Development & Alumni Relations Office 

ASK THE EXPERT – STAFF SHARE THEIR EXPERTISE  Compilation image of several Ask the Expert session details, Ask the Expert icon and YouTube icon

06 October 2020

Since the Covid-19 lockdown began, graduates of Queen’s – along with members of staff, student and the general public – have been able to access a range of online University experts, thanks to a new live series entitled Ask the Expert, hosted by Andy Nisbet Friel, Queen’s Alumni Engagement Officer.  

Covering a diverse range of topics including getting a graduate job, how to go green and combatting loneliness, the sessions are now available – free of charge – via YouTube.

Commenting on the Ask the Expert initiative, Andy Nisbet Friel said:

“Ask the Expert is about sharing the diverse range of expertise available here at Queen’s with a wider audience, particularly during a time when on-campus activities are heavily restricted by the coronavirus pandemic.

“It’s also a great way for us – the Development and Alumni Relations office – to maintain links with graduates, to engage with them by offering something meaningful as part of what is, we hope, a lifelong relationship with the University,” added Andy.

In September, and to mark World Cancer Research Day, a range of eminent academics from the University’s Patrick G Johnston Centre for Cancer Research, discussed the ground-breaking work being undertaken at Queen’s and highlighted the impact of Covid-19 on cancer services and patients. 

August’s Ask the Expert session focused on getting a graduate job. On hand to answer viewer questions was a Careers Consultant with the University’s Careers, Employability and Skills team, who touched on how to get ahead in the job market, what employers are looking for and how to fine-tune a CV.

Earlier the same month, co-directors of the Centre for Gender in Politics both of whom are lecturers in International Relations, outlined how gender matters in politics today. With gender impacting all dimensions of our personal and political lives in so many ways, the experts discussed everything from Covid-19 to Black Lives Matter.   

One of the most eagerly awaited and undoubtedly popular sessions was a collaboration with the Seamus Heaney Centre at the University which brought together novelist, poet, Queen’s graduate and current PhD student Susannah Dickey and prolific writer, Professor Glenn Patterson, Director of the Centre in early September.

Readings, along with some good natured banter and captivating discussion – followed by a busy Q&A – made for a hugely engaging 60 minute online event.

Other Ask the Expert sessions have looked at engaging children to learn during lockdown, and the science and terminology behind Covid-19.    

“We’re very fortunate to have a rich seam of wonderfully gifted individuals on the staff of the University who are only too happy to share their experiences, their roles, and their wisdom with the graduate audience,” added Andy Nisbet Friel.

“The real beauty of Ask the Expert is that there is no real limit to the subject matter and, thankfully, no limit to those prepared to take part. I am deeply indebted to all those colleagues around the University who have given their time or who are yet to get involved.

“So watch out, who knows what topic we’ll cover next.”  

The sessions currently available online are:

For more on Ask the Expert and other alumni activity suggestions for the lockdown period, visit our Things to do during lockdown or contact For details of past and upcoming events go to our recent events and forthcoming events web pages.  

To submit graduate news items, or for general enquiries about this story, please contact Gerry Power, Communications Officer, Development and Alumni Relations Office, Queen's University Belfast or telephone: +44 (0)28 9097 5321.


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