The Vice-Principal for Internationalisation has worked at the University of Aberdeen for 41 years and brought his time at the institution to a close as academic lead for the successful British Science Festival.
Professor Houlihan was instrumental in securing the British Science festival for Aberdeen and his service to science engagement earned him an OBE in 2010.
He said he was delighted by the success of the British Science festival and hoped it would have a lasting legacy for the city.
“I’ve been lucky to enjoy a career as a zoologist which has now spanned more than four decades but I can still pinpoint what set me off on path to become a scientist.
“I was taken by my school to what was then Imperial Cancer Research and for the first time I saw experiments happening in real life and in front of my own eyes.
“It was a revelation and far removed from the view I had of white coats and laboratories. This was real discovery in action and from that moment on I knew that science was for me.
“Having experienced it first hand, I am a big believer in what I call the ‘gee-whiz’ moment, when the penny drops and a young person realises they are seeing something they’ve never experienced before.
“If you give people a chance to see science and discovery happening, you can almost see the light bulbs going on in their heads and for six days the Festival was full of moments and memories like these.”
Professor Houlihan said he had never imagined staying in Aberdeen for so long and was delighted to go out o such a high.
“I came to Aberdeen as a young researcher in 1970 to join what was then a relatively small university in a city which was all about fishing and agriculture,” he added.
“Forty years later both have changed almost beyond recognition with the University’ student population standing at more than 16,000 and the city firmly established as an oil capital.
“I never imagined I would stay for 41 years but I’ve enjoyed my time here. I just couldn’t have missed the festival. It’s been a lot of fun, and it has been great to be a part of.”