 billion will be provided in support of Higher Education infrastructure priorities alongside continued investment in human capital through research funding.  We look forward to playing our part in the roll-out of this ambitious plan for our country and our region. 

Click here to read the plan in full. 

President's Awards for Research

On February 14, we recognised three colleagues who have made outstanding contributions to research at DCU. Professor Liam Barry of the School of Electronic Engineering was acknowledged for his work in the area of optical communications. Dr Eoin O’Malley of the School of Law & Government was honoured for his extensive work on cabinet government and public policy. Also from the School of Law & Government, Dr Paola Rivetti was presented with the inaugural President’s Early Stage Research Award for her body of work on peace-making and building in the Middle East. Congratulations to all three on their well-deserved recognition.

Green DCU

We are very proud that DCU has been presented with a Green Flag for Environmental Education, Management and Action for a second time in recognition of the university’s ongoing commitment to continuous environmental improvement. This renewal includes, for the first time, our St. Patricks Campus. This award recognises a broad range of sustainability initiatives across our campuses and, in patiular, the work of our Green Committee and Sustainability Manger, Samantha Fahey. Congrats to all involved

QS Subject Rankings

Good news for DCU in the latest subject rankings from QS. We have maintained our strong positions across a number of disciplines. Our Communications and Media Studies activity is ranked in the top 150 in the world, with Politics and International Studies in the top 200, Modern Languages and Computer Science in the top 250, closely followed by Business, English and Law in the top 300. Well done to all our staff involved in those disciplinary areas.

Sporting DCU

A new strategic partnership involving DCU and Shelbourne FC will see the university add a new element to its spectrum of sporting engagements. DCU has become the main sponsor for the team for the coming 12 months and is developing a range of initiatives within the partnership framework. Scholarships will be made available to gifted soccer players wishing to develop their sporting talents while accessing a DCU education. Click here to read more.

In other sport news, GAA Dóchas Éireann hurling team achieved a historic first when they qualified for the final the Fitzgibbon Cup. Unfortunately, despite valiant efforts, the team did not claim victory this time but the future certainly looks bright for hurling at DCU.

New AIB Chair in Data Analytics

In partnership with Allied Irish Bank, the university has established a Chair in Data Analytics. I am delighted to announce that Professor Tomás Ward has been appointed to the position. Tomás brings a wealth of experience which includes academic research in the application of neurotechnology for neurorehabilitation, particularly in stroke victims, and in the broader area of signal processing for connected health.

Alumni Awards 2018

The annual DCU Alumni Awards will celebrate the wonderful achievements of our alumni across the globe in a gala ceremony on Friday 20th April. With ten awardees to be added to the Alumni Wall and five special awards for outstanding contribution, we are looking forward to a wonderful night of celebration, entertainment and recognition. To register your attendance, email

New Director of Communications

I am pleased to announce the appointment of Mandy Johnston as DCU's new Director of Communications. Mandy will have full responsibility for the development and execution of internal and external communications for the university across all platforms. A former Special Advisor (Northern Ireland Affairs) in the Department of An Taoiseach, Irish Government Press Secretary and Press Director at the Department of Finance, Mandy has over twenty years’ experience across the public and private sector. Mandy will act as key advisor to me and will play a central role in advancing the profile of DCU both nationally and globally.

Inclusion of DCU Journal in Scopus Database

I am delighted to celebrate the inclusion of the DCU journal, Studia Hibernica, in the Scopus database of journals and I wish to offer my special congratulation to its editors, James Kelly and Uáitéar MacGearailt. Studia Hibernica is a peer-reviewed, interdisciplinary journal devoted to the publication of research in Irish Studies - specifically history, geography, music, folklore, language and literature in Irish and in English. Significantly, the journal is published bilingually. Established in 1961, by Donal Cregan CM, president of St Patrick's College and after whom the library on that campus is named, the journal is published by Liverpool University Press. The editorial committee is chaired by the Deputy President and includes colleagues from the Schools of Fiontar agus Gaeilge, and History and Geography, and English.

North Dublin Cultural Quarter

The first step in DCU’s plan to contribute to the establishment of a North Dublin Cultural Quarter will be a 2-day event (Anam) on April 11 and 12. Anam will comprise music, poetry, drama, film, workshops and discussions across all three of our campuses. The event will showcase some of DCU’s most talented staff and students together with leading Irish artists, musicians and writers from the North Dublin region. The highlight of Anam will be a flagship concert in The Helix on the evening of Wednesday, April 11.


April eZine 


This week will see the staging of Anam, a two-day festival of music, poetry, drama, film and workshops hosted across all three DCU campuses. Curated and produced by Philip King and the South Wind Blows team (of Other Voices fame), Anam brings together some of our most talented students and staff, along with leading Irish artists, musicians and writers, including Soulé, Lankum, Wyvern Lingo, Colm Mac Con Iomaire, Lisa O'Neill and more. Anam will take place on Wednesday and Thursday and all events, bar one (the Other Voices concert in the Helix), are free although registration is advised as some events are alreadybooked out! As highlighted in our Strategic Plan, Anam represents the first step in DCU’s plans to play a key role in establishing a North Dublin Cultural Quarter. A copy of the full programme for Anam is available on the Anam website at:

 Talent Garden at DCU Alpha

Europe’s largest co-working network, Talent Garden, will create a major, new base in DCU’s Innovation Campus, DCU Alpha, this autumn. Founded six years ago, Talent Garden is now the largest European co-working and digital innovation network, hosting hundreds of start up companies and working with large corporates, including the likes of BMW, Google and Electrolux, in 23 campuses across eight European countries. Talent Garden will create a new hub for digital innovation that will provide flexible work space for freelancers, tech start-ups and corporate innovation labs, with capacity for 350 people. Talent Garden will provide exciting opportunities for DCU students and staff as well as creating another forum for engagement with innovative companies. The co-working building will also feature Talent Garden’s Innovation School, a digital skills ‘bootcamp’ education platform, which will work in partnership with DCU Business School to upskill entrepreneurs and assist corporates on their ‘digital transformation’ journeys.

 The World’s First Autism-Friendly University

On March 22, DCU was designated as an Autism-Friendly University by AsIAm, the autism advocacy charity. DCU is the first university in the world to adopt a ‘whole of university’ approach to the issue of creating a welcoming and supportive environment for students with autism. The announcement was made at a ceremony on DCU’s St Patrick’s Campus that was attended by President of Ireland Michael D Higgins, Patron of AsIAm. The designation marks the conclusion of an 18- month research project, led by Dr. Mary Rose Sweeney in collaboration with Prof. Teresa Burke (School of Nursing and Human Sciences) along with AsIAm and Specialisterne Ireland, a specialist recruitment and support agency for people with autism. A summary of the research findings and the practical commitments made by DCU to merit the designation can be found in a booklet that can be downloaded here.

 Recognising Philanthropic Giving

It was my great pleasure to present the renowned philanthropist, Chuck Feeney, with the DCU Educational Trust ‘Transformation through Philanthropy’ medal at a recent Ireland Funds event in San Francisco. The medal recognized the transformative impact of support given to DCU by Chuck and his foundation, Atlantic Philanthropies (AP). Since our establishment as a university in 1989, we have received close to €130 million in support from AP for both research and student facilities, including the NCSR, the Chemical and Biological Sciences building, the Computer Applications building, the John and Aileen O’Reilly Library and The Helix. Such investments have transformed the physical landscape of DCU and the opportunities available to our students and staff. At the same event, DCU alumna, Lorraine Twohill, Senior Vice President of Marketing at technology giant, Google, was recognized with an award for Distinguished Leadership. During her acceptance speech, Lorraine announced a gift to DCU of an endowed scholarship to support female students from disadvantaged backgrounds in accessing a university education. Lorraine graduated from DCU with a degree in International Marketing & Languages and is currently responsible for Google’s worldwide marketing function. The scholarship will be named after Lorraine’s mother, Teresa Twohill, who passed away 20 years ago. It is impossible to overstate the transformative effect of these generous donations and the university is immensely grateful to both Chuck and Lorraine for their deep sense of altruism.

 Sporting Successes

The last month has seen great success for DCU’s sportswomen. The O’Connor Cup was claimed by DCU Ladies Gaelic Football team for the first time in 7 years in a nail-biting final against the University of Limerick. Meanwhile, in the basketball arena, DCU Ladies basketball team achieved an impressive double, winning the All-Ireland Division A League, capping an unbeaten campaign with a resounding victory over Ulster University, and beating the same opposition in the final to win the inter-varsities championship hosted last weekend in UL.

Student Accommodation

The last week has seen some disturbing headlines regarding escalating and uncontrolled pricing in the private student housing sector. Recent increases of more than 25% on private student accommodation in the vicinity of DCU are placing serious financial burdens on students and their families. Such uncontrolled increases will inevitably create a family-income-based barrier for entry into Higher and Further Education. This runs counter to DCU’s ethos of access to education for all. For these reasons, DCU supported the protests coordinated by DCUSU last week and also called on government to introduce regulations that will create a sustainable solution to providing affordable accommodation for all students. For our part, we are continuing to invest in our on-campus accommodation and this will see, in the first instance, the construction of an additional 850 bed spaces across the Glasnevin and All Hallows campuses.

Chancellor’s Medals Awarded at Graduation Ceremony

Congratulations to two outstanding graduates who were each presented with a Chancellor’s Medal at our conferring ceremonies on March 29. The Chancellor’s Medal is awarded to graduates who combine excellence in both academic and extracurricular activities. Aoife McNicholl (BSc in Psychology), who received the medal in the undergraduate category, was recognised not only for achieving the highest overall final year grade in her class but also for her outstanding sporting achievements in representing Ireland as part of the Powerchair National Football Squad. Aoife has also played a vital role in the social life of the University through the set-up of DCU Storm, the university’s powerchair soccer team. In the postgraduate category, Claire O’Connell (PhD in Physics) was honoured for academic excellence, which has seen her receive numerous awards (e.g. Outstanding Graduate Researcher Award) and scholarships (Beaufort and Naughton). Her passion for science outreach was reflected in her involvement in Physics Busking and her successes in Tell It Straight, InspireFest and SFI Thesis in Three competitions.

ISSE Survey

I am delighted to let you know that a record number of DCU students (1st year, final year, PGT) participated in the 2018 Irish Survey for Student Engagement (ISSE) in mid March. The survey, which closed on March 30, showed an overall DCU response rate of 34% (3,107 participants), which is an increase of 8% from the 2017 survey. The partnership approach to the fieldwork this year brought staff and student representatives together to encourage eligible student cohorts to engage in the survey at faculty level and this resulted in an increase in participation rates across all five faculties. Thank you to all involved in achieving this high level of engagement. ISSE is an important tool for students through which they can provide feedback relating to their student experience. The final data from i-Graduate will be received in late May and will be disseminated to colleagues in due course.

National Award recognises DCU’s Diversity Strategy

Congratulations to Marian Burns, Sandra Healy and the Human Resources team on winning the Best Workplace Diversity Strategy award at the recent HR Leadership & Management Awards. These national Awards recognise excellence in various aspects of HR.


May eZine 

Introducing DCU's Austism-Friendly University Coordinator 

As mentioned in my last Newsletter, DCU has been designated as an Autism-Friendly University (the world’s first!). This designation is based on our commitment to deliver on a range of specific actions aimed at creating a supportive environment for students with autism. Arising from this, we have received philanthropic support to fund a full-time coordinator to drive the project forward over the next 3 years.

Dr Cat Hughes has been appointed to the position. She already has great experience in working with the autism community and has spent many years researching autism. She set up a support group for autistic women and is on the board of autism charity, Aspire Ireland. She received an autism diagnosis herself while she was in university, and she is an active advocate within the community. Prior to arriving in DCU, Cat worked as Research Manager in Pieta House, where she developed an award-winning education programme, adapted services for marginalised groups and created an Autism-Friendly service.

If you would like to get involved in the Autism-Friendly University project, please contact Cat at

DCU Alumni Awards 2018

On Friday April 20, the 2018 DCU Alumni Awards Gala was held in the Helix. The event was a wonderful opportunity to acknowledge the invaluable contributions of our alumni to an array of professions nationally and internationally. Seeing so many of our talented alumni in attendance and hearing of the significant role that DCU has played in shaping their lives made for a truly memorable evening. DCU can be proud of the transformative impact that our talented graduates continue to make across a wide range of sectors.

On the night, we presented five Outstanding Alumni Achievement Awards and we added ten new names to the University Alumni Wall.

The recipients of the Outstanding Alumni Achievement Awards were: 

Civic Engagement: Minister of State for European Affairs Helen McEntee TD for her work across a range of areas of importance to Irish society including ageing, mental health and most recently Brexit

Sport: Recently retired Irish and Leinster rugby legend Jamie Heaslip

Leadership: Former GAA President Aogán O’Fearghaíl

Diversity & Inclusion: Accenture MD Michelle Cullen for her pioneering work in this area

Innovation and Technology: Former EY Entrepreneur of the Year and co-founder of Openet Joe Hogan

Each of DCU’s five faculties also honoured two successful alumni for recognition on the University’s Alumni Wall. We are delighted to place the biographies and photographs of our new additions on the wall in each of our two main libraries. These serve to showcase superb role models and provide inspiration to our current students.

Alumni Wall Awardees 2018:

DCU Business School

Bronwyn Brophy - Vice President Early Technologies at Medtronic

Mark Redmond - Chief Executive of the American Chamber of Commerce Ireland

DCU Institute of Education

James Spillane - Prof. in Learning and Organisational Change Northwestern University

Ann Power Forde - Presiding Judge, Constitutional Court Chamber, KSC, The Hague

Faculty of Engineering and Computing

Lisa Ainsworth - CEO and co-founder of NuWave

Gavin Gollogley - Head of Digital, Asia at Sun Life Financial (Hong Kong)

Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences

John Devitt - Chief Executive and founder of Transparency International’s Chapter in Ireland

Sarah McInerney - Journalist and Broadcaster

Faculty of Science and Health

Sinead McCluskey - Director of Commercial Innovation at PEI

Lisa Cusack - Pilot at Aer Lingus

Anam: DCU's Festival of Arts Culture

On April 11 and 12 our three campuses came alive with a host of creative activities as we hosted our first ever cultural showcase, Anam, produced and curated by the superb Philip King of South Wind Blows (and Other Voices fame)

It was a truly wonderful event comprising poetry, song, drama, film, dance, spoken word and music performed by staff, students and renowned Irish artists, mainly from our neighbouring regions. As a first step in demonstrating our commitment to creating a North Dublin Cultural Quarter (as highlighted in our Strategic Plan), it was a tremendous success. It undoubtedly showcased the rich creative and cultural talents within the university community and the surrounding North Dublin neighbourhoods.

There were many highlights but I have to give a special mention to the ‘Heart of the Rowl’, a wonderful celebration of traditional Irish music, in all its diversity, made all the more evocative, when set against the stunning backdrop of the All Hallows chapel. The curtain has come down on DCU’s first arts and culture event but plans are already shaping up for Anam 2019 - watch this space!

FuJo to lead €3.9 million Data Journalism EU Project 

This last week brought the wonderful news that the DCU Institute for Future Media and Journalism (FuJo) will lead a €3.9M EU project harnessing digital and data technologies for journalism.

Led by Dr Jane Suiter, Director of FuJo, the JOLT (Journalism and Leadership Transformation) project is very timely and comes at a critical juncture as journalism faces myriad challenges in contemporary society. DCU has always played a leading role in journalism education and this announcement reflects our unwavering commitment to remain at the forefront of one of the pillars of our democracy.

Specifically, JOLT is a European Training Network (ETN) funded under the European Commission’s Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions to provide structured training and excellent supervision to a cluster of 15 PhDs. The JOLT Network includes nine university and industry partners from six countries: Dublin City University, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, University of Amsterdam, University of Navarra, University of Toulouse III, BBC, European Journalism Centre, The Irish Times, and

The 15 PhD projects draw on expertise from multiple disciplines including journalism, data science, computer engineering, and social science. Data science projects will develop new protocols and storytelling forms for video, Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality and will also be supported by the Insight Centre for Data Analytics, the SFI Research Centre that has a strong base at DCU. Data based projects will explore algorithms in news, mining online multimedia data, audience analytics, data mining and data visualisation.

 DCU a winner at KTI Impact Awards

DCU was among the winners at the recent Knowledge Transfer Impact Awards (KTI), collecting the honours in the Licence2Market Impact category.

The award was in recognition of the licensing which enabled DCU spin-out Iconic Translation Machine to launch the world’s first patent specific translator. The company is now one of the world’s leading language software companies.

KTI plays a crucial role in connecting businesses to the research base across Ireland and this accolade is a strong endorsement of our commitment to transformative research and engagement.

DCU Alpha, our Innovation Campus, also received a special recognition award.

 Launch of the Cambridge History of Ireland

Congratulations to Professor James Kelly, Head of the School of History and Geography at DCU and Editor of one of the 4 Volumes comprising the Cambridge History of Ireland, a truly impressive publication that was launched at Dublin Castle on April 30 by President of Ireland Michael D Higgins. DCU colleague Dr Daithí Ó’Corráin was also a contributing author.

The Cambridge History of Ireland presents the Irish story from the year 600 to the present day and places our history within broader Atlantic, European, imperial and global contexts. Along with James, the co-editors are Thomas Bartlett, (recently retired from University of Aberdeen), Brendan Smith (University of Bristol) and Jane Ohlmeyer (Trinity College, Dublin).

James (Jimmy) edited Volume 3, which spans the period 1730-1800 and presents accounts of the economy, society, population, emigration, religion, language, state formation, culture, art and architecture and the Irish abroad in 28 chapters.

 IITD Awards

DCU was announced as the overall winner in a very competitive Coaching & Mentoring Category at the Irish Institute of Training & Development (IITD) National Training Awards on Friday April 20th. The IITD National Training Awards promotes excellence, best practice and innovation in training, learning and development.

Founded in 2003, the Mentoring Programme pairs DCU students with alumni of DCU. It is a joint initiative delivered by the Careers Service within Student Support & Development and the Alumni Office. Since 2013, over 600 students have been mentored by hundreds of DCU Alumni. The Programme runs for six-months between October and March and pairs second-year students with graduate mentors for the purposes of personal and professional development. It is an opportunity for students to gain insights into the world of work, develop key workplace skills, and explore career areas of interest.

The Mentoring Programme greatly assists the University in meeting its strategic goals of providing a transformative student experience by pursuing active engagement with our Alumni and Employer communities.


June eZine

Students and staff get first taste of new €14m Student Centre

On May 11, I was delighted to join with many students and staff members, including outgoing Students’ Union President Niall Behan, for a tour of some parts of the impressive, new DCU Student Centre, which is due for completion this August. This building project is a key element of DCU’s comprehensive, five-year €240 million Campus Development Plan.

The Student Centre project, which commenced in February 2016, will provide modern, purpose-built space over three storeys for a broad range of student activities but with a particular emphasis on leadership and life-skills, innovation and entrepreneurship, arts and culture, and global engagement.

Once complete, the Student Centre will be capable of holding over 3,500 users at maximum capacity.

Some of the key features of this flagship building include:

  • An innovation and entrepreneurship area for students’ work space, three meeting rooms and three quiet offices
  • An amphi-theatre with capacity for over 450 guests
  • Seven hi-spec meeting rooms for DCU Clubs, Societies and Students Union (SU) as well as dedicated working space for use by DCU Clubs and Societies
  • Four multipurpose rooms for over 350 users at max capacity
  • A dedicated student venue called “The Hive”, with maximum capacity of over 500 guests
  • A purpose-built radio station suite

The upcoming completion of the Student Centre is an exciting milestone and we are also looking forward to the development of new sports facilities, additional on-campus accommodation and state-of-the-art learning spaces.

 New UNESCO Chair at DCU

In a very exciting development for the University, UNESCO, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation, has agreed to establish a Chair at DCU aimed at tackling the growing phenomenon of bullying in schools and cyberspace.

The UNESCO Chair on Tackling Bullying in Schools and Cyberspace will run for four years, in the first instance, and will involve researchers and academics in Ireland and across the globe working together to tackle the serious impact of both face-to-face and online bullying.

The work of the new Chair will include measuring the international extent of bullying and the development of a set of measures aimed at preventing bullying and providing teachers, educationalists and parents with guidelines and training on how to intervene to prevent harmful practices arising in the school environment. It will also deliver a range of reports on bullying and associated recommendations over the four years of the initiative.

The Chair will facilitate high-level collaboration between internationally-recognised researchers and academics across the world, enabling the development of a comprehensive body of research, including the identification of ‘best practice’ interventions.

The establishment of this Chair is very much a reflection of the DCU mission and values whereby we aim to make a transformative impact on lives and societies through research and engagement.

DCU partners with AIB for Ireland’s first Chair in Data Analytics

We are pleased to announce the appointment of Professor Tomás Ward as AIB Chair in Data Analytics in DCU’s School of Computing. This new Chair position, the first of its kind in Ireland, has been made possible through the support of AIB and reflects the growing importance of data analytics in enabling both private and public sector organisations to gain valuable insights from the large volumes of data that they collect. The creation of this Chair represents another success in DCUET’s fundraising campaign ‘Shaping the Future’.

As AIB Chair in Data Analytics, Professor Ward will focus his research on customer behaviour and how data analytics can support decision-making in business and healthcare.

Professor Ward is an internationally-renowned scholar in the field of data analytics as applied to human behaviour monitoring. He is best known for neuroscience research that uses data from sensing technologies to explain individual thoughts and behaviours.

The position is based in DCU’s School of Computing. The School is strongly research-active and staff members play a key role in a number of Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) Research Centres, including the Insight Centre for Data Analytics (, Ireland’s largest ever research initiative.

DCU to host visit from Christine Lagarde, MD of the IMF

We are delighted to announce the visit of Madame Christine Lagarde, Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), to Dublin City University on Tuesday, June 26th.

Following a tour of DCU Alpha, our innovation campus, Madame Lagarde will come to the Helix (11.30am) for an on-stage discussion with me on the themes of education, innovation, inclusion and diversity in front of an audience. This will be followed by a Town Hall Q&A. The choice of DCU for this important event is highly significant and reflects an international recognition of the key role we play in the Higher Education and Innovation ecosystem.

DCU to honour Dr Amal Al Qubaisi

On Thursday, June 21st, a DCU Honorary Doctorate will be conferred upon Dr Amal Al Qubaisi, President and Speaker of the Federal National Council, United Arab Emirates (UAE). Dr Amal Al Qubaisi was the first woman in the Arab World to be elected to the National Council in 2006, representing Abu Dhabi. She created further history in 2015 by being the first woman elected as the Speaker of the Federal National Council. The award of an Honorary Doctorate by DCU recognizes the outstanding commitment and contributions of Dr Amal Al Qubaisi to diversity and inclusion.

Celebrating Excellence in Teaching and Learning

The annual President’s Awards for Excellence in Teaching and Learning took place in the Helix on Wednesday May 9th, with worthy recipients from various schools and units acknowledged for their contributions.

The overall winner in the Academic category was Dr Aisling De Paor from DCU’s School of Law and Government. Dr De Paor was commended for her dedication, enthusiasm and passion towards her students, both in and out of the lecture hall.

The full list of award-winners is as follows:

Teaching Support Category: Willie O’Sullivan, Information Systems & Services.

Team Award: Next Generation Management (NGM) Team, DCUBS - Maura McAdam, Grace Fox, Terry O’Brien, Gerry Conyngham, Jennifer Farrell and Jona Kalemi.

Special Awards:

  1. Distinctive Approaches to Teaching: Dr Ciarán Dunne, School of Applied Languages & Intercultural Studies.
  2. Distinctive Approaches to Assessment & Feedback: Dr Justin Rami, School of Policy & Practice
  3. Distinctive Innovation in Teaching: Dr Dónal O’Brien, DCUBS
  4. New Lecturer/Tutor Category: Dr Jules Gaspard, School of Law & Government
Deepening Educational Links with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

We recently hosted a visit from His Excellency Dr Ahmed Al Eisa, Minister of Education, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to DCU St Patrick’s Campus.

The visit from the Saudi delegation focused primarily on Higher Education and Teacher Education and aimed to build on our well-established links with Princess Nourah Bint Abdul Rahman University (PNU) in Riyadh.

Our partnership at PNU has enabled a deepening of educational ties between both universities and a sharing of knowledge and expertise across a range of degree programmes delivered by DCU Business School, the Faculty of Engineering and Computing, and the Faculty of Science and Health.

The Dean of the Institute of Education, Dr Anne Looney, and the Dean of DCU Business School, Dr Anne Sinnott, played a key role in the discussions with the Saudi Minister.

DCU launches new Research Centre for Connected Healthcare

Earlier this month, DCU launched the Centre for e-Integrated Care, which will combine health and social care research findings with advances in digital technology to deliver enhanced, connected healthcare.

It will be led by Dr Pamela Hussey from our School of Nursing and Human Sciences and the Centre’s aim is to advance continuity of care to improve the health and well-being of citizens in Ireland.

Based at DCU’s School of Nursing and Human Sciences, the Centre will bring together academic and research expertise from a number of schools including Nursing & Human Sciences, Business and Computing. The centre is currently engaged with a number of key stakeholders including the Health Service Executive, Health Research Board, Department of Health, Adapt Centre and Horizon 2020.

DCU Students win national award for Social Entrepreneurship for 3rd Year in a row

On May 31st, a team of DCU students from our Enactus Society won the Enactus Ireland national competition for Social Entrepreneurship for the third year in a row. The students will go forward to represent Ireland at the Enactus World Cup in Silicon Valley later this year. Runner-up teams included those from NUI Galway, Trinity College Dublin and University of Limerick.

I would like to acknowledge the key role played by academic staff members who have mentored the students – these include Dr Ciarán Dunne (SALIS), Dr Róisín Lyons (DCUBS) and Dr Emer Ní Bhrádaigh (Fiontar agus Scoil na Gaeilge).

One of the social entrepreneurship projects established by our students over the past year is ‘Second Scoop’, a pop-up ice cream vendor which targets corporate and social events. This involved training and mentoring asylum seekers in the business and giving them the tools to develop new livelihoods.

In another project, ‘Threads’, our students set up a clothing company that helps provide asylum seekers with the skills and opportunities to upcycle old and unwanted jeans.

Supporting Leaving Certificate Study Scheme

Finally, for staff who have family members or relatives sitting their Leaving Certificate this summer, we are pleased to launch our Supporting Leaving Certificate Study Scheme, providing access to the O’Reilly Library (DCU Glasnevin Campus) and the Cregan Library (St Patrick’s Campus).

The Leaving Certificate Study scheme is available to students up to June 22nd.

July eZine

HE Update

The Irish Universities Association (IUA) is the representative body for Ireland’s seven universities. The primary focus of the IUA is on developing strategy and influencing policy in order to advance third and fourth level education and research in Ireland. Following a restructuring earlier this year, a new position of IUA Director General was created and Mr. Jim Miley was appointed to the position. You may have seen or heard Jim on various media channels in recent weeks. This is a reflection of an increased emphasis on IUA communications and, in particular, on making sure that the University sectoral perspective is understood clearly. One recent example of this was the publicity surrounding the release of the IUA pre-budget submission in early July. You may be interested in reading that submission, which can be found hereIn the coming months, a new IUA Charter will be released and a new communications campaign on the value of universities to Irish society will be initiated.

IMF Chief Christine Lagarde 'inspired and energized' by visit to DCU

On June 26th, we were delighted to welcome Madame Christine Lagarde, Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund, to both DCU Alpha and to the Helix where she engaged in a conversation on global and national issues, including education, innovation and inclusion.

At DCU Alpha, Madame Lagarde was greeted by Campus Director, Ronan Furlong, and engaged with a number of companies located onsite, including Siemens, FIRE1, Robotify, Novaerus, Shimmer and Talent Garden, Europe’s largest digital innovation co-working platform, which is due to open on the DCU Alpha campus in September.

Tweeting about her visit to DCU, Madame Lagarde stated “I had the opportunity to meet with faculty, students, innovators and social entrepreneurs...I am inspired and energized by their projects and ideas for the future!”.

Following the DCU Alpha visit, I had the pleasure of having a conversation with Madame Lagarde before an audience of nearly 800 in the Helix. From start to finish, Madame Lagarde blended insight with empathy, warmth and humour, providing a personal account of the people and events that influenced her through her life and career to date.

As with any such major event, a large number of individuals across many parts of the University made significant contributions. Thank you to everyone who played a role in making the day so successful!

You can watch the conversation with Madame Lagarde in full here.

DCU confers Honorary Doctorate on Speaker of UAE Parliament

On June 21st, a DCU Honorary Doctorate was conferred upon H.E. Dr Amal Al Qubaisi, Chairperson and Speaker of the Federal National Council (FNC - the United Arab Emirates Parliament).

In 2015, Dr Amal made history when she was elected Speaker of the FNC, becoming the first woman in the Arab world to be elected to such a key political position. The Honorary Doctorate was in recognition of Dr. Amal’s international leadership as an advocate for women’s and societal issues and values.

DCU launches Ireland’s first Centre of Excellence for Diversity & Inclusion

June 21st was an important day at DCU as we launched Ireland's first Centre of Excellence for Diversity and Inclusion.

The Centre will focus on diversity and inclusion research and practice for industry, higher education and Government. The Centre aims to help organisations to build cultures of inclusion by providing access to the very latest in academic research, insights and tools for diversity and inclusion. It will Forge alliances and collaborate with industry and other partners on implementing best practice. It will also facilitate knowledge exchange and workshops on key issues, such as policy development.

Among the special guests participating in the launch event were former President of Ireland, Dr Mary McAleese; social entrepreneur and autism advocate, Adam Harris; social justice advocate, Michael Barron; Employer Disability Information HR & Disability Project Manager, Seonaid O'Murchadha; founder of Empower The Family, Deborah Somorin; and Group Business Editor of Independent News & Media, Dearbhail McDonald.

DCU takes centre-stage at InspireFest 2018

DCU was well represented at InspireFest 2018 in the Bord Gáis Energy Theatres recently (June 21-22). A unique, two-day international festival that combines technology, science, design and the arts with an ethos of diversity and inclusion, InspireFest featured over 60 speakers and 3,000 attendees from almost 40 countries - with women accounting for 64% of speakers. Leaders, professionals, scientists, engineers, entrepreneurs, investors, coders, academics, students, decision-makers and influencers all gathered to share ideas and opinions at what was a fascinating melting pot of talent and fresh thinking.

Two very important DCU contributions came respectively from InspireFest panelist and Accounting & Finance student, Nikita Nazz Siddique, who spoke eloquently and passionately on the topic of ‘Next Generation: The Future is Now’ and from Keynote Speaker Dr Anne Looney, Executive Dean, DCU Institute of Education, who delivered a thought-provoking address on the evolving role of the teacher (which you can watch back here).

I’d like also to thank the teams at DCU Water Institute, the School of Health & Human Performance, DCU ADAPT and Director of Alumni Relations, Ross Munnelly, who showcased some of the scientific research and alumni initiatives being undertaken at DCU.

 DCU study highlights mental health difficulties among children

A DCU study launched on June 20th has found that primary schools are dealing with very young children with serious mental health difficulties and that the absence of a nationwide, dedicated primary schools counselling service is placing huge pressure on teachers ill-equipped to respond to students in distress.

The research, entitled ‘Primary Schools Counselling Study: Demand and provision of school based counselling in Ireland’, was led by Dr Rosaleen McElvaney, School of Nursing and Human Sciences (pictured) who collaborated with colleagues Dr Evelyn Gordon and Deirdre Judge. The report found that primary school children are experiencing significant psychological difficulties and are in need of professional help.

Funded by St Patrick’s Mental Health Services and launched by the Ombudsman for Children, Dr Niall Muldoon, the report recommends the urgent establishment of a nationwide primary schools’ counselling service.

The study was conducted among primary school principals and counsellors dealing with children from 4-13 years of age throughout Ireland between August 2016 and November 2017. Up to 3,256 primary school principals were invited to complete an online questionnaire, with 1,282 school principals (39.4%) responding. In addition, 10 counsellors who are currently providing counselling to primary school children were interviewed.

Family issues and relationship breakdowns were cited as the most common underlying cause for distress in children. Up to a quarter of school principals also reported the occurrence of a “critical” incident in their school, varying from a bomb scare to suicide to murder.

You can find out more about the research here.

World Refugee Day: DCU and FutureLearn announce 30 Scholarships

DCU and FutureLearn, a global leader in online learning, recently announced 30 refugee scholarships.

Marking World Refugee Day (June 20th), the co-sponsorship is part of a joint DCU / FutureLearn scholarship initiative that will enable refugees and asylum seekers to pursue certificates of completion from a wide range of courses offered on FutureLearn’s online platform.

FutureLearn boasts 8 million learners globally and partners with almost 150 universities, institutions, professional bodies and businesses around the world.

Among the courses offered on the FutureLearn platform is DCU’s ‘Irish 101’, a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) launched earlier this year, and one of the first of its kind to offer Irish language learning globally. ‘Irish 101’ is co-funded by the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht as part of the 20-year Strategy for the Irish Language 2010-2030, supported by the National Lottery.

Announcing the 30 new scholarships, Mark Lester, Director of Partnerships Development at FutureLearn, said: “DCU has long been a champion of online education in Europe, and we are proud to be hosting its ‘Irish Language and Culture’ and ‘High Performance Computing in the Cloud’ courses. We are delighted to be building upon our partnership with DCU in providing 30 scholarships for refugees and asylum seekers in Ireland, who will have an opportunity to access hundreds of flexible learning options.”

More information is available here.

AIB and PwC extend support for DCU’s Centre for Family Business to 2021

We have recently announced a new agreement that will see AIB and PwC extend their support for our Centre for Family Business to 2021. Developed with the assistance of DCU Educational Trust, this new agreement will enable the Centre to expand its work to support Irish family businesses through research, events, publications and a new Connectivity Project, a peer-to-peer mentoring programme that will enable family business leaders to engage and share personal experience and learnings on specific issues of interest to family business.

Since its establishment in 2013, DCU’s Centre for Family Business has established a reputation as a hub of expertise and advice, helping Irish family firms to address issues such as generational succession, integration of family and non-family talent, inheritance and estate planning, growth and exports, and the role of entrepreneurship and innovation in family business success. The Centre has engaged with over 1,500 family firms through three national conferences and other events and has participated in the worldwide Successful Transgenerational Entrepreneurial Practices (STEP) project, enabling Irish family firms to draw on international research and practice insights.

The support of AIB and PwC since 2015 has been vital in enabling the Centre to provide a platform to enhance the competitiveness of Irish family firms, to offer insights into international best practice of family firm management and to shape future policy in relation to this thriving sector.

DCU Library launches gallery space and exhibition of collections

Along with University Librarian, Mr Christopher Pressler, I had the pleasure of launching DCU’s new exhibition gallery on Tuesday, 19 June at the O’Reilly library on our Glasnevin campus.

The gallery showcases an inaugural exhibition featuring 750 years of the Library’s historic materials, including manuscripts, early printed books and pamphlets, and more contemporary private papers of leading actors in media and politics, as well as photographic collections.

Exhibition highlights include a 13th century manuscript bible, a volume of Martin Luther’s works, a Shakespeare folio, and a Bedell bible, the first published in the Irish language. Our archives bear witness to historic Irish and international events, including the protracted turmoil of the Irish revolutionary period, the unfolding of events in Danzig prior to World War II from the perspective of leading Irish diplomat, Sean Lester, key correspondence between former Taoiseach, Charles J. Haughey and international leaders, and the ground-breaking media work of Mary Raftery.

This and a wealth of other materials in DCU Library’s collections will provide invaluable sources for researchers across humanities, and social, natural and applied sciences for generations to come. I would strongly encourage you to take the opportunity of viewing the new exhibition gallery.

DCU’s collections have benefited hugely from generous donations, not least in the fields of media, politics, literature and education. The University also acknowledges the legacy of collections which have come into our care since the incorporation of the Church of Ireland College of Education, the Mater Dei Institute of Education and St. Patrick’s College, Drumcondra into the University.

DCU students prominent in team Éirloop at SpaceX Hyperloop Pod Championship

I want to wish the very best of luck to the 16 DCU students who are currently preparing to compete as part of team Éirloop at the upcoming SpaceX Hyperloop Pod Championship in California later in July.

Dubbed the ‘Olympics of Engineering’, the SpaceX Hyperloop Pod competition consists of 20 student-led teams from top institutions across the world designing and building hyperloop prototypes to travel at the highest possible speed down a one-mile vacuum tube at the SpaceX headquarters in Hawthorne, California. The 20 teams were selected from over 700 globally.

This year marks the first time that a team from Ireland will be taking part in this prestigious competition.

On June 26th, DCU students, including Bartlomiej Bara (captain Team Éirloop), Akhil Voorakkara (Head of Electronics for Team Éirloop) and Nina Kanti (Lead Software Architect for Team Éirloop), joined other team members to unveil the Hyperloop pod to an audience at DCU, including Minister of State for Training, Skills, Innovation and Research and Development, John Halligan TD.

Prof. Lisa Looney, Executive Dean, Faculty of Engineering and Computing, who hosted the launch event, said:

“The Éirloop team has illustrated what can be achieved when the analytical thinking and the expansive creativity which we strongly associate with engineers, are combined with people, teamwork and communication skills and, most importantly, with a deliberate growth mindset. The future of Irish technological innovation is in safe hands.”

And the results are in . . .

With end-of-year examination results published in recent weeks, I want to take the opportunity to thank all academic and administrative staff in DCU for their unwavering commitment in preparing, administering and correcting examinations and in processing examination results.

Remembering Prof. John Coolahan

At the start of June, we learned with great sadness of the passing of Prof John Coolahan.

John was a colossus in Irish education for more than five decades, with a broad international reputation for his scholarly output. Moreover, he was a friend to many in DCU, particularly to those who joined the University through the Incorporation process that was completed in 2016.

John was formerly Chair of the Governing Body of both St. Patrick’s College Drumcondra and the Mater Dei Institute of Education. In September 2017, he was conferred with an Honorary Doctorate by DCU in recognition of his immense contribution to education in Ireland.

Among the Education community, John Coolahan was accorded universal respect. That respect was based not only on his scholarly achievements but also, more significantly, on the deep regard for his values, his humanity, and his integrity.

John was a giant of education reform and a true friend of DCU. Ní fheicfear a leithêid arís.


You can read DCU’s tribute to John Coolahan in full here

 August Ezine
DCU launches DCU Press, Ireland’s first open access university press

We were delighted to register another significant ‘First’ for DCU in July with the announcement of DCU Press, Ireland’s first open access university press.

Open Access is an international movement that allows free public access to university research and other outputs that would traditionally have been behind paywalls and subscriptions.

Particular credit to Chris Pressler Greg Hughes, John Doyle, and their respective teams in bringing this initiative to fruition. 

DCU Press, a joint initiative between the Office of the Vice President of Research & Innovation and DCU Libraries, is dedicated to publishing books on research in all fields where the print version is available for purchase and the high-quality digital eBook is freely available to anyone in the world at no cost.

In addition to publishing standard monographs in all disciplines and modeling a journals platform, DCU Press is a leading innovation in line with the ambitions of Horizon Europe, the new research and innovation programme recently adopted by the European Commission that emphasises open access to publications and data. DCU has a strong legacy in research communication and, as Ireland’s first open access university publisher, DCU Press builds on the University’s notable international reputation in this field.

Chris Pressler, our University Librarian, stated: “DCU Press is a unique partnership in Irish universities between libraries, research offices and faculties. It is a carefully considered response to change and a progression of the University’s heritage of innovation in open scholarship.” He added that, “DCU has its own tradition of openness, being a designated University of Sanctuary, an Age-Friendly University and having the largest access scholarship programme in the country. DCU Press builds on our reputation for transformation and enterprise and puts the University at the forefront of new ways for universities to engage with the public.”

Minister Mitchell O’Connor opens new wing of Stokes Building

On July 9th, we were pleased to welcome Minister of State for Higher Education, Mary Mitchell O’Connor TD, to officially open the new wing of the Stokes Engineering and Research Building on our Glasnevin campus.

Costing over €11 million, the expansion provides lecturing facilities for up to 1,400 students. The new unit spans four storeys and includes two large lecture theatres, six lecture rooms, 22 office space units and 8 open plan research and office units. 

Speaking at the opening, Minister Mitchell O’Connor said “The opening of the new wing of the Stokes Engineering and Research Building ... is a demonstration of the university’s strong commitment to creating a vibrant and dynamic environment for research and innovation to thrive and flourish.”

We are delighted to have completed this considerable expansion, which is one of many important elements in our Campus Development Plan. This new facility will not only provide increased capacity for our ever-increasing student population but, by virtue of the design of the learning spaces, will also enhance the DCU student experience

You can read more about the Stokes Building and its expansion here.

DCU-led team awarded Hyperloop innovation prize at SpaceX competition 

Great credit is due to a number of DCU students for their achievements in the SpaceX Hyperloop Pod competition on July 22nd. In a global competition for university students, Team Éirloop finished 5th overall and was awarded a prize for innovation for the team’s resourceful efforts. They also managed to meet the originator and sponsor of the competition, Elon Musk, and presented with him with an Irish rugby jersey! 

The final competition consisted of twenty student-led teams shortlisted from top institutions across the world. The focus was on designing and building hyperloop prototypes to travel at the highest possible speed down a one-mile vacuum tube at the SpaceX headquarters in Hawthorne, California. The 20 teams were selected from over 700, with Ireland as one of only six European countries represented at the event.

Sixteen DCU students, including Bartlomiej Bara (captain Team Éirloop), Akhil Voorakkara (Head of Electronics for Team Éirloop) and Nina Kanti (Lead Software Architect for Team Éirloop), joined with team members from UCD, TCD, DIT, ITT, and MU, to participate in the Hyperloop competition.

Special thanks are due to staff in the Faculty of Engineering and Computing and the Insight Research Centre who provided significant support to the Team Eirloop Initiative. The Eirloop Pod was completed and launched in the laboratories of our School of Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering.

DCU study highlights impact of homelessness on education

An important study, carried out by Dr Geraldine Scanlon and Grainne McKenna from our Institute of Education, was published in July and revealed that thousands of children have had their education interrupted and negatively impacted by homelessness.

The report, commissioned by the Children’s Rights Alliance and entitled ‘Home Works: A Study on the Educational Needs of Children Experiencing Homelessness and Living in Emergency Accommodation’, showed that social isolation, reduced participation in school life, irritability, exhaustion, and low self-esteem were common amongst children experiencing homelessness. These effects, alongside frequent school absences, were attributed to poor diet, inadequate rest and poor living conditions.

The reported highlighted, however, that the majority of parents surveyed (17 out of 20) spoke positively about their children’s relationship with teachers and school staff. They described how praise, authentic encouragement and access to in-school supports had assisted children during periods of transition. The report itself made recommendations as to how to the government can support schools in helping children experiencing homelessness, as well as how temporary and emergency accommodation can be improved for families.

This work, and the associated report, is another very good example of the impact that DCU Research can have on society, echoing our Mission Statement: Transforming Lives and Societies through Education, Research, Innovation and Engagement.

You can find out more about the report here.

DCU physicist honoured for her contributions to STEM outreach & engagement

Major Congrats to Dr Eilish McLoughlin, who received a prestigious award this month for her “leadership of large-scale national initiatives that widen participation in physics in Ireland.”

Dr McLoughlin, Associate Professor in the School of Physical Sciences and head of the Centre for the Advancement of STEM Teaching and Learning (CASTel), was honoured by the Institute of Physics (IOP) with the 2018 Lise Meitner Medal and Prize for distinguished contributions to public engagement in physics.

Dr McLoughlin was one of a small group of academics across the UK and Ireland celebrated for their outstanding contributions to research, teaching and public engagement in the field of physics by the IOP, the professional society for physics in the UK and Ireland.

Among a number of key initiatives pioneered by Eilish is the STEM Teacher Internship programme, which, in partnership with Accenture and the 30% Club, provides pre-service STEM teachers with internship opportunities in STEM-oriented companies, organising and co-hosting the prestigious European Science Education Research Association (ESERA) conference at DCU, and directing the ‘Improving Gender Balance Ireland’ project, a partnership between CASTeL, Institute of Physics and Science Foundation Ireland, designed to address issues around gender and physics in schools.

Commenting on the achievement, Professor Enda McGlynn, Head of the School of Physical Sciences, said, “Dr McLoughlin is among a very distinguished and small group of Irish recipients and the award is extremely well deserved. There is such a variety to the numerous initiatives that Dr McLoughlin leads, each of them bringing together many groups in society with a view to widening participation in physics.”

You can read more about Dr McLoughlin’s achievement here.

Professor Diamond awarded honorary doctorate for contributions to music and science

I wish to offer my sincere congratulations to Professor Dermot Diamond, who was recently awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Letters (DLitt) from the University of Ulster for his services to science and influential role in traditional Irish music.

Dermot was previously Director of the National Centre for Sensor Research (NCSR) at DCU and is a Principal Investigator with the INSIGHT Centre for Data Analytics, the largest research centre supported by SFI. His extensive scientific work has been internationally recognised. He has published over 300 peer-reviewed papers, is a named inventor in 19 patents, and has co-authored/edited five books.

Growing up in Belfast, Dermot developed a passion for traditional music, specialising in Irish and American fiddle music. His diverse repertoire and style continue to influence and inspire within the traditional music community. He is a regular contributor to radio and TV programmes and he has toured with well-known artists, including Dolores Keane, John Faulkner and Paddy Keenan.

In terms of collecting, preserving and making traditional music accessible, Dermot is a board member of the Irish Traditional Music Archive (ITMA); the world’s largest repository of Irish music, where he is responsible for advising on the digitisation of materials held.

On receiving this honour, Dermot said: “I would like to thank Ulster University for bestowing an honorary degree on me in recognition of my career in science and music. I am very grateful to my colleagues at DCU, and particularly the INSIGHT Centre, and the National Centre for Sensor Research, who have shown me continual support for many years.

I am very fortunate to be part of a remarkable family, Tara, Helen, Danny and Anna, all of whom share my love of music.”

DCU contribution shapes key EU educational framework on Lifelong Learning

One of the most influential EU documents in education, Key Competences for Lifelong Learning, has been significantly revised to include ‘Personal, Social and Learning to Learn Competence’. Congratulations to Dr Paul Downes, Associate Professor in the DCU Institute of Education, who co-authored two reports published by the European Commission which made specific recommendations on which the revisions were based.

Previously termed the ‘Learning to Learn’ Competence, the ‘Personal, Social and Learning to Learn’ Competence has incorporated the importance of social and emotional education. The new competence has recently been adopted by the EU Council of Ministers.

In their cited reports, Paul and his co-authors had highlighted the key role of social and emotional education in developing higher academic achievement, positive academic attitudes, increased prosocial behaviour, and in leading to a decrease in antisocial behaviour, anxiety, depression, substance abuse and suicide.

Regarding the educational key competencies framework and its relevance for Ireland, Dr. Downes said: “This increased European Union emphasis on personal and social education invites the placing of further emphasis and time allocation to such issues on the primary school curriculum. It also implies a stronger emphasis on teachers’ own personal and social education competences in their communication and relational styles in the classroom – for example, at post-primary level.”

You can read more about the EU document and Dr Downes’ work here.

DCU study reveals link between healthy ageing and combination exercise

In a further example of our commitment to issues associated with the ageing demographic, a new study, led by Dr Brendan Egan, Associate Professor in the School of Health and Human Performance,  published in July, has reported that, for people over the age of 65, a combination of aerobic and strength work, known as ‘concurrent’ training, is more effective than either one done separately.

Concurrent training improves a number of health markers, increases muscle strength and results in a “marked effect” on reducing trunk or ‘belly’ fat, the Report concluded.

More than 80 participants over 65 years of age and medically stable took part in the 12-week exercise programme undertaken at Medfit Proactive Healthcare, Blackrock, and funded by the Irish Research Council. In one of three groups, they were observed doing ‘aerobic’ training, such as walking or running, ‘resistance’ training in the gym with weights, and a combination of the two - ‘concurrent’ exercise.

The key findings of the study, ‘Concurrent exercise training in older adults’, were published in July and reveal that, when it comes to the over 65s age group, concurrent exercise training is the most effective and likely to increase walking speed, leg strength and reduce belly fat in a time-efficient manner. Researchers regard reducing belly fat as a “key factor” in combating lifestyle diseases such as obesity and type 2 diabetes.

Time constraints are often cited as an obstacle to exercise training and this research shows that results can be achieved with exercise sessions lasting less than 25 minutes but performed at least three times per week.

You can find out more about the research results here. 

DCU PhD student hits global heights with AI drone innovation

We were delighted to learn of the success of David Azcona, a PhD candidate from the Insight Centre for Data Analytics in DCU and a Fulbright research scholar at ASU (funded by the Irish Research Council in collaboration with the National Forum for Teaching and Learning), who was a member of Team Prometheus from ASU (Arizona State University) that recently competed in the Microsoft Imagine Cup against 48 other teams from around the world. The Prometheus team was placed within the top six teams in the Artificial Intelligence (AI) category. 

The Microsoft Imagine Cup is a competition that aims to empower student developers to create technological innovations that address real-world problems. Each year, the event produces groundbreaking advances for the future of technology, with this year’s event introducing three new categories - Artificial Intelligence, Big Data, and Mixed Reality. 

Azcona, alongside two students from ASU, developed the Prometheus project by combining surveillance drones and the concept of ‘machine learning’ to create an early-stage fire detection artificial intelligence technology. The concept of the project was to leverage the vast amount of wildfire images and videos available online to train a computer programme to detect the early presence of a fire. A drone then flies over parks and forests collecting the images, and an algorithm determines if a region is on the verge of developing a fire.

When describing the project, Team Prometheus explained that it was, “named Prometheus, after the Greek Titan who defied the gods by stealing fire from the Olympus and gave it to humanity, an act that enabled progress and civilization. In the same way Project Prometheus tries to steal fire from the wild to give it back to humanity, an act that should foster progress and civilization too.”

Professor Alan Smeaton, the founding director of DCU’s Insight Centre, said: “Working with David is a real pleasure because he has such a range of interests, from learning analytics (his PhD topic), to drones for forest fire detection, to analysis of political voting patterns, but all the time he’s drawn back to the data analysis within whatever problem he’s looking at. That means that he could apply his talents to almost any problem so long as its got data associated with it.”

Dublin Innovation District plans unveiled

 An exciting new city-centre development, the Grand Canal Innovation District, was announced in July. Led by TCD, the plan is to develop an urban zone focussed on innovation in a manner similar to Boston and other cities renowned globally for innovation. Along with the Provost of TCD, and the President of UCD, I was pleased to sign a three-way MOU confirming the intention of the three Dublin universities to collaborate in making the Grand Canal Innovation District (GCID) a success. DCU achievements to date with our own Innovation Campus, DCU Alpha, are an indication of what is possible and it is proposed to link such hubs coherently into GCID.

The proposed Innovation District will be a high-tech quarter where multinationals, start-ups and university expertise all come together and actively collaborate. The 5.5 acre plot of land by Grand Canal Quay will include TCD’s proposed new €1 billion technology and innovation campus.

Speaking at the launch of the GCID project, An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar TD said that the development “spoke eloquently of the vision to make Ireland the tech capital of Europe and plans to ensure that the jobs of the future were created first in Ireland”. . A high-level GCID Advisory Group, announced by the Taoiseach at the launch, will be chaired by Martin Fraser, Secretary General at the Dept of An Taoiseach, and will include the presidents of the three Dublin universities.

Consultations are now underway, with the aim of having a completed plan drawn up by the end of the year. 


Putting the U in DCU

Our new state-of-the art student centre dedicated to enhancing the student experience at DCU was officially opened by the President of Ireland, Michael D Higgins, on September 27th

Funded completely by philanthropic donations, with the majority coming from our own students, ‘the U’, a purpose-built facility housing a broad range of activities and support services, will serve the needs of DCU’s rapidly growing student community, now numbering over 17,000. It is estimated that, in the coming decade, over 50,000 students will avail of the facilities and services on offer at the U.

Key features include a Student Leadership and Life-Skills Centre, Performing Arts and Cultural spaces for students and the wider community, an Entrepreneurship and Innovation Hub for national and international student initiatives, and a Global Village celebrating the cultural diversity of the University, with more than 115 different nationalities represented in the student population.

The U is also home to a specially-commissioned sculpture, ‘Emergence’, by renowned artist Liam O’Neill. The 3-metre high piece, which is carved from the wood of a 250-year old copper beech tree that had to be felled on the Glasnevin campus (outside the Albert College) due to disease, represents the concept of the transformation of the student throughout their personal journey at the university. Many colleagues will recall the great sadness that was expressed across the University when the tree was felled. It is fitting that this piece of our heritage is located in the U and celebrates our essential mission.

The U is one of the most high-profile and ambitious projects in our Campus Development Plan and will play a pivotal role in student life across our three campuses. It represents a major milestone for everyone associated with DCU, and reflects our commitment to the personal and professional development of our students. The U’s opening demonstrated what can be achieved through partnership and generosity. It is a physical manifestation of DCU’s mission ‘to transform lives and societies’.

 New €50 million STEM facility confirmed

A new science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) facility on the DCU Glasnevin Campus was confirmed on 14th September, following a government announcement of a €24 million investment towards the €50m building.

The new 10,000m2 ‘Future-Tech’ facility will further advance DCU’s international reputation for excellence in science, computing and engineering disciplines. Combined with loan finance from EIB (already announced by us in launching our Campus Development Plan) and philanthropic support, this will allow us to build a €50m facility that will greatly increase teaching space capacity in the University, especially in a range of STEM disciplines.

This is excellent news for the whole university, especially for staff in the School of Health and Human Performance who will finally find a new home together in the facility!

The support and sanctioning of a project of this magnitude by the Government demonstrates the shared commitment to STEM as a key component of Ireland’s future prosperity. We are very grateful for this endorsement of our ambitious plans to develop talent that can flourish on the global stage in a world where technological innovation plays such a pivotal role.

Having now received the green light to proceed with Future-Tech, detailed planning is expected to commence shortly. This signature building will take 18-24 months to build, with the first student intake earmarked for 2021.

 Irish Universities launch joint Charter on the future of Higher Education

Along with Ireland’s six other universities, DCU recently committed to a six-point Charter to advance the university education system for this and future generations of students. The development of the Charter, the first of its kind in the Irish third level sector, was coordinated by the Irish Universities Association (IUA).

‘Ireland’s Future Talent – A Charter for Irish Universities’ identifies six central objectives and commits to deliver a ‘fit for purpose’ university system for the evolving demands of society. Its target is to enable the Irish education system to address a range of key challenges and to align with the Government’s ambition for a sustainable, competitive national education sector.

The six key objectives are to:

  1. Build on the quality of the student experience in a digital age.
  2. Increase the scale, scope and impact of investment in research and innovation.
  3. Expand student access and increase engagement with communities and industry.
  4. Support a programme of staff development and increased equality and diversity.
  5. Create more flexible and accountable structures.
  6. Secure the investment and resources to achieve our ambitions. 

Speaking at the launch of the Charter, Jim Miley, Director General of the Irish Universities Association said: “We require a transformation of how university education is controlled including freeing universities from the grinding levers of State to allow them innovate and grow. This requires more flexible structures combined with strong governance and accountability.” 

“Every politician is aware of the major funding deficit for third level, yet no progress has been made on re-vamping the overall structure... Meanwhile, the scale of the funding deficit continues to grow as more and more students enter our universities. We share the government’s ambition for education but that ambition needs to be matched with a commitment to provide the structures and funding required to deliver it.”   

You can download the Charter here.

 DCU strikes a chord with Berklee College of Music & Fingal County Council

At the start of August, we were delighted to host the Groove School programme in partnership with Fingal County Council and Berklee College. When the degree programmes of Newpark Music School were brought into DCU in recent years (creating the BA in Jazz and Contemporary Music Performance), DCU developed a relationship with the prestigious, Boston-based, Berklee College of Music. The Groove School programme comprised a three-day musical training workshop to teach 100 secondary school students about musical performance skills and techniques.

The workshop, which was held in the St. Patrick’s Campus auditorium, gave students the opportunity to learn about the Berklee method of music education, encompassing theory, ear training, improvisation, ensemble performance, and instrumental instruction. The specific classes on offer covered a wide range of topics, such as different performance styles, harmonising, and improvisation, before culminating in a concert where the school-children showcased their new and improved musical talents.

 A number of exceptionally talented secondary school students were awarded scholarships to the value of $20,000 to attend the Berklee College of Music in Boston.

 The programme is part of Dublin City University’s ongoing commitment to create a North Dublin Cultural Quarter, working with local authorities and the community to highlight and stimulate creativity in the North Dublin region.

 DCU researchers shine a light on Leaving Cert

The Leaving Certificate curriculum is failing to prepare students adequately for university studies, according to research carried out by Prof. Michael O’Leary and Dr. Darina Scully of DCU’s Centre for Assessment Research Policy and Practice in Education (CARPE). Independent and critical thinking, open-mindedness, and confidence in reaching decisions were among the many areas where respondents overwhelmingly felt that the Leaving Certificate did not sufficiently prepare them for their studies at university.

On a positive note, the survey found that the majority of respondents believed that the Leaving Cert studies had prepared them well to persist when learning was difficult (83% agreed), to be well organised (83% agreed), to manage their time (72% agreed) and to cope with the pressure of heavy workload requirements (75% agreed).

Another key DCU study released in August found that Leaving Certificate students rely heavily on rote learning and memory recall to get through their exams, as opposed to critical thinking and creative skills. The research carried out by Dr. Denise Burns, Centre for Evaluation, Quality, and Inspection at the DCU Institute of Education, challenges the effectiveness of the Leaving Certificate assessment to foster creativity and intellectual stimulation among students.

In terms of what was required to address the deficiencies and concerns identified in the first research study, Prof. O’Leary commented: “One practical step would be to build on the work now underway at Junior Cycle that seeks to provide students with the tools to start developing greater learner autonomy. At Senior Cycle, this might involve, for example, exposing students to a wider range of literature and teaching them how to cite others to lend support to their views while at the same time broadening assessment to include approaches that facilitate the gathering of evidence for critical, independent thinking.”

You can read more about the studies here and here.

 Lord Mayor of Dublin visits his Alma Mater

It was a privilege to welcome Dublin’s First Citizen and our very own alumnus, Lord Mayor Nial Ring, to DCU in August. Nial has the distinction of being the second person ever to graduate from DCU!

Having entered NIHE Dublin (as DCU was then) in 1980 as part of the first ever student cohort, he graduated with a BA in Accounting and Finance in 1983. In our first ever Graduation ceremony, graduates of the A&F degree were called up first and, at that stage, graduates were called out in order of merit. Nial was clearly a bright student!  

Lord Mayor Ring was elected to office during the annual council meeting on June 25th last. He previously worked in the financial industry and has served as an independent councillor for Dublin’s Inner City North area since 2009.

Mr Ring is the 394th Lord Mayor of Dublin.

 DCU Alumni Event for BEd Class of ‘78

The BEd ‘Class of 1978' returned to DCU St Patrick's Campus to celebrate their 40th anniversary reunion last weekend. The graduates honoured their fallen classmates with a short prayer service in the Campus chapel before making their way to Cregan Library for refreshments and an update from Dr. Anne Looney on DCU and the new DCU Institute of Education.

During the evening, returning alumni enjoyed a trip down memory lane as our student ambassadors led campus tours and provided an opportunity for all to experience the old and new elements of St. Patrick’s Campus as well as the fantastic views from the top floor of the library. Thank you to the Director of Alumni Relations, Ross Munnelly, for doing a great job in organizing this event.

 European Language Label Award for DCU LanguaCulture Space

In recognition of the success and impact of the DCU LanguaCulture Space project, Dr Aileen Pearson-Evans of SALIS received the European Language Label Award 2018 from the Minister for Education and Skills, Mr. Richard Bruton TD, at a recent ceremony in Croke Park hosted by Léargas.

Located on the Glasnevin Campus, the DCU LanguaCulture Space is an international hub, which was established in SALIS to provide an informal, relaxed, inclusive environment for international and domestic students to meet and share each other’s languages and cultures.

A unique space on campus, it promotes multilingualism and multiculturalism, encourages face-to-face communication in languages other than English, and supports students to move outside the comfort zone of their native languages to get to know fellow students from different linguistic and cultural backgrounds.

Its overarching aim is to increase students’ engagement with linguistic and cultural diversity within the university and society in general, and to facilitate positive interaction between different linguistic and cultural groups represented in the student body.

To that end, students, supported by SALIS staff, organise cultural events and language classes, multilingual speed-chatting, and multicultural comparative events for other students. All events are free of charge and open to the whole DCU student community.

You can read more about the LanguaCulture space on its Facebook page here.

 Recent Bereavements

In August and September, we sadly lost two beloved members of our DCU community.

Sorina Salveta, who passed away at the end of August, worked in DCU for over 10 years, mainly in the Finance Office, and will be greatly missed by her colleagues.

David Dunne, a PhD candidate in the School of Computing under the supervision of Martin Crane and Marija Bezbradica, passed away in September. David was a promising student, and his loss will be felt by all those who knew him.

Our thoughts and deepest sympathies are with the friends and families of Sorina and David.

May they both rest in peace. 


Update on DCU Strategic Plan & Institutional Review

The first year of implementation of our 2017-2022 Strategic Plan (‘Talent, Discovery and Transformation’) was completed on September 30. The annual process of progress monitoring and ‘Review and Renew’ has now taken place. Arising from this, a summary of achievements in Year 1 of the Strategic Plan was discussed with a subgroup of Governing Authority (assembled by the Chancellor) at a meeting on October 17. The outcome of the ‘Review and Renew’ process, together with the input of the GA subgroup, was discussed at the most recent GA meeting on October 25. There were no changes proposed to the Strategic Plan and the significant progress achieved in Year 1 was noted.

The next stage of the process will be circulation of a brochure detailing Year 1 Progress and Year 2 Priorities to all members of DCU staff. This will be followed by consultations with staff across all faculties and units of the University over the coming months, starting in November.

The on-site part of the CINNTE Institutional Review of DCU took place from Monday October 22 to Friday October 26. This was a hugely intensive process that involved a great degree of commitment from many individuals across the University. I wish to express my deep gratitude to all who contributed to this effort. In particular, I wish to highlight the excellent work of the team in the QPO (Aisling McKenna, Karen Johnston, Celine Heffernan and Fiona Dwyer) under the guidance of our Deputy President, Prof. Daire Keogh. While it will be some time before we receive the formal written report of the Review, those of you present at the informal debriefing from the Chair of the panel on the last day will have been assured by the very positive comments made about DCU’s vibrancy, commitment and innovative culture.

Save our Spark (SOS) Campaign takes off!

To deliver on ambitious targets for the quality of the learning experience for our students, Irish universities must overcome challenges created by a growing student population, a rapidly changing society, and, above all, serious under-investment by the Irish state.

As a follow-up to the ‘Charter for Irish Universities’ published in September, and with a view to enhancing public awareness of the threats posed to the quality of the Irish HE system, the IUA has launched a multi-media communications campaign across a range of channels. The Save Our SparkCampaign ( went live on Monday, October 15. The link to the Save our Spark video may be found here.

The initial objective of this campaign is to engage students, staff, alumni, followed by parents and the general public and to secure their active support for the campaign. If you believe in the objectives of this initiative, please join the campaign and use social media platforms to spread the SOS video and related messages!

DCU receives historic Irish Pirate Radio Archive

DCU’s O’Reilly Library is now the proud host of the Irish Pirate Radio Archive.

Comprising a wide range of documentation, publications and paraphernalia relating to Ireland’s rich history of pirate radio, the archive is critical to understanding the development of radio as a medium of communication over the course of the twentieth century.

This Archive constitutes an important addition to our Media History Collection, a unique special collection that our School of Communications has developed with the Library over the past decade.

As part of its ever expanding collections in media history, DCU Libraries will now preserve the State’s principal archive of the activities of pirate radio throughout Ireland from the early 1900s up to the 1988 legislation, which established the independent radio sector.

By providing a secure and permanent home, DCU Libraries will ensure this unique archive’s availability to future generations of researchers.

As 2018 marks the 30th anniversary of the close-down of pirate radio in advance of the opening of regional radio stations, the donation of this material to DCU is timely and will be of major interest to media and journalism scholars nationally and internationally.

As part of this new relationship with DCU, the Irish Pirate Radio Archive plans to add a new dimension to its collection by creating a digital oral history of the heyday of pirate radio.

It launched this initiative at the Ballsbridge Hotel on October 20th, where over 100 people involved in pirate radio – owners, DJs and even those who raided stations – gathered to tell their own story and ensure that a unique aspect of Ireland’s rich media history is preserved for future generations. 

Many thanks to Dr Mark O’Brien from our School of Communications who has played a central role in this development.

DCU and Wuhan University launch new collaborative Master of Engineering programme

During October, an Irish ministerial delegation visited Wuhan University (WHU) in China to mark the recent launch of a collaborative Master of Engineering programme between DCU and WHU.

The delegation was headed by Minister of State John Halligan T.D., who was accompanied by Ireland's Ambassador to China H.E. Eoin O'Leary and senior representatives from the Department of Education and Skills, the Irish Embassy and Enterprise Ireland.

DCU was represented by the Executive Dean of Faculty of Engineering and Computing, Prof. Lisa Looney and Director International Engagement (NE Asia), Sylvia Schroeder.  The visit took place as part of a five-day Enterprise Ireland ‘Education in Ireland’ mission to China.

WHU is one of China's leading universities (Top 10) and DCU's longest-standing partner institution in the country. Following many years of teaching and research collaboration, both universities recently undertook to deepen the partnership by submitting a joint application for approval of a two-year collaborative MEng in Electronic and Computer Engineering to the Chinese Ministry of Education. Both institutions were delighted to announce that the application has been successful.

This joint initiative is both WHU’s and DCU’s first MOE-approved collaborative Master programme, and WHU is the highest ranked of any MOE-approved Sino-Irish programme collaborators.

The first intake of 30 students is planned for September 2019 and students will be recruited through the Chinese National Postgraduate Entrance Examination.

Students will spend the first year studying at WHU and the second year at DCU, earning a dual degree.

The programme combines WHU’s expertise in software engineering with DCU’s expertise in advanced data networks.

Graduates of the programme will benefit from Ireland’s two-year visa stay back option which affords international postgraduate degree holders with the opportunity to gain valuable work experience in Ireland’s exciting tech environment. During his visit to WHU, Minister Halligan congratulated both universities on this important achievement and voiced his support for the initiative.  

DCU and Irish Heart Foundation team up to move 200,000 teens to the right PATH

DCU and the Irish Heart Foundation have joined forces to roll out an ambitious new physical activity programme to help over 200,000 teenagers at Junior Certificate level get moving.

The new initiative, called Y-PATH PE 4 ME (Youth-Physical Activity Towards Health), is a three-year, evidence-based programme that has proved effective for improving both physical activity levels and fundamental movement skills among Irish teens aged 12-15.

The programme was developed in response to extensive research led by Dr Sarahjane Belton of our School of Health and Human Performance, which found that only one in five Irish young people aged 12-15 are getting enough physical activity, one in every four are overweight or obese, and fewer than one in every 100 have mastered basic fundamental movement skills.

Traditional PE class has at times been criticised for over-emphasising games and competitive activities, which can alienate inactive young people, and move them further away from a physically active lifestyle.

The overarching objective of Y-PATH PE 4 ME is to change how young people in Ireland perceive and experience PE class, which is now a compulsory part of the wellbeing curriculum at schools. DCU and the Irish Heart Foundation in conjunction with UCC, the Professional Development Service for Teachers (PDST) and Sport Ireland will roll out a nationwide professional development programme and toolkits to PE teachers in every school across the country with a target of reaching over 200,000 teens over the next three years.  

Talent Garden Dublin opens at DCU Alpha

Talent Garden Dublin, the latest facility in Europe’s largest network of digital innovation hubs was opened on the 15th October 2018 on our Innovation Campus, DCU Alpha, by Minister for Finance & Public Expenditure and Reform, Paschal Donohoe TD.

Focusing on digital innovation, Talent Garden Dublin will provide spaces for 350 freelancers, start-ups and innovation labs of large corporates that want to leverage the vibrancy of a co-working and digital innovation ecosystem.  It is the first Co-working Space-University strategic partnership of its kind in the world.

Coinciding with Talent Garden Ireland’s launch, Intel announced that, as part of their ongoing collaboration with DCU, they will have a presence at Talent Garden. The company is seeking to identify and enable an indigenous cohort of AI/Computer Vision innovators through the provision of its technology, as well as providing a structured programme of technical guidance and support under one roof.

The launch of Talent Garden Dublin on DCU Alpha marks another major milestone in DCU’s commitment to advance Ireland’s innovation ecosystem. Operating at the forefront of digital innovation will be central to Ireland’s future prosperity. In that context, we are delighted to have attracted the provider of Europe’s largest network of digital innovation hubs to DCU Alpha.

The establishment of Talent Garden Dublin adds to the menu of opportunities for DCU staff and students who wish to engage in innovation (especially digital digital) across a broad range of application areas. The new facility hosts an impressive coffee shop and Italian restaurant that are both open to members of the general public!

Facebook and National Anti-Bullying Centre announce partnership to deliver anti-bullying and online safety training in post-primary schools

Facebook and the National Anti-Bullying Research and Resource Centre (ABC) here at DCU recently launched a partnership that will see an anti-bullying and online safety training programme offered to every post-primary school in Ireland

Through this initiative, which is led by the UNESCO Chair on Tackling Bullying in Schools and Cyberspace, Professor James O'Higgins Norman, leading ABC experts will offer training to teachers and parents of 12 to 17-year-old students across the country. Through face-to-face workshops and online modules, participants will be equipped with the tools to identify and understand bullying and develop the skills to support students when it comes to online safety.

Upon completion of this programme, parents and teachers will be able to:

●       Define and identify bullying, cyberbullying, and online safety;

●       Engage empathically with children and young people;

●       Investigate and resolve reported incidents;

●       Teach children and adolescents how to nurture respectful relationships, and develop better communication skills offline and online; and

●       Support colleagues in strengthening their abilities to educate young people about bullying, cyberbullying, and online safety.

This initiative will have a profound impact on the lives of thousands of students and their families. I welcome the fact that the focus is on providing training for teachers and parents who are both faced with the growing challenge of supporting students dealing with all the complexities and dangers associated with bullying, cyberbullying, and online safety.

Dr Paul Downes Appointed to European Commission expert panel

Congratulations to Dr Paul Downes, Associate Professor and Director of the Educational Disadvantage Centre in our Institute of Education, who has been appointed as a member of the European Commission’s European Education and Training Expert Panel.

The main task of the Expert Panel is to support the preparation of the European Union’s post-2020 Strategic Cooperation Framework for Education and Training.

The Expert Panel will reflect on the grand challenges facing Europe and their impact on the education and training systems. It will produce specific thematic reports and an overall report to inform the Commission’s and EU Member States’ thinking regarding the post-2020 Education and Training strategy for the next decade. 

The topics analysed by the Expert Panel are clustered in six thematic blocks, with a special focus on what is expected to influence the future of learning:

1Demographic challenges (ageing population, migration flows);

2. Inclusion and citizenship (addressing social diversity, integration of migrants, need for critical thinking, disparity of values, addressing inequalities);

3. Technological change and the future of work (automation and artificial intelligence, uncertainty about future skills needs, need for creativity and entrepreneurship);

4. Digitalisation of society (lack of digital skills, challenges of exploiting digital tools, inequalities in access to digital resources);

5. Environmental challenges (environmental degradation, growing consumerism, barriers to sustainable development);

6. Investment, reforms and governance (competitiveness, role of non-state actors in societal provisions, changes in approach to teaching and learning).

Colleagues will recognise many of these themes as ones that are reflected in DCU’s Strategic Plan (‘Talent, Discovery and Transformation’).

The Expert Panel will, in particular, also highlight new insights in teaching and learning. A new post-ET2020 strategic framework will need to address challenges that are relevant to all stages of education and training.

Paul is one of 18 experts selected after a public call and is the only Irish member of the expert panel. He is one of three experts specifically selected under the 'Inclusion and citizenship' thematic heading. Each panel member contributes to the development of all themes.

DCU Water Institute – Ambisense joint venture wins research funding

I was delighted to learn that DCU Water Institute’s collaboration with Ambisense - a DCU spin-out company specialising in using technology to solve complex environmental problems – was awarded Enterprise Ireland Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) funding in October.

The funding will allow this venture to tackle (and conquer!) the Smart City challenge of identifying and communicating bathing water quality to the general public. In this context, DCU Water Institute intends on further developing its Colisense field test equipment.

Created and designed in DCU's Water Institute by Dr Ciprian Birciu, under the supervision of DCU Water Institute Director, Prof. Fiona Regan, Colisense can be used as an indicatory measure of E. coli in bathing water.

DCU Water Institute has teamed up with Ambisense to develop and design a chip to send results from Colisense to social media and beach websites.  The two partner organisations will be trialling Colisense with the co-funders of this project, Waterford City Council and Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council, over the coming weeks.

EQI Researchers win inaugural John Coolahan SCoTENS Award

Congratulations to Dr. Martin Brown and Prof. Joe O’Hara of the Centre for Evaluation, Quality and Inspection (EQI)at DCU Institute of Education, who were awarded the Inaugural John Coolahan Award by the Standing Conference on Teacher Education, North and South (ScoTENS) for research into ICT use in Initial Teacher Education conducted with colleagues in Queens University and Ulster University.

The award was named in honour of Prof. John Coolahan, former Chair of the Governing Body of St. Patrick’s College Drumcondra and driving force behind the establishment of SCoTENS. Prof. Coolahan, who passed away earlier this year, was a pivotal figure in the history of Irish Education who played a crucial part in the redesign and reconceptualisation of research and practice across the continuum of education.

The award was created by SCOTENS both to honour the memory of Prof. Coolahan and to recognise outstanding educational research that brings together professionals from both the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland.

Funded by SCoTENS, the research, Teacher Education Tutors' Practice in ICT: North and South' , explored teacher educators use of ICT on the island of Ireland. It was conducted between 2016 and 2018 and comprised a comprehensive survey, lecture observations and a interviews that were carried out by Martin and Joe along with research colleagues from Northern Ireland: Dr. Pamela Cowan (Queens University), Prof. Roger Austin and Dr. Stephen Roulston (Ulster University).

DCU team wins ‘Best Research Paper’ Award at international Digital Learning conference

Congratulations to  Mairéad Nic Giolla Mhichíl, Elaine Beirne and Conchúr MacLochlainn, who won the ‘Best Research Paper Award’ at the EDEN Research Conference in Barcelona on October 26th.

Their paper on 'Moody MOOCs: An Exploration of Emotion in an LMOOC', was singled out for its originally, unique methodological design and investigation of a relatively new area of research in the area of online learning.

The accolade is one of the most prestigious research awards in this field in Europe.

The conference saw six DCU doctoral students presenting their research at the Doctoral Symposium on along with five other presentations from NIDL staff.

Well done to everyone who contributed to this important research conference. 


DCU celebrates Seamus Heaney with new lecture theatre and portrait

The Seamus Heaney Lecture Theatre was officially opened at DCU’s St. Patrick’s Campus last month, along with the unveiling of a new portrait drawing of Seamus Heaney by renowned Belfast artist Colin Davidson.

In attendance were members of the Heaney family, Seamus's wife, Marie, and his children Catherine, Christopher and Michael.

An address was delivered by Fintan O’Toole and a number of Seamus Heaney’s poems were read by playwright Marina Carr, accompanied by harpist Sile Denvir, both DCU staff members.

Speaking on behalf of the Heaney family, Catherine Heaney said "Our family is so grateful that Dublin City University has chosen to honour my father in this way, with the naming of a lecture theatre, and an accompanying portrait by Colin Davidson. It is a fitting tribute to someone who was a committed teacher for over forty years, and it marks his long association with St Patrick's College and DCU."

We are very pleased that the Heaney family has allowed us to name the most prominent lecture theatre on our St. Patrick’s Campus in honour of Seamus. It will serve as an inspiration to many thousands of students and remind them not only of the beauty and power of his art but also of his affinity to teaching and the institution in which they study.

We wanted an appropriate image or symbol that would attract the passing student or visitor by its power and beauty.  The result is a stunning image of Seamus that will have a permanent location at the entrance to the lecture theatre.

Speaking about the portrait, Colin Davidson said “It is my hope that this drawing of Seamus traps the power of our encounter, and indeed the greatness of the man, within the fabric of the physical crayon marks. I congratulate all at Dublin City University on the opening of this new lecture theatre - may it be a place of true learning and enlightenment, in the spirit of the great Seamus Heaney.”

Microsoft & DCU bring Hour of Code to an additional 10,000 primary students

Minister for Education and Skills, Joe McHugh TD, joined Microsoft Ireland last month to unveil the company’s plans for Hour of Code 2018 and its partnership this year with DCU to enable over 450 final year student teachers to introduce a world of coding to an additional 10,000 primary school students.

Hour of Code is an annual campaign held across the globe by and is held during Computer Science Education Week. From December 3rd-9th, Microsoft invited every primary school to get involved through the company’s new interactive Hour of Code video session, which can be downloaded at

Speaking at the launch of the Hour of Code plans at DCU, Minister McHugh said: “I’m delighted to join Microsoft here in DCU to launch this year’s Hour of Code campaign that will see thousands of students around Ireland get involved in a one-hour coding session. It’s great to have industry involvement in promoting this for students and ensuring that the message of coding and the access to an Hour of Code is possible in every school.”

“Coding continues to be a more and more important part of school curricula.  We have computational thinking in Maths in primary schools, a short course in coding at Junior Cycle and of course, the introduction of Computer Science at Leaving Certificate. With this focus on the coding it is essential to partner with initial teacher education centres in order to promote STEM Education. The participation of student teachers from DCU will help to equip our young people with the computational thinking and problem-solving skills they will need to thrive in our digital world.”

The Hour of Code professional learning experience for student teachers in DCU, co-facilitated by DCU faculty and Microsoft employees, was hosted in the new Minecraft Studio, which was officially opened at the Hour of Code event on our St. Patrick’s Campus. Microsoft has invested in this innovative Studio as a learning space for DCU students and for practising teachers. The Studio brings the virtual immersive educational environment of Minecraft: Education Edition to life in a physical setting. Surrounding students in a Minecraft World, the Studio is equipped with devices and furniture to allow DCU faculty and students explore how innovative virtual and physical learning spaces can transform the curriculum and engage young people with new educational environments. 

From DCU’s perspective, we are delighted to partner with Microsoft in this important Hour of Code initiative and we very much welcome their investment in the Minecraft Studio at DCU. This new facility will enhance the understanding and expertise of both student teachers and practising teachers in the area of coding. DCU places a strong emphasis on STEM Education in many ways, and we recognise that the preparation of teachers for both Primary and Post-Primary Schools in our Institute of Education plays a critically important role in that regard. I am particularly pleased that over 450 final year student teachers at DCU will play a pivotal role in introducing a world of coding to an additional 10,000 primary school students.

To find out more and download the Microsoft Ireland Hour of Code tutorial, log onto

Return Mission to DCU for NASA Astronaut

 It was a pleasure to welcome NASA astronaut Shane Kimbrough back to DCU in November, seven years after he first enthralled us with his stories of space exploration.

Shane told a packed Helix about first joining NASA in 2000 and, in particular, the thrill of being selected four years later to be trained an astronaut. Shane participated in a number of space missions, spending 189 days in space and doing 39 hours of spacewalks.

He described being on the International Space Station as “an amazing opportunity”, and highlighted their busy schedules on the job. “Our days and our minutes are planned out by the mission control centres around the world.”

He did say, however, that they did have time to reflect and enjoy themselves, adding that “usually on the weekends we have time off up there and we just hang out, look out the window, take pictures, call home, try to reconnect with our families and friends.”

In terms of venturing out of the spacecraft to do space walks, Shane said that this was “certainly the most dangerous thing we ask any person to ever do, just because the environment is so unforgiving”. He commented that the astronauts know that there’s a lot of work that has to be done out there in order to keep the massive International Space Station functioning.

Shane described how he found doing normal, everyday life things (“eating, brushing your teeth” etc) intriguing, because “you can’t ever train that on earth because the environment is so different. So, you’re kind of learning that in real-time, as you go...and, of course, you get better and better at it.”

Among the students Shane met at the event were pupils from St. Aidan’s CBS, Donabate Community College, and DCU’s Centre for the Talented Youth, Ireland (CTYI).

Find below link to Shane Kimbrough live stream: 

Zeynep Naz Tugrul awarded Chancellor’s Medal

Congratulations to Zeynep Naz Tugrul, who was awarded the Chancellor’s Medal as an acknowledgement of her exemplary contribution to academic and extra-curricular life at DCU. The Chancellor’s Medal is only awarded at graduation ceremonies when a student has excelled in both aspects of university life.

Zeynep, who graduated last month with a first class honours degree in Electronic and Computer Engineering (with a major in Digital Interaction), was described as an “outstanding student” and noteworthy owing to her involvement in a range of activities.

She made notable contributions to DCU during her time here, including acting as a class representative during the 2015/2016 academic year. She was heavily involved in the organisation of social events both in her role as a class representative and as a member of the Engineering Society.

She volunteered to help with DCU’s Open Day activities every year during her undergraduate studies and was active in the Women in Engineering Network.

Attendees at the graduation ceremony heard that, during the summer of 2016, Zeynep volunteered with AIESEC, a non-profit youth-run organisation, to teach English to children in underprivileged areas of Jakarta, Indonesia. The project was called #IWasHere, The Greatest Children Project. By participating, Zeynep hoped to highlight the importance of education and promote the equal right of all children to education.

During her time in Indonesia, Zeynep was continuously fundraising to help underprivileged children with the costs of going to school and accessing necessary educational resources. She was awarded the ‘AIESEC Most Developed Exchange Participant Award’ for her contribution to the project. Zeynep also participated in the Ballymun Initiative for Third Level Education, or BITE for short.The aim of the BITE programme is to encourage students to fully participate in all levels of education and motivate them to do well in state examinations.

DCU researcher wins SFI Research Image of the Year

 Congratulations to DCU's Dr Sithara Sreenilayam Pavithran, of our Advanced Processing Technology Research Centre, who won the Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) Research Image of the Year Award.

This Research Image competition celebrates images captured by Science Foundation Ireland funded researchers during the course of their research. The announcement was made at the annual Science Foundation Ireland Science Summit that was held in November.

Sithara won the award for her image, ‘Liquid Crystal Seashore’.

For those who want to know more about the science behind the ‘Liquid Crystal Seashore’:


The microscopic image shows seashore-like feature in the liquid crystal (LC) material at the isotropic to nematic phase transition. This seashore-like feature is developed in a temperature gradient LC cell made up of two glass substrates. In the region, like water bubbles near shore, iare the thread-like defects that develops at the isotropic to anisotropic transition temperature and these defects are the proof of uniaxial nematic phase transition. The part in yellow colour, looks like shallow water, is the pre-transitional region just below the conditions for phase separation of anisotropic nematic where molecules are slowly possessing orientational order. In the region with the orange colour, that looks like deep water, the orientational order of molecules is spontaneously arising below isotropic to nematic phase transition. The colour of the image depends on the temperature, shape of LC molecule and sample thickness.

FuJo Institute to lead €2.4million EU project to tackle ‘fake news’

The DCU Institute for Future Media and Journalism (FuJo) will lead a €2.4 million EU project to tackle the issue of “fake news” by tracking and flagging online disinformation, especially through social media. The three-year project, called PROVENANCE is funded by the EU Horizon 2020 programme and will focus on finding solutions to enable people to distinguish between original information and manipulated information or disinformation.

The term “disinformation”, or the most commonly quoted phrase “fake news”, can be understood as false information deliberately created and spread to influence public opinion or to obscure the truth.

The PROVENANCE approach will involve the use of a ‘verification layer’ that will employ advanced digital technologies for multimedia analytics (including image forensics) to record any modifications to content and to identify similar pieces of content. A ‘Verification Indicator’ will contextualize individual pieces of content with relevant information, including when the content was registered, by whom, and any subsequent transactions.

The project solutions will be of particular use for consumers of news and political information but also for content creators who want to secure their content from manipulation or unauthorised use.

Commencing this month, PROVENANCE will be led by Dr Jane Suiter, Associate Professor and Director of FuJo. The project team includes academic and industry partners from Ireland, Spain, the Czech Republic and Austria. Irish collaborators include the SFI ADAPT Research Centre for Digital Content Technology at Trinity College Dublin and the content intelligence company NewsWhip.

The project will work closely with citizens and content creators to address their needs and improve the digital environment for sharing content and information.The establishment of the PROVENANCE project reflects an acute awareness of the challenges posed for citizens by large scale disinformation, including misleading and outright false information.

Ensuring the integrity and reliability of news from various sources is a critical issue for citizens across the globe at this time and is one that gets to the very heart of democracy. Building on DCU’s expertise and our commitment to excellence and innovation in Journalism Education over many decades, I am delighted that our FuJo Institute is focusing its research and leading a team of international experts to address this key issue.

Upgrading the Main Mall on DCU Glasnevin Campus

As part of the our Campus Development Plan 2016-2021, we have committed to significant renovation of the main Public Realm spaces on our Glasnevin campus, with a particular focus the Mall.

The section of the Main Mall between the Henry Grattan Building and the Labyrinth is now being renovated to provide enhanced public amenity space to complement the new U building.This work will be also include renovation and improvement works in the South Ring Road to provide a modern pedestrian friendly access to the U, Sports Centre and Student Residences.This phase of the development works will see over 9,000m2 of public amenity refurbished, providing new spaces for student amenity, enhanced circulation and improved access to all buildings.As part of these works, we are undertaking a large-scale replanting of trees and shrubs to provide a sustainable open space with local varieties of trees and other plants. This includes the planting of over 125 native semi-mature trees and over 2,000m2 of new shrubs and lawn planting, as well as new seating areas and upgrades to campus-wide infrastructure. The public realm works will be completed by the end of 2019. As a result, you may experience an increase in construction traffic on the Glasnevin Campus for the duration of the construction programme and all staff, students and visitors should take additional care when moving through the campus. Please bear with us while we deliver the next phase of our development.

DCU’s choral credentials take centre stage

Laetare Vocal Ensemble, conducted by DCU's Dr. Róisín Blunnie, has been awarded the Contemporary Music Centre Award for the best performance of a piece by an Irish composer at the City of Derry International Choral Festival, for their performance of The Destroyer by DCU's Dr. Seán Doherty. 

You can enjoy the performance here.

This is the second year in a row that Laetare have been awarded this prestigious prize, having won it last year for their performance of The Old Woman, by DCU's Dr. Rhona Clarke. 

These successes highlight the accomplishments of DCU staff in choral music at an international level.

This win is particularly timely, with DCU announcing that it will offer an MA in Choral Studies in 2019, subject to accreditation – the first of its kind in Ireland.

You can find out more about DCU's School of Theology, Philosophy, and Music here

Philip King Appointed Adjunct Professor at DCU

Internationally-renowned Irish musician, film-maker and broadcaster, Philip King, has been appointed Adjunct Professor in Dublin City University’s Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences. Mr. King formally takes up his position with immediate effect and will serve for a period of three years.

First rising to prominence in the 1970s as a vocalist, harmonica player and founding member of seminal folk rock band, Scullion, Philip’s record of achievement in the arts over the past five decades has positioned him as an influential figure in Irish cultural circles. Philip has worked closely with many of the biggest stars in Irish, British and American music, film and literature, including Paul Brady, Christy Moore, Liam O'Flynn, Seamus Heaney, John McGahern, John Boorman, Mark Knopfler, The Everly Brothers, The Waterboys, Davy Spillane, Richard Thompson, Elvis Costello, John Cage, Emmylou Harris, Pete Seeger, Bono, Imelda May, Glen Hansard, Amy Winehouse, Tom Waits and Hozier.

Among his career highlights are writing and producing the Emmy Award-winning 'Bringing It All Back Home’ series (1991), producing the music of ‘The General’ (1997), founding the 'Other Voices’ music series for RTÉ, spawning a No.1 album of the same name and various events held annually since. In 2014, he curated the ‘Ceiliúradh’ concert in London's Royal Albert Hall, coinciding with the State visit to Britain of President Michael D. Higgins. He has directed five series of ‘Sé Mo Laoch’ for TG4 and currently presents ‘South Wind Blows’ on RTÉ Radio 1.

Commenting on his appointment, Philip King said: “I’ve had the pleasure of working closely with DCU students and staff on the inaugural ANAM Arts and Culture Festival, held earlier this year, which brought North Dublin's communities together through culture, song, poetry and social gatherings. As curator and producer of that festival, I'm delighted to have the opportunity to broaden my involvement with the university even further in my new role. I look forward to help shaping, sharing and spreading DCU's ethos of culture and creativity both within and beyond its campus walls. I look forward to working and curating with DCU the possibilities of combining its agendas of arts, culture, creativity and innovation with science, technology, engineering and maths to create a new dynamic for Ireland in an ever-challenging world.”

This is a wonderful development for DCU. Philip King is a musical and cultural icon. Visionary and versatile, his impact on music, film and broadcasting has inspired generations of musicians, documentary makers, producers, directors, writers, technologists and many others who work in or appreciate the arts here and internationally. DCU is proud of its musical, cultural and broadcasting heritage, and fostering a culture of creativity and innovation is an identified goal in our Strategic Plan 2017-2022. We are delighted to have an individual of Philip’s calibre join DCU as an Adjunct Professor and he will play a pivotal role in our strategy to establish a vibrant North Dublin Cultural Quarter. His presence and guidance will be an invaluable asset to our collective endeavours.  

The announcement coincided with the start of 'IRELAND’S EDGE', a multidisciplinary creative event that makes up a distinct strand of 'Other Voices' festival of music and ideas. The event, hosted in Dingle, Co. Kerry recently, brought together diverse stakeholders from the arts, technology, the creative industries, broader business interests, politics, policy, education and the media.

Recent DCU Physics graduate wins Prestigious Award

Emma Brannigan (DCU Applied Physics graduate 2018) has been awarded the prestigious Honours Degree Award of the International Society of Automation (ISA) Annual Awards 2018.

This is awarded, on the nomination of any third-level institution, to the best fourth-year Honours Degree student studying any area of Automation, Instrumentation or Control in Ireland.

Emma's Final Year Project was entitled ‘The development of a high-resolution signal acquisition system applied to optical touch detection’ in collaboration with the company Rapt Touch and Prof. Colette McDonagh as Emma's DCU supervisor.

The ISA Ireland Section will be making the presentation to Emma at their Annual Honours and Awards Ceremony in University College Cork on Wednesday 12th December 2018.

For more information on ISA, please visit ISA Ireland website: or ISA international website:

School of Biotechnology wins at gradIreland awards

DCU's Faculty of Science and Health were among the winners at this year's gradIreland Higher Education Awards and Symposium on Friday, November 23rd at the Crowne Plaza, Northwood.

The School of Biotechnology collected the “Best Postgraduate Science Programme” for the MSc in Bioprocess Engineering.

It is the second year in a row that DCU's School of Biotechnology has won the Best Postgraduate Science Programme accolade.

Minister Zappone launches Ireland’s first Early Childhood Research Centre

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Katherine Zappone TD, officially launched Ireland’s first ever dedicated research centre for early childhood in November. The Early Childhood Research Centre (ECRC) at DCU’s Institute of Education aims to place Ireland at the centre of the global map of early childhood research.

The centre will actively promote close collaboration between research, policy and practice in the field, both nationally and internationally, and will build upon the existing expertise of the DCU Institute of Education, the only faculty of education on the island of Ireland; an Institute that provides teacher education and research for every level of education.

The establishment of the Early Childhood Research Centre at DCU follows on from the appointment of Professor Mathias Urban as the Desmond Chair in Early Childhood Education in September 2017.

It is the only early childhood research chair at an Irish university and aims to spearhead research that will have a transformative impact on public policy and practice in this sector. The establishment of the chair was made possible through the generosity of businessman and philanthropist Dermot Desmond, and is a reflection of the significance of the early years for educational success, personal well-being and social cohesion.

Professor Urban, who will lead the ECRC, is a world expert and thought leader in the field of early childhood research, renowned for his contributions in international early childhood policy and professional practice.

He most recently presented to the 2018 T20 Summit (Think 20 – a network of research institutes and think tanks for the G20 countries) in Buenos Aires, where he highlighted that early childhood education requires a more coordinated approach to governance, resourcing, professional preparation and evaluation.

Access to high quality early childhood development, education and care is recognised as key to achieving the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals by 2030.

The ECRC will continue to lead the early childhood policy brief during Japan’s presidency of the 2019 G20 summit.

The official centre launch coincided with the Inaugural Lecture of the Desmond Chair in Early Childhood Education delivered by Prof Urban.

The lecture, ‘It takes more than a village - the local, the global, and the imaginary in early childhood education’ addressed the current context pertaining to childhood education and care nationally and internationally.

“Early childhood education is important, beneficial, and, if organised well, highly effective.”

“It is important that we understand what are the real experiences of all children and families in early childhood settings and beyond. We need to address questions such as what experiences do we as society want them to have now and in the future? What kind of services can and should we provide, locally and nationally, to value our collective responsibility to care for and educate young children and who should provide them?”

In a wide-ranging address, Prof Urban also addressed the concept of “Competent Systems in Early Childhood” looking at how the various actors (human and institutional) in early childhood education and care interact and come together and how such systems can be developed and improved upon in order to ensure a more just and equitable childhood experience. He outlined that this framework will underpin the approach taken by the ECRC.

“Our ambition is to systematically connect the global and local at all levels of the early childhood system: practice, policy and research. We aim to respond to developments in the Irish early childhood education care system and to place Ireland firmly on the global map of international early childhood education research.”

Speaking at the launch of the Early Childhood Research Centre at DCU, Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Katherine Zappone TD, said:

“Early Learning and Care (ELC) has come a long way in the last decade in this country. With the launch of First 5, A Whole of Government Strategy for Babies, Young Children and their Families, this next decade will see further reform.

The establishment of the Early Childhood Research Centre and the appointment of a Chair in Early Childhood Education are very welcome developments. Professor Urban is a renowned leader in this field and I commend DCU for making this appointment. I look forward to the valuable work being undertaken here to help further inform policies which will deliver for generations of Irish families to come."

“DCU is committed to engaging in research that will have a transformative impact on lives and societies. We were proud to establish the Desmond Chair in Early Childhood Education, the first university Chair in Ireland dealing with this topic, made possible through generous philanthropic support. The establishment of the centre is another important milestone and a reflection of our commitment to the area of early childhood education.

As educators, we are fully cognisant of the critical nature of the early childhood years and the impact of experiences during these formative years. Through both the Chair and the Centre, we will endeavour to contribute positively to debate and policy development in this area and crucially provide strategic leadership to adopt a new comprehensive systematic approach to early childhood.”

 DCU Sport secures Outstanding National Quality Standard

It was announced last month that DCU Sport has achieved the ‘National Quality Standard’ for leisure and fitness centre operations.

The National Quality Standard (formerly White Flag Award) was set up in 2000 to recognise the standards of excellence in Safety, Hygiene, Customer Engagement & Human Resources to be found in leisure facilities around the country. This is a unique award as it is specific to leisure facilities. Each facility must meet a large number of criteria and undergo a rigorous audit process.

The award is now an essential quality mark for any leisure centre or sports facility that aspires to high standards.

DCU Sport are the proud recipients of the top level award - 'Outstanding'.

The award is administered by Ireland Active, a not-for-profit company limited by guarantee to provide support and services to create the platforms to professionalize the leisure industry through standards and best practice, whilst simultaneously developing the synergies to engage more people to be more active more often – thus providing for a healthier nation.

Further info:


DCU praised for energy efficiency as Minister Bruton publishes SEAI report

 DCU was singled out as an exemplar public sector institution in regard to energy efficiency in a recent SEAI (Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland) report launched by Minister for Communications, Climate Action and the Environment, Mr. Richard Bruton T.D., on our All Hallows Campus. The report, which detailed energy efficiency achievements across all public bodies in Ireland, evaluated 331 public bodies and 2,279 schools, representing an annual energy spend of €608 million. The report shows that public sector bodies collectively saved €191 million and 667,000 tonnes of avoided CO2emissions in 2017. 

Since 2009, public sector bodies have made over €1 billion in energy savings and avoided 3.6 million tonnes of CO2 emissions. These savings have made the public sector 24% more efficient in energy use overall since 2009, putting it on course to achieve the 33% energy efficiency target by 2020. 

DCU achieved primary energy savings of over 2.8 GWh in 2017 compared to 2016, in addition to gaining ISO 50001 energy management certification and launching a plan to develop a Carbon Neutral Exemplar Campus. New high efficiency boilers were installed in All Hallows Campus delivering 59% more savings than predicted. An upgrade of the existing internal and external lighting in the multi-storey carpark on Glasnevin campus to LEDs, together with occupancy and daylight sensors, have also exceeded predicted savings by 19%.

We are very proud of the energy efficiencies that have been achieved here at DCU and, as a key public sector entity with a 20,000-strong community, we are keen to continue leading by example. As you know, we have placed Sustainability as a core element in our Strategic Plan and achieving continuous improvements in energy efficiency is a central pillar of that strategy. I am confident that, through a sustained and multi-faceted approach of investment, awareness-building and modifications to daily habits on energy usage, we can continue to surpass our targets.

 A full copy of the report is available at

A new Health and Wellbeing Charter for DCU students and staff

We recently launched a new Health and Wellbeing Charter for students and staff as part of our plans to achieve designation as a “Health Promoting University” by 2022.

We developed the “DCU Healthy Charter” to guide health promotion in a comprehensive and coordinated manner and to facilitate a “whole-university” approach to health and wellbeing.

The new Charter was launched at an event on our St Patrick’s campus by Deputy President, Professor Daire Keogh, along with Director of Sports and Wellbeing, James Galvin, and DCU Students’ Union President Vito Moloney Burke. The “DCU Healthy Charter” provides the guiding principles for creating a healthy setting that promotes physical, mental and social wellbeing for our student and staff community (now numbering almost 20,000 people) across all our campuses.

The healthy charter and framework is inspired by the World Health Organisation’s Health Promoting Schools Model and was devised in response to one of the key goals of the University’s Strategic Plan that emphasise the importance of student and staff health and wellbeing.

Recent statistics from the World Health Organisation (WHO) specific to Ireland highlighted that, by 2020, 40% of males and 37% of females will be obese and that by 2030, 47% of males and females will be obese. Furthermore, findings from a “My World Survey” by Jigsaw, the most comprehensive study of youth mental health in Ireland for those aged 12-25, found that college, money and work issues were the top three stressors for young people.

We have already implemented various initiatives to support health and wellbeing and appointed a full-time Health Promotion Officer, Caroline Mahon, earlier this year. The launch of the charter and framework represents a significant step to take a unified “whole-university” approach to health and wellbeing.

The charter includes a commitment to engage key stakeholders in the promotion of health and wellbeing, to link students and staff to support services to meet their health and wellbeing needs, to provide opportunities for all to learn about and take actions to enhance health and wellbeing.

The programme of work will be led by our Sports and Wellbeing unit. Key initiatives will target specific factors for health and wellbeing, including:

• Think Healthy - Mental Health & Wellbeing

• Eat Healthy - Healthy Eating

• Move Healthy - Physical Activity

• Live Healthy - Alcohol & Other Drugs

• Feel Healthy - Sexual Health

• Breathe Healthy - Smoking

As a mark of the university’s commitment to this initiative, I was happy to sign the Charter along with DCUSU President, Vito Moloney Burke, at the launch event. Vito’s comments at the event are worth noting:

“Today highlights a deep commitment to the health and wellbeing of the DCU community from a wide variety of staff and stakeholders, which is what makes the occasion so heartening. A cohesive approach to tackle the many issues facing today’s generation of students is the one that will ultimately prove to be the most effective. Through this, students have been provided with an opportunity to vocalise exactly what aspects of health and wellbeing they believe need to be addressed, a crucial aspect of the charter. This is an exciting moment, as it marks the continuation of our bid to see the student body overcome the hurdles of today and continue to prosper.”

DCU plays key role in 4 successful DTIF projects

 We were pleased to learn of the strong DCU showing in the recent announcement of the 27 innovative projects that will share over €75 million in funding (out to 2021) under the first tranche of the Disruptive Technologies Innovation Fund.

All successful proposals include collaborations between start-ups, SMEs, multinationals and academic institutions. Every project involves at least one SME and many are led by an SME. Over the next ten years some €500 million will be allocated through the fund, which was announced as part of Project Ireland 2040.

DCU researchers are playing a key role in the following four successful projects:

Title: Nex

Consortium Members: Davra Networks, DANALTO, INTEL, Dublin City University

Project Summary: The goal of this project is to provide a reliable, verifiable and secure end-to-end remote patient monitoring system which has rich data, affordable & reliable network connectivity, machine learning and data integrity at its core.

Research Priority Area and Technologies: Health & Wellbeing; ICT – Internet of Things

Enterprise Partner Locations: Davra – Dublin; Danalto – Dublin; Intel – Kildare

Award (subject to contract negotiation): €3.0m

Title: Future Software Systems Architectures

Consortium Members: Dublin City University & Lero, FOURTHEOREM, FINEOS

Project Summary: This project will leverage the internet network capability (and to some extent the Internet of Things) as a means to rapidly operationalise new software features. Central to this project will be the capacity to transform traditional slow software development organisations   into rapid feature delivery firm. AI research is also a feature

Research Priority Area and Technologies: ICT – IoT, AI, Digital Platforms and Applications

Enterprise Partner Locations: Fourtheorem – Cork; Fineos – Dublin

Award (subject to contract negotiation): €1.6m

Title: Irish Lasers for the Internet of the Future (iLife)

Consortium Members: Pilot Photonics, Dublin City University and Trinity College Dublin

Project Summary: This project proposes a solution to the impending “capacity   crunch” problem for optical telecommunication and datacentre networks using optical frequency comb sources, a new type of laser which can replace the single mode lasers that have been used in long haul optical transport equipment for two decades.

Research Priority Area and Technologies: ICT – Future Networks, IoT

Enterprise Partner Locations: Dublin

Award (subject to contract negotiation): €1.6m

Title: Advanced Environmental Decision Support System for Coastal Areas

Consortium Members: Techworks Marine Ltd. Dublin City University

Project Summary: This project will provide an advanced environmental decision support system to address issues such as coastal pollution and flooding. Such a system will provide enhanced insights to coastal industries, local authorities, government agencies and will ultimately benefit Irish society.

Research Priority Area and Technologies: Energy, Climate Action & Sustainability; ICT – Data Analytics, Platforms and Content

Enterprise Partner Locations: Dublin

Award (subject to contract negotiation): €1.1m

The full list of 27 successful awards is available here:

Press Ombudsman visits DCU and highlights importance of archives

At a special event hosted on our Glasnevin campus in mid-December, the Press Ombudsman, Peter Feeney, spoke on the importance of universities acting as repositories of historical material. Referring to the Media History Collection, which forms part of DCU library’s Special Collections and Archives, Mr Feeney noted that, without such initiatives, much material of historical importance would be lost to future generations of researchers.

The event was held to acknowledge and thank donors who lodged material with the Media History Collection over the past three years. This included: 

- Mary Raftery Papers (documentary maker, States of Fear / Cardinal Secrets)

- Frank McDonald Papers (former environment editor, Irish Times)

- Hugh Lambert Papers (former editor, Irish Press)

- Dick O’Riordan Papers (former editor, Evening Press)

- Mary Kenny Papers (author, playwright, columnist)

- Jim Downey Papers (author, columnist)

- Irish Pirate Radio Archive

- Slattery’s Camera Circle Photographic Archive (1960s-1990s)

Thanking the donors, Mark O’Brien, Chair of the Media History Collection Advisory Board, noted that the project was now eleven years old and had brought over fifty collections to the university.

With DCU Library & Archives becoming the ‘go-to’ repository for material relating to media and journalism history, he noted that further donations and initiatives would be announced over the next few months. 

Congratulations to Mark on the great progress achieved under his leadership!

Transforming DCU through an innovative Student Information System

As many of you may be aware, in 2017 we launched our Student Information System (SIS) Programme with the aim of transforming the way in which our staff and students interact with each other, using new technologies to enable us to ensure our future needs can be met. 

Throughout 2018, we have continued to work closely with staff and students to understand how we can improve our ways of working to deliver an excellent staff and student experience, using new and innovative technology.

Since the programme started, there have been over 2,245 engagements across DCU, alongside consultation with a number of universities in Ireland, UK and UAE.

The insights gained through these interactions have enabled us to build a clear view of what we need from our SIS, encouraging us to embrace new technologies and ways of working to support us in achieving our ambitious transformation and growth agenda.

In November 2018, we were delighted to finalise our requirements for the new SIS and invite a number of partners to provide us with information on how they can meet (and exceed) our requirements.

In the coming months, we will agree who our new partner will be and continue to work closely with staff and students to develop a solution that is right for DCU.

I would personally like to thank you all for your ongoing commitment and engagement with the SIS Programme to date. I truly believe that by investing in modern technology, transforming business processes and changing how the University operates and collaborates, DCU has the opportunity to drive significant value for our staff and students, before, during and after their time at the University.