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STEM students at University of Limerick receive Johnson & Johnson scholarships

Sinead O'Donohoe, UL
Sinead O’Donohoe, Materials and Architectural Technology student at UL

Sixteen University of Limerick STEM students were recently presented with scholarships at a virtual awards ceremony as part of the Johnson & Johnson Ireland Women in STEM2D (WiSTEM2D) Award Programme. Now in its sixth year at UL, the WiSTEM2D programme is run in collaboration with Lero – the Science Foundation Research Centre for Software, and will provide the scholarship recipients with extensive industry mentoring and leadership training.

WiSTEM2D refers to Women in Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics, Manufacturing and Design. The WiSTEM2D programme underlines J&J’s commitment to developing and implementing high-impact strategies to support female students undertaking STEM2D degree courses at UL and in universities around the world. 

Currently, there are approximately 117,800 people across Ireland who are working in jobs that require STEM skills. However, the CSO reports that just 25% of these roles are performed by women, with just 5% in leadership roles.Whilst there has been a general upswing in the number of students choosing STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) subjects on their CAO applications, uptake among females remains low. Figures from a 2019 UCD Study reveals that over 40% of males list a STEM course versus just 19% of females.

The sixteen students who were selected to receive scholarships following a rigorous application process and one-to-one interviews are:

  1. Aisling Daniels, Design and Manufacture Engineering, Limerick
  2. Aodha Marrinan, Biomedical Engineering, Clare
  3. Caoimhe Cahill, Mechanical Engineering, Galway
  4. Ciara Duffy, Materials and Engineering Technology, Louth
  5. Claire Cooney, Bioscience, Limerick
  6. Daire Davern, Mechanical Engineering, Tipperary
  7. Leah Connaughton, Mechanical Engineering, Galway
  8. Maire Daly, Materials and Architectural Technology, Kerry
  9. Mary O’Donnell, Aeronautical Engineering, Cork
  10. Niamh Quinn, Design and Manufacture Engineering, Galway
  11. Sandra Donatus, Industrial Biochemistry, Laois
  12. Sarah O’Rourke, Biomedical Engineering, Clare
  13. Serena Nabasirye, Electronic and Computer Engineering, Limerick
  14. Sinead O’Brien, Chemical and Biochemical Engineering, Waterford
  15. Sinead O’Donohoe, Materials and Architectural Technology, Kildare
  16. Therese Houghton, Mechanical Engineering, Limerick

Anna Rafferty, Johnson & Johnson WiSTEM2D University Lead and Director of Strategy, Johnson & Johnson Campus Ireland, said At Johnson & Johnson, we recognise that women are still under-represented in the STEM workforce in Ireland. Since 2016, Johnson & Johnson has supported nearly 300 female students across Ireland through the WiSTEM2D programme. Over the last two years, we have worked very hard to ensure that the recipients of this award have not missed out on any opportunities despite the challenges posed by the pandemic. We have carried our virtual mentoring sessions and site visits, and continued to help these students build vital support networks. As employers in the STEM2D industry, we are acutely aware of our responsibility to support these young women who will become future STEM leaders.”  

Professor Ita Richardson, Principal Investigator in Lero, and Professor of Software Quality in the Department of Computer Science and Information Systems at UL said: “These scholarships provide great support and encouragement to our female STEM2D students, who we are committed to supporting. UL, through Lero, is delighted to partner yet again with Johnson & Johnson on their WISTEM2D Awards Programme. This year’s recipients will be role models for the generation of girls who are currently in primary and secondary school, and have potential to be leaders of the future”.

Jessica Dino, a University of Limerick graduate and aspiring astronaut, is a past recipient of the Johnson & Johnson WiSTEM2D Award Programme. Speaking about the impact that the programme had on her career progression, Jessica said “Being accepted into the Johnson & Johnson WiSTEM2D programme at UL was a pivotal step in my STEM career. I was very interested in hands-on work in a very technical and fast-paced environment and with the support of a Johnson & Johnson mentor, I received guidance on what careers I could go into that aligned with my goals and grow as an engineer. Upon completing my Electronic and Computer Engineering graduate degree, I was given the opportunity to interview for a graduate role and joined the company as an Automation Engineer at Johnson & Johnson Vision. During my free time, I am working on Citizen-Science projects backed by NASA, participate in analogue astronaut missions and one day, would love to fulfil my ambition to become an astronaut.”

This year’s virtual awards ceremony was also attended by Professor Kerstin Mey, President of University of Limerick; Professor Norma Bargary, Department of Mathematics and Statistics, University of Limerick; John Lynch, Plant Leader at Johnson & Johnson Vision and Kieran O’Connell, WiSTEM2D Sponsor and Director of Manufacturing Engineering at Johnson & Johnson Vision. Recipients of the Johnson & Johnson WiSTEM2D Award scholarship were also presented with bespoke framed glass artwork created by Fermoy-based artist, Suzanne O’Sullivan. 

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