Science and Politics in 20th Century Ireland

The RDS Boyle Medal an an Indicator of Esteem

Roy H W Johnston

Appendix 3: Note on the Author

Roy H W Johnston BA BSc PhD FInstP CIEI graduated from Trinity College Dublin in 1951 with Double Moderatorship, Physics and Maths; awarded PhD in 1955.

Work Experience divides into five stages:

1. 1951-60 Development of experimentation-technology in high-energy physics;

2. 1960-63 Industrial process development;

3. 1963-70: Development of a computer-based approach to techno-economic analysis;

4. 1970-76 Generalisation of the above to other industries; development of linkages with the TCD postgraduate system in the Statistics and Operations Research context;

5. 1976 to date: generalisation of the above experience towards the development and marketing of interdisciplinary applied research; development of a matrix-type concept of project management; regional development and technology transfer consultancy; relational database and expert system development, knowledge engineering.

The combined experience of periods 4 and 5 may be summarised as 'broad spectrum applied-research consultancy', both individual and leading interdisciplinary teams, at the university-industry interface: R & D brokerage, techno-economic analysis (as aid to investment decisions), problem analysis for industry, R and D support for innovative enterprise, prototype development; policy development for State agencies; special-purpose databases; feasibility studies; linkage development and technology transfer.

Areas covered include logistic systems, agriculture, food processing, fisheries, continuing education for engineers, applied genetics (foodcrops and livestock), milled peat production, renewable energy (particularly biomass).

An important promotional activity for the utility of applied science in Irish economic development was the weekly column 'Science and Technology' which ran in the Irish Times 1970-76.

There are some 14 publications in scientific learned journals from the nuclear physics period and 3 patents from the industrial period. There are 2 more patents arising from the current 'knowledge engineering' period with IMS, an Irish software firm based in Glenageary, founded in 1984 and employing 75 people in 1999, specialising in networked knowledge-intensive applications.

In the industrial period 1960-70, although publications were few, one of significance was in the proceedings of the 1965 Chicago AGIFORS conference, in which queue-theory was used in modelling the performance of a real-time computer system in a stochastic environment. This I think was a global 'first'. It began to become fashionable in the early 70s among the academic computer science community, who rediscovered the principle. However I don't think my Agifors paper, being somewhat obscure, was ever cited.

The scientific publications include 4 which relate to instrumentation and measurement system development. There is a more recent publication based on an approach to computerised scientific manpower planning, with direct access to Census tapes.

Recent interest (from about 1980) in the socio-cultural history of science in the Irish context has generated several publications, including one on the early Irish influences on the Irish scientist J D Bernal FRS, published in the RS Notes and Records (1994). An expanded version of this paper is a chapter in a multi-author biography published by Verso (1999). A further development of this theme was a paper at a 2006 seminar in Limerick commemorating Bernal, organised by the Irish branch of the Institute of Physics.

There are 8 reports to conferences and seminars based on work done in the recent consultancy period.

There are 27 pieces of commissioned work, of which 10 involved the development of special-purpose software packages, 3 were feasibility studies, and one major co-ordinated interdisciplinary problem investigation; the remainder are reports, mostly for State agencies.

There are numerous published popularisations and discussion papers, mostly relating to aspects of science, technology and society.

A selection from the above is available on demand.

Memberships (Technical/Professional):

Institute of Physics (Fellow); Institution of Engineers of Ireland (Companion); Operations Research and Management Science Society of Ireland (President 1971 and again in 1990; member of International Programme Committee for the IFORS conference held in Dublin in 1972); Statistical and Social Inquiry Society of Ireland, Science Committee of the RDS.

Address: c/o Techne Associates, 17 Rathmines Park, Dublin 6.
Phone: +353-1-444-9235; E-mail address:

Copyright (c) Roy Johnston. Web version re-edited June 2011; further editing for printed puiblication is not excluded.

[Overview of Century] [Table of Contents] [Techne Home Page]

Some navigational notes:

In any of the modules, if a highlighted word is accompanied by a number, it brings up a footnote or a reference. If a highlighted word is not accompanied by a number, it will bring you to a related module. If you click on the 'Back' button it will bring to to the point of departure in the module from which you came.