Friday, 2 December 2016

Marine Economics and Policy Research Symposium held in Galway

The 7th Annual Marine Economics and Policy Research Symposium was held on Thursday, 24 November, in the Glenlo Abbey Hotel, Galway. Organised each year by the Socio-Economic Marine Research Unit (SEMRU) of the Whitaker Institute, NUI Galway, with the support of the Marine Institute, the day provides participants with an update on a wide range of policy topics related to the marine sector in Ireland. This year there was a particular focus on the valuation of marine ecosystem services and benefits to society.  Until recently, very little information was available in relation to the value of the many ecosystem services provided by the marine environment; services such as carbon sequestration, waste assimilation, coastal defence, aesthetic services and recreational opportunities that are provided by our marine ecosystems have by and large gone unvalued. Harnessing our Ocean Wealth (HOOW) - the integrated marine plan for Ireland (2012) - highlighted as a key action the need for further research into generating “economic values of marine biodiversity and ecosystem services to ensure best practice planning and management of the ocean resource”. Indeed, from an economics perspective, HOOW is all about maximising the net benefits to society from the use of our substantial marine resources. This symposium highlights ongoing research in this area from across Ireland and further afield. In particular it highlights new policy initiatives attempting to ensure ‘blue growth’; an expanding but sustainable ocean economy, and new research that values the benefits to society generated from the continued delivery of what are often overlooked critical marine ecosystem services. “Blue growth is about fostering development in marine economic activities in such a manner that the long term ability of the marine environment to continue to provide ecosystem service benefits is not compromised. This is exactly what Harnessing Our Ocean Wealth – An Integrated Marine Plan for Ireland is aimed at achieving,” says Dr Stephen Hynes of SEMRU at NUI Galway. “Knowing what those benefits are and what they are worth is vital for deciding on the best use of our marine resources and to ensure blue growth for our ocean economy far into the future.” Speakers this year included leading international experts in the field of environmental valuation Professor Nick Hanley of St. Andrews University Scotland, Dr Kathrine Skoland of the International Research Institute of Stavanger, Norway, and Dr Danny Campbell of Stirling University. Other speakers of note on the day included Professor Ronán Long of NUI Galway who reviewed progress in the negotiation of a new international instrument for the protection of biodiversity in areas beyond national jurisdiction and Dr Ronan Lyons of Trinity College Dublin who presented research using a rich house price dataset from to investigate if people value having a ‘picture’ of the coast via a window in their house more than having direct access to the coast for recreational purposes. The analysis demonstrated the addition to residential property value from having a sea view or access to coastal features such as beaches and cliffs. Of interest from a policy perspective Ciarán O’ Driscoll, a research associate of SEMRU, explored the impact of Brexit on European Fishing policy arguing that due to Britain’s international commitments to cooperate under UN law, post-Brexit Britain may not be able to reclaim control over setting fishing quotas and limit access to its waters by non-British vessels unilaterally. In the same session Richard Cronin, a senior advisor in the Department of Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government outlined the key research needs of Irish policy makers that would support the implementation of the EU Marine Strategy Framework Directive and the EU Maritime Spatial Planning Directive in Ireland and across the EU. The final session of the day presented a number of papers that examined the publics, stakeholders and consumers’ attitudes towards aquaculture and seafood. These cross country comparisons of perspectives provided information to policy makers, public planners and potential investors on how the public regard aquaculture production and identify areas of conflict and consensus between groups. -ends- 

News Archive

Thursday, 1 December 2016

Couple go from diploma to doctorate in decade following retirement  At NUI Galway’s November conferring, a Sligo couple Richard and Betty Gray, both 71, were conferred with Doctorates in Archaeology.  The couple, from Ballinafad, County Sligo, embarked on their educational journey when they retired after 40 years in the insurance industry in 2005, completing the NUI Galway Diploma in Archaeology at St Angela's College, Sligo with Dr Michelle Comber.  Following that Betty earned a first class honours Bachelor of Arts degree in Archaeology and Classics, while Richard was awarded first class honours Bachelor of Arts degree in Archaeology and History at NUI Galway.  Under the supervision of Professor Elizabeth FitzPatrick, both recently earned doctorates.  Betty’s doctoral research was centred on ‘Material Culture of High-status Drinking Ritual in Medieval and Early Modern Gaelic Ireland’ and Richard’s research was focused on ‘Settlement clusters at Parish churches in Ireland 1200-1600 AD.’ Speaking at the conferring ceremony about her educational achievements, Dr Betty Gray said: “The last decade has certainly been challenging but also very rewarding and satisfying. We embraced student life and in the course of our journey we made many wonderful friendships through our involvement in the student mentoring programme and college societies. In particular, the NUI Galway Archaeology society where we both had the honour of serving as auditors. We have had the opportunity to visit and explore medieval and prehistoric landscapes in Ireland England Scotland and Wales. What began for us as a part-time diploma developed into an incredible shared academic journey and we availed of some the wide range of programmes offered at NUI Galway from part-time diploma to full-time honours degree, and in our case a PhD.” Speaking about his educational journey, Dr Richard Gray said: “It was not our initial aim to complete a PhD. The diploma provided a great grounding in archaeology and an excellent foundation for further third level education. The full time BA was hard work, but we were welcomed and encouraged by the support for mature students in NUI Galway. We availed of the back to education courses and the support of the Academic Writing Centre at the Hardiman Library, who helped us to improve our academic writing skills.” ENDS

Thursday, 1 December 2016

A public talk on understanding how humans walk and how this might inform treatment of diseases such as Parkinson’s, takes place at NUI Galway next Tuesday, 6 December. Dr John Barden from the University of Regina in Saskatchewan, Canada, will deliver the Flaherty Lecture entitled ‘Walking to the beat of a different drummer: using new technology to quantify patterns of locomotion for the assessment and treatment of disease’. The public lecture will review some of the basic neuromuscular and biomechanical mechanisms needed for humans to be able to walk. He will also describe how new sensor technologies can be used to record and analyse the rhythmic patterns produced by these mechanisms. This can be used for the assessment and treatment of pathological gait in aging and in various neurological conditions such as Parkinson's disease, Multiple Sclerosis and Mild Cognitive Impairment. Dr Barden’s area of expertise is in biomechanics and motor control. His current research interests include sensor-based analytics of cyclic movements in health and in sport. Examples of his research include gait variability in conditions such as knee osteoarthritis and stroke mechanics in competitive swimming. Dr Barden is currently based at NUI Galway on a James M. Flaherty Visiting Professorship. The international exchange programme commemorates the former Canadian Minister for Finance, James M. (Jim) Flaherty, who passed away in 2014. He was awarded an Honorary Degree by NUI Galway in 2012. The exchange programme is supported by the Irish Canada University Foundation, a collaborative organisation between the governments of Canada and Ireland whose mandate is to facilitate academic and cultural links between the two countries. Dr Barden is collaborating with Professor Gearóid Ó Laighin and Dr Leo Quinlan of NUI Galway’s College of Engineering and Informatics and the Discipline of Physiology . “I’m very grateful to the Ireland Canada University Foundation (ICUF), which through the Flaherty Visiting Professorship, has provided me with the opportunity to visit NUI Galway and collaborate with Professor Ó Laighin and Dr Quinlan on mutually beneficial research related to gait variability and mobility impairments in Parkinson’s disease.” This talk will be of interest to students from a variety of disciplines including physiology, medicine, engineering and kinesiology, as well as members of the general public who have an interest in science, technology and health. The event takes place on Tuesday, 6 December, at 6pm in the ground floor of the Engineering Building, room ENG-G017. -ends- 

Wednesday, 30 November 2016

Free online resource includes a series of science videos and support material for primary school teachers As part of the Science and Technology Festival, which took place at the weekend, Galway’s future young scientists and science enthusiasts were drawn together in explosive, sticky and steamy investigations at the Kitchen Chemistry Workshops held during NUI Galway’s Science Festival Exhibition. This event marked the launch of a series of Kitchen Chemistry videos, which entice teachers and the public to engage in science, using materials from their own kitchen larders. Kitchen Chemistry is one of the most popular events year on year during the Science and Technology Festival Exhibition, and this year saw the launch of a free online resource set. The set includes a series of free science videos and associated support materials for teachers to use with primary children of all ages in the science classroom.  In 2010, Kitchen Chemistry began as an outreach venture in NUI Galway’s School of Chemistry when a team of postgraduate chemistry students designed a series of simple experiments and developed them into a science outreach roadshow for primary schools. Experiments were designed using simple household materials. Two years later, one of the founders, a then doctoral student, Dr Nicole Walshe worked with Dr Veronica McCauley in the School of Education to examine opportunities of translating these sporadic outreach visits into free online resources that could be shared nationally and beyond. The development of the Kitchen Chemistry videos and resource materials is a result of this joint venture between the School of Education and the School of Chemistry at NUI Galway. Dr Veronica McCauley, Science Education Lecturer at NUI Galway and staff leader in this resource design and development project, said: “In line with one of the core aims of the primary science curriculum, ‘to reinforce and stimulate curiosity and imagination through engagement in science’; these videos and support materials offer teachers and students opportunities to explore science beyond the classroom. They help to realise its everyday application with products found in our kitchens. As you can imagine, when you look at the videos, this was a fun and messy project to work on, and I hope that this ignites further exploration in science!” The set of videos were designed by doctoral students from the College of Chemistry and student science teachers from the School of Education.  Kitchen Chemistry resources offer primary teachers a collection of videos and classroom support material that capture novel and engaging aspects of chemistry-based science topics. The collection is available at and is also available trí Ghaeilge. Dr Rachel Quinlan, Vice Dean for the promotion of STEM, College of Science at NUI Galway, said: “Explore funding enables student-staff collaboration on research and resource development, often with benefits that go far beyond the University as in this case. Students brought their scientific expertise to the development, design and recording of these simple and creative science experiments, and now this inquiry can be ignited in schools and homes throughout the country, in addition to those classrooms already participating with NUI Galway Science students in the Kitchen Chemistry programme.” -Ends-

Events Calendar

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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-