Development & Alumni Relations Office 


10 January 2019

Queen’s cybersecurity expert Professor Máire O’Neill – MEng, Electrical and Electronic Engineering 1999, PhD 2002 – has been awarded US$30,000 in the second annual Blavatnik Awards in the UK, which honour outstanding young scientists.

The Blavatnik Awards, which were established by the Blavatnik Family Foundation in 2007 and are administered by the New York Academy of Sciences, recognise and support exceptional young scientists and engineers and are the largest unrestricted cash prizes available exclusively to scientists and engineers in the UK aged 42 years or younger.

Earlier this week, Professor O’Neill was listed in the Irish Times ‘50 people to watch in 2019: Ireland’s hottest young talent’ and last month appeared in Silicon Republic’s ‘22 high-flying scientists making the world a better place in 2019’.

From Glenties in County Donegal, Máire O’Neill (née McLoone) is Professor of Information Security in the School of Electronics, Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at Queen’s; Principal Investigator at the Centre for Secure Information Technologies (CSIT) at Queen’s; and Director of the UK Research Institute in Secure Hardware and Embedded Systems (RISE) at CSIT. She has been awarded a finalist title in the Physical Sciences & Engineering category. 

She has been awarded the prize due to her world-class reputation for research and invention in the field of hardware security, in particular for her work developing attack-resilient computer hardware platforms and chip designs.

Speaking about the prestigious award, Professor O’Neill said: “It is an honour to be recognised by the Blavatnik Family Foundation for my work in hardware security. 

“The increase in the number of connected devices through both cloud and Internet of Things technologies has led to growing security and privacy concerns. A strong hardware security foundation is essential in realising effective security in these ICT systems. 

“My research seeks to provide practical and effective hardware security solutions that meet the real-time computation and resource-constrained requirements of ICT systems, services and applications."

When she was 32-years-old, Professor O’Neill was the youngest engineering professor in Queen’s University history; the youngest Irish Academy of Engineering fellow; and is a former UK Female Inventor of the Year.
Now in their second year in the UK, the 2019 Blavatnik Awards for Young Scientists received 83 nominations from 43 academic and research institutions across England, Northern Ireland, Scotland, and Wales. A distinguished jury of leading senior scientists and engineers from throughout the UK selected the Laureates and Finalists.

“Recognising and encouraging the brilliant talent of the UK’s best young scientists through the Blavatnik Awards is our honour,” said Sir Leonard Blavatnik, Founder and Chairman of Access Industries, head of the Blavatnik Family Foundation, and member of the President’s Council of the New York Academy of Sciences.

"By supporting young scientists as they embark on their careers, we create a positive impact on the country’s future prosperity, accelerating scientific discovery and innovation that mankind can benefit from, and encouraging others to follow their path."

Professor O’Neill, together with the other UK Blavatnik Awards Laureates and Finalists will be honoured at a gala dinner and ceremony at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London on Wednesday 6 March 2019.

To find out about supporting the latest technology research at Queen’s visit the Development and Alumni Relations Office website or contact Helen Carrick, Head of Major Gifts, telephone +44 (0)28 9097 3403. 

Media enquiries to Jemma Greenlees at Queen’s University Communications Office, telephone: +44 (0)28 9097 3087.

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