Four sisters graduate from same course at University of Limerick

Dr Sally Ryan ( BSc Industrial Biochemistry 2016/ PhD 2020), Rosaleen Ryan and Anna Ryan (BSc Industrial Biochemistry 2022), Kate Ryan (BSc Industrial Biochemistry 2018)

SIBLINGS may often disagree but for four sisters the Bachelor of Science in Industrial Biochemistry at University of Limerick has proven to be the perfect pathway for all their ambitions.

As almost 3,300 new graduates were conferred at UL over five days of the 2022 Autumn Conferring Ceremonies this week, one family had extra reason to celebrate.

The Ryan family from Killaloe reached a significant milestone as twin sisters Anna and Rosaleen graduated from the BSc course in Industrial Biochemistry on Monday.

While it wouldn’t be too uncommon for siblings to complete the same course of study, in the case of Anna and Rosaleen they were following a career path that their two older sisters had previously walked before them.

Their sister Kate completed the BSc in Industrial Biochemistry in 2018 and eldest sister Sally also graduated from the programme in 2016, later gaining a doctorate in the field in 2020.

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Commenting on the family’s obvious love of science Anna said: “We all had an interest in science from the beginning, we went to St Anne’s Secondary School in Killaloe and got a great foundation in the science subjects.”

However, it wasn’t just in secondary school that the family learned about the career opportunities in industrial biochemistry.

“One of my aunts is a biochemist so when Sally was looking at third level courses, she encouraged her to go into it. And it kind of stemmed from there,” Anna added.

To complete the Bachelor of Science in Industrial Biochemistry students must come through the common entry system, whereby they try several subjects in the first year and then decide to specialise in one area.

“There was bioscience, pharmaceutical, environmental and biochemistry. And we just happened to choose biochemistry. It’s really interesting because you learn about diseases, you learn the causes and why it happens in the body. And then you learn how it works in industry,” said Anna.

UL was the perfect destination for the siblings due to the employment and work experience opportunities available in the wider Limerick area.

“UL is just so good, but there are so many pharmaceutical and medical device companies around Limerick that it really just encourages you to go onto this area,” Anna noted.

Professor Tewfik Soulimane, Head of the Department of Chemical Sciences, who lectured each of the sisters during their time in UL, said the programme was a popular one.

“We look after our students in terms of mentoring, coaching and supporting them and we see the benefits from that. We have difficulty holding on to graduates to complete Masters and PhD programmes with us as the demand from industry is so great.

“I am more than 30 years in education, and I have never encountered this before where a number of siblings come into the same programme and they are happy and successful.

“I was delighted to see them back at our celebration in the Department after graduation and I congratulated their parents whom I have come to know, as they have come to so many graduations over the years,” Professor Soulimane added.

And as for the future? Anna is now pursuing a PhD in Trinity College while Rosaleen aims to work in the thriving Biomedical industry, just like her siblings Sally and Kate.