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Queen's University launches Covid-19 Research Roundtable video series

In the context of a global pandemic, is sharing our personal data now a societal duty – or is it an intrusion too far? Does COVID-19 put our food supplies at risk? Are we all in this together, or has the virus exacerbated already existing inequalities? What of those with unrelated health conditions, and what will be the long-term effect on our health service? How will the crisis affect other aspects of society, such as our arts and culture?


COVID-19 has had a significant impact not just in terms of the immediate effects of the disease, but across a whole spectrum of aspects of our lives. To explore these issues, Professor Emma Flynn, Pro Vice-Chancellor for Research and Enterprise at Queen's, has invited a range of experts, both academics and practitioners, from within and beyond the University, to share their expertise in a series of panel discussions.

Covid-19 podcast

Professor Flynn said: “Each Roundtable is designed to be a free-flowing discussion, but within each we will try to address some key themes: what is the immediate effect of COVID-19 in this particular area? What are we learning? What is the pathway for the future?”

The series is to be released in both video and audio podcast format.

In the first programme, ‘Looking out for Big Brother’, Professor Flynn and her guests – Professor Frank Kee and Professor Máire O’Neill of Queen’s; Jayne Brady, the Belfast Digital and Innovation Commissioner; and Dr Stephen Farrell of Trinity College Dublin – discuss whether sharing our personal data is now a societal duty, or an intrusion too far.

In the first part of the programme, Professor Frank Kee, who directs the UKCRC Centre of Excellence for Public Health Research (NI) and is Deputy Director for the Centre for Public Health in Queen's, first shares his thoughts on how the NHS is managing to set up the necessary infrastructure around ‘track and trace’ efforts, to safeguard public health and data security.

Professor Flynn is then joined by the other experts in a wide-ranging discussion of the current state of play in the era of ‘big data’, from the risks of fraud posed by criminal activity to the opportunities presented by the unprecedented power of today’s data networks.

Episode 1: Looking out for Big Brother

In forthcoming programmes, experts from Queen’s and beyond will discuss: what COVID-19 teaches us about our food security (Roundtable 2: ‘Putting bread on the table’); the impact of COVID-19 on inequality, and vice-versa (Roundtable 3: ‘Are we really all in this together?’); the arts in the era of the pandemic (Roundtable 4: ‘COVID-19 and the Arts’); and the demands on the NHS in a post-COVID-19 world (Roundtable 5: ‘The health of the nation’).

Follow the link below for the video series:

Queen's University COVID-19 Research Roundtable video series

For the audio Podcast version of these discussions, search for ‘Queen’s University Belfast – Shaping a Better World’ on Spotify, Apple podcasts, or other podcast platforms, and subscribe to the series.

Notes on participants
  • Professor Frank Kee
    Director for the Centre for Public Health at Queen’s University Belfast.

    Professor Frank Kee directs the UKCRC Centre of Excellence for Public Health Research (NI) and is Deputy Director for the Centre for Public Health in Queens University Belfast. He is also Programme Director for the Masters in Public Health programme at Queen’s.

  • Professor Maire O'Neill
    Professor in The School of Electronics, Electrical Engineering and Computer Science

    Professor O'Neill is Director of ECIT and Director of the £5M EPSRC/NCSC-funded Research Institute in Secure Hardware and Embedded Systems (RISE). She has received numerous awards, which include a Blavatnik Engineering and Physical Sciences medal, 2019, a Royal Academy of Engineering Silver Medal, 2014 and British Female Inventor of the Year 2007.

  • Jayne Brady

    Jayne Brady was Chair of the Institute of Engineering and Technology in Northern Ireland (2013/2014), and holds and has held a number of advisory and board roles with organisations focused on economic and social development including Digital NI 2020, the NI Media Cluster, Momentum the trade body representing the ICT sector in NI and the NSPCC.

  • Dr Stephen Farrell

    Dr. Stephen Farrell is a research fellow in CONNECT, a Science Foundation Ireland research institute, and the school of Computer Science and Statistics at Trinity College Dublin, where he teaches and researches on security and delay/disruption-tolerant networking.