Former US Under Secretary for Energy Among Advisory Board for Ryan Institute

Jul 09 2012 Posted: 14:16 IST

Former Under Secretary for Energy with the Obama administration, Dr Kris Johnson, is one of the newly appointed Advisory Board for NUI Galway’s Ryan Institute. The Advisory Panel meets in NUI Galway today, ahead of tomorrow’s official launch of the Ryan Institute for Environmental, Marine and Energy Research by Máire Geoghegan-Quinn, the EU Commissioner for Research, Innovation and Science.

Dr Johnson is joined on the board by Dr Aaron Bernstein ofHarvard Medical School, Dr Lisa Amini of IBM, Dr Niall McDonough of the European Science Foundation and Dr James Cunningham of NUI Galway. Dr Johnson was Under Secretary for Energy at the Department of Energy in Washington, DC until end-2010.

TheRyan Institutehas over 300 researchers making itIreland’s largest research institute to focus on some of the most pressing environmental and energy issues of the 21st century.

The official launch tomorrow, Tuesday, will coincide with a public symposium entitled ‘Green Shift, Blue Growth, Bright Future?’ featuring leading international experts in the environmental marine, energy and smart infrastructure research. The free event, which will also be attended by Pat Rabbitte TD, Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources is open to the public with more information available on

During his keynote address at the symposium, Dr Bernstein has said that he wishes to address “the greatest accounting problem ever known” which relates not to the value of money but the “value of nature”. He says: “The depletion of natural capital makes clear that we have as yet been unable to balance the biospheric books even if our survival depends on it.”

Bernstein claims that about half of the newly approved medicines in the United States between 1980 and the present wouldn’t exist if nature hadn't provided them to us. “In addition, nearly two-thirds of humanity drinks water from lakes, rivers or other freshwater bodies that may be purified by species inhabiting the watershed surrounding those water bodies”, he adds.

Dr Bernstein says: “The Ryan Institute at NUI Galway has many worthy goals in research and education, and it is noteworthy that despite the financial turmoil that besets Ireland, the Institute has moved ahead. Surely at a time when we must know so much more about the life that sustains us, and must redouble our efforts to educate ourselves about why nature matters, this reflects a deep wisdom, the kind of which we must use to meet the challenges that lie ahead and that will enable us to find the accounting we need to do business better with the biosphere.”

Professor Colin Brown, Director of the Ryan Institute, said: “Our Institute is honoured to have such leading experts lend their support, innovative ideas and international perspective on how our strengths in environmental, marine and energy research can be harnessed to provide maximum impact for Ireland in the coming decade.”


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