Writes Maebh McCarthy, Deputy News Editor
University College Cork recently announced the appointment of Professor Sarah Culloty as Head of the College of Science, Engineering and Food Science (SEFS.) This makes Professor Culloty the first female Head of College in STEM at UCC.
Prof Sarah Culloty, who is originally from Kerry, has had a distinguished career to date which has seen her previously head up UCC’s School of Biological, Earth and Environmental Sciences (BEES). She also served for a time as a Director of the Environmental Research Institute. In her new role, Prof Culloty will now head up a team of 600 academic and research staff, and over 5,000 students.
STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) education and research in UCC covers a range of subject areas including: life and biological sciences, physics, chemistry, maths, engineering, architecture; and information and communications technology. In UCC, there are more than 1,200 graduates each year in the area of STEM.
Prof Culloty said she was “delighted” to be appointed UCC’s first female Head of College, and said that she has ambitious plans for the College going forward. “I believe that there has never been such an exciting time to study STEM,” she said. “Sustainability is at the heart of our programmes and our research. Together we are the scientists, the technologists, the engineers, and the mathematicians who are focused on creating and delivering a sustainable future for us all. We are developing innovative solutions to support a sustainable and environmentally responsible society.”
Prof Culloty added that STEM will play a pivotal role in the world’s economic recovery once we begin to return to post-pandemic normality. “It will provide significant career opportunities to those who opt to study a STEM discipline, and I am proud that our graduates have the skills and attributes to play their role in solving key societal challenges in the 21st century,” she said.
As the first female Head of College in STEM at UCC, Prof Culloty is committed to encouraging girls to study STEM and is one of the role models for I Wish 2021. I Wish is a community led conference, which is targeted at female secondary school students interested in pursuing a career in STEM.
Interim President of UCC, Professor John O’Halloran welcomed Prof Culloty’s appointment.
“I’m delighted that Professor Culloty will lead the College of Science, Engineering and Food Science (SEFS) at this extraordinary time for humanity and our world,” he said.
“Perhaps for the first time in generations, science – be it climate change and mitigation, infectious diseases or food – is not only being considered inside the walls of our universities, but also in every home and every media outlet today. Much of the research conducted in SEFS, and being led by Professor Culloty, is the cutting edge, and generating new knowledge and opportunities for these global challenges.”
“We are very excited that Prof Culloty will ignite new ideas and bring impact to our university and our society in this leadership role,” he added.
Interim President of UCC, Professor O’Halloran also expressed his joy at the appointment of Prof Culloty on Twitter, adding that he was proud to have Prof Culloty as “part of the leadership team at UCC.”
Prof Culloty was also part of the University Steering Group when the University achieved its first Athena Swan bronze award, an accolade that recognises and celebrates good employment practices for women working in higher education.
The announcement of Prof Culloty’s appointment comes in time for International Women’s Day, which occurs on March 8th 2021. The international theme for this year is #ChooseToChallenge, which encourages people to challenge gender inequality, gender bias and norms.