Two Trinity professors awarded Royal Irish Academy Gold Medals

Professor Jane Ohlmeyer and Professor Jonathan Coleman were presented with the awards in recognition of their respective research achievements

Two Trinity College Professors were awarded Royal Irish Academy (RIA) Gold Medals on Tuesday in recognition of their research achievements in their respective fields.

Professor Jane Ohlmeyer, Professor of Modern History, and Professor Jonathan Coleman, Professor of Natural and Experimental Philosophy, were presented with the awards by Senator Malcolm Byrne at a ceremony in the RIA on Dawson Street.

Ohlmeyer, who was awarded the RIA Gold Medal for Humanities, is Erasmus Smith’s Professor of Modern History at Trinity. Accepting the award, Ohlmeyer said it was a “great honour” to be recognised for “a career devoted to developing new frontiers of scholarship and presenting fresh ways of understanding Ireland, our history and culture, and our relationship with the rest of the world”.

She added: “This award also recognises the vital importance of basic frontier research and the critical role that the humanities play in the world today.”

Ohlmeyer was instrumental in the 1641 Depositions Project and the development of the Trinity Long Room Hub Arts and Humanities Research Institute, on which she served as director from 2015-2020. Her next book Ireland, Empire and the Early Modern World will be released this year, based on the 2021 Oxford University James Ford Lectures which she delivered.

Coleman, who received the RIA Gold Medal for Physical and Mathematical Sciences, is Erasmus Smith’s Professor of Natural and Experimental Philosophy.

Upon receiving his award, Coleman acknowledged the contributions of “research students and postdocs” to his research over the last fifteen years, saying that without them “it would be impossible to do research at all”.

Coleman’s research is focused on solution processing of nano-materials, predominantly Carbon nanotubes, nanowires and 2D nanosheets.  Professor Coleman is most well-known for developing liquid phase exfoliation for preparing 2D materials, which he applies in a number of areas including electron-mechanical sensors, printed electronics and energy storage materials such as lithium-ion batteries, battery electrode architecture and factors limiting rate performance in batteries.  Professor Coleman has worked in a number of industry-academic collaborative projects, including Hewlett-Packard, Intel and Nokia Bell Labs, among others.

The RIA Gold Medals are awarded to researchers making an international impact in their field.  There have been just 32 medals awarded in the last 18 years.

Mary Canning, President of the Royal Irish Academy, described the medals as recognising “world leaders in their research fields in Higher Education Institutes on this island”, and said that the winners of the medals are “proven experts” in exploring, challenging and explaining their research fields.

Conducting the ceremony, Senator Malcom Byrne stressed the importance of universities in promoting, not only “academic excellence”, but also the recognition and value of “evidence based debate in the development of public policy”.

Previous recipients of the Medals include Trinity alumni and faculty members, including Professor Luke O’Neill, Chief Economist of the European Central Bank Philip Lane and Professor Ruth Byrne.