A pioneer in science communications, and a friend, Mary Mulvihill RIP

12 Jun 2015

Science communications pioneer Mary Mulvihill, who passed away after a short illness

It is with heavy hearts that we report that award-winning science journalist, broadcaster, author and friend Mary Mulvihill passed away yesterday, following a short illness.

A genetics graduate and scholar of Trinity College Dublin, who later studied journalism at Dublin City University, Mary was one of the pioneers of science journalism in Ireland and a passionate advocate of women in science.

Mary, of course, featured in our 100 Top Women in STEM list, and was due to give a keynote at our Inspirefest event next week. When I was planning our Lessons from History session, it went without saying that Mary would join our international speakers on stage. I am devastated that she will not now be with us, although she will without question be with us in spirit.

As founder and the first chairperson of Women in Technology and Science (WITS), she played a vital role in highlighting the often-neglected role of women in the history of Irish science through the wonderful collections of biographies she edited: Lab Coats and Lace and Stars, Shells and Bluebells.

She was beloved by all those who worked with her at WITS and, this morning, its current chairperson Marion Palmer told us: “The WITS family is heartbroken to lose our friend and founder Mary Mulvihill. We will miss her and will continue her work.”

She created and presented several popular science series on RTE1 and Lyric FM, she was a long-standing contributor to The Irish Times, and she gave many science journalists their first break as co-editor of Technology Ireland magazine.

When we launched Women Invent, our campaign to champion and highlight remarkable women in science, technology engineering and maths (STEM), Mary was one of the first people we consulted, and she kindly curated our list of Ireland’s Greatest Women Inventors, where young people were encouraged to vote for their favourites.

In recent years, she set up a successful business offering the wonderful Ingenious Ireland walking tours and audio guides to her native Dublin, as well as to national sites of ecological and archaeological interest.

Personally, Mary was a mentor, adviser, friend and longtime inspiration to me. WITS, myself and all her peers will ensure her wonderful work lives on. Mary was so excited about Inspirefest 2015, and being a part of what we were trying to achieve, we can only hope that it will be a fitting tribute to her longtime support and championing of diversity in our sector. Rest in peace Mary.

Ann O’Dea is the CEO and co-founder of Silicon Republic and the founder of Future Human