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Staff Excellence 533

Staff Excellence Awards


Over 210 nominations were received for this year's Staff Excellence Awards. The shortlist for each category is listed below.

Category 1: Delivering Excellence

This award recognises an individual who goes above and beyond, consistently delivering excellence and taking pride in what they do.


  • Margaret Grieve, Estates Directorate

Margaret works as a Cleaner in the School of Electronics, Electrical Engineering and Computer Science. She was nominated for a Staff Excellence Award by several members of staff within the School for the contribution she makes to the work environment and student experience. They have described her as being excellent at her job – someone who works quietly and diligently to provide a very high standard of cleaning. Staff always know she has been in the building because the place is immaculate. Her level of care and attention to detail has made such a difference to staff, students and visitors.

  • Dr Conor McCormick, School of Law

Conor consistently goes ‘above and beyond’ and delivers excellence, both in his capacity as a lecturer and his commitment to other activities and committees throughout the wider university. 2018-19 was Conor’s first year in post and throughout the period he was a constant source of encouragement and support for both undergraduate and postgraduate students. As well as the active role he plays in the Staff LGBT+ Network (PRISM), Conor is passionate about ‘Lawyers with Pride’ and is Co-Director of the annual high profile lecture that takes place at the University during Belfast Pride Week. 2019 was the third year in which Conor organised this sell-out event.

  • Cathy Short, China Queen's College

Since commencing her Clerical Officer role at China Queen’s College (CQC) in October 2017, Cathy has demonstrated sustained exceptional performance and contribution to the CQC operation. She has gone “above and beyond” what is required in ensuring administrative and clerical tasks have been undertaken, managed and completed, often within a very tight timeframe. Cathy is proactive in how she continues to approach her role at CQC. Over the past academic year, she was involved in a number of projects, including implementing changes to the Queen’s Examinations Processes and related delivery at CQC as well as supporting the Revalidation Visit and Queen’s Graduation at CQC.

  • Dr Paula Tighe, Research and Enterprise

Paula has worked in the Research Governance, Ethics and Integrity Team for six years and during that time has demonstrated commitment and passion to the University and importantly for her role. Paula provides support to both research staff and students, particularly for research to be undertaken within the health and social care sector. As well as supporting researchers with the completion of their ethics application, Paula also ensures that a relationship is built and maintained with the local health and social care trusts. During the year, staffing changes meant Paula undertook significant additional work, but continued to support researchers as well as mentoring new team members.

Category 2: Community Impact

This award recognises the significant contribution our staff make to the local community and wider society. 


  • Centre for Community Archaeology, School of Natural and Built Environment

The Centre for Community Archaeology (CCA) undertakes outreach activities with local communities across Northern Ireland, facilitating the involvement of local people – of all ages, backgrounds and abilities – in the study of the heritage in their area. The CCA has been at the forefront in the development of community-based archaeological projects, leading their development, funding and delivery through a range of partnerships with a network of public, voluntary and community-based organisations. During 2019, the CCA directly engaged with over 7,000 members of the public, including school children who participated on excavations and workshops, adult volunteers who took part in archaeological fieldwork, and members of the public who attended lectures, site tours, festivals, and open evenings.

  • Patricia Hampson, Academic and Student Affairs

As an Outreach Officer in Widening Participation, Patricia has had a significant impact on young people aged 11-16 from across Northern Ireland. Annually she engages with 500 Year 9-12 young people on the Queen’s Junior Academy in focussed interactive activities to raise aspiration and support educational attainment. Each year, she also enables approximately 25 Year 10 males to ‘graduate’ with a Level 1 Sports Leadership Award accredited through Sports Leaders UK (Junior Academy Sports). With the help of academic colleagues, she facilitated over 55 early contract researchers to present their research through workshops to over 800 pupils as part of the RCUK School-University Partnership Initiative. She also trained Queen’s students to support these programmes, developing their employability skills.

  • Dr Katy Hayward, School of Social Sciences, Education and Social Work

Dr Katy Hayward is one of the leading political sociologists on the island of Ireland. With twenty years’ research and teaching experience on the impact of the EU on the Irish border and peace process, she is one of the most sought-after experts on Brexit in the UK, Ireland and internationally. She has engaged with and advised policy-makers in the UK government, Irish government and in Brussels and Washington DC. Katy has been making a positive impact to society locally and internationally through her research and analysis which has helped policy-makers and the general public have a better understanding of the position in which Brexit puts Northern Ireland.

  • Impact Global Team, The Graduate School

Building on the success of the Impact Local projects, the Impact Global Programme partnered with RCity to co-design a project linking 10 young people from the Shankhill and Ardoyne to 10 postgraduate students from a range of disciplines in Queen’s, and ultimately to a group of young people in one of the most disadvantaged townships in Capetown. The programme introduced students and young people from our local community to human-centred design principles which they then used in South Africa with young people whose lives have been dominated by gang culture in the townships.

Category 3: Innovation

This award recognises an individual or team who has developed an innovative idea that has benefitted a particular department, the University or wider society.


  • Canvas Roll Out Team, Academic and Student Affairs

During the year, this Team implemented the critical Phase 3 stage of Canvas, the new VLE, which involved the rollout of over 2,012 modules to 3,380 staff and 23,939 students. The Team has created a model for managing institutional change which serves as an example to others. Their approach has focussed on being inclusive, collaborative and available. They have developed a number of innovative, engaging and effective ways of working, including developing a strong collaboration ethos underpinned by the introduction of supporting systems and practices. They have also delivered high staff engagement through adopting an innovative and agile approach to training and support for staff.

  • Ben Crothers, Student Plus

As Curator and Collection Manager for The Naughton Gallery, Ben is responsible for the presentation of six exhibitions and a range of supporting events each year, as well as the curation of the University’s extensive art collection. Ben is a dedicated, professional member of the team, with a fierce commitment to the Gallery and a desire to always improve on what has been done in previous years, resulting in ever increasing visitor numbers and reputation. He consistently looks for opportunities for collaboration and this year, he has focussed on enhancing and expanding the Gallery’s impact on wider society through the delivery of a diverse range of collaborative events, initiatives and projects.

  • Dr Rachel Killean, School of Law

Rachel created LawPod, a weekly podcast which explores law and legal research in an engaging and scholarly way. Created in 2018, the podcast continued to grow in success during 2018-19. To date it has produced over 50 episodes and has had over 50,000 unique listeners. LawPod has benefitted students ranging from undergraduate to postgraduate researchers, providing them with opportunities for career development. It has also given staff the opportunity to promote their research and provide expert commentary on current events. Rachel’s dedication to LawPod, its rapid growth and wide range of research topics and commentary is the embodiment of both innovation and impact.

  • Dr Andrew McDowell, School of Electronics, Electrical Engineering and Computer Science

During 2018-19, Andrew led the development of a number of new initiatives within his School. In taking over the line management responsibility for Teaching Associates, he led a process of reviewing and redefining how teaching support is assessed and offered within the School. He was the driving factor behind creating a new innovative small group learning space, the Learning Lab. This dedicated space, built around student input and pedagogic focus, has been incredibly successful and is widely used for small group support, optional seminars, and all sorts of interactive staff-student activities. Andrew was also instrumental in setting up a teacher training programme for PhD students.

Category 4: Team of the Year

This award is all about collaboration and recognises a group of individuals who, by working together, have made a significant and positive impact.


  • Genetic Epidemiology Research Team, School of Medicine, Dentistry and Biomedical Sciences

The Molecular Epidemiology and Public Health: Renal and Rare Disease Focus Research Team is a multi-disciplinary, diverse team working with many international collaborators using a wide-range of skills and expertise. This dynamic team of academic staff, early career researchers and support staff has generated significant research outcomes over the past year. The team has worked on 17 research projects, attracting over £10 million and published 20 peerreviewed articles in leading journals, two book chapters, with abstracts selected for 18 international conference presentations, four of which were prestigious oral communications this year.

  • KTP Team, Research and Enterprise

Queen’s is number one in the UK for its participation in the Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) Programme and this year became the first University to achieve a portfolio of 50 live KTPs. The KTP Team has played a key role in that success by supporting academic and professional services staff to manage and deliver a portfolio worth £5.2M per year. The team leads KTP activity, influencing KTP policy development and supporting the Northern Ireland business community in generating jobs and increasing profits. In the last year, the team has generated 30 high quality, fully salaried graduate jobs many of which will develop the business leaders of the future.

  • Queen’s Film Theatre, Student Plus

In the last year, the QFT has embraced changes, built new partnerships and achieved fantastic results, both financial and cultural. During the year, QFT underwent a staff restructure and major renovation works. When it reopened in August 2018, the team introduced a significant programme change with a new weekly booking system and new working practices. In 2019, QFT also celebrated its fiftieth anniversary with the Team delivering a month long programme of events. The work from the QFT team has driven brilliant results in terms of admissions and box office. The number of screenings has increased by 23% with a 21% increase in admissions on prior year.

  • Students’ Union Marketing, Student Plus

During the year, the Team worked together to create and launch ‘OMNI, all in for mental health’, a significant and far reaching student movement, which received outstanding feedback and will make a long lasting impact on student mental health at Queen’s. OMNI launched in February 2019 and the initial campaign was active until May 2019. The campaign’s success was due, in large part, to the team’s leadership ability in establishing an active collaboration within the Students’ Union and partnerships across the University. The campaign was a resounding success. It resulted in 2,525 students taking the survey, exceeding expectations within the Students’ Union and across the University.

Category 5: Outstanding Leadership

This award recognises an individual who has demonstrated outstanding leadership during the academic year.


  • Matt Birch, School of Nursing and Midwifery

Matt is the School’s E-Learning Developer and his enthusiasm for digital learning has inspired his colleagues to think differently about the education they deliver.  His passion for supporting colleagues and enhancing the student experience is motivating and infectious. Matt has led a range of new initiatives including; Canvas, e-portfolios, formative assessment, lecture capture, module evaluation and virtual reality related simulation; all of which is significantly changing the perception and direction of technology implementation within the School. He has led digital learning sessions for colleagues with varying degrees of IT literacy. His leadership has reinvigorated a sense of discovery and play, which has supported the Canvas implementation process.

  • Dr Alice Dubois, Faculty of Medicine, Health and Life Sciences

As Head of the Faculty’s Postdoctoral Development Centre, Alice has shown great leadership and vision for the postdoctoral community. As well as facilitating the smooth induction of new postdocs into the University community and being the point of contact for any postdoctoral-related issues, she has also been proactive in organising and outsourcing training and career workshops, courses and events. She has increased recognition and appreciation of postdoctoral researchers by introducing the National Postdoc Appreciation Week (NPAW) and the ‘Assistant Supervisor’ role. She also offers personalised support to postdocs for interview preparation, job application feedback and career planning issues.

  • Professor Karen McCloskey, Queen’s Gender Initiative

Karen has been an inspirational leader in the area of gender equality having led the successful submission for the renewal of the University’s Silver Athena SWAN Award.  Karen was appointed Academic Lead for SWAN in December 2018, just four months before the application deadline. She led the submission process in a collaborative manner and welcomed being challenged. For Karen, the point was to produce a successful outcome and she saw very clearly that this was only possible with maximum input. As well as leading the submission, she also developed an Action Plan, which is a four-year plan to keep Queen’s at the forefront in the area of gender equality.

  • Professor Ken Mills, School of Medicine, Dentistry and Biomedical Sciences

Ken has been nominated for the leadership he has shown in his scientific, professional and pastoral support for students and early career researchers.  Ken has been described as an incredible mentor who goes above and beyond for all his staff and students. He is a true role model who has instilled in his students that being part of the scientific community at Queen’s, involves being approachable and amenable to others. He has demonstrated that collaboration is a necessity and the only way to progress scientifically. This has included bridging the relationship between the academic team at Queen’s and the clinical team at Belfast City Hospital.

Category 6: Lifetime Achievement

This award recognises and celebrates the contribution made by a long-serving member of staff to the University.

A long-serving member of staff is someone who has 15 years' service or more.


  • Brigid Doyle, Student Plus

Brigid has worked at Queen’s for almost 40 years.  She joined the University as an Office Junior and worked in two Faculties and the Finance Directorate before moving to the Students’ Union in 1987 as Accounts Manager and Deputy Director in 1995. Brigid became Head of Childcare in 2003 and since then, has dedicated herself to delivering the highest levels of care to an estimated 1,300 children, some of whom have graduated from Queen’s and now use the facility for their own children. Brigid has approached her role with integrity, commitment, dedication and, at all times, considering the needs of students and staff first.

  • Iris Mateer, School of Arts, English and Languages

Iris Mateer joined the Music Office almost 30 years ago and since then, has been at the hub of daily activity in the Music Building. For nearly three decades, she has assisted academic staff and has advised, comforted and facilitated thousands of grateful undergraduate and postgraduates, now adults who remember her as one of the great ‘positives’ about doing Music at Queen’s. Iris embodies all the University’s Core Values, but the most celebrated feature of her service among academic staff has been her uncanny ability to encompass tasks before they arise and going the extra mile.

  • Christopher Preshaw, School of Biological Sciences

Christopher has worked at Queen’s for over 38 years, beginning his career as a Trainee Technician in the Department of Botany. Over the years, Chris has seen many changes in Schools, Faculties, Colleagues and his own position. Through his own hard work and determination he completed his third level educational qualifications and traineeship and in 2008 was appointed Chief Technician in what is now known as the School of Biological Sciences. In addition to his job, he also played a pivotal role in the development of the new Building in Chlorine Gardens and in the last year has went over and above to complete the Project.

  • Professor Trevor Whittaker, School of Natural and Built Environment

A Professor of Coastal Engineering, Trevor has over 40 years’ experience leading multi-disciplinary R&D teams delivering projects on wave and tidal stream energy. He led the team responsible for the research behind 7 different prototype wave power devices, which have been successfully tested at sea. He has been involved in several spin-out companies, including Aquamarine Power, which was formed to commercially exploit the team’s pioneering work on flap type wave power devices. The investment is testament to the significance of the research work under Trevor’s leadership and demonstrates how research excellence leads to commercial development. Working alongside industry also allows our students to see the significance of their studies and in several cases, leads to employment.

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