Reflections on the year gone by – Giles Warrington

As we draw a close to the first full semester of the ‘new normal’ that is remote teaching it is an opportune time to reflect on some of the notable achievements of the PESS Department in 2020.

Covid-19 and Programme Delivery

The sudden lockdown of the University in March due to the COVID-19 pandemic forced staff into an emergency teaching scenario where all classes had to be delivered remotely at short notice. Despite the unplanned nature of this situation, the PESS staff really put their shoulders to the wheel and embraced the exceptional challenges they faced (not to mention the increased workloads!) in delivering our programmes to the usual high standards only in a different format. This blended delivery approach, which combined online lectures and essential labs and practical’s being delivered face to face whilst adhering to social distancing, has continued over the first semester of the new academic year. Whilst not without its challenges, I have ceased to be amazed and impressed how both staff and students have embraced blended learning. Staff have adopted novel and innovative approaches to the delivery of our programmes in order to maximise the student learning experiences and student engagement with blended teaching has generally been positive.

Staff Promotions

The PESS department had a number of staff promoted in November. The following PESS staff members were successful in their promotion from Lecturer to Senior Lecturer:

  • Antonio Calderon
  • Brian Carson
  • Tom Comyns
  • Matt Herring
  • Mark Lyons
  • Ciaran MacDonncha

Congratulation to Ciaran, Mark, Matt, Tom, Brian and Antonio on this wonderful and richly deserved achievement which is a reflection of the quality and caliber of staff in PESS.

PhD Awards

We had an unprecedented number of PhD completions in 2020 with 12 PhD students successfully passing their PhD viva voce. Congratulations to the following:

  • Brendan O Keeffe
  • Caoimhe Tiernan
  • Jenny Higgins
  • Jessica Mangione
  • Brett Gordon
  • Caithriona Yeomans
  • Paul Kinnerk
  • Tom Aird
  • Marta Kozior
  • Arthur Lynch
  • Eoghan McNeill
  • Cathal O Sullivan

It would be remiss of me not to acknowledge the work of their supervisory teams and congratulate them also. This is an outstanding achievement and the highest number of PhD students PESS has successfully graduated in a single year.


Analysis of the current key research metrics for UL reveals that PESS is ranked 4th in terms of research publication output (2015-2020) with 448 publication and 7th for high level funding (Research Contract awards >€100k, 2017-2020) with €3.3m. This has been achieved despite of the academic and research staffing complement PESS being relatively small compared to other larger Departments and Schools. In fact if data was compared per capita the position of PESS would likely be higher. This is an outstanding achievement and reflects the high quality and impact of the research activity across the PESS Department

International Rankings

PESS has been ranked in the top 100 (51-100) Sports Science School and Departments in the Shanghai Global University Rankings for 2020 ( which is the highest ranking of any Department/School in UL. Above rank 50, institutions are grouped e.g. 51-100, 101-150 and listed alphabetically. However by examining PESS’ metric scores against other 51-100 universities PESS seem to rank very close to 50.

This comes on the back of the QS World University Rankings: Top Global Universities ( announced in June 2020, where PESS received an overall ranking of 51-100 for ‘Sport-Related Subjects’ again being the highest ranked discipline in UL. These achievements do not happen by accident and are a clear recognition and external endorsement of the quality of our staff, students, academic programmes, research activity and facilities in PESS. It is the shared vision and ambition of PESS to break into the top 50.

It is a real pleasure as Head of Department to be able to share these good news stories and, despite the challenges associated with COVID-19, end the year on a very positive note. It has been a very demanding year for everyone and the Christmas holiday period provides some much needed down time to rest and re-charge the batteries and spend quality time with family and friends.

I would like to take this opportunity to wish everyone a Merry Christmas and a prosperous 2021.

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