Professor Yvonne Nolan leads UCC College of Medicine & Health Postgraduate 'BRIGHT FUTURES - Celebrating our Researchers' research day

2 Jun 2023
UCC College of Medicine and Health 'Bright Futures - Celebrating their researchers' attendees: front row from left: Professor John Cryan, Vice President for Research & Innovation; Professor John O' Halloran, UCC President; Professor Philip Nolan, Director General, Science Foundation Ireland; Professor Yvonne Nolan, Vice Dean of Graduate Studies, College of Medicine and Health; Professor Helen Whelton, Head of the College of Medicine and Health, and Dr Mohamad Saab, Senior Lecturer, School of Nursing and Midwifery

Professor Yvonne Nolan, Vice Dean of Graduate Studies in the College of Medicine and Health and Professor in Neuroscience, along with the COMH Graduate Studies committee and Postgraduate Student Committee, hosted a very successful “Bright Futures: Celebrating our Researchers” on Wednesday 26th April 2023 in G05, Western Gateway Building, UCC. 

Opening the event Professor Yvonne Nolan said: “The mission of Graduate Studies in our College is ‘to advance curiosity-driven professionalism and research excellence for health-related global challenges, in a student-centred, respectful and inclusive environment’. The Bright Futures event exemplifies this mission.”

Bright Futures - Celebrating our Researchers was deemed a very successful event by attendees and organisers. Using innovative approaches, the research day celebrated UCC researchers working to solve the most pressing challenges facing public health, across paediatric and maternal health, cardiovascular disease, cancer, microbiome, neurodegenerative disease and healthcare systems.

A welcome address by Professor Helen Whelton, Head of the College of Medicine and Health launched the event-packed day, speaking to the postgraduate students in the audience Professor Whelton said: “As postgraduate research students in the College of Medicine and Health, you are the future thinkers, innovators and leaders in healthcare, clinical sciences and health sciences. We are extremely fortunate in our College to have a strong tradition of research excellence in the health sciences, and our doctoral students play a critical role in sustaining this reputation.”

The 'Showcase' events saw Employment based PhD scholars and PhD Bursary awardees discuss their research in short presentations. The 'Research Speed Dating' event gave opportunity to researchers from across the College of Medicine and Health to chat with fellow researchers outside of their own schools and departments at a very successful colour coded networking event.  'My Research in a One-Minute Video' and the 'Pro-Am three-minute thesis' events were lively and informative and the audience voted via QR codes and phones to choose the best video and Pro-Am team.

UCC President Professor John O'Halloran addressed the audience to reiterate the central importance of research and doctoral education at UCC as outlined in UCC’s Strategic Plan - Securing Our Future: UCC Strategic Plan 2023–2028. 

Professor John O’Halloran said: “At UCC, we recognise and support the critical importance of doctoral education, and events like Bright Futures are key to nurturing the success of our students.”

He then welcomed and introduced the Keynote speaker Professor Philip Nolan, Director General, Science Foundation Ireland. A topical and very informative presentation from Professor Philip Nolan was a central part of the day and the audience was treated to a very generous and personal insight to an inspiring career.

The Fireside chat hosted by Professor Yvonne Nolan was an informal and uplifting event where invited Doctoral Alumni chatted and shared their career paths, experiences and opportunities. 'Around the fireside' with Professor Yvonne Nolan were: Professor John O'Halloran, President of UCC; Professor Philip Nolan, Director General, Science Foundation Ireland; Dr Sarah-Jo Sinnott, Director of Pharmacoepidemiology at Sanofi, Boston, US; Dr Michael Myers, Co-Founder and CEO of Quoin Pharmaceuticals, Inc. Virginia, US; Dr Siobhan Cusack, Director of Research Strategy & Projects, UCC; Dr Tanya Mulcahy, Director of Health Innovation Hub Ireland; Professor Helen Whelton, Head of College of Medicine and Health, UCC; Dr Mohamad Saab, Lecturer School of Nursing & Midwifery, UCC; and online from Boston Dr Shane Hegarty, Chief Scientific Officer and Co-Founder of AXONIS Therapeutics, Boston, US. 


The Department of Anatomy and Neuroscience postgraduate students were very well represented on the organising committee and were very active on the day. Caoimhe Lynch organised and chaired the Showcase of Employment Based PhD scholars event. Ketki Mulay organised and chaired the Trade Show and coffee/lunch break team. Patricia Flynn organised and chaired the Three-Minute Pro-Am event and app voting, and Joan Omosofe Osayande announced the postgraduate awards, which were presented to successful students by Professor Philip Nolan. A special mention of thanks to Bereniece Riedewald, Senior Technical Officer in the department, who generously shared her expertise in coordinating public events, with the organising committee.

Previous postgraduate students from the Department of Anatomy and Neuroscience were represented by Dr Shane Hegarty, a UCC BSc Neuroscience graduate who completed his PhD in the Department in 2016. Speaking about his career live from his position as Chief Scientific Officer and Co-Founder of AXONIS Therapeutics, Boston, US, Shane shared insights to his career path and was very encouraging to the postgraduate students in the department and urged them to strive to achieve their goals.

Professor Yvonne Nolan, Vice Dean of Graduate Studies, College of Medicine and Health, thanked the College of Medicine and Health staff and postgraduate committees for their trojan work.  She emphasised that our research students are ambassadors for UCC and our future leaders through their energy, curiosity, and engagement, saying 'Interactions, conversations, connections are key to success'.  She then introduced the Annual Postgraduate Awards ceremony at which the outstanding achievements of the College of Medicine and Health postgraduate research students were recognised.

LOTS MORE from Bright Futures:

  • Details of the presenters and speakers, award winners and further details of the event are available on the Bright Futures Website and by following #BrightFutures on Twitter.
  • Have a look at the Bright Futures Photo Gallery below for photos from Bright Futures - Celebrating our Researchers day.  

For more on this story contact:

News story B.Riedewald

Photographs Tomás Tyner, B. Riedewald

Department of Anatomy and Neuroscience

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