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RBSS Programme 2015

Scroll down to see the 4th Robert Boyle Summer School Programme

June 25th – 28th 2015

At the birthplace of Robert Boyle, Lismore Co Waterford

Booking at Eventbrite Click Here

Download a pdf summary of programme here or scroll down for details

For assistance on accommodation and more Info contact
Lismore Heritage centre
Phone       058 54975
or email



Robert Boyle (1627 – 1691) was one of the most important figures in the development of modern science. His importance in promoting “the new experimental philosophy” has been highlighted in previous schools. After valid scientific method the other key part of the progress of science is communication of results and ideas. Boyle communicated his ideas by letters and books. In 1665 the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society was established and Boyle became a prolific contributor. The Phil Trans is still published by the Royal Society and is the oldest scientific journal in the world. Scientific journals have evolved over the years into the modern peer-reviewed journal. While this has been a major driving force in modern science there is growing disquiet about problems with the process. It is fitting therefore at the 350th anniversary of the founding of the oldest scientific journal, given Boyle’s important role in the early journal and considering the problems now emerging in the system that the 2015 Robert Boyle Summer School would address the subject of scientific communication past, present and future.


We are delighted to announce a great line up of speakers including

Thursday 25th June

Events introducing Robert Boyle

Morning Presentation 11 am

The Boyle Show with Eoin Gill, WIT

Eoin Gill performs a costumed recreation of Boyle's most famous experiments demonstrating hisfundamental discoveries in physics and chemistry. In addition to telling the story of Boyle's life this presentation also shows the transition from the old world view inherited from Aristotle to a recognisably modern scientific approach.



Evening Lecture 7pm

Novel Science Writing

Jim Malone Emeritus Robert Boyle Professor of Medical Physics at Trinity College

Dublin and Director of the Robert Boyle Foundation. He is a Consultant with the UN’s International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in Vienna since 2006, a regular contributor to the European School of Medical Physics in Geneva, and was Dean of the School of Medicine/Faculty of Health Sciences at Trinity College. He has broad interests in the humanities and directed two Merriman Summer Schools. He has been reading Boyle’s work in its original format for over 25 years.


Friday 26th June

Morning Session at Lismore heritage Centre

Robert Boyle, Philosophical Transactions and Scientific Communication

Prof Michael Hunter (Birkbeck College)

10:00 am

Michael Hunter was a natural first choice for the very first Robert Boyle Summer School (2012)having done more for Boyle studies than anyone before him (or, one might almost say, than all previous Boyle scholars put together)*”. We are delighted to welcome Michael back to Lismore to talk about Boyle’s scientific communication. Michael’s latest work on Boyle Boyle Studies: Aspects of the Life and Thought of Robert Boyle (1627-91) was published recently.

Michael is Professor of History at Birkbeck, University of London. His research is in the history of science in seventeenth-century England, particularly the work of Robert Boyle.

*Sir Noel Malcolm, 'Of Air and Alchemy',Times Literary Supplement, 22 August 2002


Dr Aileen Fyfe (University of St Andrews)

The Emergence of Peer-review: A History Since 1665

11:15 am

Dr Aileen Fyfe  is a reader in history at the University of St Andrews. She is leading the major 4-year project on the history of the Phil Trans: 'Publishing the Philosophical Transactions: the social, cultural and economic history of a learned journal, 1665-2015'. Aileen’s main teaching and research focus is upon British cultural history in the late eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, with particular emphases on science and technology, religion, and the history of publishing and communication.

Aileen is a former treasurer of the British Society for History of Science and chair of the Royal Irish Academy’s History of Science Committee.



Afternoon Session

This session will be dedicated to the memory of Mary Mulvihill who passed away recently.

3 pm at St Carthage's Cathedral by kind permission of the Dean, Very Rev Paul Draper.

Lady Ranelagh and the Republic of Letters

Dr Michelle DiMeo (Chemical Heritage Foundation USA)

Michelle DiMeo is a historian of early modern science and medicine and is currently Curator of Digital Collections at the Chemical Heritage Foundation (CHF) in Philadelphia. Michelle has previously spoken at the 1st Boyle Summer School on Katherine (Boyle) Jones, Lady Ranelagh (1615-1691), Robert Boyle’ s older sister who had a life-long influence on him and was considered an intellectual authority in her own right. This year she will explore how letter-writing and "scribal publication" remained important for circulating new knowledge despite the increased availability of print, drawing on examples from both Robert Boyle and Lady Ranelagh.



Saturday 27th June (at Lismore Heritage Centre)

Morning Session

10 am

How persistence of dead tree technology has stifled scientific communication: time for a radical rethink

Prof Dorothy Bishop FRS (Oxford)

Dorthy Bishop is Professor of Developmental Neuropsychology and Wellcome Principal Research Fellow at the Department of Experimental Psychology in Oxford.  Her main research is on understanding language problems in children in particular why some children have problems in language development while having normal development in other cognitive areas. She is a Fellow of the British Academy, a Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences and a Fellow of the Royal Society. She has received honorary doctorates from the University of Lund, Sweden and the University of Western Australia. She is very passionate about public engagement of science. She is an extensive blogger and contributor to many debates on science communication in the media. See Dorothy's blog here.


11:15 am

The Scientific Record: Archive, Intellectual Property, Communication or Filter?

How it needs to evolve to reflect science in practice


Prof Sir John Pethica (University of Dublin)

Sir John Pethica is Professor of Physics at Trinity College Dublin, and Chief Scientific Advisor at the National Physical Laboratory, Teddington.

His work is in nano-mechanics, thin films, surface physics and microscopy. He was previously Professor of Materials Science at the University of Oxford, and has also worked in industry in the USA and Switzerland. In 2001 he moved to Dublin as Research Professor, and was the founding director of the CRANN Nanotechnology centre with the Naughton Institute and the Science Gallery. Awards received include the Rosenhain Medal of the IOM3 (1997), the Hughes Medal of the Royal Society (2001) and the Holweck Medal from the French Physical Society (2002).

He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1999 and became the Society's Physical Secretary and Vice President in 2009.


Saturday Afternoon  (at Lismore Heritage Centre)


Panel Discussion on the "Crises in Science"

chaired by Sean Duke journalist, broadcaster and author.

Sean Duke has been a science journalist for almost two decades now, working in magazines, radio, television and online.

Sean has a B.Sc. from U.C.D. and a B.A.from TCD, a M.A. in science journalism from NYU School of Journalism and a H.Dip. in science teaching.

He has served as  editor of Technology Ireland and is co-founder of Science Spin Ireland’s first popular science magazine. He has been a regular contributor to Science, The Sunday Times, and have presented science slots on RTE and TV3 and co presented two RTE Radio 1 series, What’s It All About? and Life Matters. His first book How Irish Scientists Changed the World was published in 2013..


4:30 pm

Presentation on the work of the National Committee for Commemorative Plaques for Science and Technology (Free admission)

by Dr Brian Smyth Chair of NCCPST


5 pm Unveiling of commemorative plaque to Katherine, Lady Ranelagh

- at entrance to Lismore Castle.  (Free admission)

Saturday Evening Dinner with poetry by Iggy McGovern

7:30 pm Lismore House Hotel

Iggy McGovern is a poet and retired academic; he is a Fellow Emeritus in the School of Physics at TrinityCollege Dublin and has published two collections of poetry with Dedalus Press, The King of Suburbia (2005) and Safe House (2010). He edited the anthology 2012: Twenty Irish Poets Respond to Science in Twelve Lines, published by Dedalus Press in association with Quaternia Press, and co-edited (with Jean-Patrick Connerade) Science Meets Poetry 3, published by Euroscience. His most recent book, A Mystic Dream of 4, a sonnet sequence based on the life of William Rowan Hamilton, 19th century Irish Mathematician & Poet, is published by Quaternia Press (2013). See Iggy's website here.


In addition -

BBQ Lismore Castle Stableyard Friday 7 pm

Seisiún Ceol  Friday Night Festival Club at Rosie's West End Bar 'til late

Unveiling of Plaque to Lady Ranelagh at Lismore Castle

Tour of the Castle Gardens

& other events

The fee for all talks is remarkable value at €60.
Early Bird €50
BBQ €20
*SPECIAL* All Talks and BBQ €65

Booking at Eventbrite Click Here
For assistance on accommodation and more Info contact
Lismore Heritage centre
Phone       058 54975
or email    ao’

The Robert Boyle Summer School is organized through a collaborative effort involving Calmast Science outreach centre at Waterford Institute of Technology, the Lismore Heritage Centre and the Robert Boyle Foundation. The summer school is supported by Lismore Castle, business and industry and public bodies.

The organizing committee includes Dr Sheila Donegan (Calmast Waterford Institute of Technology), Prof Jim Malone (Emeritus Robert Boyle Professor Trinity College Dublin), Paul Nugent (Institute of Physics Teachers Coordinator), An tOllamh Annraoi de Paor (iar-Ollamh Innealtóireacht Leictreach UCD), Mealla Fahy (Manager Lismore Heritage Centre) and Eoin Gill (Calmast Waterford Institute of Technology).
NB there may be changes to the schedule.

Thanks to the supporters of Robert Boyle Summer School 2015:





The Robert Boyle Foundation