Minister of State for Higher Education Mary Mitchell O’Connor TD today presented the Royal Irish Academy Gold Medal to Maynooth University Professor of Psychology and Social Inclusion Malcolm ‘Mac’ MacLachlan. The award recognises his outstanding contribution to the Social Sciences, and in particular, his research into how psychological, social and technological factors can be used to make society more accessible for all, especially to people with disabilities.
Royal Irish Academy (RIA) Gold Medals are awarded to two outstanding academics each year and are recognised as a truly national celebration of scholarly achievement. The medals are sponsored by the Higher Education Authority.
The RIA Gold Medal is a testament to a lifetime of passionate commitment to the highest standards in scholarship and is a well-deserved recognition of scientific excellence.
Mac MacLachlan is Professor of Psychology and Social Inclusion and Director of the ALL (Assisting Living & Learning) Institute at Maynooth University. He is also Research & Innovation Lead for WHO’s Global Collaboration on Assistive Technology programme, and Knowledge Management Lead for the United Nations’ Partnership for the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
He has worked as an academic, clinician, organisational consultant and policy adviser in Europe, Asia, Africa and South America; with national government and United Nation agencies, as well as in the private sector.
President of Maynooth University, Professor Philip Nolan, commented: “Professor MacLachlan’s research on how psychosocial factors and technology can be used to help marginalised people ‘break into’ society is exemplary, and has the potential to affect people’s lives in a very tangible way.”
“Through scholarly work and public commentary, he has helped us to understand how best to remove barriers for those who are marginalised, especially those living with disabilities and to aid them in accessing and benefitting from education – especially third level education. For this, we are immensely proud to see him recognised by the Royal Irish Academy.”
Professor MacLachlan said: "Receiving the Gold Medal from the Royal Irish Academy is an honour, and it means a lot to have our research recognised in this way. We will continue to build on this research, in collaboration with partners from government, civil society, corporates and United Nations agencies, in Ireland and internationally, with the intension of making clear and tangible differences to people’s lives.”
Guests at the ceremony included members of the Irish higher education system, funding agencies friends and family of the medallists. The second RIA Gold Medal in Environmental Sciences and Geosciences, was presented to Professor John J. Walsh of Trinity College Dublin.
This is the second RIA Gold Medal for a Maynooth University professor. In 2013 Maynooth University Geographer, Professor Rob Kitchin, was presented with the Royal Irish Academy Gold Medal in recognition of his outstanding contribution to the Social Sciences through his research into spatial science and its potential impact on society and public policy. Professors MacLachlan and Kitchen are the only two Gold Medallists in the Social Sciences employed in a university in the Republic of Ireland.