Four TCD Academics Elected to the Royal Irish Academy

Posted on: 31 May 2010

Four of Trinity College’s academics were elected as members of the Royal Irish Academy recently (May 28th last) in recognition of their academic achievement.  The new members include Professor John Boland, Professor Timothy Foster, Professor Jane Grimson and Professor James Whiston.  Election to the Royal Irish Academy (RIA) is the highest academic honour in Ireland and is a public recognition of academic achievement.

Professor Nicholas Canny, President of the RIA, said: “This group is as accomplished and as academically diverse as any cohort elected since our founding members signed the roll in 1785.”  2010 marks the 225th admission of new members to the RIA which has elected only 2,833 people in its entire history to received the honour. 

L-R: Professors John Boland, Nicholas Canny, President of the Royal Irish Academy; Timothy James Foster, Jane Grimson and James Whiston.

Professor John Boland is Professor of Chemistry and Director of the CRANN (Centre for Research on Adaptive Nanostructures and Nanodevices) at TCD.  He is internationally recognised as an expert on the properties of surfaces and interfaces and the role of stress in surface reactivity.  Professor Boland has pioneered importance advances in the areas of chemical passivation, materials growth and the development of novel nanoscale interconnects and devices.

Professor Timothy Foster is Professor of Molecular Microbiology at TCD.  He is well known for his pioneering research on Staphylococcus aureus, a bacterium that can cause serious infections in humans and farm animals and is notorious for being resistant to many antibiotics (MRSA).  By studying proteins from the bacterial cell surface he tries to understand the mechanisms that allow the bacterium to colonize human skin as well as occasionally to cause invasive disease.

Professor Jane Grimson is Chairperson of the Irish Research Council for Science Engineering and Technology, a founding member of the Centre for Health Informatics at TCD and also Professor of Computer Science and Head of Department of Computer Science at TCD.  She has had an important input into the development of science and technology in Ireland and is internationally recognised for her contribution to the development of healthcare informatics within Ireland and throughout the world.  Her research has covered a broad range of topics which have had a strong focus on knowledge and data management focusing on the development of advanced information systems to improve the efficiency, effectiveness and safety of healthcare. 

Professor James Whiston has been a Fellow and Associate Professor of Spanish in TCD where he has spent all his academic life.  He is one of the world’s leading authorities on the novels of Pérez Galdós and has published important books and articles on Borges, García Lorca and Antonio Machado.  He is also known throughout the world of Hispanic Studies and is General Editor of the Bulletin of Spanish Studies.

The criterion for election to membership is a significant contribution to scholarly or scientific research as shown in the candidate’s published academic work.  Membership of the Academy, which is by peer nomination and election, is limited to those scientists and scholars normally resident in Ireland.  Other Irish academics who were admitted to membership in the past include Professor Luke O’Neill, Boyle Medal winner and leading immunologist; Professor Seamus Heaney, Nobel Laureate; Professor David Taylor, Professor of Materials Engineering and Ernest Walton, Nobel Prize winner.