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UL appoints New Director of Research Institute - MSSI

Professor Noel O'Dowd

University of Limerick's, Chair of Mechanical Engineering, Professor Noel O'Dowd has recently been appointed as Director of the University's largest research institute, MSSI - The Materials and Surface Science Institute.

Speaking at the inaugural lecture of Professor O'Dowd as Chair of Mechanical Engineering at UL, UL President, Professor Don Barry said; "since arriving at UL, Noel has made significant contributions to further UL's research strengths in materials. He has been very involved in the establishment of a centre for excellence - IComp - the Irish Centre for Composite Materials at UL this year which reflects UL's track record in the area of materials research."

MSSI is one of the largest research institutes in the country and houses 228 researchers who are continually producing industry-focused research leading to real change in a wide range of industries nationally and internationally. In July of 2010, MSSI was awarded over €12 million in research funding under the Programme for Research in Third Level Institutions (PRTLI) Cycle V. The funding will go towards the expansion of MSSI to house new activities in the strategically important areas of pharmaceutical and composite materials and will significantly enhance UL's materials research capabilities in biomedical engineering and biomaterials, materials for energy conversion and clean technology.  In addition the research infrastructure established from this funding will encourage multinational companies to locate research and development capacity in Ireland. MSSI and partner Universities will also share €15.8 million to deliver structured PhD programmes in Biomedical Engineering and Regenerative Medicine, Earth and Natural Sciences and Nanoscience and Nanotechnology.

Professor O'Dowd said; "MSSI will lead Irish research in key areas of importance to the Irish economy in the areas of Materials for Health, Energy, Transport and Clean Technologies. The research carried out at MSSI includes materials for biomedical applications, such as stents and stent grafts, pharmaceutical materials for the next generation of drugs, advanced composite materials and nanomaterials for solar cells and energy storage technology. "

Born in Limerick, Professor Noel O'Dowd received his degree in Mechanical Engineering from NUI Galway and went onto compete a PhD in Solid Mechanics from Brown University, USA. After completing his PhD, he took up a research fellowship with the Graduate Aeronautical Laboratories at the California Institute of Technology. Professor O'Dowd was on the academic staff at Imperial College London for thirteen years before joining the University of Limerick in 2006. He is Vice-Chair of the American Society of Mechanical Engineering committee on Materials and Fabrication and is a Visiting Professor at Imperial College London. Professor O'Dowd's research is in the area of computational mechanics and fracture mechanics of engineering materials. He has published over a hundred research articles in these and related areas.

For further information about The Materials and Surface Science Institute go to

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