Professor O’Reilly, currently Head of the School of Chemistry at the University and a Fellow of the Royal Society, will be the second female professor to have held the role in recent years.
Professor Adam Tickell, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Birmingham, said: “I am delighted that Rachel will be taking up this important post in which she will be pivotal to driving forward the University’s research agenda. Rachel brings a wealth of leadership and research experience to the role, as well as the energy and creativity we will need to sustain – and build upon – our recent successes in the Research Excellence Framework.”
During her time in the School of Chemistry, Professor O’Reilly has led a group undertaking research in the fields of catalysis, responsive polymers and DNA nanomaterials. Since the start of her career she has published over 200 papers and has received awards including the American Chemical Society Mark Young Polymer Scientist award (2013); and the 2020 RSC Corday-Morgan Prize.
This is an exciting time to be taking up the role of Pro-Vice Chancellor as the University starts to embed its 2030 Strategic Framework and take firm steps towards delivering its aspiration of becoming one of the world’s leading universities. I’m very much looking forward to playing my part in achieving these ambitions.Professor Rachel O'Reilly, University of Birmingham
A Cambridge graduate, Professor O’Reilly completed a PhD at Imperial College, London, before moving to the US to take up a post-doctoral research position at IBM and Washington University in St Louis. She returned to the UK to pursue an independent research career at the University of Cambridge and later the University of Warwick. She moved to the University of Birmingham in 2018.
She said: “This is an exciting time to be taking up the role of Pro-Vice Chancellor as the University starts to embed its 2030 Strategic Framework and take firm steps towards delivering its aspiration of becoming one of the world’s leading universities. I’m very much looking forward to playing my part in achieving these ambitions.”
In the latest Research Excellence Framework (REF2021), which evaluates the quality and impact of research in UK universities, Birmingham was ranked 10th among all Russell Group universities. It was ranked equal 13th in the UK for 4* research, with more than 50% of its research recognised in the highest 4* category.