Top Irish scientist named CEO of American Institute of Physics

5 Feb 2018

Physicist Michael H Moloney, the new American Institute of Physics CEO. Image: PRNewsfoto/American Institute of Physics

One of the top scientific organisations in the world has appointed former UCD and TCD physicist Michael H Moloney as its new CEO.

The American Institute of Physics (AIP) has unanimously agreed to appoint Michael H Moloney as its new CEO, making him one of the leading figures of Irish science internationally.

Formed 87 years ago, the non-profit federation contains 10 member societies collectively representing more than 120,000 scientists, engineers, educators and students around the world.

Moloney’s academic career includes the study of experimental physics in University College Dublin (UCD) where he went on to graduate in 1988 with the Thomas E Nevin Medal, an accolade awarded to the student with the highest score during examinations.

He also holds a doctorate in experimental physics received at Trinity College Dublin (TCD).

Prior to this appointment, Moloney spent the last eight years as the director for space and aeronautics at the Space Studies Board and the Aeronautics and Space Engineering Board of the US National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine.

Both organisations play a significant role in shaping US space policy as well as developing space and aeronautics research priorities at NASA and other federal agencies.

Moloney also spent more than seven years as a foreign service officer for the Irish Government, serving at both the Irish Embassy in Washington DC, and the Irish Mission to the United Nations in New York.

Guiding AIP through 21st century

In 2011, Moloney was awarded a special citation by the AIP for his leadership on the decadal survey New Worlds, New Horizons in Astronomy and Astrophysics and, in 2016, was inducted into the International Academy of Astronautics in recognition of his leadership in space policy.

Speaking of his appointment, Moloney said he wanted to guide the AIP through a period of great technological change.

“Science is rapidly changing and becoming more interdisciplinary, and the fields of physical science connect like never before,” he said.

“So much of our modern life is dependent on technology. Technology, in turn, is based on the underlying fundamental discoveries of science. Our collective future, therefore, will continue to be linked to progress being made by the scientists and engineers who are members of the professional societies that constitute AIP.”

Moloney will officially take up the role on 5 March this year, replacing Robert GW Bowen, who retired from the role in May 2017.

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic