First female senior professor appointed at Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies

Caitriona Jackman to lead research on magnetic bubbles surrounding magnetised planets

Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies (DIAS) has appointed Prof Caitriona Jackman to the role of senior professor – she is the first female senior professor in its 81-year history.

Taking up the role at DIAS’s School of Cosmic Physics, Prof Jackman will lead a research group on planetary magnetospheres – the magnetic bubbles that surround magnetised planets.

Prof Jackman studied and worked in the UK for 17 years, having completed her PhD in space physics at the University of Leicester, and held research positions at Imperial College London, University College London and the University of Southampton. In 2019 she was award a prestigious President of Ireland Future Research Leaders Award by Science Foundation Ireland.

Her position is one of a number of posts specifically for women funded under the Senior Academic Leadership Initiative (SALI), which aims to address the gender imbalance at senior academic level in higher education in Ireland. The initiative is funded by the Department of Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science and managed by the Higher Education Authority.


Welcoming the appointment, Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science Simon Harris said: "We know there is work to be done in ensuring gender equality within the research and higher-education sector and initiatives like SALI aim to address these issues. It is important for the country that our leadership – including in the higher-education sector – is reflective of the values of modern Ireland and our commitment to gender equality."

Prof Jackman said it was a privilege to take up the position and to be the first ever female senior professor in the institute. “My research has brought me all around the world, and I am delighted to be based now at a leading institution in Ireland, and continue my work here. I look forward to growing and developing my team, based at the DIAS Dunsink Observatory, and leading new research in space physics,” she added.

Historic appointment

DIAS chief executive and registrar Dr Eucharia Meehan underlined the historic appointment for the research facility. "Many talented women have worked at DIAS down through the years, but none of them were appointed to the level of professor – and we are delighted that that has finally changed. We hope that many others will follow in Caitriona's footsteps," she added.

“We know that women are not sufficiently represented in senior academic roles, so initiatives like SALI are of vital importance to ensure that this changes. We are delighted DIAS was selected to receive SALI funding and be in a position to appoint a new female senior professor, like Prof Jackman, who is at the forefront of research in her field,” she added.

Dr Meehan predicted Prof Jackman would, with her vast experience and track record, “help advance Ireland’s and DIAS’s reputation at home and as a global leader in space research.”

Kevin O'Sullivan

Kevin O'Sullivan

Kevin O'Sullivan is Environment and Science Editor and former editor of The Irish Times