UCC Faculty of Science Public Lecture Series 2005
The Last Lecture Series
To mark Cork’s designation as European Capital of Culture 2005.
Science has made the most amazing contribution to society over the past 400
years and today the entire developed world is dependent on science-based
In The Last Lecture Series a distinguished list of speakers will discuss various
aspects of science and technology of particular relevance to Ireland today.
Each speaker will address his/her topic as if it were their last opportunity to speak
This Public Lecture Series is running fortnightly from January through December
2005 on Wednesday evenings, during the academic year, in Boole 4 Lecture Theatre, at
8.00p.m. Admission is free. All are welcome.
This lecture series is organised by Professor William Reville on behalf of Science
For further information
Phone: 021-4904369 / 4904127.
Please see full details of speakers and lectures below
Wednesday, 19th January, 2005
Jumping Germs: The Effects of Animal Disease on Culture.
Dr. Paddy Sleeman, Department of Zoology, Ecology & Plant Science.
Paddy Sleeman has been involved in research on mammal diseases for almost twenty years, mainly on the problems
caused by tuberculosis in badgers and rabies in Ireland, but also in New Zealand, Thailand, and South Africa. He is
very interested in the post-glacial colonization of Ireland by mammals and the ecological interactions within the Irish
ecosystem. In his spare time he fishes as often as possible.
Animals diseases are of increasing importance, and those that transfer to people, called zoonoses, are
especially so. The habitats of the animals that carry such diseases are created and changed by people, often
not intentionally. This is explored for Ireland and the long-term multifaceted effects of such diseases on Irish
Click here for text of lecture
Wednesday, 2nd February, 2005.
Science and Technology and the Future of Ireland.
Dr. Edward Walsh, Chairman ICSTI.
Edward M Walsh is chairman of a number of organisations including the Irish Council for Science Technology and
Innovation that advises the government on science policy and of the National Allocation Advisory Group that advises
on Kyoto emissions allocations. He was founding president of the University of Limerick, the first new university
established by the Republic of Ireland: a post from which he stepped down in l998, after a 28-year term.
Dr Walsh has served as founding chairman of the National Technological Park, the National Council for Curriculum
and Assessment, Citywest’s Growcorp and the National Self–Portrait Collection of Ireland. He has also served as
chairman of the Conference of Heads of Irish Universities and of Shannon Development. He is involved in guiding the
development of various initiatives at Citywest in Dublin: including Ryan Entrepreneurship Academy and DCU’s Eolas
Dr Walsh is a Freeman of the City of Limerick, a Member of the New York Academy of Science and the Royal Irish
Academy, a Fellow of the Royal Society of the Arts, an honorary member of the Royal Hibernian Academy of Arts and
Deputy Chairman of the Irish Chamber Orchestra. He holds honorary doctorates from four universities.
Born in Cork in 1939, Dr Walsh is a graduate of UCC and holds Masters and Doctorate qualifications in nuclear and
electrical engineering from Iowa State University, where he was an Associate of the US Atomic Energy Commission
Laboratory. He is a registered silversmith, an enthusiastic yachtsman and plays the violin and piano badly. He is
married with four children.
Ireland is an EU success story: since joining, a spectacular transition has been made from being amongst the
weakest to being one of the most successful economies. A fine job has been done in manufacturing other
people’s high-tech ideas; but a healthy capability to create our own has yet to be demonstrated. Upon doing
so Ireland’s future well-being much depends.
Click here for text of lecture
Wednesday, 16th February, 2005.
Has Science Supplanted Religion?
Professor John Polkinghorne K.B.E., F.R.S., Cambridge University, U.K.
John Polkinghorne, K.B.E., F.R.S., is past President and now Fellow of Queens’ College, Cambridge. A former
Professor of Mathematical Physics at Cambridge, he is an ordained priest in the Church of England, and Canon
Theologian of Liverpool. Knighted in 1997, he is the author or many books on science and religion. He made
fundamental contributions in particle physics.
Science has purchased its great success by the modesty of its ambition. It does not pretend to ask and
answer every question of interest and significance. Hence it needs complementing by religious understanding
which can address such non-scientific questions as ‘Why is science possible?’, ‘What is the source of moral
truth?’, ‘Is there a human destiny beyond death?’.
Wednesday, 2nd March, 2005.
My Family and Other Animals: What it Means to Share Genes.
Dr. Tom Moore MVB PhD MRCVS, Department of Biochemistry, BioSciences Institute,
University College Cork.
Tom Moore studied Veterinary Medicine at UCD and obtained his PhD from the University of London. He did post-
doctoral research in developmental genetics in Cambridge, and is currently in the Department of Biochemistry, UCC,
where he leads a HEA-funded Program in Integrative Reproduction.
For most people the concept of relatedness is rooted in their immediate family and allied to issues of
cooperation, sharing of resources, and occasional conflicts! The genetic study of relatedness provides
biological insights into many aspects of our interactions with our family, with society at large, and with other
species. Dr. Moore will examine relatedness from an evolutionary perspective and will outline the implications
of genetic theories of relatedness for diverse aspects of human physiology including the occurrence of
morning sickness in pregnancy, why one-year old children resemble their fathers more than their mothers,
and the genetic basis of common psychiatric disorders.
Wednesday, 16th March, 2005.
Darwin’s Dangerous Idea – Evolution From Cosmos to Culture.
Dr. David McConnell, Professor of Genetics, Smurfit Institute of Genetics, TCD.
David McConnell is Professor of Genetics at the Smurfit Institute of Genetics, Trinity College Dublin and Chairman of
The Irish Times Trust. He co-ordinates EAGLES (European Action on Global Life Sciences) a group which is
promoting the application of European life sciences to the great humanitarian challenges of hunger and disease in the
He will discuss the poorly understood implication of Darwinism – that the idea of evolution is central to the
natural sciences. The material, cosmic and biological worlds are all evolving, as are our cultural worlds.
Change, illustrated by the survival of the fittest, is normal. What we have is what has survived.
Wednesday, 13 April, 2005.
The JF Kennedy Assassination – a Medical Perspective.
Prof. Fergus Shanahan, Department of Medicine, Cork University Hospital and Director
of the Biosciences Institute, UCC.
Fergus Shanahan is Professor of Medicine and Chairman of the Department of Medicine at University College Cork.
Prof. Shanahan is also director of the SFI-funded Alimentary Pharmabiotic Centre for research in Cork. He went to
medical school in Dublin, graduating in 1977. After internship and residency in internal medicine in Dublin, he
completed a fellowship in Clinical Immunology at McMaster University, Ontario, Canada (1981-1983). He then
completed a second fellowship in gastroenterology at University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA; 1983-1985). He has
specialty certificiation in Clinical Immunology and Allergy (Canada) and is board certified in internal medicine and
gastroenterology (USA) and is a Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians in Ireland and the Royal College of
Physicians, United Kingdom. He was a staff member of the Division of Gastroenterology at UCLA Centre for the Health
Sciences from 1985 to 1993 and Associate Professor of Medicine. In 1993 he returned to Ireland to take up his present
post. His research interests are primarily in the areas of gastrointestinal mucosal immunology and inflammatory bowel
disease. He has published over 300 peer reviewed articles, is co-editor of 3 text books on inflammatory bowel disease
and mucosal immunology. He holds research grants from the European Union, the Higher Education Authority of
Ireland, the Health Research Board of Ireland and Science Foundation Ireland.
Forty years have elapsed since that day in Dallas – the most photographed and documented crime of all time.
Who did it? Was there more than one shooter? What did the medical evidence show? What was the autopsy
evidence? How did the media conspire to confuse the issue? A dispassionate review of the evidence will be
offered with a definite verdict at the conclusion.
Wednesday, 27th April, 2005.
Living With Risk.
Professor James Heffron, Biochemistry Department, UCC.
James Heffron obtained BSc and PhD degrees in Biochemistry from University College Dublin. He has carried out
research and lecturing in the Mayo Clinic and Graduate School of Medicine, USA, University College London and the
University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa. Currently a professor in the Department of Biochemistry, UCC, he
specialises in Biochemical Toxicology of anaesthetics and related drugs and environment pollutants. He has published
200 articles and papers in peer-reviewed journals and books including some in Nature, Proceedings of the National
Academy of Sciences USA, British Medical Journal and was awarded the DSc degree for published work by the NUI.
He was awarded the Royal Irish Academy Silver Medal for distinguished research and is an elected Member of the
Royal Irish Academy and Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry.
The story of human evolution is one of living with risk. Our hunter-gatherer ancestors, of tens of thousands of
years ago, survived the most risky existence—from ambush by marauding animals or rival human tribes, to
natural disasters such as earthquakes, volcanic eruptions and plagues or pestilences. It was a peril-filled
environment. In Middle Ages and up to the time of the Renaissance, life was a very risky undertaking during
crusades, plagues, wars and territorial aggrandisement by ambitious kings and emperors. In the modern world
there is much public bewilderment arising from reports of cancer-causing chemicals and genetically-modified
organisms in our foods, consumer goods and the general environment produced by industry and arising from
hazardous waste sites. Yet the human lifespan and quality of life is continually improving. On balance the
great benefits of the modern chemical society outweigh the relatively small risks that we experience in our
daily lives. In this lecture I will show that we now live in an era of systematic risk reduction but not one with
zero risk. The latter, I will argue, is incompatible with human progress.
Wednesday, 11 May, 2005.
The Points Race - Institutionalized Child Abuse.
Professor Donald Fitzmaurice, Chemistry Department, UCD.
Donald Fitzmaurice is a native of Dublin, where he lives with his wife Isabel and two children Christian and Hugo.
He is Professor of Nanochemistry at University College Dublin. With over one hundred and fifty publications and
patents to his name, he is established as a leading researcher in the field.
Currently he is serving his second term as a member of the Irish Council for Science Technology and Innovation, the
body responsible for advising the national government on these and related matters.
He is the founder of NTera Ltd., the electronic paper company. During a recent secondment to the company as Chief
Technology Officer, he focused raising the funds necessary to grow the company and on building a world-class
The total domination of the points system over all aspect of secondary education in Ireland is depriving
children in this country of the opportunity to develop to their full potential; worse it is limiting that potential.
When we look back on the failings of Irish society to meet its obligations to children in the decades gone by,
we can see very clearly the failings of those responsible.
Unless we wish to be condemned to a similar fate at the hands of our children and grandchildren, we must
learn the lessons of the past and act to meet our obligations to the children in our care and radically reform
second level education in Ireland.
Wednesday, 25 May, 2005.
Energy, Environment and Economics.
Frank J. Turvey, Eur. Ing., C.Eng., FI Nuc E, F.I.E.I., FinstP, Board Member Radiological
Protection Institute of Ireland.
Educated at Belvedere College, Dublin Frank Turvey went abroad in the early 1950s to study mechanical and electrical
engineering. This led him into marine and, eventually, nuclear engineering. He returned to Ireland in the late 1970s,
when the construction of a nuclear power station at Carnsore Point was being considered, to join the nuclear
regulatory organisation which is now known as the Radiological Protection Institute of Ireland. He retired as its
Assistant Chief Executive in 1998, since when he has been working as a consulting engineer, mainly in the fields of
Radiological Protection and Nuclear Safely.
The presentation shall underline the increasingly vital roles that Energy, Environment, and Economics play in
our national well-being. It will examine how each affects the other and the need to consider all three when
making national policy in any one.
Click here for text of lecture
Wednesday, 7th September, 2005.
Cattle, Culture and the Consumer - Following the DNA Trail.
Professor Patrick Cunningham, Department of Genetics, TCD.
Professor Cunningham is currently Professor of Animal Genetics at Trinity College Dublin (Ireland) and Chairman of
the Irish biotechnology company IdentiGEN Ltd. He was written two books and over 200 scientific papers. His research
has focused on quantitative genetic theory, the efficiency of livestock improvement programmes, the genetics of cattle,
horses and salmon, and on the use of molecular methods in studies on domestic animal evolution and diversity.
Professor Cunningham has been Director of the Animal Production and Health Division of FAO, visiting professor at
the Economic Development Institute, of the World Bank and President of the European and World Associations of
Patrick Cunningham is Professor of Animal Genetics in Trinity College Dublin. He was formerly Deputy Director
(Research) in the Agricultural Institute(An Foras Taluntais) (1980 – 1988), visiting Professor at the Economic
Development Institute, World Bank (1988) and Director of the Animal Production and Health Division, Food &
Agriculture Organisation of the UN, Rome (1990 – 93). He is Co-founder and Chairman of the biotechnology company
IdentiGEN. He has been President of the European and World Associations of Animal Production, and serves on the
European Life Sciences Group which advises Commissioner Busquin.
This lecture follows a trail of discovery that started as a project to help small farmers in India, rewrote the
history of animal domestication 10,000 years ago, and led on to a technology that guarantees the integrity of
beef on supermarket shelves in the wake of the BSE crisis.
Wednesday, 21st September, 2005.
Does Mental Illness Exist?
Professor Patricia Casey, Mater Hospital, Dublin.
Professor Casey is Professor of Psychiatry at the Department of Psychiatry, UCD and the Mater Misericordiae
Hospital. She is the author of three books (“A guide to psychiatry in primary care”, “Social function: the hidden axis of
classification” and “Psychiatry and the Law”). Her research interests include personality disorder and suicide, she is
one of the principle investigators in the ODIN (Outcome of Depression International Network) Group and is Editor of
the newly published Quarterly Journal of Mental Health. She chaired the Fitness to Practice Medical Council
Committee from 1994 to 1999. She is a regular contributor to the Irish media.
Over the past 40 years the existence of mental illness has been challenged by a number of influential writers
and commentators. This has led to tension between those who believe that a medical approach dehumanises
the person and those who point to developments in the neurosciences as evidence of the necessity for such
treatments. Even within the psychiatric profession there are controversies about the reality of such diverse
conditions as post traumatic stress disorder and personality disorder. This talk will focus on the background
to these controversies and on a possible way forward.
Wednesday, 5th October, 2005.
Money, Movement and Mathematics: Building a Science to Deal with
Professor Bernard Hanzon, School of Mathematics, UCC.
Bernard Hanzon studied Econometrics and Mathematics in Rotterdam, Leiden and Amsterdam. He has a PhD from
Erasmus University Rotterdam in the area of mathematical stochastic systems theory and time series models. He held
positions as university lecturer and associate professor respectively at the Technical University Delft, Dept
Mathematics, in the field of Mathematical Systems Theory and the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, Dept Econometrics
and Operations Research, in the field of Econometrics and Mathematical Economics. He held a guest professorship at
the Technical University Vienna, in the field of System Identification and Financial Econometrics in the spring semester
2002. He has been an advisor of the Centre for Mathematics and Computer Science Amsterdam and guest researcher
at the Mathematical Institute of Leiden University. Since mid-September 2004 he holds a position as Associate
Professor in Financial Mathematics at the School of Mathematical Sciences, University College, Cork, Ireland.
His research interests are centred around stochastic systems theory, financial mathematics and financial
econometrics, algebraic and differential-geometric optimization algorithms, exact and approximate filtering algorithms
and the interactions between these fields. Particular interests at present include: exact and approximate filtering for fat-
tailed financial stochastic volatility models, algebraic and approximate optimization of multivariate polynomials and
rational functions, algebraic and approximate optimization techniques for zero-beta models in finance,
parameterisation of various classes of linear and non-linear dynamical models, no-arbitrage models in mathematical
finance, state-space approach to modelling the term structure of interest rates etc.
Over the last 30-35 years there a revolution has taken place in the area of financial mathematics. There has
been an enormous increase in the use of ICT in the financial sector, including banks, insurance companies,
pension funds etc. At the same time there have been major advances in mathematical model building for
financial phenomena. As a result new formulas and new computational methods have been derived for
example for the evaluation of financial products, including call and put options, interest rate swaps, foreign
exchange options etc. Because the mathematical results can be coded in computer software, the user does
not necessarily have to understand the mathematics behind the calculations involved. Also complexity of the
calculation plays less of a role with the advances in memory and speed in computer technology. As a result
the best available mathematical techniques can be employed even if they involve more advanced
mathematical theories. In the lecture we will say something about the history of the topic, which shows that
mathematics has always had its place in applications to trade, insurance, economics and games. We will
sketch some of the developments in this area and discuss what can be expected for the (near) future. One of
the conclusions will be that it requires a strategic decision for a university, or even for a country as a whole, in
what way it wants to be involved in this area.
Wednesday, 19th October, 2005.
Understanding the Language of Neuro-immune Communication.
Professor John Bienenstock, (Visiting Professor from Canada to Department of
Dr Bienenstock is a physician scientist (immunologist) who is a Fellow of the royal Society of Canada, and a recipient
of the Order of Canada. He has published over 370 articles, chapters and scientific contributions, 250 of them in peer
reviewed scientific journals. He has written or edited 8 books and is a founding editor of the standard text in mucosal
immunology. He is a University Professor at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada where he also is a
Professor in the Departments of Pathology and Molecular Medicine, and also Medicine. He is a former Dean and Vice
President of the Faculty of Health Sciences at McMaster. He has also been the President of the Canadian Society for
Immunology, The Society for Mucosal Immunology and the Collegium Internationale Allergologicum.
Dr Bienenstock is the founding Director of the Brain-Body Institute, a partnership between St Joseph's Healthcare in
Hamilton, and McMaster University, whose object is to develop a better understanding of the role of the brain and
nervous system in the regulation of health and disease.
His own personal contributions to science include a fundamental concept of how the body integrates immune defenses
at mucosal sites, the role of mast cells in biology and allergy, and how mast cells communicate with the nervous
He also serves on some private sector boards and is the chair for two companies of their scientific advisory
The lecture will explore several examples of how the brain communicates with the immune system and show
that this is a two way street of great importance to the maintenance of health and the regulation of disease.
The pathways and the molecular mechanisms involved are very complex, and a complete understanding of
these systems which have to be integrated all the time by the body, is far from being currently available.
However great strides are being made in some surprising and seemingly unconnected areas, such as
psychology and basic science. Professor Bienenstock will offer some insights about the state of this art and
where it appears to be heading.
Wednesday, 2nd November, 2005.
Brittle Bones and Breaks.
Professor Clive Lee, Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland & Trinity Centre for
Clive Lee is a graduate of Trinity College Dublin in science, medicine and engineering and a Fellow of the Royal
College of Surgeons in Ireland. He has worked in the areas of human morphology, bone biomechanics and tissue
engineering with a special interest in osteoporosis in both Dublin and Boston, where he was a Fulbright Scholar at
Harvard Medical School. He is currently Professor of Anatomy in RCSI and Visiting Professor of Biomechanics and
Tissue Engineering in TCD.
His lecture ‘Brittle Bones and Breaks’ covers the interactions of teaching and research, anatomical structure
and engineering function and discusses how mechanical loading might be used to develop bespoke tissue
engineered bone grafts. Two pioneering Irish bioengineers will be highlighted –‘Hanging Haughton’ and
Michael MacConaill from UCC.
Wednesday, 16th November, 2005.
Suicide and Suicidal Behaviour: Questions and Answers.
Dr. Breda McLeavey, Southern Health Board, and Department of Psychiatry, UCC.
Dr. McLeavey is Principal Clinical Psychologist in the Southern Health Board, and lecturer in the Department of
Psychiatry, UCC. She has been researching deliberate self harm since 1985, and is currently involved in a major
study of an innovative treatment approach.
The problem of suicide in Ireland is one of the most difficult issues of our time. Awareness and understanding
of suicide and suicidal behaviour, and pathways to prevention are emerging from research and from the
sharing of experiences by those whose lives have been affected by suicide or deliberate self harm. This
lecture will address the most frequently asked questions about causes and prevention, with particular
emphasis on suicidal behaviour in the young.
Wednesday, 30th November, 2005.
After Moore's Law, Where Next?
Dr. Derek McAuley, Head of Research and Development, Intel, UK.
Derek McAuley is Director of the Intel Research lab in Cambridge, and holds an affiliated lecturer position at the
University of Cambridge. After a PhD and lectureship at Cambridge he moved to a chair in Department of Computer
Science at the University of Glasgow. He returned to Cambridge in July 1997 to help found the Cambridge Microsoft
Research facility before starting the new Intel lab in July 2002.
His research interests include networking, distributed systems and operating systems. Current work includes building
an optical switch for us in System Area Networks, new OS constructs for heterogeneous multi-core processors and
understanding distributed systems behaviour through network measurement and modelling.
He is a Chartered Fellow of the British Computer Society and on the Executive of the UKCRC, a computing research
expert panel of the IEE and BCS.
Moore's law has now held for 50 years; Silicon chips have doubled in complexity approximately every two
years and delivered amazing computing power to drive electronics into everything from consumer electronics
to online stocks. Where do we look in the future to keep the technology wagon moving forward.
Wednesday, 14th December, 2005.
Does evolution have a destination, even a destiny?
Professor Simon Conway Morris.
Conway Morris is Professor of Evolutionary Palaeobiology at the University of Cambridge. He was elected Fellow of
the Royal Society in 1990 and presented the Royal Institution Christmas Lectures in 1996. His search for fossils has
taken him to many parts of the world, including China, Mongolia, Australia and Greenland.
Conway Morris’s chief claim to fame came with his involvement, along with H.B. Whittington and Derek Briggs, in a
massive undertaking to re-examine Walcott’s Burgess Shale collections. Their effort was chronicled in Stephen J.
Gould’s book, Wonderful Life, which, ironically and sadly, became far more popular and far better known than the
geologists’ own works. His books include: The Crucible of Creation (1998).
The lecture will look at the evidence against the history of life being governed by contingent arguments and
will argue that if the tape of life was to be re-run, far from it leading to a radically different set of outcomes, we
would end up with a world eerily similar to our own, including human-like intelligences. The implications for
the Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence (SETI) will be obvious.