Who We Are

Dr Joanne Fearon is a programme manager with the AFGDP and has over 7 years experience in the development of policy and content for this specialised skills joannetraining programme and has been involved in the development and delivery including:
Building and administering a database of participants and high quality providers
Programme design and delivery of transferrable skills training
Development of learning outcomes, assessment methods, course design, accreditation and eLearning components
Design and delivery of evaluation and impact studies
Scheduling, reporting, budgetary control and completion tracking for AFGDP

Before joining the AFGDP, Joanne was assistant Junior Dean in Trinity College and worked for the Centre for Academic Practice and Student learning there.


Julie Dowsett has been a programme manager with the AFGDP from its inception in 2006. Previously she worked for 19 years as a senior hospital dietitian. She has a BSc and julie dowsettMSc in Human Nutrition, a Diploma in Digital Marketing and a Certificate in Leadership and Management.

Julie has an extensive network of contacts in the Agri-Food sector from health, medicine, academia, contacts in the food industry and governmental agencies with relevance to the sector. In addition she has developed a portfolio of support in the area of transferable skills. These include technology transfer, knowledge transfer, innovation and entrepreneurship, communications, leadership, project management, team management, time management, media services, and digital media.

Julie has over 20 years experience in lecturing students and health professionals and continues to lecture on the undergraduate Nutrition Degree Programme in UCD.


Professor Alan Kelly is currently Coordinator of the AFGDP, and was one of the original proposers of the programme.

He is Professor in the School of Food and Nutritional Sciences in UCC. In July 2009, he received the Danisco International Dairy Science award from the American Dairy Science AlanKellyAssociation for his contributions to research in dairy science and technology. He has also won awards in UCC for Excellence in Teaching (2004) and Leadership (2011).

From 2006-2013, Professor Kelly was Dean of Graduate Studies of UCC, with responsibility for institutional graduate education strategy. In this capacity, he led the reform of academic policies and procedures for the realisation of Fourth-Level Ireland at UCC, and introduced a wide range of measures relating to student recruitment, training and support, supervisor support, development of postgraduate programmes, and creation of inter-institutional graduate education networks. He has been closely involved in the introduction of a large suite of generic postgraduate training modules at UCC, and has personally delivered courses, particularly in scientific writing and communication, to a range of groups in UCC and other Irish institutions. His role as Dean also involved considerable interaction and representation of UCC at National and international levels.


Professor Dolores O’Riordan is the Director of Training for the Agri Food Graduate Development Programme. Dolores worked in a research and development capacity in thedolores oriordan Ingredients Food Industry for 6 years and joined UCD in 1995. She secured €26million from competitively won for research in the area of food ingredients/health inducing food ingredients. She has supervised 36 postgraduates and 20 postdoctoral fellows and published 263 peer-reviewed publications (80as major author peer reviewed papers). Her current research is conducted in association with 14 food companies.

She was Director of Teaching and Learning for the faculty of Agriculture and Food Science from 2001-2010 and led the reform of the curriculum. As Dean of Research and Innovation in Agriculture and Food Science (2011-2103) she developed training modules for postgraduates consistent with the requirement for structured PhDs. In 2013 she led the development of an e–learning MSc in Food and Health and is Ireland’s representative in the European ISEKI food training network. She is a member of senior UCD boards for graduate studies and is intimately involved in developing strategies and regulations for graduate and staff training.

As Director of UCD’s Institute of Food and Health she co-ordinates all UCD’s research activities in Food and Health which trains approximately 150 post graduates and 50 postdoctorates per annum.


Dr John Finn is Director of Post Graduate Training for the AFGDP. He is a senior researcher with Teagasc, where he works on agri-environmental policy and practice. John John Finnhas had a long interest in the provision of professional development for early career researcher. Within Teagasc, John has initiated a number of training courses for PhD students and supervisors. He has published a book ‘Getting a PhD’ that supports PhD researchers, and both he and Alan Kelly have hosted the PhD Skills blog since 2014. John has been a Principal Investigator or partner in a range of national and EU projects. He has been Principal Investigator on several Research Stimulus Fund projects, and has been a partner in several EU projects (EU FP7 FLINT, AranLIFE, KerryLIFE, EU FP7 AnimalChange, BurrenLIFE, EU FP6 AE-Footprint, EU FP6 ITAES, EU COST Action 852).