Friday, 28 April 2017

Robot MARIO to Feature as Part of Clinical Trials Competition for Primary School Students

The Health Research Board – Trials Methodology Research Network (HRB-TMRN), based in NUI Galway, will host the Schools Teaching Awareness of Randomised Trials (START) competition on Friday, 19 May, 2017. As part of this event, students will be given the opportunity to meet MARIO, a companion robot designed to support people with dementia mitigate the effects of loneliness and isolation, and view a demonstration of his various abilities, including playing music and reading the news. The START competition, now in its second year, invites 4th, 5th and 6th class students and their teachers to design, carry out and evaluate their very own clinical trial. Participation in this competition meets several key aspects of the school curriculum including Maths, Science, English, Irish, Information Communication Technology and Social, Personal and Health Education. The MARIO project aims to manage active and healthy ageing through the use of caring service robots. It is funded by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme, within the thematic section ‘Societal Challenge on Health, Demographic Change and Wellbeing’. Many people with dementia live meaningful lives and retain many abilities if a supportive   psycho-social environment exists. MARIO aims to support people with dementia through companionship, stimulating social engagement and social connectedness and prompting older people with dementia to engage in meaningful activities. This is achieved through interactions through the use of speech and touch-screen technology. Through these interactions MARIO enables people with dementia to read their favourite newspapers, listen to their favourite songs, provide reminders of upcoming events, and connect with their friends and families. MARIO is currently undergoing pilot testing in Ireland, England, and Italy, where he is interacting with people with dementia in hospitals, community nursing homes, and residential care settings. Speaking about the MARIO project, Professor Dympna Casey from the School of Nursing and Midwifery at NUI Galway, said: “MARIO has evolved over the last 12 months with the input of people with dementia who have actively engaged with us to help him become a suitable companion robot for people with dementia, and we are thrilled to now give students the opportunity to meet and get up close and personal with MARIO!” For further information please visit:, or follow on Facebook at and Twitter @mario__project. -Ends-

News Archive

Monday, 24 April 2017

A new film has been produced, with the support of the Huston School of Film & Digital Media at NUI Galway, featuring the extraordinary work of the Blood Cancer Network Ireland (BCNI). Clinical Trials – A Patient’s Perspective brings viewers, from the perspective of a current patient, Christopher McEvilly from Oughterard in Co. Galway, into the life-saving research and work carried out by the BCNI. The film’s producer, Dr Seán Crosson, Acting Director of the Huston School of Film & Digital Media at NUI Galway, said: “The Huston School was delighted to be able to support the production of this important film as part of an ongoing research and outreach project in the school exploring the role of digital media in healthcare. As evident in the film, the BCNI is providing Irish blood cancer patients with access to novel and innovative cancer treatments through the provision of early phase clinical trials. Clinical Trials – A Patient’s Perspective gives an insight into one clinical trial patient’s perspective of this life-saving process.” Professor Michael O'Dwyer, Director of Blood Cancer Network Ireland at NUI Galway, said: “A new diagnosis of blood cancer can be frightening and unsettling. This short film captures perfectly one patient’s perspective and positive experience of clinical trials and should help other patients who find themselves in this situation. We are very thankful to Seán and Dieter of the Huston School of Film & Digital Media for making this uplifting film.” The Huston School of Film & Digital Media is the leading centre for research and teaching in film and digital media in the West of Ireland. The school offers teaching and research programmes at both undergraduate and postgraduate levels (up to PhD), including pioneering MA degrees in Film Studies: Theory and Practice, Film Production and Direction, Digital Media, Arts Policy and Practice, Public Advocacy and Activism, and Film and Theatre. Clinical Trials – A Patient’s Perspective is directed by Huston School lecturer Dieter Auner and produced by Huston’s Acting Director Dr Seán Crosson. To view the film visit: where further information on the BCNI and clinical trials is also available. For more information about the Huston School of Film & Digital Media visit:  -Ends-

Monday, 24 April 2017

 The lecture will be delivered by Professor Wendy Bracewell from University College London NUI Galway will host a public lecture entitled ‘Travellers, travellees, and travelling texts: Eastern Europe and the Republic of Letters’. The lecture, which will be delivered by Professor Wendy Bracewell of the School of Slavonic and East European Studies, University College London, will take place on Thursday, 4May at 6.30pm in the Dillon Lecture Theatre, Arts Science Building. While many eastern European countries now form part of the EU and many Eastern Europeans now live in Galway, not so long ago, Eastern Europe was seen as very far removed from Western Europe. The notion of a deep cultural and political division between eastern and Western Europe goes back to the eighteenth century. Professor Bracewell shows that eastern Europeans themselves vigorously rejected the idea that they were in any way different or inferior to western Europeans. She suggests that the depictions of Eastern Europe and the reactions to them can teach us much about what the notions of ‘eastern’ and ‘western’ Europe mean.   A renowned historian of travel, Professor Bracewell makes a virtue of finding the humour in history. She published an anthology, Where to Go in Europe, which featured amusing accounts of European travellers grappling with foreign toilet facilities. Professor Bracewell also traced the fantastic trope of women throwing their long, pendulous breasts over their shoulders to feed their children in travel accounts from Tasmania to Croatia. Her book on banditry in the sixteenth-century Adriatic has been recommended to modern-day travellers by the Rough Guide to Croatia. The lecture marks the beginning of a conference entitled ‘Journeys’, to be held at the University’s Moore Institute from 4-6 May. The conference is organised by NUI Galway’s Dr Róisín Healy on behalf of the Irish Association for Russian, Central and East European Studies. Dr Healy said: “The University is especially pleased to host the conference this year.  The centenary of the Russian Revolution, sparked by that most famous of journeys, Lenin’s train journey from Switzerland to the Finland Station in Petrograd.”  For further information please visit or email for registration details. -Ends-

Monday, 24 April 2017

NUI Galway’s School of Natural Sciences Bio-EXPLORERS programme, in collaboration with Kitchen Chemistry, is now taking bookings for its three Summer Science Camps. The camps take place from the 3–7 July, 10–14 July with the third taking place on the 17–21 July. The camp is open to all young scientists aged between 8 and 13 years old. Participants will get a chance to work as real scientists by performing and analysing experiments in a real research environment.  The Bio-EXPLORERS programme is composed of two science communication and public engagement initiatives: Cell EXPLORERS directed by Dr Muriel Grenon and Eco-EXPLORERS directed by Dr Michel Dugon. With Dr Michel Dugon, the host of the RTÉ’s Bug Hunters, children will participate in activities such as discovering live local and exotic plants and animals, studying their habitats, and understanding how they interact with their environment. With the dynamic team of Cell EXPLORERS, children will learn how cells make our bodies work. They will run their own experiments, build models, observe their own cells under microscopes and extract DNA from cells. Each camp will also include a session with Kitchen Chemistry, from NUI Galway’s School of Chemistry, who run fun, hands-on experiments that bring chemistry to life! The primary goal of these NUI Galway science outreach programmes is to inspire interest in science in the general public and to impact positively on science education. All three programmes run activities designed to engage children in a hands-on way and stimulate their interest in exploring science-related themes. They have engaged thousands of children in the West of Ireland and are very active during the Galway Science and Technology Festival. Since 2014, Bio-EXPLORERS have run successful Summer and Easter science camps, in addition to the very popular ‘Scientist for a Day’ one-day workshops during mid-terms, run in conjunction with Kitchen Chemistry. These camps provide a fun take on science where children can get involved and experiment as real scientists do. Small participant numbers, hands-on activities and a good ratio of well-trained, interactive demonstrators maximize the learning environment. This year’s summer camps will run over five days from 9.30am to 4.30pm each day. The cost is €160 per child, €145 for additional siblings for this exciting course packed with fun and exciting activities. Visit for details on the camp and links to register on Eventbrite. Once registered, post the completed registration form (download on Eventbrite page) with payment within five working days to Bio-EXPLORERS, Dr Martina Wernecke, Biochemistry, School of Natural Sciences, NUI Galway. Places are limited and will be allocated on a first-come first-served basis. For any queries email -Ends-      

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Wednesday, 7 September 2016

The public are invited to a fascinating public lecture of a winter expedition with the German icebreaker “Polarstern” to Antarctica. The talk will be delivered by Professor Peter Lemke of the Alfred Wegener Institute (AWI), Helmholtz-Centre for Polar and Marine Research, Germany on Wednesday, 14 September, at 7.30pm in the Colm O’hEocha Theatre in the Arts Millenium Building at NUI Galway. Professor Lemke has participated in nine polar expeditions with the German research icebreaker “Polarstern”, and has collections of stunning photographs depicting the Antarctic landscape and intriguing experiences to share. He is visiting Galway to participate in the Atlantic Ocean Climate Scholars Programme which is a week-long intensive, accredited workshop examining how climate and oceans interact, with particular examples from the Atlantic Ocean and higher latitudes. The lecture is open to members of the public and is part of a workshop organised by Dr Pauhla McGrane of the Strategic Marine Alliance for Research and Training (SMART) being held in Galway, from 12-19 September,offered to international postgraduate students of marine, atmosphere and climate-related sciences. “Polar regions play an important role for our climate, but direct observations are difficult to obtain and can only be achieved with greatest effort. This is especially true in wintertime” said Professor Lemke. “Severe blizzards, being trapped between thick ice floes and forced to drift with the ice, the darkness of the polar night and temperatures around minus 30°C. This presentation will take you along on an extraordinary winter expedition into the Antarctic Ocean. It shows the beauty of the frozen ocean, presents some insight into polar and climate research, and demonstrates everyday life on a research icebreaker,” he continued. High latitudes have received attention recently because of significant changes in the atmosphere, sea ice, and ocean, and on land, especially in the Arctic. The surface air temperature in the Arctic has increased about twice as fast as the global air temperature. The Arctic sea-ice extent in summer has decreased by 35% since 1979, and the sea-ice thickness during late summer has declined in the Central Arctic by about 40% since 1958. A warming has also been observed at depth in the Arctic Ocean and the Southern Ocean. But surprisingly there is no negative trend observed in the Antarctic sea ice. Both, the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets are losing mass, and the sea level is rising. Most of these observed trends are in agreement with warming scenarios performed with coupled climate models, which indicate an amplified response in high latitudes to increased greenhouse gas concentrations. But details of the complex interaction between atmosphere, sea ice and ocean, and the impacts on the ecosystem and the human society are still only marginally understood. Results will be shown from the latest Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and from a winter expedition the speaker has lead into the ice-covered Weddell Sea (Antarctica). Dr Pauhla McGrane, coordinator of SMART said: “We are delighted that Proffessor Lemke has agreed to provide his unique insight into carrying out climate research in hostile polar environments, particulaly when accompanied by such beautiful stark images. This is especially relevant as this year we will run the second North South Atlantic Training Transect on-board the RV Polarstern from Germany to South Africa which will train 24 postgraduate students, including seven Irish students, in researching climate, ocean and atmospheric interactions at sea. These innovative offshore international collaboarations, developed with AWI, the Partnership for Observation of the Global Oceans (POGO) and funded by the Nippon foundation are essential in developing excellent climate and ocean scientists to measure and understand our changing planet”. Professor Lemke continues to work on the observation of climate processes in atmosphere, sea ice and ocean and their simulation in numerical models for the polar components of the climate system. On six expeditions on Polarstern he acted as chief scientist.  For more than 30 years he served on many national and international committees on polar and climate research. He was the Coordinating Lead Author for Chapter 4 (Observations: Changes in Snow, Ice and Frozen Ground) of the IPCC Fourth Assessment Report published in 2007. The IPCC was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize together with Al Gore in 2007. For the Fifth Assessment Report of the IPCC published in 2013 Proffessor Lemke worked as Review Editor of Chapter 4 and as Lead Author of the Technical Summary. All members of the public are welcome and refreshments will be served afterwards. The Atlantic Ocean Climate Scholars Programme is a collaboaration between SMART, NUI Galway, AWI and the Partnership for Observation of the Global Oceans (POGO) that is funded by the Nippon foundation under NF POGO Regional Training fund.  -ends-