Speaker Bios

Who is speaking at the IUSA Conference 2021

Emeritus Prof. William Reville

Born 1946 in New Ross, County Wexford, William Reville attended the New Ross Christian Brothers Primary and Secondary Schools. In 1963 he won a Wexford County Council Open Scholarship to University based on his Leaving Certificate results. He graduated from University College Dublin in 1967 with a BSC (Hons) in Biochemistry and again in 1973 with a PhD in Biochemistry.

William went on from UCD to Iowa State University (ISU), USA as a Fulbright Scholar (January 1973 – July 1975) to carry out research with the ISU Muscle Biology Group.

University College Cork

Returning to Ireland in Autumn 1975, William was appointed first Director of Electron Microscopy at University College Cork (UCC), introducing electron microscopy to the university. A founder member in 1976 of the Irish Society for Electron Microscopy (now The Microscopy Society of Ireland), William served on the executive committee for several years and as President 1984 – 1987.

William was appointed College Radiation Protection Officer at UCC in 1977 and joined the Biochemistry Department UCC as a lecturer in 1983 where he carried out research on the biochemistry and electron microscopy of protein turnover in skeletal muscle. He was appointed Professor of Biochemistry in 2001 and Emeritus Professor in 2012. 

Public Service and National Boards

William served on several national boards of directors. He was a member of the Nuclear Energy Board 1987 – 1990; founding board member of the Radiological Protection Institute of Ireland (RPII) 1991 – 1997 and Chairman of RPII 2012 – 2014; board member of the Irish Council for Science Technology and Innovation, 2000 – 2003; member of the Governing Body of the School of Theoretical Physics, Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies 1994 – 1999.

William was Chairman of the Board of his local National School at Ballinora, Waterfall, Co. Cork  from 2007 to 2011.

Public Understanding and Awareness of Science.

William has a passion for promoting the public understanding and awareness of science and pioneered this area in the modern era in Ireland, principally through his popular column in The Irish Times. He began this public work in earnest in May 1986 when fallout from the Chernobyl nuclear explosion reached Irish shores causing widespread public consternation. The Irish Nuclear Energy Board asked the Irish Universities to monitor radioactivity in food, air and water and to make this information available to their local news media. William made regular reports, carried by The Cork Examiner newspaper, on radioactivity in milk, air and drinking water, measurements he made in collaboration with Professor James Heffron, UCC. Later that year, noting that no Irish newspaper published a science column, he began to write a column for The Cork Examiner.  

In January 1994 William joined The Irish Times as a weekly science columnist, a popular column he writes to the present day. He published a collection of his Irish Times columns as a book – Understanding the Natural World: Science Today (Irish Times Books 1999). The column attracts much popular attention and William is frequently interviewed on Irish radio and TV. In 2008  William composed a wallchart of Famous Irish Scientists, sponsored by Barry’s Tea and designed and published by The Irish Times. This wallchart was sent to all Irish Secondary Schools and distributed with The Irish Times newspaper on January 22nd2008.

William was very active in the public promotion of science at UCC, for many years running a very popular annual public lecture series. In 2006 UCC appointed William the first Officer for the Public Awareness and Understanding of Science in an Irish University. He established one of the first university-wide modules to be offered at UCC – Science and Society – open to all post first-year students and to all staff at UCC. He chaired the UCC Adult Education Committee that pioneered the introduction of the first evening BSc degree in Environmental Studies in Ireland in 2000.

Fulbright Affairs

William greatly values the experience he gained as a Fulbright Scholar in America in the 1970s – both the professional knowledge gained and the general education he received on the workings of the American system and the cultural norms of America. One must live in that great country for a while in order to properly understand it and he often draws on the insights he gained as a Fulbright Scholar in his public writings.

William joined the Irish Fulbright Alumni Association (IFAA), founded in 1995, serving on the executive committee from 2000 to 2007 and President of IFAA 2005 – 2007. During his period on the IFAA executive several noteworthy projects were completed, including design of the IFAA logo, compilation of the The Irish Fulbright Jubilee Directory in 2007 marking the 50th anniversary of the commencement of the Fulbright programme in Ireland in 1957, and the commissioning of an IFAA Medal of Honour.  William himself was awarded the IFAA Medal of Honour in 2007. William continues to take an active interest in IFAA affairs.

William retired from UCC in 2012 but continues his work in the public promotion of science and particularly continues writing his column in The Irish Times. He is married to Clinical Neuropsychologist Dr. Breda McLeavey and they have two sons, Ferdia and Cian.

Further Information can be found at https://www.irishtimes.com/profile/william-reville-7.1837492

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Award Remarks

Response by William Reville to Charge D’Affaires Alexandra McNight on being awarded the Distinguished Leader Alumni Award 2021.

Thank you Alexandra

Firstly, my congratulations to Ian Power on winning the Emerging Leader Alumni Award.

For my own part, I am deeply honoured to receive the 2021 Distinguished Leader Alumni Award.

My experience in America for three years as a Fulbright Scholar in the 1970s was amazingly enriching. In addition to learning a lot about how to do high-level research, I also got an insight into American life and culture, an insight you can only get by living in a country for several years.

Returning to Ireland I was very happy to serve on the executive committee of The Irish Fulbright Alumni Association for eight years – I fondly remember this committee as the happiest committee I ever served on!

The experience I gained in America greatly broadened my horizons. It has stood me in good stead throughout my career, encouraging me to take action when I see that something should be done, and it still informs some of my attitudes in my public writings.

Further Information can be found at https://www.irishtimes.com/profile/william-reville-7.1837492

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