Posted on 09 April 2014.
President of Ireland, Michael D. Higgins today visited the Royal Society and attended an event to celebrate the scientific links between Ireland and the United Kingdom. The historic event gathered representatives from the Royal Society, Science Foundation Ireland, Government agencies and members of the scientific community in Ireland and the UK, many of whom are currently collaborating on research projects.
Speaking at the event Professor John Pethica, Vice-President of the Royal Society said, “Collaboration is increasingly central to science and the ties between Britain and Ireland have always been strong. Robert Boyle was one of the founding fathers of the Royal Society and Irish based Fellows continue to play an important role at the Society. There are also great collaborations between young researchers on either side of the Irish sea. We hope that today’s visit will allow us to build on these strong bonds to help solve some of the big challenges facing humanity.”
Professor Mark Ferguson, Director General of Science Foundation Ireland and Chief Scientific Adviser to the Government of Ireland said, “Ireland has made significant progress in recent years, ranked in the top twenty countries internationally for the quality of our scientific research. Further collaboration with our colleagues in the United Kingdom, will allow the scientific ecosystem across both nations to grow, to continue to attract quality researchers and to advance the frontiers of scientific knowledge and its application.”
On the occasion of the visit of the President of Ireland, the Royal Society and SFI announced that they are in discussions about a joint programme which will aim to provide outstanding scientists in Ireland, who have the potential to become leaders in their chosen field, with the opportunity to build an independent research career. Full details of the programme will be announced in the coming months by the Royal Society and SFI.
On arrival at the event, President Higgins had the opportunity to view artefacts that celebrate a history of scientific collaboration between the UK and Ireland. Artefacts on display included the chemical notebooks and letters of Robert Boyle FRS, one of the key figures in the scientific revolution of the 17th century, as well as the accounts of insect swarms and of the Irish elk of Thomas Molyneux FRS. The President also viewed a photograph of the groundbreaking telescope built at BirrCastle for William Parsons, former President of the Royal Society along with a record of his observations. Other highlights included the Royal Society Fellowship election certificate of Erwin Schrödinger FRS and Éamon de Valera’s Fellowship signature for the Royal Society Charter Book.
During his visit to the Royal Society, the President was also introduced to British and Irish researchers who are currently collaborating on research projects. President Higgins met with Professor Jennifer McElwain, University College Dublin and Dr. Stuart Robinson, University of Oxford in relation to their collaborative work to understand the sensitivity of global temperature and climate to changes in atmospheric carbon dioxide levels and Professor Aron Walsh, a Royal Society University Research Fellow at the University of Bath and graduate from Trinity College Dublin on his work on renewable energy.
In advance of the launch of Science Gallery at King’s College London in 2016, President Higgins was also shown the science behind one of Science Gallery’s interactive demonstrations – Quantum Locking by Dr Joseph Roche, Trinity College Dublin. Quantum Locking involves levitating a superconductor in a magnetic field.