Science and Stormont 2023

9 October 2023, 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 twelfth annual Science and Stormont event will be held in the Parliament Buildings, Stormont, Belfast.  The theme for this year is Science Education in Northern Ireland.

We would also like to cordially invite you to visit the GeoEnergy Discovery Centre which will officially open on Monday 9th October 2023 on the Stormont Estate, Belfast.
GeoEnergy NI project partners cordially invite delegates attending the Science and Stormont event to combine a short visit prior to the event registration.
The GeoEnergy Discovery Centre will be parked in front of Parliament Buildings on Monday 9th October and open from 11:00 – 12:30 for delegates to drop in before entering the security-check building into the NI Parliament Building.
Caoimhe Archibald, MLA , 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 Executive Office. 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.

Gerry Campbell, CEO, Council for the Curriculum, Examinations and Assessment, United Kingdom

Gerry is Chief Executive Officer for the Council for the Curriculum, Examinations and Assessment.  Gerry provides overall strategic leadership and direction for CCEA, working closely with the wider Executive Team and CCEA Council. 
Gerry joined CCEA in March 2023, after nearly six years leading the Council for Catholic Maintained Schools (CCMS) as the organisation’s Chief Executive. Prior to his appointment at CCMS, he worked as Chief Executive for Colleges NI and the Northern Ireland Commissioner for Children and Young People (NICCY).
Alongside these roles, Gerry also provided oversight and governance as the Chair of a local primary school, governor of a post-primary school, and most recently served as a board member of Open College Network Northern Ireland (OCN NI) from 2016 to January 2023.
Talk title: ‘Skills development through the NI Curriculum and Qualifications system’.

Marie Cowan, Geological Survey of Northern Ireland, United Kingdom

Dr Marie Cowan MRIA MIoD PGeo is the Director of the Geological Survey of Northern Ireland, and a senior management board member at the British Geological Survey.
Marie is a member of the Institute of Directors (IoD) and holds an IoD diploma in Company Direction. Marie is also Professional Geologist with the Institute of Geologists of Ireland.
Marie is an elected Member of the Royal Irish Academy and a member of the Northern Ireland Assembly All-Party Group for Science and Technology.
She currently chairs Northern Ireland’s Geothermal Advisory Committee for the Department for the Economy; this year Marie was awarded the Geological Society of London Energy Group medal for her work.
Marie holds a 1st Class Hons. B.Sc. Geology and Ph.D. in Geology from the QUB. Outside work, Marie is the board chair of a social enterprise.

Caroline Greer, Association for Science Education, United Kingdom

Dr Caroline Greer is Chair of the Northern Ireland Region of the Association for Science Education, which provides teachers and technicians with professional development opportunities. She is Principal of Movilla High School, and was previously Vice-Principal of Bloomfield Collegiate School and Head of Science of the Royal Belfast Academical Institution. She is a physicist and Chartered Teacher with the Chartered College of Teaching.

Philip Hanna, Queen's University Belfast, United Kingdom

Prof. Philip Hanna serves as the Dean of Education for the Faculty of Engineering and Physical Sciences at Queen's University Belfast, where he oversees the education of several thousand students. With a background as a Professor of Computer Science Education, he is particularly passionate about artificial intelligence and its implications for the future for education. Prof. Hanna's interests lie in understanding the impact of intelligent automation on skills and the consequential changes in teaching content and approaches. He is passionate about improving alignment across primary, secondary, and tertiary education, including the importance of adaptable, life-long learning in a rapidly evolving world.
Talk title: Beyond Automation: Reframing STEM Education for the AI Era


Diane Lees-Murdock, Ulster University, United Kingdom

Diane Lees-Murdock graduated from Ulster University with BSc Hons Biology (1st Class).  She also completed her PhD at Ulster in Molecular Toxicology where she is currently a Senior Lecturer in Epigenetics. Her research at the Centre for Genomic Medicine is focused epigenetic regulation in normal development and disease with a particular focus on hypertension and cardiovascular disease.
Diane has vast experience of conducting genetic and epigenetic studies, in cellular and animal models as well as human studies.  She has a particular interest in nutriepigenomics, investigating the role of one-carbon metabolism in ensuring the faithful transmission of DNA methylation and how genetic variants in this important metabolic pathway play a role in aberrant methylation in hypertension to provide a greater insight into how nutrition influences the epigenome and cardiovascular risk.
To date Diane has published more than 25 scientific papers in top-ranked journals across several disciplines.  She has attracted significant external funding from government agencies in UK and Ireland, Charities and Industry.  Diane has over 20 years of teaching experience at undergraduate and postgraduate level.  She founded the PgDip Stem Cell Biology, led BSc Hons Biology as Course Director (2014-2020) and is currently Academic Division Head for Bio & Healthcare Sciences at Ulster.
Diane was Chair of the Royal Society of Biology NI Branch from 2017-19, and during this time established the Royal Society of Biology NI Outreach Champion Award, an annual prize celebrating excellent undergraduate and postgraduate scientific communication..

Beverley McCormick, Ulster University, United Kingdom

Beverley is the Associate Course Director at Ulster University on the PGCE Primary course. She graduated from Stranmillis University College in 2003 with a BEd Hons in Education with Geography and holds a Masters in Education from Ulster University, awarded in 2021. Previous to this, she was employed as a primary school teacher for 16 years and worked in the EdTech sector, as Global Educator for Mathletics, the widely recognised online maths programme and later as Educator for ClickView where she trained teachers in the use of curriculum-aligned video content for learning and continues to consult on new content. As a STEM Ambassador and validator for the Digital Schools Award program, she advocates teacher access to high quality STEM CPD. In recognition of her efforts to enhance STEM in the classroom, she received the Outstanding STEM Ambassador for Northern Ireland (2022) and continues to work closely with STEM Learning through the regional hub here. Her research interests include Initial Teacher Education, STEM CPD and the use of digital technologies in education.

Carol McGuinness, Professor Emeritus, Queen’s University Belfast, United Kingdom

Carol McGuinness is Professor Emeritus at Queen’s University Belfast.  She is a cognitive psychologist with a focus on teaching and learning, both in her research and in her own teaching.  During a secondment to CCEA she contributed to the creation of the Thinking Skills and Personal Capabilities Framework which is part of the Northern Ireland curriculum since 2007.   
Since then she worked with other jurisdictions on similar curriculum innovations, most recently with the curriculum council in the Republic of Ireland (NCCA), completing two commissioned reports on key competencies in their primary curriculum (2018) and in their Senior Cycle/Leaving Certificate (2023).  
Her talk today will focus on international developments on key competencies in the curriculum, specifically on work related to the OECD’s Learning Compass which is a product of the Future of Education and Skills 2030 project.
Talk title:  Skills and Key Competencies in a School Curriculum:  International Perspectives 

Gill Reid, President of the Royal Society of Chemistry, United Kingdom

Gill is Professor of Inorganic Chemistry at the University of Southampton and served as Head of School between 2016 and 2020.
Born and raised in Central Scotland, Gill obtained both her BSc and PhD at the University of Edinburgh, before being appointed to a lectureship in Chemistry at Southampton in 1991. She became professor in 2006.
Her group’s research focuses on synthetic coordination and organometallic chemistry and is motivated by both fundamental studies of new ligand types that explore the influence of metal-ligand combinations on properties and reactivity, as well as more application driven targets. Particular areas of interest are developing reagents for use in chemical vapour deposition and electrodeposition for the controlled growth of functional semiconducting thin film and nanostructured materials. Metal chalcogenides, in particular, have important technological applications, such as solid-state memory, thermoelectric energy harvesting and battery materials. She also works on the development of metal-chelate scaffolds for binding the fluorine-18 radioisotope towards new positron emission tomography (PET) imaging agents and has published over 350 research papers.
She is currently President of the Royal Society of Chemistry (2022 - 2024). She previously served as an elected Trustee of the Society (2011-15) and chaired the Outreach Working Group until 2018.  She is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry, a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, a Fellow of the European Academy of Sciences and recipient of the IUPAC 2023 Distinguished Women in Chemistry.

Patrick Shevlin, Association for Science Education (Northern Ireland), United Kingdom

Dr Patrick Shevlin is the President of the Association for Science Education (Northern Ireland) and a research fellow at EQI, DCU Institute of Education. He is an educational consultant with the Northern Ireland Council for Integrated Education (NICIE), the Council for Catholic Maintained Schools (CCMS) and the Controlled Schools Sectoral Council (CSSQ). Before taking up these roles, he had been an Inspector with the Education Training Inspectorate (ETI) Northern Ireland for 26 years. Within this role, he had a variety of positions, including that of Education Area Board Coordinator, which involved managing the work of a group of district inspectors within these education support services. A former teacher, he completed his doctoral studies at Queens University, Belfast.

Colin Turner, Ulster University, United Kingdom

Professor Colin Turner is Executive Dean for the Faculty of Computing, Engineering and the Built Environment at Ulster University. Colin is a Fellow of the Institution of Engineering and Technology, a Fellow of the Institute of Mathematics and its Applications, a Principal Fellow of the Higher Education Academy and a National Teaching Fellow. He is the current Chair of the IET Engineering Policy Group for Northern Ireland and a Past President of the Engineering Professors’ Council. His research interests are in engineering applied to cardio-vascular medicine. His learning and teaching interests include placement learning, and employability, and empowering students as leaders.

Frances Weldon , Almac Group, United Kingdom

Dr Frances Weldon has over 25 years’ experience working in academia and in the pharmaceutical industry and was appointed to serve as a business member of the Northern Ireland Skills Council in June 2023. As STEM Outreach Manager at Almac Group, she leads the development and delivery of activities across primary, post-primary and third level education sectors to raise awareness about careers in Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) and provides support to young people regarding their subject choices and potential career paths. She has led initiatives such as Almac’s Pathway® programme at W5 and Almac’s Virtual Work Experience Hub to inform and inspire post-primary pupils about careers in the pharmaceutical industry. Frances graduated from Dublin City University with a 1st Class B.Sc. (Hons) in Analytical Science and then obtained her PhD in Inorganic Chemistry from Dublin City University.  In addition to 15 years’ industrial experience as a scientist, she also held teaching and research support roles in Dublin City University and Queen’s University Belfast. 

Parliament Buildings Stormont

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

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