First director appointed to Bernal Institute

First director appointed to Bernal Institute


Luuk van der Wielen

Professor Luuk van der Wielen has been appointed director of the Bernal Institute at University of Limerick.

The €86 million institute, which was launched in November by An Taoiseach Enda Kenny, TD, houses more than 260 researchers who work across research themes of advanced materials, manufacturing and process engineering and fluid dynamics.

Professor van der Wielen takes up the position of Director of Bernal Institute and Bernal Professor of Biosystems Engineering and Design from today (Wednesday, February 1). He was appointed at Delft University of Technology in 1992 and will retain a part-time position as Distinguished Professor in Bioeconomy and Bioprocess Engineering. His work in Delft has been consistently ranked as excellent by consecutive national research evaluations and has resulted in several spin-off companies.

Van der Wielen’s research interests include various engineering topics in bio-renewables production systems, and their societal impacts. He has led the BE-Basic Foundation since 2004, a globally-operating private-public research organisation for biobased sustainable industrial chemistry, food, energy and materials, which is based in the Netherlands with hubs in South East Asia and Brazil and a cumulative budget exceeding € 250 million. He has held several visiting professorships in South-East Asia.

Speaking following his appointment, Luuk highlighted the potential of the institute, “The Bernal Institute has the ambition to impact the world beneficially on the basis of top science in an increasingly international context. My positions at BE-Basic, Shell, our starters and Delft University of Technology have taught me that scientific excellence, intensive collaboration with industry, and positive climate impact can go hand-in-hand. The Bernal Institute will create the opportunities and the means to deliver this in its focus areas of research. The impact will potentially be at a global level, and I trust that the link to the BE-Basic international network will help tremendously”.

UL President, Professor Don Barry stated, “Impact in the real world with real benefits for real people is the key target of the Bernal Institute. Professor van der Wielen’s long experience at the public-private interface will help to build the Bernal Institute with the ambition to advance the university’s reputation for research excellence, while continuously developing research that has a positive impact on industry, society and the local, national and international communities we serve”.

As part of the institute’s development plan, ten world-leading researchers will be recruited as Bernal Chairs to the university. To date, seven have been appointed, two of whom have received prestigious Science Foundation Ireland Research Professorships.