Associate Professor of Medical Physics, RCSI

Professor Kevin McGuigan is Associate Professor in the RCSI Department of Physiology & Medical Physics and Director of the RCSI Solar Disinfection Research Group which develops appropriate technology interventions against waterborne disease in developing countries such as Uganda, Kenya, Zimbabwe, S. Africa and Cambodia funded by the EU and the Irish government.
A graduate of Maynooth University, he studied with Profesor Martin Henry at DCU for his PhD. He is a Fellow of the Institute of Physics (IOP) and was previously chair of Institute of Physics in Ireland from 2011 to 2013. He is currently co-chair of the Institute of Physics in the UK.


Professor McGuigan recently received the first ever Higher Doctorate (DSc) awarded by DCU. The DSc was awarded in recognition of his published research over the past 20 years.
He has published over 60 refereed articles in peer-reviewed journals and holds an adjunct Senior Lecturer in Medical Physics position with the School of Physical Sciences in DCU.
Professor McGuigan is coordinator of a €3.6 million EU H2020 project WATERSPOUTT involving 3U Global Health researchers at DCU, Maynooth University and RCSI aimed at developing low-cost technologies to provide affordable access to safe drinking water in remote and vulnerable communities throughout Sub-Saharan Africa and other resource-poor countries.
Professor McGuigan’s research was recently featured in The Irish Times article “Research Lives: Even Irish sunlight can be used to kill bacteria in water in glass or plastic bottles”. Click here to read full story in The Irish Times.
For list of Research Publications click here

3U recently caught up with Professor Kevin McGuigan to ask him a few questions about his job in the Department of Physiology and Medical Physics in RCSI and as one of the key academics leading the 3U Global Health research agenda.

Briefly describe what your current job entails?
As an Associate Professor in the RCSI Dept. of Physiology & Medical Physics, I teach Physics on the Medicine, Pharmacy and Physiotherapy programmes. In my research I am the director of the RCSI Solar Disinfection Research Group which develops appropriate technology interventions against waterborne disease for use in developing countries. I specialize in running field studies to evaluate these technologies and have completed Health Impact Studies in Uganda, Kenya, Zimbabwe, South Africa and Cambodia. These studies were funded by the EU, the Irish Government and philanthropic donations. As the RCSI coordinator of 3U Global Health, in concert with Professor Honor Fagan (Maynooth University) and Dr Brid Quilty (DCU) we promote and support any developing country-related research activities involving researchers based in the 3U partner campuses.


Have there been any recent developments in your career?
In August 2014, I was appointed as Cycle Director for: (i) the RCSI Foundation Year (FY) Programs in RCSI (Dublin), RCSI – Bahrain and Penang Medical College – Malaysia); (ii) the RCSI International Medical/Pharmacy Commencement Programmes (IMCP) in IT Tralee and RCSI – Bahrain. Basically I am responsible for all academic activities in the first two years (IMCP & FY) of the RCSI medical programme. That should sort out any spare time I had planned for the next 4 years. In June 2014, I was elected onto the Council of the Institute of Physics. The Institute of Physics is a leading scientific society promoting physics in the UK and Ireland, bringing physicists together for the benefit of all. It has a worldwide membership of around 50,000 comprising physicists from all sectors, as well as those with an interest in physics. It works to advance physics research, application and education; and engages with policy makers and the public to develop awareness and understanding of physics. In light of my extensive activities in developing countries the IOP has given me the task of being the Council member with responsibility for international aspects of the IOP strategic plan over the coming 4 years.


Why did you choose this particular career?
I was a child of the Apollo space programme era and was always fascinated by science and the natural world. The thing that eventually pointed me in the direction of Physics was not understanding how they put the stripes in striped toothpaste. It took me four years of undergraduate physics in Maynooth University and 4 years of postgraduate physics in DCU to finally understand how they do it (Pascal’s Principle).


What career might you have chosen if you weren’t in?
Scuba diving instructor somewhere warm. As a kid I wanted to be in the Garda Siochana but my eyesight wasn’t good enough.


Where are you from originally?
I was born in Leeds in the UK. My parents are both Irish and they moved back to Drogheda when I was 6 years old, which is where I was brought up. Louth & Proud!


What public figure do you most admire and why?
David Attenborough. He has spent a lifetime being paid to document the most spectacular and rapidly disappearing natural phenomena. He is universally loved and you’ve never heard anyone say a bad thing about him.


Do you have any hobbies?
All stereotypical nerd-like activities such as: In summer – Bat detecting – I have an ultrasound bat detector which allows me to hear their echo location emissions and from that identify species and activity (navigation or hunting). All year-Astronomy (often at the same time as the bat-detecting). Cinema.


What kind of music do you like?
I will listen to almost any music except musical theatre & opera. My own personal Hell would be to have to watch Phantom of the Opera or Cats. I have a special fondness for Prince.


If you could go anywhere in the world where would you go?
Mexico, in a heartbeat. My developing world research has brought me to some of the most interesting places imaginable but the nicest place by far (in terms of people, culture, music, weather, food) was Mexico and in particular the Mayan temples at Chichenitza in the Yucatan peninsula.

Associate Professor of Medical Physics, RCSI and 3U Global Health Researcher