John Desmond Bernal (1901 -1971)


The Bernal Project is named after John Desmond Bernal who was born in Nenagh, Co. Tipperary in 1901 - one of Ireland's most influential 20th century scientists.

Professor Bernal had a reputation as a selfless supporter of and mentor to young scientists. His peers affectionately referred to him as "Sage"

Download Biography of John Desmond Bernal

The Bernal Project

The Bernal Project is a €52 million strategic investment in research excellence at the University of Limerick. This investment will expand research capacity in Applied Sciences & Engineering through the provision of state-of-the art laboratory facilities (the Analog Devices Building) together with the creation of new Professorship positions (Bernal Chairs) to build a multi-disciplinary team of world-leading scientists and engineers at the University of Limerick.


The goal of the Bernal Project is to generate a world-wide reputation of research excellence for the University of Limerick, and particularly the Faculty of Science & Engineering, with outputs such as attractive career paths for research graduates, strong performing citation rates for scholarly publications, and meaningful contributions to the development of industry and prosperity in Ireland and the Shannon region.

Bernal Institute

The Bernal Project, together with Materials Surface Science Insitutute (MSSI) and Stokes Laboratories merged to form the Bernal Institute, established in June 2017 and launched by an Taoiseach, Enda Kenny, TD in November 2017.

For further details about the Bernal Institute please visit:

Strategic Research Areas

The Bernal Project is focused on generating real impact for Ireland in three strategic areas, namely:

  • Pharmaceutical Science & Engineering;
  • Modern Materials, Biomedical Materials and Engineering;
  • Energy and Sustainable Environment.

The Bernal Project has enabled the creation of new Professorships to lead research activity in these areas.  As Bernal Professors, these senior academic appointees have the ability to motivate, attract, mentor and work with a larger cohort of emerging academic staff as well as researchers and postgraduate students, building a critical mass of research activity at the University of Limerick.

Bernal Project | Investing in Excellent Infrastructure | the Analog Devices Building

The Bernal Project has sought to invest in research excellent throught the provision of state-of-the art scientific and engineering laboratory facilities.  This construction phase of the project commenced in the summer of 2013 to develop a 7,500m2 facility that will house fully-equipped scientific and engineering laboratories to enable teaching and research by the Bernal Professor and their research teams.  In addition to significant laboratory space the building will also provide offices and teaching facilities, including seminar rooms and a 200-seater lecture hall. 

The building project was successfully completed in June 2015. 

It was named the Analog Devices building in honour of US-headquartered semiconductor company, Analog Devices (ADI), following a major gift of €2million by the company to the UL Foundation. Referring to support of the new building, Vince Roche, President and Chief Executive Officer of ADI said: “Analog Devices and the University of Limerick have maintained a strong partnership for decades. This building is a beacon that will shine for many years to come, representing our shared enthusiasm for STEM and commitment to educating future generations”.

For further coverage of this event visit the UL archive


Download the Bernal Building Brochure

Impact of Bernal Project

The Bernal Project is a €52 million strategic investment in research excellence at the University of Limerick that will impact on economic, educational and social development, nationally and globally.

The positive benefits experienced thus far have been:

Job Creation:

During the construction phase over 170 positions have been created with a further 50 sustainable posts created by the project.

Providing an outstanding and distinctive student experience:

The Bernal Professors provide an outstanding and distinctive student experience through the delivery of undergraduate and postgraduate programmes infused with research.  New Co-operative Education placement links will be developed with sector-leading industrial partners and specialised taught programmes will be devised to attract international students.

Enhancing UL's Research Profile:

Building on their research experience, the Bernal Professors will enhance the University of Limerick's research profile through increased collaborations within and beyond UL to strengthen project activities and delivery.