Development & Alumni Relations Office 



MAGHERAFELT STUDENT SINEAD MCCANN WINS PRESTIGIOUS ALMAC AWARD  Sinead McCann with Dr Stephen Barr at Almac

28 November 2020

Queen’s MChem in Medicinal Chemistry student Sinead McCann is the recipient of the 2020 Almac McKervey Award for Excellence in Organic Chemistry.

The Award was established in 2018 to commemorate the life and work of distinguished scientist, Professor Tony McKervey, who was former head of the Research Division at the School of Chemistry at Queen's University Belfast.

The announcement was made by video link at the School of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering’s virtual graduation ceremony over the summer.

Sinead, who comes from Magherafelt in County Londonderry, also received a £1,500 bursary towards her tuition fees and a 12-month placement with Almac to gain practical industry experience and mentorship in process development chemistry.

In his remarks in July Dr Stephen Barr, Managing Director and President, Almac Sciences, said:

“I am pleased to present this year’s Almac McKervey Award to Sinead McCann in memory of our esteemed colleague and friend Tony whose commendable leadership and kind manner inspired many of us during his long service with Almac.

“Sinead has demonstrated exemplary performance throughout her degree to date and I hope, that in receiving this recognition today, she will progress to a long and rewarding career in chemistry. Many congratulations.”

Commenting on the Award, Sinead said:

“I am delighted to have won this year’s Almac McKervey Award and am excited to carry out my placement at Almac.

“The experience and insight I will be exposed to will certainly help me develop my wider chemistry understanding, introduce me to new techniques and help me develop my skills further.”

Sinead, who has already commenced her 12-month Almac placement, has had her name added to the perpetual commemorative wall plaque at the David Keir building at Queen’s, a replica of which is displayed at Almac’s global headquarter facility in Craigavon.

Commemorating Tony McKervey

Professor McKervey, who passed away in June 2017, was born in Ederney, County Fermanagh in 1938, and earned his degree in Chemistry from Queen’s in 1961.

A former Professor of Organic Chemistry at both University College Cork and Queen’s, he founded Almac’s Sciences Business Unit in 1992 and continued to support the company as a member of the Sciences’ senior management team until his death at the age of 78.

Professor McKervey was an esteemed academic and an industry expert, having received the ASTRA Award of the Royal Dublin Society in 1986 and the Boyle-Higgins Gold Medal of the Institute of Chemistry of Ireland in 1993.  He also authored over 270 published research papers in world-renowned journals.

The Almac McKervey Award, which is open to students studying Chemistry or Medicinal Chemistry at the School of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering, Queen’s, is presented each year to the top applicant, selected on both their academic achievement and performance at an interview with Almac’s chemistry experts.

The Almac Group, which now employs over 5,600 personnel across 18 facilities in Europe, the US and Asia, provides an extensive range of integrated services – from R&D, biomarker discovery development and commercialisation, clinical trial supply, through to commercial-scale manufacture – to the pharmaceutical and biotech sectors globally.

Sinead, who during her time at Queen’s has volunteered in Nepal with RAG, and is a teaching volunteer at Sólás Autism and Additional Needs Charity based in Belfast, is currently on track for a First-Class Honours Degree.

For general enquiries about this story, or to submit items of graduate news, please contact Gerry Power, Communications Officer, Development and Alumni Relations Office, Queen's University Belfast.

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