Profile image of Professor Cathy Gormley-Heenan

Professor Cathy Gormley-Heenan

Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research and External Affairs)

Profile image of Professor Cathy Gormley-Heenan


Research & Impact


Institute for Research in Social Sciences


Room 08K17 Shore Road Newtownabbey Co. Antrim BT37 0QB



Professor Cathy Gormley-Heenan is the PVC for Research and Impact.

Cathy is responsible for developing and leading our research and impact strategies as a research led university, ensuring that Ulster University achieves its research targets, and that our research informs our teaching and benefits society locally and globally.

She is a Professor of Politics with research interests in the areas of political elites, peace processes, the politics of divided societies, public policy and governance. Until 2016 she was based in the School of Criminology, Politics & Social Policy at Ulster  where she was also Director of the Institute for Research in Social Sciences (IRiSS) from 2010-16. She is a regular political commentator for the BBC on both television and radio and has recently completed making a new radio programme for BBC World Service on Walls and Peace.

Cathy holds a first class honours degree in politics from Queen’s University, Belfast and an MPhil in Modern Middle East Studies with Arabic from Oxford University before becoming a UK Kennedy Scholar in the J.F.K. School of Government and Public Policy at Harvard University, USA. She also holds a PhD in History and International Affairs from Ulster University. She is a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy and the winner of the UK Political Studies Association’s Bernard Crick Award for Outstanding Teaching in 2007.

She has been elected and/or appointed to a number of national boards including the National Executive Committee of the UK’s Political Studies Association (PSA) from 2012-16 and is also a member of the UK’s Kennedy Scholars Association. Currently, Cathy serves on the boards of Matrix, the Northern Ireland Science Industry Panel; Catalyst Inc (formerly the Northern Ireland Science Park); and the UK government’s advisory body on EU Exit, Universities, Research and Innovation chaired by universities and science minister Jo Johnson, among other things.