Science writer Mary Mulvihill posthumously named winner of DCU alumni award

12 Jun 2020

Mary Mulvihill. Image: The Mary Mulvihill Foundation

DCU has posthumously honoured author, broadcaster and science writer Mary Mulvihill with an alumni award.

On the fifth anniversary of the death of science writer Mary Mulvihill, Dublin City University (DCU) has announced that she is to be posthumously honoured with its Alumni Award for Outstanding Achievement in the area of societal impact. The award will be presented to her family as part of the university’s annual Alumni Awards Ceremony, which will be held online this year due to the coronavirus.

Mulvihill was a graduate of DCU’s School of Communications and was a well-known advocate for increasing greater female participation in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM). In 1990, she founded and became the first chair of advocacy group Women in Technology and Science.

In addition to her journalism work to promote the importance of science, Mulvihill also published a number of books, including Ingenious Ireland which told stories of STEM throughout the country’s history.

Her family recently presented her papers to DCU. They will be preserved by the university’s library as part of its Media History Collection, along with work from other significant figures in Irish journalism such as Mary Raftery and Douglas Gageby.

The collection focuses on Mulvihill’s research into the first edition of Ingenious Ireland, with digitised and print background materials and a collection of around 200 specialised books on science and natural history in Ireland.

‘An exceptionally gifted writer’

The full list of 2020 DCU alumni award winners will be announced next week.

Speaking of the award, DCU president Prof Brian MacCraith said: “DCU was always proud that Mary was one of our alumnae. She was an exceptionally gifted writer, broadcaster and journalist who used her talents to communicate the importance of science to a wide audience in Ireland and further afield.

“Her impact also continues to be felt in terms of her advocacy for greater female participation in STEM. We are delighted that her family have agreed to accept this award in her honour.”

Mulvihill’s legacy is also continued in the annual science writing competition named in her honour. This year’s winner was Roscommon native and NUI Galway student James Hayes, for his piece titled ‘Cabra’s scientific Banksy: The story of William Rowan Hamilton and quaternions’.

The focus of the piece was on Hamilton’s ‘flash of genius’ when he carved the quaternion equation that had just come into his mind on the stones of Broombridge in Cabra in October 1843.

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic