Science and Stormont 2022

17 October 2022 12:30-19:30, Belfast, United Kingdom

Designed to foster close relations with policymakers and key stakeholders, Science and Stormont is organised by the Royal Society of Chemistry, on behalf of, and in cooperation with, the Northern Ireland science and engineering community.

The Royal Society of Chemistry's tenth annual Science and Stormont event will be held in the Parliament Buildings, Stormont, Belfast.

This year’s theme will be Building our future: Research and innovation in Northern Ireland


Dr Steve Aiken OBE MLA, Chair NI Assembly All-Party Group on STEM, United Kingdom

Dr Steve Aiken OBE serves as a Member of the Legislative Assembly for South Antrim for the Ulster Unionist Party. During the last mandate, he was the Chair of the Committee for Finance, and remains Chair of the All Party Group for STEM. He is an active member of the British Irish and Commonwealth Parliamentary Associations and is a board member of Christian Aid Ireland.

Steve comes from a diverse background of business and government service. Following a thirty-year career in the Royal Navy where he served in many senior operational roles, including commanding two nuclear powered submarines, Steve was the founding Chief Executive of the British Irish Chamber of Commerce and a CEO at a major University. Steve holds a PhD and MPhil in International Relations from the University of Cambridge and a MA from KCL in Defence Studies.

Dr Caoimhe Archibald MLA, Vice-Chair, NI Assembly All-Party Group on STEM, United Kingdom

Graduated with a BSc in Molecular Biology and PhD by research from Queens University, with a DARD studentship.  She also completed a PGDip in Management & Corporate Governance from the Ulster University.
Caoimhe was elected as an MLA for East Derry in May 2016 and re-elected in March 2017 amd May 2022.
She is formerly Chair of the Assembly Economy and AERA committees.  
Caoimhe is Sinn Féin Spokesperson for the Economy.
Prior to being elected in May 2016, Caoimhe worked in applied horticulture research and believes very strongly in the importance of investment in R&D and SMEs to enable local businesses to compete in a global market.

Dr Ben Bleasdale, Campaign for Science & Engineering, United Kingdom

The Discovery Decade project: helping R&D reach new public supporters

Ben joined the Campaign for Science and Engineering in 2021 as Director of CaSE’s new Discovery Decade project. This project is helping the R&D sector to attract a broader, more active base of public supporters who can help make R&D investment a political priority. He’s previously held science advocacy roles at the Wellcome Trust, Academy of Medical Sciences and the Medical Research Council, having completed a PhD in virology at Imperial College London.

Prof Vincent Fusco, Queen’s University Belfast, United Kingdom

Vincent Fusco FREng, FRS, MRIA  is Professor of High Frequency Electronics at Queens University Belfast, where he is research director for the School of Electronic, Electrical Engineering and Computer Science as well as Chief Technology Officer for the ECIT Research Institute. During his career he has worked with industry on various aspects of research translation.  In 2012 he was awarded the IET Mountbatten Medal and in 2019 The Royal Irish Academy Gold Medal for Engineering Sciences.

Talk title:
Ingredients for a research and innovation culture

Prof Phil Jordan, Ulster University, United Kingdom

Professor of Catchment Science, School of Geography and Environmental Sciences (Centre for Environmental and Spatial Data Analytics), Ulster University, Coleraine

Phil Jordan conducts research into biogeochemical flows in river and lake catchments, as they interact with land use and the hydrological cycle. His work covers soil and water science, the impacts and management of macro-nutrients and pesticides, and agri-environmental policy on an all-island basis. Innovative research on high-frequency water quality monitoring and spatial modelling of critical source areas of pollution risk has had international uptake. It has also resulted in two Impact Case Studies over successive Research Excellence Framework cycles. This work continues across Northern Ireland in partnership with industry and government and is applied to the most pressing environmental challenges.

Talk title:
The agri-environment: Pathways to research impact

Dr Vicky Kell, Invest NI, United Kingdom

Dr Vicky Kell is the Director of the Invest NI’s Innovation, Research & Development Division. Since graduating from Queen’s University Belfast with a B.Sc (Hons), M.Sc. and Ph.D.; she has gained significant business experience working with companies in both a strategic and operational capacity. She has been in senior leadership roles in industry, advisory and economic development.

Vicky’s significant experience in both private and public sectors has developed her expertise in innovation, technology and international commercialisation.

Vicky is passionate about Northern Ireland and her aim is to facilitate the economic development of NI PLC through the growth and global competition of local businesses.

Vicky frequently sits on judging panels in relation to business, innovation, marketing and export awards. She has also participated in international conferences making keynote addresses and facilitating workshops.

Prior to joining Invest NI, companies Vicky worked for include Pritchitt Foods, Courtauld Textiles and PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC). During her time with PwC, Vicky had the opportunity to work with local companies and GB based blue chip companies.

Talk title:
The Northern Ireland innovation landscape

Prof Helene McNulty MRIA, Ulster University, Coleraine, United Kingdom

Director of Nutrition Innovation Centre for Food and Health (NICHE) and
Professor of Human Nutrition & Dietetics, School of Biomedical Sciences, Ulster University, Coleraine

Professor McNulty is Director of NICHE, a centre of excellence for nutrition research at Ulster University, and a registered dietitian (RD) by professional training. She is an elected Member of the Royal Irish Academy and Fellow of the International Union of Nutritional Sciences. Her research addresses nutrition-related health issues throughout the lifecycle, with impacts for the food and health sectors nationally and internationally, contributing to food and health policy and ultimately benefiting consumers, patients and the wider public.

Talk title:
IUNA – A bottom-up example of all-Island research excellence 

Dr Liam O’Hare, Queen’s University Belfast, United Kingdom

Principal Research Fellow
School of Social Sciences, Education and Social Work
Queens’ University Belfast

Dr Liam O’Hare has a substantial track record in the design, implementation and evaluation of educational programmes and social innovations. He is the Director of Queen's community Innovation Zones and Director of STRIDE a social impact consultancy. His research focuses on developing social innovations that improve health, wellbeing and learning outcomes for those in disadvantaged circumstances. He has conducted over 20 large randomised controlled trial evaluations of social innovations. He has also co-designed several large scale social innovations with disadvantaged communities and practitioners such as: Crescendo a Social Learning programme delivered by the Ulster Orchestra; and SMART Spaces an evidence based GCSE science revision programme. 

Talk title:
Developing social innovation through community and university partnerships: Queen’s Innovation Zones

Prof Ultan F. Power PhD, Queen's University Belfast, United Kingdom

Ultan Power is Professor of Molecular Virology in Queen’s University Belfast. He graduated from University College Cork with a PhD in Microbiology. Following postdoctoral training in in St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee, USA, he moved to the pharma sector in France where he was Head of Virology in the Centre of Immunology Pierre Fabre, the biotech research arm of Institut de Recherche Pierre Fabre. Prof. Power played a central role in the conception, research and development of the first subunit vaccine against respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) to enter phase III clinical trials. RSV is a major cause of severe lower respiratory tract disease in infants and the elderly worldwide. In 2004, he established a research group in Queen’s University Belfast. His group established novel in vitro models of respiratory virus infection based on primary human airway epithelium. In response to the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic, his research pivoted to studying the pathophysiology of COVID-19 disease in human airway epithelium and repurposing known drugs as potential therapeutics to treat COVID-19. Prof. Power is Chair of the International Respiratory Syncytial Virus Society, a member of the British Society for Immunology Expert Task Force on COVID-19, and principal investigator on multiple research grants, including UKRI-funded. He was an expert witness to the House of Lords Science and Technology Committee on the “Science of COVID-19” (2022) and has had numerous media appearances throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

Talk title:
Respiratory virus pandemics and epidemics – are we ready?

Rachael Singleton, Northern Ireland Innovation Lab, United Kingdom

Rachael Singleton is a Behavioural Scientist at Northern Ireland Innovation Lab, where she applies psychology to tackling population level challenges in areas including health, the justice system, sustainability and poverty. She is also a PhD Researcher at Ulster University, where her work explores the application of psychology and human-centered design in driving  pro-environmental behaviour change. Chair of Sustainable NI, Rachael also sits on safefood’s expert group as its first Behavioural Scientist. She has a keen interest in understanding human behaviour at its intersection with the natural environment and believes this insight will better inform practical, implementable solutions to the societal and policy making challenges we face at this time of climate crisis.

Talk title:
Behavioural science in action: Policy starts with people

  • Dr Marie Cowan (Session Chair) Director Geological Survey Northern Ireland , United Kingdom
  • Dr Jo Reynolds Royal Society of Chemistry, United Kingdom

The event is free to attend but places are limited so please register to book your place.

Grants for Carers

Grants for carers have been introduced following the Royal Society of Chemistry Breaking the barriers report where 78% of chemists working in UK academia felt that managing parenting and/or caring responsibilities has an impact on women’s retention and progression. This fund is not limited to women scientists and welcomes applications from anyone with caring responsibilities. These grants have been supported by The Royal Society of Chemistry’s Chemists’ Community Fund.

You can apply for up to a maximum of £1000/year to assist with additional financial costs that you incur for care usually provided by you whilst you attend a chemistry related meeting, conference or workshop or a professional development event.

Caring responsibilities are wide and varied, and so each application will be individually assessed, examples of applications that we will consider include:
  • paying for extra home help or nursing care for a dependent whilst you will not be present
  • additional medical/respite care for a dependent whilst you will not be present
  • travel expenses for a relative to travel with you to care for dependents whilst you attend a meeting or event
  • paying for extended hours with a care worker/childminder/play scheme to cover time when you will arrive home later than normal.
You are eligible to apply if: you are a chemist
  • you will incur additional caring expenses whilst attending a chemistry-related meeting, conference, event or workshop or a professional development event
  • you will use these funds to cover the cost of care that you usually provide 
  • you are based in the UK or Ireland or if not, you will normally have held three years RSC membership (past or current).

Useful links

Parliament Buildings Stormont

Long Gallery, Parliament Buildings Stormont, Upper Newtownards Road, Belfast, BT4 3LP, United Kingdom

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