With over 200 peer-reviewed publications and links to industry, Professor Ward has a long track record in research and innovation. He has developed collaborative research programmes with industry and has led several national and EU funded international research consortia, such as the FP6 SigmaChain project on food chain integrity. He successfully bid for the Irish Government’s flagship Charles Parsons biomass-to-energy(b2e) programme (a €3 million fund plus €1 million “leveraged” from industry). The Charles Parsons programme focuses on biomass-to-energy, including the use of “smart systems” (viz. systems optimization using sensors, logic, cloud computing, etc.) to enhance the operational efficiency of energy systems within the agri-food sector.
Professor Ward recently completed a term as a member of the university’s Senior Management Team Executive (2008-2011), and Head (2008-2011) of UCD’s largest school, the UCD School of Agriculture, Food Science & Veterinary Medicine (including Biosystems Engineering). At its peak, this school had annual research and innovation expenditure of ca. €50 million, and annual operational budget of ca. €30 million. Professor Ward has a particular interest in the food v. fuel debate, which addresses the challenge of how to exploit the b2e potential of agriculture while also meeting the food needs of mankind and the output aspirations of the industry. This is particularly important in the context of the expansionary targets of the Irish Government’s Food Harvest 2020strategy.