A new scholarship, the Roibeárd Thornton Memorial-Janssen Sciences Scholarship, was launched today at the University of Limerick, named in memory of Dr Roibeárd Thornton, a graduate of the University. Dr Thornton, who had been working with Janssen Sciences in Cork for over 4 years, had just returned to Limerick with his family when he was tragically killed in a car crash in January 2016.
The new scholarship programme at UL, which is being gifted through the University of Limerick Foundation, will award €2,500 to a 2nd year student of the BSc Bioscience in the School of Natural Sciences. The inaugural 2017 recipient is Niamh Phelan from Kilkenny City who was awarded the Scholarship based on her academic excellence.
Speaking about the newly launched Scholarship, Dr Patrick Sheehy, Scientific Director, Analytical Development at Janssen Sciences said: “Roibeárd was an invaluable friend, colleague and employee within the Janssen Sciences team in Cork. Roibeárd was an exceptional scientific talent, committed to understanding the scientific aspects of our products and dedicated to ensuring high standards were met at all times. This Scholarship reflects Roibeárd’s passion for Life Sciences and Janssen Sciences is delighted to be actively supporting this scholarship in memory of our dear friend.”
Dr Thornton graduated from the Industrial Biochemistry degree programme at UL in 2004 and then pursued graduate studies under the guidance of Dr Jakki Cooney before being awarded a PhD from the Department of Life Sciences in 2009. Together with Dr Cooney, he co-wrote a research project that was awarded SFI funding in 2008 for further studies on bacterial proteases. His research resulted in publications with international and national collaborators in his chosen field and in interdisciplinary studies on novel materials.
Speaking at the launch, Sarah Hartnett, Funding Development Manager at the University Foundation said: “We are delighted that Janssen has decided to pay tribute to Roibeárd’s memory in this way, so that his spirit will continue through current and future students who receive this Scholarship.”
A special seat using rock from the family land of Dr Roibeárd Thornton, was commissioned by his UL science family and brought to campus as a permanent reminder of his gentle soul. It is positioned close to Plassey House overlooking a grass valley with the River Shannon in view.