Rising to the Sustainability Challenge - Panel Bios


Dr. Cara Augustenborg – Assistant Professor in Landscape Studies and Environmental Policy, UCD

Cara has a Doctorate in Environmental Science and Engineering from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). She received both a Fulbright Scholarship and Walsh Fellowship to conduct her doctoral research at Teagasc from 2003-2007. Since then, she has held a variety of roles in academia, Government, and the environmental NGO sector, including as Chairperson of Friends of the Earth Ireland and Friends of the Earth Europe until 2019. She is a member of Ireland’s Climate Change Advisory Council; a member of President Michael D. Higgins’ Council of State; and presenter of the environmental radio programme, ‘Down to Earth with Cara Augustenborg’, on Newstalk.


Prof John O’Halloran, President of UCC

A proud alumnus of University College Cork, John graduated with a degree in Zoology in 1984, a PhD in 1987 and was awarded a DSc for his published works in 2009. He has published almost 250 research papers and a number of books.

In September 2021 he was appointed President of University College Cork. Prior to taking up that role he had served as Interim President for one year and, prior to that, as Deputy President and Registrar since 2018. As Registrar, he had the privilege to lead a team of passionate people with responsibility for academic affairs and strategy of the university. He is Chair of the University Management Team and also chair a range of other UCC committees including the Athena SWAN Steering Group.

He was the founding Director of UCC’s Quercus Talented Students Programme. He is co-chair of the Green Campus Forum which has received many awards in recognition of its efforts to promote the Green Agenda at UCC, including the first green flag ever awarded to a university and our recent placing at 8th in the world in the prestigious Times Higher Education (THE) Impact Rankings.

Laura Burke – Director General of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA),

Laura was appointed in 2011 and served as a Director within the EPA since 2004. As Director General she has the responsibility to lead and strategically manage the EPA. Laura is the Chair of the European Environment Agency (EEA) Management Board. Prior to joining the EPA, she worked in the private sector. Laura is a graduate chemical engineer of University College Dublin (UCD), holds an MSc from Trinity College, Dublin, is a Fellow of the Institute of Engineers of Ireland and is a Chartered Director. In 2016 Laura was awarded the UCD Engineering Graduates Association (EGA) Distinguished Graduate Award.

Ross Boyd – Vice President for Community & Citizenship in DCU Students’ Union.

Ross’s remit includes accommodation, volunteering and sustainability, ensuring student experiences can be as good outside the lecture halls as inside them. An avid cyclist, he has been involved in activism for the past four years on Sustainability as well as being a An Taisce Climate Ambassador. He also was recently elected to the Union of Students in Ireland as Vice President-Elect for Campaigns, which he will be taking up upon finishing his role in the SU next month.

Jennifer Boyer -inaugural Vice President of Sustainability at Ireland’s first Technological University, TU Dublin.  

As a member of the University Executive Team (UET), Jennifer actively contributes to delivering on the University’s mission and shares responsibility for evolving the overall University Strategy. As Vice President for Sustainability at TU Dublin, Jennifer provides leadership, strategic direction and oversight for the coordination and management of the University’s activities in relation to sustainability, across both professional services and academic domains. Jennifer is responsible for positioning the University as a leader and voice for sustainability, a way of living and working in a new, more balanced way, a way that protects our planet for future generations.

Most recently in her role as Assistant Head of School, responsible for the professional programmes in Architecture at TU Dublin, she enjoyed working with students and colleagues to develop the new Master of Architecture and implementing major curriculum revision to the Bachelor of Architecture to embed the UN Sustainable Development Goals 2030 and address the challenges of climate change. As practice Director at Murray O’Laoire Architects, Jennifer managed the Central European office and directed large multi-disciplinary design teams to deliver sustainable mixed-use urban design projects for commercial clients and government agencies around the world.

Jennifer’s active research interests reside within the potential integration of change management, innovation and entrepreneurship to achieve models of sustainable practice. Her experience of professional practice, teaching, programme development and academic management has given her an understanding of the importance of practice-based, project-led student learning as essential to developing relevant, creative and responsible graduates. She is a registered architect, an active community organiser, a sustainability advocate and a firm believer that every person’s future is brighter with the gift of education.

Jennifer is a graduate from Cornell University’s Bachelor of Architecture programme in 2001, sitting her Professional Registration exams in Ireland at University College Dublin in 2007. She completed her MBA as an Aspire Scholar at the Michael Smurfit School of Business, UCD in 2014.