No glass ceiling for PhD students graduating from WIT in 2019

Pictured are a selection of graduates from 2019

Pictured are a selection of graduates from 2019

In 2019 11 of the 18 PhD students graduating from the institute were women and more than 50% of our graduates conferred with research degrees are female

A year on from its marking of 25 years of PhDs, Waterford Institute of Technology (WIT) recently celebrated the conferral of research degrees on 33 students. More than half of which are women.

Research degrees are the highest academic awards conferred by the Institute, that are earned by students who complete a bespoke programme of research and training that targets the generation of new knowledge. Of the 33 students conferred in 2019, 18 were conferred with Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) degrees. An additional seven were conferred with Masters by Research degrees, eight with Doctor of Business Administration (DBA) degrees.

More than 50% female

WIT President Prof Willie Donnelly noted the diversity of graduates. “There’s no glass ceiling in higher education for women in waterford Institute of Technology as this year 11 of the 18 PhD students graduating from the institute are women and more than 50% of our graduates conferred with research degrees are female. We are proactively encouraging our female students to go and study PhDs and we now have more female PhD graduates this year than male,” he said.

These PhDs have been awarded for novel research work carried out across the Institute’s schools, covering topics ranging from Fiddle Sound in Newfoundland in the 21st century (Dr Bridget O’Connell) to Wireless Sensor Based Data Analytics for Precision Farming (Dr Kriti Bhargava), to the use of Seaweed Extracts as Biopesticides (Dr Emma O’Keefe).

Significant contribution to society

WIT Head of Graduate Studies, Dr Brendan Jennings, commented that “Everyone at the Institute is justifiably proud of the achievements of the 33 graduates who are being conferred with research degrees this year. Completing a research degree is a very onerous endeavour, requiring years of dedication, hard work and perseverance. We are confident that our research degree graduates will go on to make significant contributions to our economy and society throughout their professional lives and we look forward to collaborating with them as members of the Institute’s extended research community.”

The institute is particularly pleased to note the significant number of PhD awards again this academic year, especially given that the Institute celebrated the landmark of having graduated 200 PhDs in December 2018.

26 years of PhDs in 2019

In 2018 WIT celebrated 25 years of PhDs. In 1993, Waterford Regional Technical College (WRTC) conferred its first ever PhD graduate. At the time WRTC was one of the first Regional Technical Colleges to award PhDs. Ruth Russell was the institute’s first PhD graduate in 1993. Her love of chemistry led her to a PhD following her undergraduate degree at DIT, and led her on to a postdoc in Polymer Chemistry in Paris.

Although many of the PhDs were initially in Science, in latter years WIT has graduated increasing numbers in Education, Humanities, Business, Engineering and Health Sciences, altogether 198 to date. One third are from WIT’s Department of Science, a quarter from the School of Business and one in five from the Department of Computing and Mathematics.


WIT has also become a destination of choice for students worldwide. “Increasingly we find of the 200 research postgraduate students that are registered we are attracting a large cohort of international students who are choosing WIT as their location of choice despite having the choice of studying anywhere in the world,” added Prof Donnelly.

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