Ronan McGrath is a Professor of Physics at the University of Liverpool and a member of the Surface Science Research Centre.

He earned a B.A. (Moderatorship) in Theoretical Physics from Trinity College Dublin in 1983, and a PhD from the same institution in 1988. Following a year teaching physics and maths at A-level in Bath, he returned to Trinity as a PhD student in surface physics. He spent a year of his PhD in the Fritz Haber Institute of the Max Planck Society in Berlin and graduated in 1988. He was a post-doctoral member of the technical staff at AT&T Bell Laboratories in Murray Hill in New Jersey from 1988-1990, after which he was appointed to a Lectureship in physics at the University of Liverpool and progressed to be awarded a personal chair in 2004. His leadership experience includes the post of Head of the Department of Physics (2008-2011), where he contributed to the development of the Stephenson Institute for Renewable EnergyFrom 2012-2018 he served as Dean of the School of Physical Sciences . The School of Physical Sciences comprises the departments of chemistry, mathematical sciences and physics, with 150 academic staff and an annual turnover of £40m.

His research career initially focused on the properties of semiconductor surfaces as a PhD student with Prof. Iggy McGovern. He then moved on to study the role of alkali metals in catalytic processes and since about 2000 has studied quasicrystals and related complex metallic alloys. He has published around 145 papers and is a member of several international advisory boards. He has extensive experience of working at international facilities including ERSF, Brookhaven National Laboratory, and Diamond, where he was a member of a working group for the construction of one of the surface physics beamlines.

He is a Fellow of the Institute of Physics, a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy, and a member of the Council and Senate of the University of Liverpool. He has been a member of the Board of the Cockcroft Institute and  chair of the Board of the Knowledge Centre for Materials Chemistry. He served as a member of the Technical Advisory Committee of the Centre for Process Innovation, and is a member of the Liverpool City Region Science and Innovation Audit Delivery Group. He is secretary-general of the CMAC European Network on Complex Metallic Alloys and a governor of Childwall Abbey School