Cliona O’Farrelly has been elected as Chair of Fellows, marking the first time that a woman has been appointed to the position. O’Farrelly previously served as Secretary of the Fellows for two years.
Speaking to Trinity News, O’Farrelly explained it was a “wonderful honour” to have been elected Chair of Fellows by her peers. She noted that “being the first woman in the role brings an extra challenge”.
O’Farrelly outlined her intentions for the role, noting she has two key aims. She plans to “help foster the sense of Fellowship amongst all Fellows – from the most recently appointed to the Fellows Emeriti who do so much unrecognised work for Trinity”. In addition, the new Chair hopes to “harness our combined academic energy to Trinity’s goal to be a university of global significance”.
The new Chair is a Professor in Trinity’s Biochemistry department. O’Farrelly designed, taught and assessed the first immunology course in Ireland in 1983. She created and delivered Harvard University’s only immunology course for Harvard undergraduates between 1987 and 1990, before returning to Ireland to work with PhD students.
O’Farrelly designed and established Trinity’s MSc in Immunology in 2011. She is on the steering group for Trinity’s Public Patient Involvement (PPI) Ignite programme, which involves the public in health research processes. In 2014, she was awarded the Nature Mentoring Award for her work with PhD students. Earlier this year, O’Farrelly created workshop material explaining Cancer Immunotherapy to young people.
Fellows make up part of Trinity’s corporation, which comprises of the Provost, the Fellows, and Scholars. Fellowship is determined by “scholarship or research achievement of a high order” alongside “evidence of the candidate’s contribution to the academic life of the College, as shown in particular by participation in the work of his or her Discipline or School, and an effective record in teaching”.