Ann Kelleher and Neville Hogan awarded St Patrick’s Day Science Medal

11 Mar 2020

From left: Prof Mark Ferguson, SFI; Prof Neville J Hogan, MIT; and Dr Ann B Kelleher, Intel. Image: SFI

Robotics pioneer Prof Neville Hogan and Intel senior VP Dr Ann Kelleher have been named this year’s winners of SFI’s St Patrick’s Day Science Medal.

Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) has announced the winners of the 2020 St Patrick’s Day Science Medal, an annual award for US-based scientists, engineers or technology leaders with strong Irish connections.

Now in its seventh year, this year’s winners were revealed as Prof Neville J Hogan of MIT – who is considered a pioneer of rehabilitation robotics – and Dr Ann Kelleher, senior vice-president and general manager at tech giant Intel.

Dublin-born Hogan graduated from Dublin Institute of Technology (now TU Dublin) in 1970, before going on to receive a degree and an MSc in mechanical engineering, and then a PhD in mechanical engineering at MIT.

Hogan has more than 42,000 citations for his work in robotic therapy, particularly when it comes to the treatment of stroke. His work has inspired many researchers worldwide and now extends into rehabilitation for people with spinal cord injury, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis and cerebral palsy.

STEM role models

Speaking of his award, Hogan said: “Working at the forefront of robotics to progress knowledge and discovery with the potential to transform our societies and economies, I am very proud of my Irish roots.

“The strong Irish commitment to education is a major factor in the success of Irish people everywhere.”

Kelleher, meanwhile, is a native of Macroom, Co Cork, who achieved a first-class honours degree in engineering in 1987 and a master’s in engineering in 1989 from University College Cork.

In 1993, Kelleher became the first woman to receive a PhD from the National Microelectronics Research Centre, the forerunner of Tyndall National Institute. She was also the first Irish woman to be named a vice-president at Intel.

As a STEM role model, she has provided leadership to women in science initiatives, and in 2015 was elected as a fellow of Engineers Ireland. In 2018, she was one of 25 women recognised in the Ireland’s Most Powerful Women Awards.

Speaking of her award, Kelleher said: “I hope that awards such as this will also highlight the career paths available to young women who have an interest in working in STEM.”

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic