Prof Philip Nolan

Director General

Professor Philip Nolan MB, BCh, BAO, BSc, PhD, MRIA

Professor Philip Nolan earned his degrees in Physiology (1988) and Medicine (1991) at University College Dublin (UCD) and was subsequently awarded a PhD in Physiology for his research on the control of breathing and the cardiovascular system during sleep. He is an accomplished researcher, with interests in physiological signal processing and control systems, and publications in the leading journals in the field. He joined the academic staff of the Department of Human Anatomy and Physiology at UCD in 1996, winning President’s Awards for both Research and Teaching. He was appointed Director of the UCD Conway Institute for Biomolecular and Biomedical Research in 2003, before becoming Registrar and Deputy President at UCD in 2004, where he led an institution-wide reform of the undergraduate curriculum, the UCD Horizons programme, and was responsible for access and widening participation, postgraduate studies, international partnerships, and library and information technology services.

In August 2011, Professor Nolan was appointed President of Maynooth University. Early in his tenure he established a new strategy for the University in its research, teaching and engagement activities, which saw unprecedented growth and diversification of teaching and research, and a doubling of the research capacity of the University. He has contributed to important developments in higher education in Ireland, specifically in reforming the transition from second to third level, in widening participation in higher education, and in promoting equality and diversity.

He has more recently been centrally involved in the management of the COVID-19 pandemic, as a member of the National Public Health Emergency Team, chairing its disease modelling subgroup.

He is a Member of the Royal Irish Academy, and an Honorary Fellow of the Faculty of Public Health Medicine of the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland.

Professor Nolan took up the role of Director-General of SFI on 17 January 2022.


✆ Emer O’Driscoll, Business Support Manager: + 353 (0) 1 607 3259

Dr Ciarán Seoighe

Deputy Director General

Dr Ciarán Seoighe joined Science Foundation Ireland as Deputy Director General in January 2018. He leads SFI’s Strategy and Transformation Directorate which is responsible for Organisational Strategy, Corporate Communications and SFI’s International team.

Ciarán holds a BA (Mod) in Natural Science and PhD in Quantum Physics from Trinity College Dublin. He joined Science Foundation Ireland after nearly two decades in management consulting with Accenture. In his time with Accenture, in both Ireland and South Africa, Ciarán has worked with some of the world’s largest and most successful organisations. He has a wealth of experience across a variety of sectors executing large-scale transformation, business re-engineering, strategic and change initiatives.


Sandra Carroll Executive Support Assistant +353 (0) 1 6073297

Dr Abigail Ruth Freeman

Director of Science for Society

Dr Abigail Ruth Freeman was appointed Director of Strategy and Communications in 2013, and following department restructure in 2018, became Director of Science for Society. Prior to her current appointment Ruth has held a series of positions at Science Foundation Ireland, including Director of Innovation, Communications & Education and Director of Programmes, Enterprise and International Affairs, with responsibility for overseeing all Science Foundation Ireland research funding programmes and management of funded awards, as well as the Foundation’s activities in conjunction with industry and international partners. Ruth joined Science Foundation Ireland as a Scientific Programme Manager in November 2006. Prior to joining the Foundation, Ruth worked as a researcher at Trinity College Dublin (TCD). She holds PhD and Bachelor degrees in Genetics from TCD, where she was awarded a Trinity scholarship, the Eli Lilly Chemistry Prize and the Roberts prize for Biology. Ruth’s PhD research, on population genetics in hybrid zones, was funded by a prestigious studentship from the Wellcome Trust and was carried out at TCD and ILRI, Nairobi.



Dr Siobhan Roche

Director of Science for the Economy

Dr. Siobhan Roche was appointed SFI Director of Science for the Economy in 2018.

Siobhan will be responsible for developing and implementing SFI’s strategies on competitive funding programmes, working closely with industry partners, including large and small, multinational and indigenous companies, academic researchers and other external stakeholders, on collaborations and the co-funding of programmes.

Siobhan has been working with SFI for a number of years, most recently as Head of Post Award and SFI Research Centres. Previous to this role, Siobhan was Head of Partnerships and Scientific Programme Manager with SFI.

Siobhan brings experience as a research scientist from both the private sector, where she worked with US-based Exelixis Inc. and a former Irish human genome start-up company, Hibergen Inc., and academia where she was a Research Fellow and Group Leader at Trinity College Dublin and St Patrick’s Hospital. Within these roles, she focused on the application of genetics and genomics technology to deciphering the biological causes of illnesses such as cancer, cardiovascular disease and mental health disorders. Siobhan has authored publications in leading, peer-reviewed journals and holds a number of international patents.

Siobhan holds a B.A. Mod in Genetics from Trinity College Dublin and a PhD in Molecular and Cell Biology from the University of California at Berkeley (USA).



Mr Donal Keane

Chief Operations Officer

Mr Donal Keane, B.Comm FCA

Mr Donal Keane was appointed as Chief Operations Officer at Science Foundation Ireland on 1 November 2005. He has responsibility for Financial Control, Financial Management of Grants, Information Systems, IT Networks, Data Protection/GDPR and liaison with the Internal Audit Coordinator with respect to internal audits and external grant audits. Donal joined SFI from IADT Dun Laoghaire, where he held the position of Secretary/Financial Controller from 1997 to 2005. Prior to that Donal held senior management positions at Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital Drogheda, GE Capital and Wang Finance in both Dublin and Toronto, Canada. Donal has also been a member of the European Science Foundation (Strasbourg) and BBSRC (now part of UKRI) Audit Committees in recent years. Donal holds a Batchelor of Commerce degree from University College Dublin and is a Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in Ireland.