RSA Lecture Focuses on Behaviour of Young Drivers

RSA Lecture Focuses on Behaviour of Young Drivers-image

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

- 1 in 5 Male Drivers Under 25 Admit to Having Raced Another Driver - The results of a survey presented today, Monday, 10October, at the Road Safety Authority (RSA) Annual Road Safety Lecture revealed that 1 in 5 male drivers aged under 25 reported having raced another driver on a public road at some point in the past. The survey, conducted by Dr Kiran Sarma, Chartered Psychologist and Lecturer in Psychology at NUI Galway, also revealed that young male drivers reported more frequent speeding, reckless driving and use of mobile phones while driving. RSA research presented at the lecture revealed that 5,678 road-users aged between 17 and 24 years old were killed or seriously injured on Irish roads between 1997 and 2009. The lecture, which focused on the driving behaviour of 17 to 24 year old road-users, is the first event in ‘Irish Road Safety Week’ which runs from Monday, 10 October to Sunday, 16 October. At the lecture, Dr Kiran Sarma presented the results of his survey of 1,500 drivers on the relationship between psychology and risky driving behaviour. Dr Sarma’s research found that the frequency of speeding among young male drivers was associated with positive attitudes towards speeding and a higher prevalence of personality traits such as impulsiveness and excitement seeking. Mr Noel Brett, Chief Executive, Road Safety Authority said: “The focus of today’s lecture is young drivers aged 17 to 24 years old who are among the highest risk road-users on our roads. Research tells us that this group of road-users are three times more likely to be killed on the roads than any other road-user. In fact, 5,678 young road-users with their lives ahead of them were killed or seriously injured on Irish roads in the period 1997 to 2009. This is roughly the same as the population ofWestportin Co. Mayo. When you think of it in those terms, we are reminded of how needless this loss of life is.” “But it’s also important to say that not all young drivers are risky or dangerous drivers. Today’s lecture has shown how important it is to support our younger road-users in forming positive attitudes to road safety as early as possible.” Dr Sarma’s research also revealed that risky driving behaviour was linked with pro-speeding attitudes among friends and family, a greater tendency to become angry in response to other drivers’ actions and a belief that the driver could control his or her car, even in challenging driving conditions. Some young male drivers also saw their car as being a core part of who they are – this was related to more extreme driving behaviour. Speaking at the lecture, Dr Sarma said: “This research helps us to understand the psychology of young male drivers and can inform the way we respond to risky and reckless driving. The research would suggest that addressing speeding attitudes is important but that deeper psychological factors are also linked to dangerous driving on our roads.” Professor Andrew Tolmie from theInstituteofEducation,UniversityofLondonalso spoke at the lecture about his recent paper for the Department for Transport (UK) on ‘The development of children’s and young people’s attitudes to driving. Professor Tolmie’s research highlighted that becoming a driver starts in childhood, although this becomes more focused during adolescence. His research also showed that family and peer influence is critical in forming attitudes and behaviours and suggested that the pre-driver period may present the best opportunity for forming positive attitudes to driving. Professor Tolmie said: “Becoming a driver is something that starts in childhood, as soon as children become aware that this is something that adults do, and it becomes a real aspirational focus during adolescence, as teenagers begin to imagine themselves having the freedom that driving brings. Watching how parents behave, talking about driving with friends and the images associated with driving all have an influence on how young drivers first act on the road. Poor influences at this stage lead to poor driving behaving later - if we want to increase young drivers' safety, it is during the teenage years, before they begin to drive, that we need to act.” 1,352 17-24 year olds were killed on Irish roads between 1997 and 2009, representing 28% of all road deaths in that period. Over one third (35%) of these fatalities took place between 12:00am (midnight) and 4:59am. The research also found that 17 to 24 year old car drivers are five times more likely to be killed on Irish roads than any other driver. In fatal collisions where excessive speed was cited as a contributory factor, half of all drivers responsible were males aged 17 to 24 years old. Furthermore, 2 in 5 of all passengers aged 17 to 24 who were killed on the road were in a car being driven by a 17 to 24 year old male driver. ENDS

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New Findings on How the Brain’s Own Marijuana-Like Chemicals Suppress Pain

New Findings on How the Brain’s Own Marijuana-Like Chemicals Suppress Pain-image

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

New findings about how the brain functions to suppress pain have been published in the leading journal Pain, by NUI Galway researchers. For the first time, it has been shown that the hippocampus of the brain, which is usually associated with memory, has an active role to play in suppressing pain during times of stress. The work was carried out by researchers in Pharmacology and Therapeutics, and the Centre for Pain Research at the National Centre for Biomedical Engineering Science, NUI Galway. In times of immense stress or fear, pain transmission and perception can be suppressed potently in humans and other animals. This important survival response can help us cope with, or escape from, potentially life-threatening situations. An increased understanding of the biological mechanisms involved in this so-called fear-induced analgesia is important from a fundamental physiological perspective and may also advance the search for new therapeutic approaches to the treatment of pain.  Dr David Finn, Co-Director of the Centre for Pain Research at NUI Galway, and study leader, says: “The body can suppress pain when under extreme stress, in part through the action of marijuana-like substances produced in the brain. What we have now identified for the first time, is that the brain’s hippocampus is an important site of action of these endocannabinoids during the potent suppression of pain by fear.  This research, which was funded by a grant from Science Foundation Ireland, advances our fundamental understanding of the neurobiology of pain and may facilitate the identification of new therapeutic targets for the treatment of pain and anxiety disorders.” Working with Dr Finn, first author Dr Gemma Ford was able to demonstrate that inhibition of the enzyme that breaks down one of these endogenous marijuana-like substances in the hippocampus, had the effect of enhancing stress-induced pain suppression. Further experimentation revealed that these effects were mediated by the cannabinoid CB1 receptor and were likely to be mediated by stress-induced increases in levels of endocannabinoids in the hippocampus. -ends-

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Calling All NUI Galway Graduates of 1986 and 1991

Calling All NUI Galway Graduates of 1986 and 1991 -image

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

NUI Galway will hold a reunion for graduates from the classes of 1986 and 1991 to celebrate the 20th and 25thanniversaries of their graduation on Saturday, 5 November. The reunion will begin at 3pm in the Quadrangle with a reception and photo exhibition of their student days, followed by a bus tour of campus. The celebrations will continue later that evening inGalway’s Hotel Meyrick with a special reunion dinner. Sandra Butler, NUI Galway Alumni Association Chairperson, encourages everyone to attend: “Reunions are special opportunities for graduates and friends to revisit NUI Galway and renew old acquaintances. These events come around just once a decade. So book your place now and get in contact with your classmates and friends and encourage them to come too.” For further information and to book your place, contact Colm O’Dwyer in the Alumni Office on 091 493750 or email alumni@nuigalway.ie   -ENDS-

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Big Ideas from NUI Galway Attract Attention from Investors

Big Ideas from NUI Galway Attract Attention from Investors-image

Friday, 14 October 2011

An Enterprise Ireland event to showcase 120 ‘Big Ideas’ was opened by the Minister for Research and Innovation, Sean Sherlock on Monday, 10 October in the Convention Centre, Dublin. 17 of the 120 inventions developed by publicly-funded researchers emerged from NUI Galway. One of these inventions is at the core of a new company called seevl ltd. This company developed technology to mine the Web to provide detailed information on artists and their music to online listeners, and let them discover music they will love. seevl is already being used in a browser extension of YouTube. Recent figures show a large user base of people listening to music online with the YouTube VEVO channel reaching 60 million unique visitors in July 2011. With Enterprise Ireland’s assistance seevl was established by Alexandre Passant and his fellow music-lovers as a spin-out from the Digital Enterprise Research Institute (DERI) at NUI Galway earlier this year. According to Alexandre Passant: “It has been a thrill just getting this company off the ground, and then to have such feedback, and participate in Big Ideas only five months after the public launch of the start-up. Big Ideas was an ideal showcase for us in terms of industry contacts, and we are delighted by the support given to us by Enterprise Ireland and DERI. Galway is a real hotbed of innovation and technology, and we are delighted to be part of this vibrant space.” Opening the event and announcing the winners of the Enterprise Ireland Commercialisation Awards, Minister Sherlock said: “It is exciting, highly encouraging and very promising for the future to see such a range of high end technologies emerging from publicly-funded research. I am delighted to see that many of the Big Ideas being presented to the investor community today have the potential to become vibrant new companies.” The Minister added: “Enterprise Ireland and the Higher Education Institutes working together have built 185 spin-out companies from State-funded research to date. Besides creating jobs, it is uplifting to see that many of the “Big Ideas” can help people here in Ireland and across the globe with health and lifestyle issues. The Big Ideas event is the largest annual gathering of inventors and investors in the country. 120 new technologies being developed for the marketplace, will be unveiled and, of these the promoters of 18 ‘investor ready’ technologies will be vying for the attention of 200 potential investors attending the event. The ‘Big Ideas’ Showcase is a key event funded by the Government to help develop publicly-funded research into new companies, technologies and services. Feargal Ó Móráin, Executive Director of Enterprise Ireland said: “the focus of the Big Ideas event is to get some deals done between the inventors and investors during the 150 one-to-one meetings which will take place. Enterprise Ireland, in partnership with the Higher Education Institutes, is providing the right environment for investors to explore options to either licence these new technologies from researchers or use them as the basis to form new companies in the energy, life sciences, medical, engineering and IT sectors”. While the Irish system for transferring technology from Third Level Education Institutes into industry is relatively new, the outputs compare favourably with the latest available data from the US and EU authorities in this area – Ireland is creating four spin-outs per $100m invested by the State compared to two in Europe and one in the US. The Minister presented Enterprise Ireland Commercialisation Awards to three companies that showcased their technologies at similar events in the past and have since successfully established a spin-out company.   ENDS

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Rare Newspaper Eedition for NUI Galway

Rare Newspaper Eedition for NUI Galway-image

Monday, 10 October 2011

NUI Galway has been presented with a rare edition of an historically significant newspaper to the James Hardiman Library, through the donation from a private collection of the original 1691 edition of the London Gazette which features an account of the Battle of Aughrim.  The donation, from the personal collection of Councillor Norman Morgan, an East Galway collector, contains a copy of the London Gazette, 16-20 July 1691, issue 2680, which includes an account "From the Camp" of the Battle of Aughrim. Speaking at a special presentation ceremony, Councillor Morgan explained: “The London Gazette of the 16th July, 1691 is the most important item in my personal library. It contains a report of the Battle of Aughrim while the battle was in progress. It states of the Irish troops: “some of their Horse are retired in a body to Loghreah, and that most believe St. Ruth was killed.” Loughrea is where I was born and lived all my life, and, St. Ruth is buried in the Old Carmelite Abbey in Loughrea. This newspaper, printed 320 years ago, 25 years after the first newspaper ever printed in Britain or Ireland, adds to its importance. My paper, while the contents are identical to those in the National Library of Ireland (NLI) and Trinity College Library papers, has a different layout, which proves that there were two printings.  My paper has “The Battle of Aughrim” on the top of page 2, whereas “Hague, July 24”, is on the top of page 2 of the NLI and TCD copies and on the internet. The other difference between these two copies is the use of the capital letter, punctuation marks and spelling, which, in my opinion are more correct in the NLI, TCD and internet papers. This proves that my paper is the original, i.e. first printing.” Councillor Morgan added: “I have served the people in Loughrea as their Town Commissioner/Councillor Loughrea for 39 years.  My vote of 2.9 quotas is the highest ever; the Commissioners were established in 1862.  I know that I could never thank the people enough in one lifetime, so, through my research, my publications and gifts from my library to other libraries: NLI, NUI Galway, British Library and many other libraries, I give benefit even to generations yet unborn.  A gift to a public library is a gift to everybody. According to Dr Pádraig Lenihan of the Department of History at NUI Galway, and a highly-regarded scholar of the period who has published extensively on the Battle of Aughrim and Irish military history: “This issue of the London Gazette, written while the smoke still hung over the field, vividly describes what was probably the bloodiest and most decisive battle in Irish history. ‘Aughrim’s Dread Disaster’ was an event of national and international importance but it has a special resonance for County Galway and it is entirely appropriate that the University should build a first-class collection of sources relating to this event and to the Jacobite War in general.” Last year, Councillor Morgan was recognised by the University with an Honorary MA as a renowned historian and book collector, community activist and Loughrea Town Councillor. Councillor Morgan previously donated 13 rare issues of the Galway Independent from the 1820s to the James Hardiman Library at NUI Galway and 157 rare editions of the Dublin Evening Mail which dated from 5 February, 1838 to 31 December, 1855 to the Dublin City Library. John Cox, University Librarian at the James Hardiman Library, NUI Galway, said: “It will be a privilege for the Library to hold this edition and I have no doubt that scholars will make good use of it as a very valuable primary document from an important period in Irish history. It is especially gratifying to see this significant document remain in Co. Galway and we owe a huge debt of gratitude to Councillor Morgan.” The donation will be held in the James Hardiman Library at NUI Galway, home to a range of theatre, literary, historical and political archives. Collections include the archives of the Druid and Lyric Players Theatres and of Taibhdhearc na Gaillimhe; the literary papers of John McGahern and Thomas Kilroy; the Huston Archive and original documents relating to the foundation of the Gaelic Athletic Association and the Northern Ireland 'Troubles'. ENDS

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Participants Needed for Galway Traffic Project

Participants Needed for Galway Traffic Project -image

Monday, 10 October 2011

NUI Galway researchers are looking for volunteers currently working from home, or have in the past, to participate in a project to find solutions toGalway’s traffic problems. Social scientists at NUI Galway have, over the past two years, been looking at various ways and means to encourage people to adopt more sustainable modes of travel. One element of this research focuses on the issue of teleworking, or working from home while communicating with the workplace. The teleworking project is part of ConsEnSus, a four-year collaborative project between Trinity College Dublin and NUI Galway that examines four key areas of household consumption: transport, energy, water and food. The transport work package examines how people travel and how current travel patterns that are expensive, time-consuming and environmentally unsound could be changed. In the early 2000’s teleworking had been touted as a step towards reducing, or even eliminating, the daily commute to work. The research project investigates why teleworking has failed to resonate with many employers and employees and how companies and workers can make more informed decisions about this technology-supported way of working. It also looks at what types of policies are needed to ensure that the benefits and drawbacks for individuals, wider society and the environment are adequately recognised. Mike Hynes, an NUI Galway PhD student and member of the ConsEnSus team investigating people’s concerns in relation to telework, said: “Often the focus with working from home is on technical issues and the tasks that need to be accomplished. However, many social aspects that impact on whether people can successfully work from home are overlooked. Issues such as family commitments, neighbour’s expectations and the importance of the social aspects of work are factors that need to be considered by workers and management before a person commits to teleworking.  While teleworking can lead to increased productivity and has the potential to greatly improve people’s work/life balance, it also has considerable drawbacks. Issues such as longer working hours, the blurring of boundaries between work and leisure, unrealistic management expectations and experiences of isolation among some teleworkers are all areas of legitimate concern. Dr Henrike Rau, Lecturer in theSchoolofPolitical Scienceand Sociology at NUI Galway and lead researcher on the transport project, said:  “Galway’s traffic problems can sometimes seem intractable but to leave things as they are is not an option. We need sustainable solutions that will benefitGalwaywell into the future. Looking at practical ways and using tools that are readily available is very important. Mobile devices and information and communication technologies are already an integral part of everyday life for many people inGalway. Working from home could potentially benefit employees, employers and the environment by reducing the need to commute to work.” Those interested in participating in the ConsEnSus project should contact info@consensus.ie. -ENDS-

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NUI Galway to Hold Information Evening in Dublin

NUI Galway to Hold Information Evening in Dublin-image

Monday, 10 October 2011

Secondary school students interested in NUI Galway are invited to an information evening in Dublin on Thursday, 20 October. Parents and guardians are also particularly welcome to the event which runs from 7 to 9pm in the Tara Towers Hotel, Dublin 4. The evening will begin with short talks about NUI Galway and some of the 60 courses it offers. Afterwards, current students and NUI Galway staff will be on hand at information stands to answer any individual questions in relation to courses offered by the University and about practical issues like accommodation, fees and scholarships, and the wide range of support services available to our students. The ever-increasing popularity of NUI Galway is in part due to a whole suite of innovative new programmes, developed in response to the changing needs of the employment market, including an Energy Engineering degree and a Maths and Education degree aimed at training Maths teachers. Visitors to the information evening will also get information on NUI Galway’s newest degree programme, a BA in Drama, Theatre and Performance Studies which is brand new for 2012. “NUI Galway has a great deal to offer. Our own students tell us our lecturers are inspirational and challenge them to achieve their full potential. The student experience in Galway is second to none, and we want to bring a taste of that to Dublin, while also providing all the practical information on accommodation, CAO points, fees, scholarships and courses. With so many courses on offer, this event in Dublin is a perfect opportunity to meet current students and our lecturers to see what degree might be the right fit”, says Caroline Loughnane, Director of Marketing and Communications at NUI Galway. To find out more about the information evening in Dublin, contact NUI Galway's Schools Liaison Office, Siobhán Dorman, Schools Liaison Office on 086 042 1591 or siobhan.dorman@nuigalway.ie. -Ends-

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NUI Galway Hold Number of Events for Maths Week

NUI Galway Hold Number of Events for Maths Week-image

Monday, 10 October 2011

Maths Week Ireland will take place throughout the country from 15 to 22 October. As part of this week, a number of fun maths-filled events will be hosted by theSchool ofMathematics, Statistics and Applied Mathematics at NUI Galway to promote an appreciation and an awareness of maths in society. On Monday, 17 October, Dr Steve Humble, also known as “Dr Maths”, will give workshops to primary and secondary school audiences at NUI Galway. Dr Humble is one of the topUKmaths presenters and has worked for The National Centre for Excellence in the Teaching of Mathematics in the North East of England. He believes that the fundamentals of mathematics can be taught via practical experiments. During the second half of the week, there will be several special maths workshops held at the University to highlight the importance, usefulness, and enjoyment of mathematics. These workshops, delivered by Dr David O’Keeffe, Lecturer with theSchoolofMathematics, Statistics and Applied Mathematics at NUI Galway, will be focused at primary and secondary school students. Topics explored at these sessions will include how Julius Caesar used maths to protect his empire and how blind people do and read maths. Dr David O'Keeffe, chief organiser of Maths Week events at NUI Galway, said: “Often a question asked by many is ‘why do we need maths?’ It is important to remember that maths is in use all around us every day. In fact, you would be hard pressed to find something that does not involve mathematics in some way. Even if we never study maths as a subject, there are many uses of mathematics in all the sciences, business and technological fields. Playing video games that have puzzles to solve, how the Google search engine works for instance all involves doing mathematics. The idea of Maths Week is to illustrate the relevance and beauty of this subject in a fun and interactive way.” Schools throughout Galwayand beyond are encouraged to participate in these special events to make maths accessible to a wider audience and can register on the maths week website www.mathsweek.ie. Schools who register will also be in with a chance to win a Promethean Interactive Whiteboard. For further information on Maths Week at NUI Galway contact David O'Keeffe at david.okeeffe@nuigalway.ie  or 091 492740. -ENDS-

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NUI Galway Celebrate the 2011 Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought

NUI Galway Celebrate the 2011 Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought-image

Monday, 10 October 2011

The Irish Centre for Human Rights, together with the Office of the European Parliament inIreland, will host a debate to celebrate the 2011 Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought. The event will take place on Tuesday, 18 October, at 5pm in Áras Uí Chatháil, NUI Galway. Since 1988, in the spirit of Andrei Sakharov, the European Parliament has awarded the annual Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought to honour individuals or organisations for their efforts on behalf of human rights, fundamental freedoms and against oppression and injustice. This reflects the conviction of the Parliament that fundamental freedoms includes not only the right to life and physical integrity, but also freedom of expression and of the press, two of the most effective means of fighting oppression and key yardsticks by which to judge whether a society is democratic and open. The winner is awarded the prize, along with an endowment of €50,000, at a formal sitting inStrasbourgto take place on Saturday, 10 December, the day on which the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights was signed in 1948. This year there are five nominees, one of which lists five members of the ‘Arab Spring’. At the NUI Galway event, students from the Irish Centre for Human Rights will represent a nominee for the Sakharov Prize and will give a short presentation and argue the case as to why their chosen nominee should be given the award. Following the presentations, the floor will be opened for debate, after which the audience will take part in a vote to choose who they believe should receive the award. Representatives of the European Parliament will convey the results from the NUI Galway debate back to the Parliament’s Human Rights Sub-Committee, where the next stage of deliberations is due to take place on 20 October. Deputy Director of the Irish Centre for Human Rights, Dr Vinodh Jaichand, said, “This debate is a real opportunity to participate in the selection of an outstanding advocate of freedom of thought and expression, a person whose courage has made a difference.” -ENDS-

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Minister Rabbitte Awards NUI Galway €230,000 under the BenefIT 3 Scheme

Minister Rabbitte Awards NUI Galway €230,000 under the BenefIT 3 Scheme-image

Monday, 10 October 2011

NUI Galway has been successfully awarded €230,000 as part of an inter agency collaboration that will train 4,600 people categorised as digitally excluded.  The project, entitled ‘Click and Connect’ is part of the BenefIT 3 scheme which has awarded €1.88m for 20 training projects run by community and voluntary groups and not for profit organisations across the country.  The ‘Click and Connect’ project will offer the people of Galway an introduction to the use of Information Communications Technology (ICT).  The training will offer hands on practical skills in digital photography and processing, using the internet to communicate with friends and family, online banking and government services. The partners include Age Action, Limerick Community Connect, DCU and NUI Galway.  Pat Byrne, Lecturer with the College of Engineering and Informatics at NUI Galway and lead in the Project, said: “This award stems from service learning activities that have been embedded in the University since 2003.  It is a great achievement for us and recognises the work that NUI Galway has been offering pro bono to the community and those traditionally excluded from ICT.  Classes will commence in January 2012 and information will be made available through the Community Knowledge Initiative (CKI) at NUI Galway and local press.” Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources, Pat Rabbitte T.D., said: “This important scheme means that 40,000 people will gain from IT training between now and June 2012.   The programme is to support those who have not yet gone on-line.    In particular older people will benefit – as will an estimated 17,000 unemployed people as well as other disadvantaged groups.  By supporting community and voluntary organisations to deliver this training we can ensure excellent value for money.”     The ‘Click and Connect’ project will be key to intergenerational learning and will involve partnerships with the local community. This type of learning is vital to the NUI Galway student experience, and the University, through the CKI, is committed to the development of service and student volunteering.  -ENDS-

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