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Graduate News: News

UL Women of Substance

Wednesday 20 March 2019   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Lisa McCarthy
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To celebrate International Women's Day, we've profiled five inspirational UL alumnae who are making their mark globally in the world of sport, science, international diplomacy, the arts and humanitarian service.



Tanin Torabi (طنین ترابی) a contemporary dance artist and curator based in Iran and Ireland. She works in the realm of performance, choreography, and film, and enjoys exploring the connection between the three.
Tanin’s dance films have screened in more than a hundred dance film and film festivals worldwide and have received numerous awards from renowned festivals in categories like “Creative Vision Award”, “Best Artist Film”, “Best Short Film”, “Best Inspirational Film”, “Best Inspiring Woman in a Film”, “Best Experimental Film”, “Best Cinematography” and “Best Documentary”, to name a few. 

Tanin’s works have been described as rebellious, creative, inspiring, unbearably elegant and affecting, emblematic and poignant, empowering to women, and with clarity and an exceptional ambition that is layered with a complexity of personal and cultural nuance, by festival directors. She also works as a music video director and producer for international singers. Her music videos hold a sense of movement and flow as well as beauty and wonder.




Belmullet native and UL alumna, Sinéad Diver moved to Australia in 2002. Whilst there she took up running as a means of keeping fit, however, following the birth of her eldest son in 2009 she began to run competitively and has since progressed rapidly. After coming second in the Melbourne marathon in 2014 she was invited to represent Australia at the 2015 World Championships in Beijing. She has represented her adopted country ever since.

Last October, at the age of 41, Diver won the Melbourne Marathon in a time of 2:25:19, setting a course record and the fastest women’s marathon time ever recorded in Australia outside of the Sydney Olympics. It also makes her the second-fastest Irish woman in history over the distance.

In February of this year, Sinéad produced another amazing performance at the Marugame half-marathon in Japan, running a personal best and setting a new women’s over 40 record. 
Sinéad was recently announced in the elite line-up for the London Marathon in April and she has her sights firmly set on running at Tokyo 2020 after missing the Rio Olympics due to injury.
Photo credit: Riley Wolff, Tempo Journal




Dr. Lisa O'Donoghue is an award-winning scientist, co-inventor on six patents and founder and CEO of the UL spin-out company Votechnik. Lisa holds a first class honours degree in Materials Science and Technology and a Doctorate in High-Temperature Technology in Aero Gas Turbines Engine Applications.

In the course of her research at UL, Lisa became aware of the practical issues regarding the recycling of LCD screens – a process requiring manual disassembly which was highly inefficient as only four LCDs could be processed per hour per worker and which posed health risks due to inhalation and exposure to hazardous chemicals. Lisa invented ground-breaking automated technology which recycles sixty LCDs per hour. With the technology patented, Lisa founded Votechnik, which specialises in automated systems for recycling of LCDs for Worldwide markets.

Lisa’s many awards include: the Young Entrepreneur of Year Award (2010), Molex-Kriebel Award for Innovation in Global Business and Technology (2010) and the JCI Outstanding Young Person of the Year Award in Science and Technology in Ireland (2011).





Barbara Jones is Ambassador of Ireland to Mexico, with responsibilities for Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Peru, and Venezuela. Originally from Co. Wexford, Barbara has served nearly 30 years as a diplomat to become one of the highest ranking officials in the Department of Foreign Affairs, including postings in San Francisco, Luxembourg, London and New York. She has also worked as Head of Humanitarian Aid Policy and Joint-Secretary at the British-Irish Intergovernmental Secretariat in Belfast.

Last month, in her role as Ambassador, Barbara commemorated the Battle of Angostura and the role of the St. Patrick’s Battalion. In a moving commemoration at the spot where many Irish died 172 years ago, Barbara said “They will never be forgotten in Mexico and are central to our shared story”. In a recent interview with Pádraig Byrne in, Barbara said she believes Irish people are probably better placed than most to understand the feelings of the Mexican people. “It's one of many issues I feel we understand better being Irish. We have seen the impact of migration. We know about having a bigger economy next-door. Similarly, when I worked in New York, I saw first-hand the contribution of the Mexican people and of Latin American people as a whole to that wonderful city.” She continued “As Irish people we have experienced this ourselves and we feel great sympathy in relation to these prejudices. I think one of the things we work on is how to promote greater tolerance, there is a great solidarity with the Mexican people and these shared experiences are things that shape your values as a nation.”


Gena Heraty has completely dedicated her life to the children of Haiti, having worked there tirelessly for 26 years. Whilst working as a volunteer with the Simon Community, after graduating from UL, she was introduced to Our Little Brothers and Sisters (NPH/NPFS) charity and went to volunteer at its orphanage in Haiti. There are over 300 children living in the orphanage, and one home for 30 – 40 children with special needs. She began working in this Special Needs Unit and later became its Director. Generally, in Haiti, children with special needs are abandoned at hospitals. They are not abandoned because their mothers do not love them, but rather because their mothers do not have the means to take care of them.

Throughout her time in Haiti, Gena has worked to develop the Special Needs Programme, providing new opportunities for children and young people. She has also developed an outreach programme to provide medical, rehabilitation and educational support for over 100 families in the community where children have severe physical and/or intellectual disabilities.

Under her leadership, the Special Needs Programme in Haiti has grown to include educational, healthcare and residential services that support hundreds of vulnerable children and families in Port-au-Prince and beyond. Gena provides essential services in a way that truly honours human dignity. She does this with patience, integrity and grace in a very challenging environment. To the people of Haiti, Gena Heraty is quite simply one of their own. Her long-term presence here means more than any words or promises ever could. Her passionate commitment to their needs doesn’t waver; her impact - over half her lifetime - is immense. 



We love to hear about the accomplishments of our alumni. If you have any stories or experiences you would like to share, please get in touch by emailing


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