US-Ireland R&D Partnership

Research and Development Partnership

Biographies of Steering Group members

United States

Mr Jonathan Margolis Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs, U.S. Department of State.

Jonathan Margolis serves as Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary for Science, Space and Health in the Department of State’s Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs.  In this position he is responsible for policies and programs in the areas of International Science & Technology Cooperation, Space & Advanced Technologies and International Health and Biodefense.

Mr Margolis has a Ph.D. from Harvard University in psychology, focusing on negotiation and conflict resolution. He holds a master's degree from the Fletcher School of International Law and Diplomacy and his undergraduate degree is in fine arts from Harvard College.  He has also served as an Adjunct Professor at American University and the Foreign Service Institute, where he has conducted courses on environmental policy, negotiations and international organisations.

Professor Nicholas P. Farrell professor of Chemistry at Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU).

Professor Farrell is a graduate of University College Dublin. He obtained his Ph.D from Sussex University and completed postdoctoral fellowships at Simon Fraser University and The University of British Columbia. His research interests are in the broad area of bioinorganic chemistry. Specifically his interest is in the medicinal uses of inorganic compounds and his work has included development of anticancer, antiviral and antiparasitic drugs.

Professor Farrell is a 2010 Jefferson Science Fellow (JSF).  Prof Farrell has worked on international Science Cooperation agreements and assisted in creating the office of Science & Technology at USAID. At Virginia Commonwealth University, Prof Farrell’s international outreach activities include forging strategic partnerships with universities world-wide. He is Director for the VCU-University of São Paulo strategic partnership and has organised research scholar exchange at undergraduate, graduate and faculty levels.


Feargal Ó Móráin, MA (Economics) NUI Dublin, MSc (Business Strategy) Trinity College Dublin, Member of Chartered of Institute of Personnel and Development.

Feargal retired from his position as an Executive Director of Enterprise Ireland (National Industrial Development Agency reporting to the Dept of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation in 2012 following a career in the industrial development agencies in Ireland. In the years prior to his retirement Feargal was responsible for implementing the Agency’s national mandate in relation to Technology Transfer and R&D as well as having overall responsibilities for the management and development of the Agency’s extensive investments in Private sector equity funds and in start-up and established Enterprise Ireland client companies.

In previous roles Feargal managed the property portfolio and company development divisions of the Industrial Development Authority (IDA) and was also Personnel Manager of the organisation.  He has served a term as a member of the Governing Board of NUl Galway and was also a member of the Boards of Nova UCD and Invent. He also represented the Irish research funding agencies for a number of years at meetings of EUROHORCS. He is currently a member of the Governance Committee of the Biomedical Diagnostic Institute (BDI) headquartered in Dublin City University.

Prof Mark Ferguson Honorary Professor of Life Sciences at the University of Manchester.

Mark has been President of a number of Learned Societies eg European Tissue Repair Society, chaired the first UK Government’s Health and Life Sciences Foresight Panel and served on many committees eg the UKTI Life Sciences Marketing Board, the Committee of Safety of Medicines Biological Subcommittee and the European Space Agency. He has also served on the Board or Scientific Advisory Board of a number of International Biotechnology and Pharmaceutical Companies.

Mark was born in Northern Ireland, attended school in Ballykelly and Coleraine and graduated from Queens University Belfast with degrees in Dentistry, Anatomy and Embryology and Medical Sciences, holds Fellowships from the Royal Colleges of Surgeons in Ireland and Edinburgh and is a Founding Fellow of the UK Academy of Medical Sciences.  He is a member or Fellow of a number of learned Societies and has received a CBE from the Queen in 1999 for services to Health and Life Sciences.

Richard Howell Head of Research & Codex Division, Department of Agriculture, Food and Marine.

Richard is the lead Irish delegate to the Programme Committee for Societal Challenge 2 of the EU Horizon 2020 Programme having served in a similar capacity in its predecessor, FP7; is the alternate Irish delegate to the Standing Committee on Agricultural Research (SCAR) and was a member of the EU Commission’s Bioeconomy Panel from 2013 to 2015.  He is the lead Irish member of the Governing Board of FACCE, the Joint Programming Initiative on “Agriculture, Food Security and Climate Change” and is the Irish representative on the Governing Council of the Global Research Alliance on Agricultural Greenhouse Gases. He also heads up the Irish delegation to annual sessions of the Codex Alimentarius Commission.  

Richard has spent most of his career with DAFM in Dublin although he spent most of the 1990’s abroad on secondment, first to DG Agri of the EU Commission and then as Agricultural Attaché in the Irish Embassy, London.   Richard has a primary degree in agricultural science from University College Dublin and a Masters in Food Regulatory Affairs from the University of Ulster, Northern Ireland.

Mairéad O’Driscoll, Director of Research Strategy & Funding, Health Research Board.

Mairéad has overall responsibility for all the HRB’s extramural funding programmes. Previously, she was Head of Policy, Evaluation and External Relations at HRB.  She worked as a researcher in academia and industry before moving into policy research, first with the Royal Society in London and then with the Wellcome Trust.  She also spent time in South Africa where she worked on the development of a national research and technology foresight study.  She is a graduate of Trinity College, Dublin and the University of London.

She is a member of several national and international groups including the Oversight Group for the National Health Innovation Hub in Ireland, Enterprise Ireland’s Industrial Research and Commercialisation Committee and the European Research Infrastructure Working Group for Food and Health.  She also chairs IC-PerMed, the International Consortium for Personalised Medicine.

Northern Ireland

Dr Rosemary Hamilton CBE former Director of the Open University in Ireland (1992 – 2010).

Rosemary graduated from Queen's University with a first class honours degree in Chemistry in 1967 and a PhD in Agricultural Chemistry in 1972. She undertook a year on voluntary service in Kenya, employed by the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations.  She worked for The Open University from 1971, working as a member of the tutorial and counselling staff, followed by a period as Staff Tutor in Science and Technology and, from 1990-92, was a visiting Lecturer at the University of Ulster.

As Director, she was responsible for delivering the Open University's courses and qualifications throughout Ireland and for the provision of learning support to its students. She was a member of the Council, the Senate, the Curriculum, Awards and Validation Committee and formerly, of its Academic Board.

Rosemary also served on the Governing Body of the North Down and Ards Institute of Further and Higher Education from 1994 until 2007. Her involvement in higher education in Northern Ireland has included the NI Credit Accumulation and Transfer System Implementation Board, the Tertiary Sector Standing Conference, the HE Constituency Panel for Lifelong Learning UK and the Northern Ireland Higher Education Council, the CBI Council in Northern Ireland and the Northern Ireland Employment & Skills Advisory Group. She was awarded the CBE for her services to higher education.

Prof. Ian Young Chief Scientific Advisor to the DHSSPS and Director of Research & Development for Health and Social Care.

Ian is also Professor of Medicine at Queen’s University Belfast, where he was also Director of the Centre for Public Health from 2008-2014 and Deputy Medical Director and Consultant Chemical Pathologist at Belfast Health and Social Care Trust.  Professor Young’s main clinical and research interests are in biochemical aspects of nutrition, particularly in relation to the disease prevention.  He is an author of over 350 published research papers and has obtained over £30 million in research income. He is Chair of the Scientific Division of the International Federation for Clinical Chemistry and Laboratory Medicine, the world’s leading laboratory medicine organisation and Associate Editor of Clinical Chemistry, the journal of the American Association for Clinical Chemistry. He is a member of the UK Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition and the Scientific Advisory Board of the National Institute of Biological Standards and Controls.

Trevor Cooper Head of Higher Education, Policy and Finance, Department for the Economy.

Trevor is a Chartered Accountant. Prior to his current role Trevor was Head of Finance in the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment. He held this post from 2004, with responsibility for management of the Department’s budgetary and financial planning requirements.   Between 1995 and 2004, Trevor worked in the Industrial Development Board as a Corporate Finance and Restructuring Executive where he managed a portfolio of Invest NI client companies, undertook the commercial appraisal of internationally owned companies, and assessed the recovery and restructuring plans for a number of local companies.  

In 1991, following six years in private practice, Trevor joined Bombardier Aerospace, Belfast Short Brothers plc where he was responsible for the financial management of initially the Tucano Aircraft Division and subsequently the Boeing/Metalbond Manufacturing Division.

Alistair Carson Departmental Scientific Adviser for the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA).

Alistair is also Director of Science, Evidence and Innovation Policy Division and is responsible for providing scientific advice and commissioning research to meet the policy needs of DAERA and is the Senior Sponsor for AFBI.  

Alistair holds a degree in Agriculture from Queens University and a PhD in Animal Production.  He worked in the agri-supply industry as a technical adviser for Dalgety Agriculture before taking up a role as Head of Sheep and Dairy Heifer Research at the Agricultural Research Institute of Northern Ireland, Hillsborough with teaching responsibilities at Queen’s University.  Alistair progressed to Head of Sustainable Livestock Systems at the Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute, Hillsborough and then appointed as Head of Agriculture Branch, prior to his current DAERA role.    Alistair is a past President of the British Society of Animal Science and a Fellow of the Royal Agricultural Societies.

Dr Vicky Kell Director, Invest NI Innovation, Research & Development Division.

Since graduating from Queen’s University Belfast with a B.Sc (Hons), M.Sc. and Ph.D.; she has gained significant business experience working with companies in both a strategic and operational capacity. She has been in senior leadership roles in industry, advisory and economic development.  Vicky’s significant experience in both private and public sectors has developed her expertise in innovation, technology and international commercialisation.  Vicky is passionate about Northern Ireland and her aim is to facilitate the economic development of NI PLC through the growth and global competition of local businesses.

Prior to joining Invest NI, companies Vicky worked for include Pritchitt Foods, Courtauld Textiles and PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC). During her time with PwC, Vicky had the opportunity to work with local companies and GB based blue chip companies.