President's Welcome

A welcome message from Professor John O'HalloranPresident of University College Cork.

22 Jun 2023

Fáilte is fiche go dtí eagrán an tsamhraidh de Independent Thinking – iris Choláiste na hOllscoile Corcaigh. 

Summer on campus sets a different pace of life. With classes and exams at an end, there is a quiet that descends upon the grounds of the university – one that makes it suddenly easier to hear the buzzing of a nearby bee as we take shade under a tree in the President’s Garden, and the babbling of the River Lee as it flows beneath the Alumni Bridge. Whilst ongoing research continues, this summer period offers some of us a wonderful opportunity to slow down a little and take a moment to reflect on and appreciate the significant moments and achievements of the academic year that has just passed – and we have plenty of these to explore in the latest issue of Independent Thinking.

UCC alumnus Maurice Barron has a powerful story to share. When his daughter Ava was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer, he and his wife Kandice searched for the light in their darkest moment. Inspired by the memoirs of US President Joe Biden and his wife, Dr Jill Biden, as they supported their late son Beau through his own cancer journey, Maurice and Kandice never gave up hope on a happy ending. In this issue, Maurice shares how a simple letter to the US President led to an extraordinary series of events for his family, with Ava’s own story of hope shared from the world’s biggest stage.

Bringing hope through innovation are UCC and IGNITE alumni Amy Boyden and Niamh Murray, the founders of an app called ForgetMeNot, which uses reminiscence therapy to improve communication for those living with dementia. In this issue, Amy and Niamh share the deeply personal motivations behind the app which, they hope, will change lives.

After a whirlwind entry to the world of writing, UCC alumna and crime fiction writer Catherine Kirwan has enjoyed much success. In this issue, Catherine discusses her latest novel, A Lesson in Malice – set in her alma mater, and the joy of counting fellow UCC alumnus Graham Norton as a fan.

At UCC we pride ourselves on our world-leading research, and Professor Colin Hill is a shining example of this. Having recently co-led a team that produced the first-ever mapping of the ‘crassvirus’, the most abundant group of viruses in the human gut, Colin shares the significance of this breakthrough moment for human health.

We were pleased to recently learn that UCC is placed among the top 100 universities making an impact on a sustainable future, according to the latest Times Higher Education Impact Rankings. In this issue, Dr Eoin Lettice gives an insight into one arm of the pioneering work being done to meet the challenges of climate change and biodiversity loss, through the SFI-funded Irish Tree Explorers Network (ITEN) and the ‘living classroom’, while Dr Marguerite Nyhan explores the concept of future sustainable cities.

Elsewhere in the issue, we look back at the magnificent sporting achievements of 2022-23, and reflect on the joy of our recent summer conferrings – a very special occasion for the newest members of the UCC Alumni family, including Olympic rowing gold medallist Paul O’Donovan who graduated from his medical studies.

I hope you enjoy this edition.

Le gach dea-ghuí,


Professor John O’Halloran 

President, University College Cork 

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