By David Hennessy
President Michael D. Higgins visited the Royal Society and attended an event to celebrate the scientific links between Ireland and the United Kingdom on Wednesday, the second day of his historic state visit. This event gathered representatives from the Royal Society, Science Foundation Ireland, Government agencies and members of the scientific community in Ireland and the UK, many of whom are currently collaborating on research projects.
Arriving at the event, President Higgins had the opportunity to view artefacts that celebrate a history of scientific collaboration between the UK and Ireland. Artefacts on display included the chemical notebooks and letters of Robert Boyle FRS, one of the key figures in the scientific revolution of the 17th century, as well as the accounts of insect swarms and of the Irish elk of Thomas Molyneux FRS. The President also viewed a photograph of the groundbreaking telescope built at Birr Castle for William Parsons, former President of the Royal Society along with a record of his observations. Other highlights included the Royal Society Fellowship election certificate of Erwin Schrödinger FRS and Éamon de Valera’s Fellowship signature for the Royal Society Charter Book.
During his visit to the Royal Society, the President was also introduced to British and Irish researchers who are currently collaborating on research projects. President Higgins met with Professor Jennifer McElwain, University College Dublin and Dr. Stuart Robinson, University of Oxford in relation to their collaborative work to understand the sensitivity of global temperature and climate to changes in atmospheric carbon dioxide levels and Professor Aron Walsh, a Royal Society University Research Fellow at the University of Bath and graduate from Trinity College Dublin on his work on renewable energy.
The Royal Society and SFI announced that they are in discussions about a joint programme which will aim to provide outstanding scientists in Ireland, who have the potential to become leaders in their chosen field, with the opportunity to build an independent research career.