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John Downey named EDI Champion of the Year
July 2, 2024

John Downey, SSPC PhD student at the School of Pharmacy, University College Cork won this award for his extraordinary commitment to the promotion or advancement of Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) within SSPC’s EPSRC CDT in Transformative Pharmaceutical Technologies.

John has promoted a culture of inclusivity and equitable experiences for all PhD students in the CDT by improving and maintaining a high standard of professionalism which has also been recognized by his peers in the wider SSPC/UCC communities.

John consistently demonstrates exceptional commitment and work ethic, evident in his consecutive elections as a student CDT representative (2020-2023) for SSPC. In this role, he gathered and organised student feedback on the CDT program and student experience, presenting it at quarterly CDT management meetings. Serving as a liaison between students and the CDT Management Team, John prioritised a student-centric approach, fostering a more constructive culture among his peers, particularly in addressing non-constructive feedback.

John took proactive leadership in enhancing the student experience beyond his role, initiating local meetings among SSPC management teams from various universities (UCC, TCD, UCD, NIBRT). These gatherings facilitated discussions on student feedback and event coordination, ensuring seamless implementation of necessary improvements to enhance the student experience. His efforts were instrumental in refining CDT operations in Ireland during the program’s initial stages, facilitating smoother student training and onboarding while ensuring consistent information dissemination which was especially helpful for the international students. John also plays a key role in the CDT’s advisory board, acting as the student’s voice for CDT’s PG students. At these meetings John prioritized constructive feedback, impartiality, and positive change. John also advocated for equality and transparency within the CDT’s representation by promoting diversity amongst the prospective representatives and assisted with changes to the CDT EDI surveys and website.

John’s influence extends beyond his involvement in CDT operations. Within the SSPC and UCC community, he openly shares his experiences entering college under an admissions scheme, actively participating in outreach activities to inspire disadvantaged students to pursue research roles through his Breaking Barriers Initiative (BBI) with Access UCC Plus. Based on the BBI feedback, John is organizing a follow-up session aimed at PG students to develop their teaching practice to enhance learning for disability and neurodiverse students during lab demonstrations.

“John Downey is exceptionally committed to the advancement of equality, diversity, and inclusion. John showcased this commitment in his role as a student representative for the CDT in Transformative Pharmaceutical Technologies. John continuously exceeded the responsibilities of this role and was an important advocate for students in CDT management meetings.  A key example of John’s commitment to EDI was demonstrated in his contribution to restructuring the CDT bi-annual symposiums such that all students had equal opportunity to present their research.”

John Downey has been an exceptional student representative for the CDT in Transformative Pharmaceutical Technologies. He has worked with the CDT management, always in a professional, productive, and collegiate manner, ensuring the student perspective is always considered. He has consistently been inclusive, open and considerate in his engagements with all CDT students and has been an advocate for constructive changes to be made to CDT operations to ensure an enhanced student experience for all.”

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