Taoiseach Enda Kenny presented the Royal Irish Academy Gold Medal to the NUI Galway Professor of Physics, Colin O’Dowdin recognition of his outstanding contribution to the Environmental and Geosciences.
In presenting the medals the Taoiseach congratulated the medallists on their many achievements and paid tribute to the RIA for providing a platform to celebrate academia and the role it plays in our society and economy, saying: “Education and innovation are central to the Government's ambition of achieving economic recovery and the creation of jobs. The education and training system is a critical part of our recovery and growth. That is why, among the wide range of measures to boost job creation and improve the environment for business, R&D forms a central pillar of our Action Plan for Jobs.”
Also presented on the day was a Gold Medal for the Social Sciences to NUI Maynooth Professor Rob Kitchin. Each medal is a testament to a lifetime of passionate commitment to the highest standards in scholarship and they are a well-deserved recognition of scientific excellence.
Professor Colin O’Dowd, through his pioneering work in the field of atmospheric physics, has become internationally renowned as one of the leading scientists in the field of climate change. He is also the Director of the Centre for Climate and Air Pollution Studies, at the Environmental Change Institute. He is an alumnus of NUI Galway, having completed his Bachelor of Science in 1987.
Professor O’Dowd is credited with driving the development of the Mace Head Atmospheric Research Station in Galway, a new supersite which has resulted in it becoming one of the most advanced Global Atmosphere Watch stations in the world. Professor O’Dowd has been a member of the Royal Irish Academy since 2011.
Speaking about the award, Dr Jim Browne, President of NUI Galway, congratulated Professor O’Dowd on this prestigious accolade, which, he said: “recognises the outstanding quality of Professor O’Dowd’s research in environmental and atmospheric physics. It is a mark of the high esteem in which he is held by his academic peers and it follows his being awarded the Appleton Medal by the Institute of Physics last year. This honour serves to underline the calibre of scholarship underway at NUI Galway and on behalf of the University, I extend warmest congratulations to Colin on his award and on the scholarship which the RIA Gold Medal represents.”
After been awarded the Royal Irish Academy Gold Medal in Environmental and Geosciences Professor Colin O’Dowd said “It is a great honour to receive the RIA Gold Medal. The award is in geophysics, and in terms of my research, this means air pollution and climate change. Thus, the award is very timely in that it reinforces climate change awareness, particularly in light of the extreme weather conditions encountered over the last weeks; the next step is to see some practical climate action.”
Guests at the ceremony included members of the Irish higher education system, funding agencies, the British and Greek ambassadors to Ireland and friends and family of the medallists.
The Royal Irish Academy Gold Medals are awarded to two outstanding academics each year and are recognised as a truly national expression of celebration for scholarly achievement. The medals are sponsored by The Higher Education Authority.