A picture of Professor Lionel Briand, Director of Lero
Professor Lionel Briand has been appointed to the role of Director of Lero and Professor of Software Engineering in UL’s Department of Computer Science and Information Systems
Thursday, 26 October 2023

A leading Canadian academic has been appointed to a key role at University of Limerick and Lero, the world leading Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) Research Centre for Software hosted by UL.

Professor Lionel Briand, who has 30 years of experience on trustworthy software and AI research, has been appointed to the role of Director of Lero and Professor of Software Engineering in UL’s Department of Computer Science and Information Systems.

He will take up his new role in January 2024, succeeding Professor Brian Fitzgerald.

Professor Briand’s research has been particularly focused on ensuring the reliability, safety, and security of complex, AI-enabled systems, much of it in collaboration with industry partners and he is a previous European Research Council (ERC) Advanced grant awardee, the most prestigious individual research funding grant in the European Union.

As well as an exemplary research career, Professor Briand also has an excellent track record in education and has been the main supervisor of 37 PhD students to date. He has received many awards across his career including, significantly, Fellowship of the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM), Fellowship of the Institute for Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), The IEEE Computer Society Harlan Mills award, The ACM SIGSOFT Outstanding Research Award and The Fellowship of the Academy of Science, Royal Society of Canada.

Professor Briand, who currently holds a prestigious Canada Research Chair, said Lero’s achievements since its foundation in 2005 have been remarkable.

“Ireland has an excellent reputation for software research and much of that stems from Lero. In a country with such a proportionally large high-tech industry, Lero’s role as a national centre of excellence focused on software research, including AI aspects, is pivotal,” explained Professor Briand.

“Professor Fitzgerald’s leadership of the centre, with the unwavering support of University of Limerick and other key academic institutions in Ireland, as well as many industry partners and Science Foundation Ireland, has led to remarkable achievements for Lero.

“I see Lero’s role as a catalyser for research excellence and impact. I am thrilled, as the new director, to have the opportunity to work with Lero’s excellent network of researchers as well as new and existing industry partners to lead the centre to new heights,” he said.

Welcoming his appointment Vice President Research at University of Limerick, Professor Norelee Kennedy, said: “Professor Briand’s expertise and interest in trustworthy software and AI will further elevate Lero’s leadership position in the field.

“His varied and impressive research credentials covering everything from software testing and verification – including security and safety aspects – to trustworthy AI, means we all have much to learn from him, while his extensive work with industry makes him a particularly good fit for Lero and UL.

“Professor Briand’s appointment reaffirms UL’s commitment to research as outlined in our research strategy Wisdom for Action, in which our strategic goals include enhancing our research culture, championing excellence, developing our research impact and external partnerships and attracting the best of talent.

“As we begin a new chapter, I would like to thank Professor Brian Fitzgerald for his work and dedication at the helm of Lero,” she added.

Dr Siobhan Roche, Director Science for Economy, SFI said: “On behalf of SFI, I warmly welcome UL’s appointment of Professor Lionel Briand as Director of Lero. It is wonderful to see someone with Professor Briand’s experience being appointed to the position. He will bring a wealth of invaluable knowledge and expertise to the role and to the team at Lero.”

“This in turn will have a positive impact on Irish software and AI research and further enhance Ireland’s international reputation for excellence in research and innovation. I would also like to thank Professor Brian Fitzgerald for his superb stewardship as Director of Lero over the last eight years.”

Professor Brian Fitzgerald said he was delighted that Lero had secured the leadership of a renowned academic with a world-class research background.

“Academic research is the gateway through which Ireland can secure its position as one of the world’s great software developing nations and can provide the means of solving many of the world’s pressing problems,” Professor Fitzgerald said.

“Professor Briand’s appointment is not just good news for Lero and UL, but also for software research across Lero’s 12 partner higher education institutions and for Ireland as a whole,” he concluded.