UCC appoints new Professor of Dairy Science

27 Sep 2022
Professor Seamus O'Mahony, Professor of Dairy Science

The future success of Ireland’s dairy industry is dependent on the sector adopting a ‘value not volume’ approach to production, according to Professor Seamus O’Mahony who takes up his new role as Professor of Dairy Science at the School of Food and Nutritional Sciences, UCC.

UCC has a long history in Dairy Science education, research, and training, and is the Number 1 University for Dairy Science in Ireland. The university's Food Science and Nutritional Sciences programmes are the main providers of graduates for the dairy sector.

‘’Securing a sustainable future for the Irish dairy industry will require a shift in focus away from volume-based expansion to science-based value-add. Greater investment in fundamental dairy science will attract the types of skilled researchers and professionals required to achieve this transition,” Professor O’Mahony said.

Dairy is Ireland’s largest indigenous industry, worth about €16bn in economic value across the island and provides employment to about 85,000 people.

Responding to the evolving needs of the dairy sector and harnessing the world-class capabilities in Food across the University, Seamus led the establishment of a Centre of Excellence in Dairy Science at the UCC School of Food and Nutritional Sciences in 2021 to provide leadership, integration, and a platform for future growth. In the past year, Professor O’Mahony has led the introduction of new employment-based post-graduate research programmes in dairy ingredients and processing in partnership with Irish and international dairy companies, and the introduction of a new Diploma in Dairy Technology and Innovation.

Commenting on the new appointment, Professor Mairead Kiely, Head of School of Food and Nutritional Sciences, said;

“We are delighted to announce Seamus’s appointment to Professor, which consolidates his leadership role in Dairy Science at UCC. Together with Professor Alan Kelly, our recently appointed lecturer Dr Tom O’Callaghan and planned appointments in the areas of Sustainable Dairy Processing and Dairy Nutritional Ingredients, UCC is well-placed to take a lead role in research, education and training of the next generation of innovators in the Dairy sector.”

The future is bright with exciting initiatives planned across the areas of nutritional dairy ingredients, sustainable dairy processing, dairy alternative systems and formulation science for value-add. Immediate priorities involve recruitment of new academic staff in dairy processing, sustainability, nutrition and health, to bring the total number of academics focused on dairy science at UCC to six. This will happen through the UCC Futures programme which is focused on securing our future through research excellence.

‘’The scope of what we do in dairy science is expanding to include research on alternative dairy products, hybrid dairy food systems and cellular agriculture in responding to consumer demand and in formulating climate-smart food systems.’’

Commenting on the new appointment, Professor John O’Halloran, UCC President, said;

“I wish to congratulate Seamus on his deserved appointment. Recognising expertise such as Seamus’ is core to our UCC Futures initiative, which will support innovation and translate sector-leading research into real solutions to meet the challenges facing our society. Food security, production, and value are key issues that leading experts such as Seamus are well-positioned to tackle.”

Professor Sarah Culloty, Head of College of Science, Engineering and Food Science, added;

"We are delighted to appoint Seamus O'Mahony, an international expert in the field of dairy science and technology, to this pivotal role as Professor of Dairy Science. Professor O'Mahony is at the forefront of innovation in the sector and has a longstanding history of collaborating with partner organisations on future-focused initiatives that meet the advancing needs of the dairy industry. I wish him the very best in leading this exciting new phase in the development of dairy science at UCC".

Conor Mulvihill, Director of Dairy Industry Ireland, Irish Business Employers Corporation, said ‘’To sustain the Irish dairy success story we have to own our challenges, such as labour attraction, climate change and diversification. Without the innovation that can be brought to bear by the University sector we risk cutting off the pipeline of innovation and talent we require to keep Ireland at the pinnacle of global dairy development. We are delighted with the appointment of Professor O’Mahony who will help drive the continuous pipeline of talent and innovation necessary for the success of our sector.”

School of Food and Nutritional Sciences

School of Food and Nutritional Sciences, Room 240 Food Science Building, University College, Cork