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Alumni Awardees 2011/12

About the Awardees

Deirdre Kelly BA, MB, MD, FRCPI (1971)

Professor Deirdre Kelly is Director of the Liver Unit, Birmingham Children's Hospital and Professor of Paediatric Hepatology at the University of Birmingham. In 1989 she set up the Paediatric Liver Unit at the hospital which provides a national and international service for children with liver failure and undergoing liver transplantation. The Unit was the only national unit to be designated for small bowel and liver transplantation in the UK from 1997-2009. She runs an active research programme focusing on viral hepatitis in children, molecular genetics of inherited liver disease and quality and outcome of life following liver and/or intestinal transplantation.

Born in Calcutta, Deirdre spent her early childhood in India and went to boarding school in Dublin when she was twelve years old. She first decided to become a doctor at the age of eight and in 1967 entered Trinity to study medicine, specialising in adult and paediatric gastroenterology and hepatology with Professor Donald Weir.

Hugo MacNeill BA (1981)

Hugo MacNeill earned a degree in Economics and a Diploma in Anglo Irish Literature in Trinity, then went on to study Economics at graduate level in Oxford. He worked for Boston Consulting Group and Goldman Sachs in London before returning to run Goldman's investment banking business in Ireland. He is currently Chairman of the Ireland Funds, a Council Member of the British Irish Association, and a Board Member of GOAL UK.

As a student, Hugo's contribution to Trinity's sporting achievements is legendary, winning Colours in both Rugby and Soccer - a rare achievement. In 1979 he played with the victorious Trinity Collingwood Cup team, only the second time Trinity won since its inception in 1914. Rugby success continued: winning his first Irish cap in 1981 and adding 37 more, including two international championships outright, one shared, and two Triple Crowns. In 1983 Hugo represented the British and Irish Lions in New Zealand winning three test caps.

Hugo's career is also remarkable for his commitment to human rights. In 1981 he refused to go on the Irish Tour to South Africa as the apartheid regime was still in place. In the aftermath of the 1995 IRA bombing in Canary Wharf he organized, with Trevor Ringland, the Peace International Rugby Match in Dublin with the world’s leading players, filling Lansdowne Road in protest against terrorist violence.

Patricia O'Brien BA, MA, Barrister-at-Law (1978)

Patricia O'Brien is Under-Secretary-General for Legal Affairs and Legal Counsel for the United Nations. Patricia was born in Brunei and as a young child lived in Nigeria, Cambodia and then the Congo. She then went to boarding school in Wicklow and to Trinity where she received a BA (Mod) Legal Science in 1978 and an MA in 1987.

Early in her career Patricia practiced law at the Irish Bar and for one year at the Bar of British Columbia, Canada. Between 1989 and 1992 she held academic positions at the University of British Columbia, Vancouver. She then returned to Ireland. She served as a Senior Legal Adviser in the Office of the Attorney General and later moved to Brussels as Legal Counsellor at the Irish Permanent Representation to the EU. After four years in Brussels, she returned to Dublin. In 2004 she was appointed Legal Adviser in the Department of Foreign Affairs.

In August 2008 Patricia was appointed to her current position in the United Nations where she works directly with the Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, managing a staff of over 200 people. Patricia relishes the challenges of her job which covers the spectrum of international law issues facing states and the United Nations. These include issues of war and peace, international humanitarian law, human rights law, Middle East issues, the International Criminal Court and other international courts and tribunals.

Peter Wyse Jackson BA, MA, PhD (1978)

Peter Wyse Jackson is the President of the Missouri Botanical Garden and George Engelmann Professor of Botany at Washington University in St Louis. Born in Kilkenny, he obtained a BA (Mod.) in Botany and an MA from Trinity College Dublin, where he also obtained a PhD for work in plant taxonomy.

In 1981, he was appointed Administrator of the Trinity College Dublin Botanic Garden. In 1987, he joined IUCN, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, where he helped to establish the international organization, Botanic Gardens Conservation International (BGCI). In 1994 he became secretary general of BGCI and in 2005 returned to Dublin as Director of the National Botanic Gardens. In 2010 he was appointed to his present position.

As one of the world's foremost and best known botanists and plant conservationists, Peter has played an influential role in reshaping and leading the international botanic garden community over the past two decades. He was a key contributor to the development and implementation of the Global Strategy for Plant Conservation, adopted by the U.N. Convention on Biological Diversity in 2002 and has been Chairman of the Global Partnership for Plant Conservation since 2005. He has been a member of the boards of numerous botanical, conservation and horticultural organizations around the world. His publications include ten books and over 200 scientific papers. His recent research includes work on plant conservation, Irish ethnobotany and the impacts of climate change on biodiversity.