On 5th November 2020 the Department of Biological Sciences held its first virtual graduation ceremony for the BSc. Food Science and Health Class of 2020. The event was well attended and supported, as always, by our dedicated industry partners.
Forty graduates logged on see their classmates, grateful to have marked the occasion in some way albeit far from traditional but through a computer screen. Following a welcome and congratulatory opening by the Course Director (and MC for the evening) Dr Eibhlís O’Connor, the Head of Department Dr Ioannis Zabetakis extended his well wishes to the group. Prof Dick FitzGerald followed with words of wisdom and congratulations and called the fifty-one student names on the graduation list for the Class of 2020.
Next Prof Martin Wilkinson lauded the graduates for adapting to the challenges of 2020 in the face of the global pandemic. He outlined the important role of the food sector in Ireland and highlighted the fact that despite the challenges of 2020, opportunities would still present for graduates. He then announced the Kerry Group Final Year Project award winners; receiving the bronze award was Maria Durkin, Donal Moran and Hayley Pleskach for their project entitled "The effects of fermentation on the anti-thrombotic properties and lipid profile of Irish Cider". Their supervisor was Dr Tsoupras. In second place, receiving the silver metal was Jack Comerford, Shauna Dowling and Ciara Sweeney for their project on the ‘Functional Properties of Plant and Milk Protein Blends’ supervised by Prof FitzGerald and Dr Khalesi. Finally the gold award went to Grainne Curran, Jane Fitzgerald and Rachel McCarthy for a project focusing on "An Evaluation of the Bioactivity of Selected Dietary Cereals" supervised by Dr O’Connor. Words of encouragement and advice from Research & Development Representative from Kerry Group Mr Cal Flynn followed where he outlined the very different environment graduates will now find themselves in when entering the workforce but how the food industry is adapting and responding to the changing face of the food industry during the current pandemic.
Dr Alexandros Tsoupras congratulated the class and spoke of the journey of the graduate, reflecting on where they have come from since beginning their degree and now sailing on to pastures new. He introduced the new Dairygold Academic Achievement Award for 2020 and announced the winner as Ms Rachel McCarthy. He then introduced the Dairygold representative, Mr George MacLeod (Head of Innovation & New Product Development) who offered words of support to the graduates and wished them well in their future careers.
Finally, the 2020 Class Representative, Ms Alison Hurley said a few words on behalf of her class where she recounted fond memories from their time in UL and thanked the course team, lecturers, support staff for their help and guidance during the last four years.
With all the formalities compete, Eibhlís thanked those who attended with their families, industry representatives, dept staff especially Ms Ber Norris for her help with organising the event. A recording of the event was sent to all those who could not attend on the evening. Lastly, with a ‘cheese’ and a grin, a virtual class photo was taken (and again….and again! see below). And with the words of Green Day echoing in the background we waved our Class of 2020 farewell and hoped they had the time of their lives!