DCU to rename half its buildings after inspirational women

30 Jun 2016

Prof Christine Loscher at Inspirefest. Photo: Conor McCabe Photography

Dublin City University (DCU) is to rename all its buildings – with 50pc of the newly-christened buildings to be named after women.

This news was revealed onstage at Inspirefest this morning (30 June) by Prof Christine Loscher, research director at DCU.

“The computing building will now be named after Kathleen McNulty… there will be a photo and a description of what she’s done,” Loscher told the audience at the end of a panel on which she sat discussing how to build an inclusive education system alongside Beyond 12 founder Alex Bernadotte and Science Foundation Ireland director-general Prof Mark Ferguson.

Kathleen McNulty was one of the six original programmers of the ENIAC, the first general-purpose electronic digital computer. She was born on 12 February 1921 in the Creeslough area of Co Donegal. When she was three, she moved with her family to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She earned a degree in mathematics in 1942 and subsequently went on to work with the US Army.

She was inducted into the Women in Technology International Hall of Fame in 1997 and she passed away in 2006.

Loscher also revealed that another building – the one in which she herself is based – will be named after Kathleen Lonsdale, who proved the benzene ring was flat by X-ray diffraction methods in 1929 and was the first to use Fourier spectral methods while solving the structure of hexachlorobenzene in 1931.

Kildare-born Lonsdale also made important investigations into natural and synthetic diamonds and the mechanism of diamond synthesis, and in 1966, a rare form of hexagonal diamond was named lonsdaleitein in her honour.

Loscher said that moves like this were important to recognise the amazing women and their achievements.

“A student needs to come into a university and see the recognition for women who do brilliant things and see that it’s possible [to achieve the same].”

Inspirefest is Silicon Republic’s international event connecting sci-tech professionals passionate about the future of STEM.

Brigid O Gorman is a former sub-editor of Silicon Republic.