Development & Alumni Relations Office 


12 December 2016


A world-renowned researcher in cyber security at Queen’s has been assigned a rare and prestigious Regius Professorship at Winter Graduation (08 December). The esteemed award recognises the highest-quality research at UK universities and was announced in the summer to mark the 90th birthday of Her Majesty the Queen.

An honour granted only by the sovereign, Regius Professorships recognise research excellence and celebrate the key role of research in driving growth and productivity. Bestowed on the electronics and computer engineering department which has undertaken pioneering work in the field of cybersecurity, the University has assigned the title to Professor John McCanny (centre).

John McCanny, Director of the University’s Institute for Electronics, Communications and Information Technology (ECIT), leads a team that is working to achieve a step change in Electronics and Computer Engineering research. With colleagues he is addressing some of the key technological and ethical challenges facing society today, including cybersecurity.

Delivering the assignment citation, Professor Mark Price, Faculty Pro-Vice-Chancellor for the Faculty of Engineering and Physical Sciences, said: “In 1497 King Kames IV established the first Regius Chair at Aberdeen in the field of medicine. This and subsequent Regius Chairs are with Royal Patronage, or directly made by Royal Appointment, and so are rare, and very prestigious.

“Between 1900 and 2000 only two such appointments were made. They carry with them a sense of history, a sense of honour, and are bestowed upon minds who seek new knowledge and truths, hence they also carry a sense of the future.”

In the past, Regius Professorships were created when a university chair was founded or endowed by a royal patron. Twelve awards were created for the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee in 2012 but this time around, universities were invited to compete for the awards in an open competition and entries were judged by an independent panel of business and academic experts.  “I have seen elephants collapse from exhaustion and then made to stand up and continue on giving rides all day. There is no healthcare. They are not given the right food and kept on short chains. They weren’t allowed to socialise, or forage, or do anything that elephants do.“So me and Sombat worked together to provide an alternative that would benefit the elephants and the families. We have returned them to the forest near his Dad’s village and will be able to pay the same monthly rent to the families through visitors, volunteers and donations.

Speaking in October at the time the Regius Professorship was conferred, the Vice-Chancellor Professor Patrick Johnston (left), said: “Queen's is enormously honoured to be the recipient of Northern Ireland's first Regius Professorship.

“As a very rare privilege and significant accolade, which celebrates the highest and most outstanding levels of research, this is a reflection of the exceptionally high quality of research, innovation and research translation at ECIT.

“Queen's ambition to be a world-class university, which is making a game-changing contribution to current and emerging global challenges, is reflected in this esteemed award.”

Describing Professor McCanny as an innovator, a critical thinker and a creative genius, Professor Price continued: “He is an international authority on special purpose electronic systems in computer engineering and cryptography. He has published 5 research books, 360 peer reviewed research papers and holds over 20 patents.John develops ideas and theory, which he then turns into real inventions for us to use.

“He was responsible, within Queen’s, for developing the vision that led to the creation of the Northern Ireland Science Park and its flagship centre in Electronics, Computing and Information Technology, for which he is currently Director. In 2002 the Science Park was built on the deserted site that was once the proud centre of our global ship building industry.”

The Regius Professorship, which underlines the international excellence of staff and PhD students, and the importance of their work in protecting global society, will play a key role in the future leadership of ECIT. It will also contribute to enhancing its already very successful achievements in research translation, working with industry, and economic impact.

Before the formal assignment of the award by the University's Chancellor, Thomas J Moran (right), Professor Price concluded his remarks by reading the Royal Warrant in full, a copy of which can be viewed here.

For further information on ECIT visit:

Media inquiries to Emma Gallagher, Communications Officer at Queen’s University on +44 (0)28 9097 5384. 


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