Global Research Consortium Involving NUI Galway Decodes the Genome of Pigeonpea

Global Research Consortium Involving NUI Galway Decodes the Genome of Pigeonpea-image

Monday, 7 November 2011

Legume genome sequence to improve livelihoods of poorer smallholder farmers in the dryland tropics in Africa and Asia A global scientific team, including Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) funded scientists from the Plant and AgriBiosciences Centre (PABC) at NUI Galway, have succeeded in sequencing the entire DNA genome of a legume crop of the poor called pigeonpea.   Pigeonpea is a staple food for millions of the world’s poorest people who live in semi-arid regions where only drought-tolerant crops such as pigeonpea can be cultivated. Pigeonpea, grown on about 5 million hectares in Asia, sub-Saharan Africa and South-Central America, is known as the ‘poor people’s meat’ because of its high protein content, it provides a well-balanced diet when accompanied with cereals. An improved understanding of the pigeonpea genome will have a major impact on improved crop productivity, tackling pests and disease constraints in production, and improved resistance to harsh environments and the future variable climate.   The international initiative to sequence the pigeonpea genome was led by Dr Rajeev Varshney from the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) and harnessed the research capacity of research labs from India, China, USA and Ireland. Professor Charles Spillane, Dr Mark Donoghue and PhD student Reetu Tuteja from the NUI Galway Plant and AgriBiosicences Centre (PABC) were scientific partners involved in the international initiative leading to the research breakthrough.   Professor Charles Spillane, Head of Botany and Plant Science at NUI Galway, highlights that: “Pigeonpea is a staple food crop of millions of poorer smallholder farmers in Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa. While crops such as pigeonpea are essential to food and livelihood security in developing countries, such crops of the world’s poorest peoples are considered orphan crops as there is limited scientific research applied to the development of improved higher productivity varieties due to a lack of commercial incentives. Crop improvement research on such crops is predominantly financed as a public good, through the efforts of non-profit humanitarian scientific institutions such as ICRISAT. Here in the NUI Galway Plant and AgriBiosicences Centre we are working closely with ICRISAT, and a range of other agricultural research for development partners, to help advance pro-poor plant and agribiosciences research.  Our activities aim to support the goals of Irish Aid in relation to the Hunger Task Force recommendations to improve smallholder productivity and reduce malnutrition in sub-Saharan Africa.”   Professor Spillane, further adds that: “Plant and agribiosciences research for sustainable development will play an increasingly important role in helping to meet future food and livelihood security needs of the ‘bottom billion’ currently suffering from undernutrition and fragile livelihoods. Of the 7 billion people currently on the planet, the food security needs of over 1 billion people are not being met.  Rapidly increasing demand for food and other agriculture derived resources will necessitate major increases in crop productivity (yield per unit hectare) if food production is to double by 2050 to meet projected demand. This will require increased and accelerated public-sector investment in pro-poor crop improvement research to meet the needs of the 1 billion poor whose livelihoods are dependent on staple crops such as pigeonpea.”   The completed genome sequence of pigeonpea is being published in the scientific journal Nature Biotechnology, which is the highest ranked international journal in the area of biotechnology. The paper provides an overview of the structure and function of all of the 48,860 genes that define what makes a pigeonpea plant. It also reveals valuable clues on how the genome sequence can be harnessed to accelerate crop improvement for sustainable food production particularly in the marginal environments of Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. For instance, a couple of hundred of these genes were found to be unique to the crop in terms of drought tolerance, an important trait that can be harnessed for other similar legume crops like soybean, cowpea or common bean. At present, it can take 6-10 years of crop genetics research to breed a new variety of pigeonpea. With the use of this new genome sequence data, in the future, it should be possible to develop improved pigeonpea varieties for smallholder farmers within 3 years.   NUI Galway has recently entered into a Research Alliance with ICRISAT to combine efforts, expertise and capacity in order to advance Plant and AgriBiosciences research for poverty reduction in developing countries in the semi-arid tropics (particularly in sub-Saharan Africa). Covering 6.5 million square kilometers of land across 55 countries, the semi-arid tropics has over 2 billion people, and 644 million of these are the poorest of the poor. ICRISAT and its partners help empower these poor people to overcome poverty, hunger and a degraded environment through crop and agricultural research.   “The mapping of the pigeonpea genome is a breakthrough that could not have come at a better time. Now that the world is faced with hunger and famine particularly in the Horn of Africa brought about by the worst drought of the decades, science-based, sustainable agricultural development solutions are vital in extricating vulnerable dryland communities out of poverty and hunger for good,” says ICRISAT Director General William D. Dar, who visited Galway earlier this year to meet with the President of NUI Galway Dr Jim Browne.   “Modern crop improvement technologies for smallholder farmer crops such as pigeonpea will be crucial to speed up the development of improved varieties that can provide high yields and improved livelihoods, and at the same time meet the challenges of marginal environments and the threat of climate change and scarce natural resources," adds Dar.   Pigeonpea is the first ‘orphan crop’, the first ‘non-industrial crop’ and the second food legume (after soybean) for which plant scientists have succeeded in sequencing the genome. The sequencing was accomplished by a global research partnership, the International Initiative for Pigeonpea Genomics (IIPG), led by ICRISAT with plant genome research partners such as BGI – Shenzhen (China), the National University of Ireland Galway, US research laboratories like University of Georgia, University of California-Davis, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, and National Centre for Genome Resources, and also support from the CGIAR Generation Challenge Programme based in Mexico.   -ends-

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Five of Ireland’s Top Artists Will Fuse Their Talents for One-off Free Performance

Five of Ireland’s Top Artists Will Fuse Their Talents for One-off Free Performance-image

Monday, 7 November 2011

Five original performers will bring their fusion of music, song, sean-nós singing and contemporary dance for a special one-off free performance at lunch time in NUI Galway this week.   On Friday, 11 November, from 1-2pm, five performers, two of which are original Riverdance musicians, will perform in the Bailey Allen Hall at NUI Galway. This is a unique occasion as these performers come from diverse backgrounds and will fuse their amazing talents together to bring a show worthy of national acclaim.   Piper Ronan Browne, contemporary dancer Cindy Cummings, singer Seán Tyrrell, sean-nós singer Róisín Elsafty and bodhrán player Tommy Hayes will grace the stage of the Bailey Allen for the next instalment of great music on Friday November 11. This performance is part of Arts in Action, NUI Galway’s concert series which brings a wealth of new and established acts to the campus during the term. So far this year, multi award winning pianist Mícheál Ó Súilleabháin and emerging new writer Kevin Barry are just two of the acts that have wowed audiences. Ronan Browne is the original piper with Riverdance. Since his rise to international stages across the globe, he has composed for film and television, has seen huge success with the groups Elsafty Armstrong Browne and Tyrrell Glackin Browne. As well as uilleann pipes, he plays concert flute, whistle and sings.   Róisín Elsafty comes from Connemara, and also grew up in a musical family. Her mother, well-known singer Treasa Ní Cheannabháin, inspired Róisín to learn ‘old-style singing’ from an early age. Róisín has travelled widely with her art, performing, demonstrating and teaching sean-nós.   American born contemporary dancer Cindy Cummings studied Dance and Theatre at the University of Oregon, and in New York City. As a choreographer, performer and improviser, her work is an adventurous mix of contemporary and traditional dance techniques from around the world, the majority of which are collaborations in a diverse range of mediums and settings.   Seán Tyrrell’s musical journey is truly noteworthy and charts the success of a singer whose talents came to the surface after singing in the US. In 1999 he released his much anticipated album, ‘The Orchard’. The album was met with critical acclaim, as Seán was voted Best Overall Folk Act and the album was voted Best Folk Album by the readers of Irish Music Magazine.   Making up the quintet is Tommy Hayes who has been at the forefront of traditional Irish music for over 30 years. He was a member of Stockton’s Wing from the band’s inception in 1977 to 1983. He then moved to the United States where he toured for five years and recorded one album on Windham Hill Records. Returning to Ireland in 1989, Tommy was the original percussionist for Riverdance and performed with the shows in Dublin, London, Washington DC and Belfast.   With such fine musical minds coming together for a one off event, NUI Galway’s Arts in Action has managed to bring something very special to audiences both on and off campus. The event is free and the concert will kick off at 1pm on Friday, 11 November. For further information, contact 091 493958.  -ends-

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European Genetic Privacy and Discrimination Policy Focus of NUI Galway Conference

European Genetic Privacy and Discrimination Policy Focus of NUI Galway Conference-image

Monday, 7 November 2011

The Centre for Disability Law and Policy at NUI Galway will co-host a conference with the Burton Blatt Institute entitled ‘Genetic Discrimination – Transatlantic Perspectives on the Case for a European Level Legal Response’. The one-day conference will take place on Saturday, 19 November, in Áras Moyola, NUI Galway. The purpose of this conference is to examine the case for a European level legal and policy response to protect the privacy of genetic information and to prevent genetic discrimination, particularly in the employment and insurance contexts.  The science of genetic testing and related technology is in the process of advancing.  Among other things, genetic testing technology may well offer the prospect of being able to detect the onset of future disabilities.  The technology is becoming more prevalent and is being used increasingly in both the employment context and the insurance context. If insufficient protections are not in place to prohibit the misuse or discriminatory use of that information by third parties like employers, insurance companies, educational facilities, then such a legislative and policy vacuum could further setback the inclusion of persons with disabilities and older people into the community.  To date, there is no European level regulation protecting the privacy of such information or protecting against the discriminatory use of such information. Professor Gerard Quinn, Director of the Centre for Disability Law and Policy at NUI Galway, said: “This conference is exciting because it looks forward and not backward.  It looks to the positive potential of new genetic information technology in detecting future disabilities.  And it also looks at the need for appropriate regulation to ensure personal genetic information is not misused.  It seeks to learn from good transatlantic developments in the US and seeks ways of ensuring that information privacy is respected in Europe and Ireland.  I recommend it to anyone interested in new technology and disability.” For further information, or to register, contact Aisling de Paor in the Centre for Disability Law and Policy at 091 494017 or aisling.depaor@nuigalway.ie.   -ENDS-

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NUI Galway Features Prominently at Annual NUI Awards Ceremony

NUI Galway Features Prominently at Annual NUI Awards Ceremony -image

Friday, 4 November 2011

Graduates and students of NUI Galway featured prominently at the annual NUI Awards ceremony which took place this week in the Royal Hospital Kilmainham taking home an impressive 34 awards. Five NUI Travelling Studentships in the Humanities and the Social Sciences and in the Sciences were awarded to NUI Galway graduates: Bríd Ní Ghráinne, Law; Fiona Morrissey, Law; Ciara Kyne, Chemistry; Eimear Dolan, Engineering; and Niamh Fahy, Orthobiology/Regenerative Medicine. Other scholarships and awards include the Dr Mary L Thornton NUI Scholarship in Education which was awarded to NUI Galway’s Hannagh McGinley. The Dr Henry Hutchinson Stewart Literary scholarships and prizes were awarded to: Niall Culligan, English; Síle Dolan, Gaeilge; John Mooney, German; Shaun Murphy, Latin; and Rebecca, Spanish. The French Government Medal and NUI Prize for Proficiency in French was awarded to Philip Morrow. The scoláireacht agus Duais Chiste Theach an Ardmhéara/Mansion House Fund Scholarship and prizes went to Dara Folan, for a Scoláireacht Gaeilge and an Irish History prize and to Colm Ó Cuaig for a Gaeilge prize.A total of nineteen Dr Henry Hutchinson Stewart Medical Scholarships and Prizes were awarded to NUI Galway’s School of Medicine. The award recipients were Cillian McNamara and Karen McNamara, Biochemistry; Danielle Anstett and Julianne O’Shea, General Practice; Larissa Higgins and Teresa O’Dowd, Gynaecology and Obstetrics; Cliona Small, Medical Microbiology; Siobhan Eccles, Midwifery; Ester Afolalu and Laura M Coyne, Nursing; Orla Ní Ghríofa and Mairead Crowley, Occupational Therapy;  Larissa Higgins, Paediatrics; Miroslawa Gorecka, Pathology; Elaine Fallon, Public Health; Laura Tobin, Speech and Language Therapy; Yasir Loai, Pharmacology; Matthew Smyth, Physiology; and Gerard Healy MB BCH BAO Hons, Surgery. Speaking on the success of NUI Galway students and graduates, President Jim Browne, said: “This clearly highlights the high calibre of students studying on NUI Galway programmes and follows previous successes in these annual awards. I congratulate each of the Award recipients on their achievement, which will add to their academic reputation. I commend the Award recipients and I pay tribute to their teachers for their work in supporting students and helping them to achieve such high standards.” At the ceremony, the Chancellor, Dr Maurice Manning presented Travelling Studentships, scholarships and other awards to over one hundred students and graduates of the NUI Constituent Universities and Recognised Colleges. The total value of NUI Awards in 2011 was almost €700,000. In 2011, over one hundred students and graduates from the constituent universities and recognised colleges of the federal university received awards. UCD, UCC, NUI Maynooth, NUI Galway, RCSI and NCAD were represented in the award winners. Ends

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NUI Galway Award Winners Create Technologies of the Future

NUI Galway Award Winners Create Technologies of the Future-image

Friday, 4 November 2011

Interactive Policy Simulators for Urban Dynamics, Web Visualisation of Weather Station Data, Smartphone systems to help you get your morning or afternoon coffee without queues! These are just some of the new technologies that graduates of the Information Technology discipline at NUI Galway have won awards for this week. Prizes were awarded to students who excelled in their projects, which span a wide range of topics, reflecting the diversity of research and career opportunities for graduates of Information Technology.  Terry Lyons from Circular Road, Galway, a graduate of the BSc in Computer Science and Information Technology developed a software system that involved the design and implementation of a computer game to model an urban environment. The key contributions included a mathematical modelling engine encompassing continuous and Markov equations and a Game Engine architecture based on Microsoft XNA technology. Terry was awarded the Best Project in the BSc in Computer Science and Information Technology, sponsored by Cisco Systems. On a completely different type of application, Colin Divily from Corofin, Co Galway and Naomi Ono, originally from Japan, both students of the HDip / MSc in Software Design and Development, implemented a website visualising the current weather conditions in Galway using real-time weather data collected by a weather station setup by the Informatics Research Unit for Sustainable Energy (IRUSE) who were collaborators on the project. The two students were awarded the Best Project in the HDip / MSc in Software Design and Development, also sponsored by Cisco Systems. For those with an interest in classical and vintage cars, Patrick O’Toole from Moycullen, Co. Galway and Mark Shaw from Tuam, Co. Galway, both graduates of the BA in Information Technology created a Classic Car website. This includes a database that provides information on various manufacturers of classic cars and the various models available. In addition, users can place cars for sale and view cars already available on the website. Information Technology is central to the development of the Smart Economy in Ireland. It is a breeding ground for entrepreneurs and attracts the kind of creative people who want to invent and promote technology based products and services.  At NUI Galway, students of the BSc in Information Technology study professional skills and business planning as part of their core academic work. Each year a special Entrepreneurship Prize is awarded for the students who produce the best business plan. These plans are evaluated by external business experts from WestBIC. This year the prize was awarded to John Farrell from Ballaghaderreen, Co Roscommon, Luke Potter from Abbeyknockmoy, Co. Galway and Ernestas Lisauska from Galway, for their “Hey Expresso” system. This system comprises a smartphone application and related server that allows users to pre-order and pre-pay for their morning coffee and therefore avoid the queues! Gerry Lyons, Professor of Information Technology and Dean of the College of Engineering and Informatics at NUI Galway welcomed Cisco Systems as the corporate sponsor for Best Projects in the Information Technology degree programmes: “We believe this is a strong endorsement of the commercial relevance of our degree programmes, and underlines our commitment to innovation, professionalism and research at NUI Galway. We place a huge emphasis on final year project work. These projects are a proving-ground for research and commercial business opportunities. Partnering with a blue-chip global company like Cisco gives students the added motivation and ambition to deliver excellent work.” ENDS

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New Series of Public Talks on Sports Technology

New Series of Public Talks on Sports Technology-image

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

NUI Galway is pleased to announce a series of public talks on Sports Technology, commencing on Tuesday, 8 November at 6pm. In recent years a clear trend has developed in sport toward the increased use of technology to monitor and enhance elite sports performance. The series of talks, which are free and open to the general public, will cover a broad range of sports from elite cycling, running, swimming, to Gaelic games, as well as referring to the casual exerciser. The first event, which takes place in room 2002 of the new Engineering Building, is called ‘The Age of the Virtual Trainer’. NUI Galway’s Shane Lowe will focus on the emergence of new exercise monitoring technologies in the world of exercise and fitness. Whether the goal is to manage weight, maintain health or to improve fitness or sport performance, increasing physical activity has multiple health benefits. A significant challenge for most people is to adhere to an exercise regime. Keeping track of how well you are progressing with your exercise programme is one way to increase adherence to the programme and to also enhance the outcomes. Shane Lowe is currently in the third year of his PhD studies in the Bioelectronics research cluster of the National Centre for Biomedical Engineering Science at NUI Galway. The focus of his research is on the development of wearable electronics for the monitoring of everyday physical activity and specifically its application with older adults. “In the past, detailed monitoring of exercise performance was reserved for those who obtained the services of a personal trainer. However, with the availability of smart phones and low cost sensing technologies, a new era in exercise monitoring has begun. Exercise technologies now allow close monitoring of performance including changes in heart rate, running speed, adherence to your recommended training zone etc.” The range of these technologies now available will be discussed and compared and Shane Lowe will comment on how he sees these systems evolving in the future.The series of Sports Technology talks is being organised by Professor Gearóid Ó Laighin, Course Director of NUI Galway’s degree programme in Sports & Exercise Engineering. His students are being given the skills and expertise to design innovative sports systems and devices. According to Professor Gearóid Ó Laighin: “Sport plays a central role in Irish life - it brings joy to us as we celebrate our teams’ success and perhaps brings despair at their failings! Sport brings communities together, can galvanise a nation to overcome its difficulties and provides endless material for lengthy discussion and debate. A new wave of technologies is transforming sports performance, training and preparation. We welcome all with an interest in these developments to come to our series of talks to learn more.” For more information on the Sports Technology talks, which are supported by the Institute of Electrical & Electronic Engineers, visit www.ExerciseEngineering.com or call 091 492728.   -ends-

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Professor Pandit Speaks at the Annual Meeting of the Taiwan Society for Stem Cell Research

Professor Pandit Speaks at the Annual Meeting of the Taiwan Society for Stem Cell Research-image

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Professor Abhay Pandit, Director of the Network of Excellence for Functional Biomaterials (NFB) at NUI Galway, has recently returned from Taiwan, where he delivered a plenary lecture at the 2011 International Symposium on Recent Advances in Pluripotent Stem Cells. The lecture took place at Taipei Medical University, and coincided with the 7thAnnual Meeting of the Taiwan Society for Stem Cell Research.  Professor Pandit’s wealth of experience and international reputation in functionalised biomaterials, particularly in delivery of stem cells, led to the invitation from the Taiwan Society for Stem Cell Research. Speaking at the opening session of the symposium, Professor Pandit’s lecture, entitled ‘A functionalised scaffold for modulation of inflammation to permit stem cell survival in myocardial infarction’ drew on his research results achieved at the NFB, NUI Galway.  The NFB is an SFI-funded Strategic Research Cluster, focused on developing the next generation of biomaterials while developing collaborations with industrial partners at a regional, national and international level. These collaborations have now placed NFB research in a global context.  Speaking about the invitation, Professor Pandit said “I was very pleased to receive the invitation to give a plenary lecture in Taiwan. Asia is the major emerging market in the biomedical sector, so all opportunities to showcase Irish research there should be welcomed.”   -ends-

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NUI Galway Student Wins National Undergraduate Award

NUI Galway Student Wins National Undergraduate Award-image

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

NUI Galway student, Trevor Glavey, has been named as one of the 23 winners of the Undergraduate Awards, an awards programme open to undergraduate students on the island of Ireland and, recently, the USA. Trevor, originally from Dunblaney, Dunmore,  Co. Galway, was awarded the Oscar Wilde Gold Medal for academic excellence by Guest of Honour, President Mary McAleese, at the Undergraduate Awards Ceremony that was held at Dublin Castle on Friday, 28 October. As the winner of the Undergraduate Awards Law category, Trevor was awarded for his essay entitled “Enforcement of EU Competition Law and Respect for Human Rights”. Having graduated top in his class from Corporate Law at NUI Galway, Trevor credited his lecturer, Dr Laurent Pech, from the School of Law for his Undergraduate Award win and cited the University as “a fantastic place to study, full of great people doing tremendous work.” There were 2,381 submissions to the 2011 Undergraduate Awards programme, of which 237 were shortlisted. Of these 237, 23 winners were selected.  NUI Galway had 11 students in the shortlist.   --ENDS—

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Mayor of Galway to Launch Zambian Perspectives Photographic Exhibition at NUI Galway

Mayor of Galway to Launch Zambian Perspectives Photographic Exhibition at NUI Galway-image

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Mayor of Galway, Hildgarde Naughton, will officially launch ‘Zambian Perspectives’ photographic exhibition in Áras Moyola, NUI Galway on Wednesday, 23 November at 6.30pm. The images on display are part of a collection taken by Research Fellow with the UNESCO Child and Family Research Centre at NUI Galway, Sheila McArdle, as part of her research study.  The study contributes to the ongoing work of the UNESCO Chair in Children, Youth and Civic Engagement held by Professor Pat Dolan.   In 2009, Sheila travelled to Zambia, Central Africa, to complete research fieldwork in six different communities. Photographs of everyday scenes were taken to provide a visual backdrop to the information provided by young people (12-14 year olds) and adults (18 years plus).  The exhibition images provide an opportunity to glimpse at the reality of Zambian daily life. The images are accompanied by direct quotes from some of the participants to provide a sense of what Zambian young people want for the future.     Whilst in Zambia, Sheila became seriously ill and was cared for by a Tipperary nun, Sister Molly Moloney, a qualified nurse who has lived and worked in Kaoma, Zambia for over thirty years.  Sister Moloney, with her team, operates a number of enterprise projects and orphanages, which care for infants, children and teenagers and are invaluable in the community. The team are hoping to establish a dairy farm in the community which will create employment, provide fresh milk for the orphanages and contribute to the sustainability of the community.  Contributions from the exhibition will go to Sister Moloney and her team to continue their work in Zambia.   The exhibition contributes to the UNESCO Chair partnership endeavours with Foróige and The Alan Kearns African Projects to promote positive child and youth outcomes.  The exhibition should appeal to a wide audience anyone interested in youth, gender issues, anthropology, photography, or a desire to assist projects to support young people, families and communities to become sustainable are sure to enjoy the event.   Tickets for this event are €10 per person, including light refreshments and entertainment.  Further information is available from Sheila McArdle at s.mcardle3@nuigalway.ie or 087 918 7224.   -Ends-

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October 2011

NUI Galway’s Michael D. Higgins is Ninth President of Ireland

NUI Galway’s Michael D. Higgins is Ninth President of Ireland-image

Saturday, 29 October 2011

For more information on Michael D and NUI Galway click Michael D. Higgins, Adjunct Professor with the Irish Centre for Human Rights at NUI Galway, has been elected the ninth president ofIreland. Michael D. has been associated with NUI Galway for almost 50 years, entering the University as a mature student in 1962; serving as President of the Student Council; and going on to become a highly regarded lecturer in Sociology & Politics for many years. He has served as Adjunct Professor at the University’s Irish Centre for Human Rights since 2006. His impressive record in defense of human rights made his role with the Irish Centre of Human Rights a natural enhancement of his long association with the University.  Speaking after the election results were announced, NUI Galway President, Dr Jim Browne said of Michael D.: “The Office of President has been increasingly to the fore in national life in recent years. Michael D.’s talent and integrity, along with his commitment to service in public life, will ensure that he will be an inspirational and visionary President, following those who have held that office with great distinction and honour. On behalf of the University, I congratulate him on the unique leadership role which he has played to date in shapingIreland's future. I wish him every success and fulfilment in writing the next chapter ofIreland’s history.” Amongst his many distinctions, Michael D. Higgins was honoured in 2003 by his alma mater with the NUI Galway AIB Award for Literature, Communication and the Arts.  He graduated with a BA in 1965 and a BComm in 1966 from what was then UCG. Michael D. was most recently on campus during an impromptu visit on the eve of the election, when staff and student well-wishers turned out to lend their support. NUI Galway takes pride in the success of its alumni, many of whom have distinguished themselves as leaders in various fields of endeavour inIrelandand abroad. The current administration boasts a number of former University students including: An Taoiseach Enda Kenny; Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Eamon Gilmore; Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources, Pat Rabbitte; Attorney General, Máire Whelan; Minister for Research & Innovation, Seán Sherlock; and numerous deputies and senators.  -ends- Is é Michael D. Higgins ó OÉ Gaillimh an Naoú Uachtarán ar Éirinn Táthar tar éis Michael D. Higgins, Ollamh Cúnta san Ionad Éireannach um Chearta an Duine in OÉ Gaillimh, a thoghadh ina naoú uachtarán ar Éirinn.    Tá baint ag Michael D. le hOllscoil na hÉireann, Gaillimh le beagnach 50 bliain, ó tháinig sé chun na hOllscoile mar mhac léinn lánfhásta i 1962; bhí sé ina Uachtarán ar Chomhairle na Mac Léinn; agus ina dhiaidh sin bhí sé ina léachtóir le Socheolaíocht agus Polaitíocht ar feadh na mblianta.   Tá sé ina Ollamh Cúnta san Ionad Éireannach um Chearta an Duine, OÉ Gaillimh, ó 2006.   Chaith sé na blianta ag cosaint chearta an duine agus rinne an ról a bhí aige san Ionad Éireannach um Chearta an Duine an ceangal a bhí aige le fada leis an Ollscoil a neartú.     Ag labhairt dó nuair a fógraíodh torthaí an toghcháin, bhí an méid seo a leanas le rá ag Uachtarán OÉ Gaillimh, an Dr Jim Browne faoi Michael D.: “Ta ról níos larnaí ag an Uachtaránacht i saol na hÉireann le blianta beaga anuas.Cinnteoidh na buanna ar leith atá ag Michael D., a ionracas agus a dhílseacht don saol poiblí, gur sár-Uachtarán a bheidh ann agus go mbeidh fís aige, díreach mar a bhí ag na daoine a tháinig roimhe. Thar ceann na hOllscoile, ba mhaith liom comhghairdeas a dhéanamh leis as an obair cheannaireachta ar leith atá déanta aige go dtí seo le cruth níos fearr a chur ar Éirinn san am atá le teacht. Guím gach rath air agus é ag tabhairt faoin gcéad chaibidil eile a chur le stair na hÉireann.” Is iomaí gradam a bronnadh air agus orthu sin bhí Gradam AIB OÉ Gaillimh don Litríocht, an Chumarsáid agus na hEalaíona a bhronn a alma mater air sa bhliain 2003.   Bhain sé céim BA amach i 1965 agus BComm i 1966 ó COG, mar a thugtaí uirthi an uair sin. Bhí Michael D. ar an gcampas go deireanach an oíche roimh an toghchán nuair a thug sé turas gan choinne orainn. Tháinig idir fhoireann agus mhic léinn amach lena dtacaíocht a léiriú dó. Tá OÉ Gaillimh an-bhródúil as na héachtaí atá déanta ag alumni na hOllscoile. Tá go leor acu ina gceannairí i réimsí éagsúla den saol in Éirinn agus thar lear.   Tá cúpla iar-mhac léinn de chuid na hOllscoile sa rialtas faoi láthair:  An Taoiseach, Enda Kenny; An tAire Gnóthaí Eachtracha agus Trádála, Eamon Gilmore; An tAire Cumarsáide, Fuinnimh agus Acmhainní Nádúrtha,PatRabbitte; An tArd-Aighne, Máire Whelan; An tAire Taighde & Nuálaíochta, Seán Sherlock; agus Teachtaí Dála agus Seanadóirí go leor. -críoch-

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