Former US Under Secretary for Energy Among Advisory Board for Ryan Institute

Former US Under Secretary for Energy Among Advisory Board for Ryan Institute-image

Monday, 9 July 2012

Former Under Secretary for Energy with the Obama administration, Dr Kris Johnson, is one of the newly appointed Advisory Board for NUI Galway’s Ryan Institute. The Advisory Panel meets in NUI Galway today, ahead of tomorrow’s official launch of the Ryan Institute for Environmental, Marine and Energy Research by Máire Geoghegan-Quinn, the EU Commissioner for Research, Innovation and Science. Dr Johnson is joined on the board by Dr Aaron Bernstein ofHarvard Medical School, Dr Lisa Amini of IBM, Dr Niall McDonough of the European Science Foundation and Dr James Cunningham of NUI Galway. Dr Johnson was Under Secretary for Energy at the Department of Energy in Washington, DC until end-2010. TheRyan Institutehas over 300 researchers making itIreland’s largest research institute to focus on some of the most pressing environmental and energy issues of the 21st century. The official launch tomorrow, Tuesday, will coincide with a public symposium entitled ‘Green Shift, Blue Growth, Bright Future?’ featuring leading international experts in the environmental marine, energy and smart infrastructure research. The free event, which will also be attended by Pat Rabbitte TD, Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources is open to the public with more information available on During his keynote address at the symposium, Dr Bernstein has said that he wishes to address “the greatest accounting problem ever known” which relates not to the value of money but the “value of nature”. He says: “The depletion of natural capital makes clear that we have as yet been unable to balance the biospheric books even if our survival depends on it.” Bernstein claims that about half of the newly approved medicines in the United States between 1980 and the present wouldn’t exist if nature hadn't provided them to us. “In addition, nearly two-thirds of humanity drinks water from lakes, rivers or other freshwater bodies that may be purified by species inhabiting the watershed surrounding those water bodies”, he adds. Dr Bernstein says: “The Ryan Institute at NUI Galway has many worthy goals in research and education, and it is noteworthy that despite the financial turmoil that besets Ireland, the Institute has moved ahead. Surely at a time when we must know so much more about the life that sustains us, and must redouble our efforts to educate ourselves about why nature matters, this reflects a deep wisdom, the kind of which we must use to meet the challenges that lie ahead and that will enable us to find the accounting we need to do business better with the biosphere.” Professor Colin Brown, Director of the Ryan Institute, said: “Our Institute is honoured to have such leading experts lend their support, innovative ideas and international perspective on how our strengths in environmental, marine and energy research can be harnessed to provide maximum impact for Ireland in the coming decade.” -ends-

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O’Shaughnessy Bridge Launch

O’Shaughnessy Bridge Launch-image

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

The new Mayor of Galway city, Cllr Terry O’Flaherty, has launched the O’Shaughnessy Bridge with Mr Keith Warnock, Vice-President for Capital Projects at NUI Galway. The bridge, which crosses the Eglinton Canal, is a suspension bridge of about 50 metres and is designed for use by both pedestrians and cyclists as part of a wider scheme to encourage sustainable travel in Galway City. Speaking at the launch, Mayor O’Flaherty said: “This joint initiative between Galway Transportation Unit and NUI Galway is a credit to all involved. In particular this bridge plays a significant role in the increase in walking and cycling in the City by providing a high quality channel by which pedestrians and cyclists alike can avail. It offers potential to reduce car dependency in key areas of the City by offering commuters and pedestrian travel options.” The project consisted of the design and construction of two bridges, the main one spanning the Eglinton Canal and a smaller one spanning a nearby mill race. It is part of the Smarter Travel initiative and provides a vital link between Fisheries Field and the NUI Galway Campus. The project was promoted on a partnership basis by NUI Galway and Galway City Council. On behalf of NUI Galway, Keith Warnock, Vice-President for Capital Projects, said: “We in the University were pleased to have the opportunity to work with our colleagues in Galway City Council to advance this very worthwhile project.” Mr Warnock thanked members of the design team and the employees of the contractors, all of whom had worked with NUI Galway staff to deliver the project very effectively. The consulting engineers were Ryan Hanley and L&M Keating were the main contractors. The structural steelwork for the bridge was manufactured in Galway by Pat Rynn (Engineering) Ltd. Landscape architects Mitchell & Associates worked on the area where the bridge now meets the campus. Finance for the €1million project came from the National Sustainable Travel Office in the Department of Transport, with some additional funds provided by Galway University Foundation and the University itself. Michael O'Shaughnessy (1864-1934), whom the bridge is named after, graduated in Civil Engineering from NUI Galway (then Queen's College Galway) in 1884. In 1912 he was appointed Chief Engineer of the City of San Francisco. He undertook the building of new infrastructure for the city after the disastrous earthquake and fires of 1906, including the construction of the Twin Peaks tunnel, the famous Seashore Wall, the streetcar (tramway) system and the San Francisco Water-Supply and Electric-Power project, involving dams, powerhouses and 160 miles of transmission towers, pipelines and tunnels the whole way to the City. As City Engineer, O'Shaughnessy commissioned the design and construction of the Golden Gate Bridge. The O'Shaughnessy Dam was named in his honour and provides water and electricity to 2.4 million people in the city of San Francisco, San Mateo County, Alameda County, and the San Joaquin Valley. Prior to becoming Chief Engineer in San Francisco O’Shaughnessy worked as Engineer with the Southern Pacific Railroad and with the Sierra Valley and Mohawk Railroad; was Chief Engineer of the Mountain Copper Company, where he built 12 miles of narrow gauge mountain railroad; assisted in building an aggregate of about thirty miles of large irrigation conduit and some twenty miles of tunnel in Hawaii; and constructed the 260ft high Morena Dam and 13 miles of conduit with seventeen tunnels for the City of San Diego.  ENDS

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First Annual Professor Anthony P. Moran Prize

First Annual Professor Anthony P. Moran Prize-image

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

The First Annual Professor Anthony P. Moran Prize for a Postgraduate Research Paper in Microbiology at NUI Galway has been awarded to PhD student Kate Reddington.   A native of Westport, Co. Mayo, Kate won the award for her recent paper on tuberculosis testing. It is hoped that her research will contribute to the global effort to control tuberculosis (TB). The new diagnostic DNA test allows for the identification of the exact bacteria causing a patient’s TB which will give valuable information for their treatment.   The prize was given in memory of the late Anthony (Tony) Moran, who was Professor of Microbiology at NUI Galway until his death in 2010. His major research contribution to microbial biochemistry and glycobiology is widely recognised at both national and international levels. Professor Moran was also a Mayo native, originally from Westport.   This Professor Anthony P. Moran Prize is open to PhD or MSc students, currently registered at NUI Galway who, as lead author, publish a high-quality research paper on any aspect of the microbiology of prokaryotic or eukaryotic micro-organisms.   Kate’s article was published in the acclaimed scientific journal PLoS ONE, and was co-authored by NUI Galway’s Dr Thomas Barry and Dr Justin O’Grady.   -ends-

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NUI Galway Create Galway City Weather Smartphone App

NUI Galway Create Galway City Weather Smartphone App-image

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

Local Galway City weather is now available on your smartphone via an android app.  The app arose from a collaboration between the disciplines of Information Technology and Civil Engineering at NUI Galway. The weather data is provided by the IRUSE research group at NUI Galway led by Dr Marcus Keane, Lecturer in Energy Systems Engineering at the University. Dr Hugh Melvin, Lecturer in Information Technology at NUI Galway, said: “Is Galway the wettest city in Ireland? We all know that the Irish love talking about the weather and that the Irish love their smartphones. Now you can combine these two with a free Android app and answer that question at the same time. This version won’t stop the rain or banish the clouds but we hope that the next one will, a practical example of cloud computing.” The app is free and can be found by searching ‘NUIG Weather’ on Android app store. The app provides live weather data (such as temperature, wind speed, wind direction, rainfall and atmospheric pressure) as well as graphs of archived data so that you can review trends in weather over last day or month. The weather data is also available via web browser from The app development was carried out by Ronan Everiss, an NUI Galway Bachelor of Science in Information Technology graduate under the supervision of Dr Hugh Melvin. -ENDS-

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NUI Galway Marine Technology Helps PUMA to Victory in In-Port Race

NUI Galway Marine Technology Helps PUMA to Victory in In-Port Race-image

Wednesday, 11 July 2012

The coastal radar system run by Dr Mike Hartnett’s research group in the newly launched Ryan Institute at NUI Galway, made a last minute entry into the Volvo Ocean Race. It has been revealed that the radar, which measures currents and waves throughout Galway Bay on the hour, was instrumental to the success of the PUMA team in the in-port races. The radar is a sophisticated system, normally used for advanced marine research. The finale to the Volvo Ocean Race took place in Galway Bay on Saturday afternoon, with the Discover Ireland In-Port Race, with PUMA going into the race tied on the same points with CAMPER. On Friday afternoon, Dr Hartnett was contacted by Robert Hopkins Jnr., PUMA Ocean Racing performance coach, to see if the radar data could be provided to the crew of the PUMA boat. Maps of the currents in the bay over the past month were made available to PUMA and Dr Hartnett advised PUMA on their sailing strategy for the important race. As is now widely known, PUMA went on to win in great style and win the series by a one point margin. The win marked PUMA’s first trip to the top of the podium for an in-port race in this round of the Volvo Ocean Race. PUMA finished on the podium in nine of the 10 in-port races, collecting 45 total points to win the overall In-Port Race Series. The crew was tied with CAMPER going into the final race and won the series by one point.  PUMA’s Robert Hopkins Jnr was delighted and said: “Currents in Galway Bay were a big factor in the In-Port Race, where tides, wind and river outflow make it all very complicated. To prepare for the race, we looked for surface current patterns in hundreds hours of data from the NUI Galway radar, took on-the-water readings before the start, and data from Mar Mostro’s own Doppler velocity log supplied by Nortek AS. It worked and we won the race.” The NUI Galway radar data will soon be available online to the public, hopefully helping local sailors to improve their performance. Dr Hartnett acknowledged the assistance provided by two local businessmen in enabling this advanced technology: “The Spiddal radar site is sending its data back to the computers at NUI Galway via the broadband service of An Crúiscín Lán, thanks to the permission of owner John Foy. Similarly, Liam Twomey, General Manager of the National Aquarium of Ireland, Salthill, provided access to their broadband to courier the Mutton Island radar data back to NUI Galway.” -ends-

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‘Taking the pain out of work’: Promising results from ongoing back pain rehabilitation trial at NUI Galway

‘Taking the pain out of work’: Promising results from ongoing back pain rehabilitation trial at NUI Galway-image

Wednesday, 11 July 2012

Interim findings from the HRB-funded ‘Pain Disability Prevention Trial’, currently running at the Centre for Pain Research, NUI Galway, shows promising results for people with back pain.  The researchers are evaluating the effectiveness of an active rehabilitation programme which allows patients who are off work due to back pain, the opportunity to attend 10 free one-to-one sessions with a Clinical Psychologist trained in pain rehabilitation.  The aims of the sessions are to help patients to gradually increase their level of activity and return to work.   Sessions focus on a range of pacing techniques, cognitive therapy to identify any unhelpful thinking patterns and the development of activity goals, stretches and exercising to improve physical function. Miriam Raftery, researcher at the Centre for Pain Research, NUI Galway, says “The initial trends show that those who took part in the rehabilitation sessions had improvements in overall level of functioning and activity levels as well as significant reductions in stress and anxiety, compared to those who didn’t take part in the programme.  This suggests that the active rehabilitation programme may be beneficial in improving overall quality of life among those with back pain.” Sue, 54, from Limerick, who took part in the free sessions earlier this year, says:  “The sessions helped me to structure my day, and acknowledge completed tasks.  It helped me realise that prior to the sessions every day was more or less the same.  I am now back to full time employment after four years.  I think the programme really helped me with this.” Tom, 37, from Galway, says: “I found the programme very beneficial and was very helpful to have the set appointment every week.  I will miss the sessions enormously.” Researchers are still recruiting people to take part in this trial in Galway, Mayo, Sligo, Donegal, Limerick, Cork and Dublin.  All appointments take place locally in each region.  The researchers are interested in hearing from people who are unable to work or are on reduced work hours due to back pain. Lead researcher Dr Brian McGuire, NUI Galway, said: “We are very encouraged with the early results of this programme, it has made a significant difference in the activity levels of a number of people with chronic pain.” For further information about taking part, please contact Miriam Raftery, Centre for Pain Research, NUI Galway, email, phone 091 495 830 or see the trial website:  General Practitioners and physiotherapists interested in referring patients to the trial are also invited to contact this number. ENDS

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Delegation from Irish Centre for Human Rights calls for Human-Rights Based Approach to Development

Delegation from Irish Centre for Human Rights calls for Human-Rights Based Approach to Development-image

Wednesday, 11 July 2012

A delegation from NUI Galway’s Irish Centre for Human Rights will appear today before the Irish Parliamentary Committee on Africa, to make the case for a rights-based approach to development assistance. The group will call on Ireland to fulfil its international legal obligations by adopting an ethical investment strategy as a core principle of its foreign policy.    Peter Fitzmaurice, Josh Curtis and Michael Higgins will speak today at the Houses of the Oireachtais, at a specially convened meeting which is expected to be attended by large numbers of TDs and senators.  The gathering represents the Irish section of AWEPA (Association of European Parliamentarians with Africa), which has over 130 members in the Oireachtas and is regarded as one of the most active sections. AWEPA works in partnership with African parliaments to strengthen parliamentary democracy in Africa, keep Africa high on the political agenda in Europe, and facilitate African-European parliamentary dialogue. Ireland is currently undertaking a review of its Development Programme, and the AWEPA committee in seeking to keep its members informed about development issues, invited the members from the Irish Centre for Human Rights to make their presentation.  Speaking before the Committee met, Michael Higgins, a graduate from the Irish Centre for Human Rights, said: “Ireland can be justifiably proud of its tradition of helping others, but it now risks losing this legacy. Ireland forms part of the Nordic Plus group, a set of countries universally acknowledged as the international development agencies that lead the way in terms of best practice, effectiveness and innovation. However, in recent years, while all the other members of the Nordic Plus group have shifted towards or adopted a rights-based approach, Ireland has remained behind.” “Other countries have realised that a rights-based approach offers an authoritative response to many questions posed both by the public and policy makers; how can we ensure our development assistance leads to recipient governments adopting pro-poor policies, how can we ensure development assistance is sustainable, how can we ensure the participation of the poorest and most vulnerable in decisions that affect their lives? Ireland should follow the example set by the other members of the Nordic Plus group.”    Josh Curtis, a Doctoral Fellow at the Irish Centre for Human Rights, suggested that the Irish Government must engage with the issue of Irish and EU investment policy if the developmental aims of the Irish Aid programme are to be realised and achieved with integrity. He noted that international trade and investment agreements often operate counter to the interests of developing countries, and are presently prejudicial to the rationale and aims of development assistance.  Peter Fitzmaurice, also a Doctoral Fellow at the Irish Centre for Human Rights at NUI Galway, added that recent developments in international human rights law concerning the obligations of donor states and international cooperation mandates the realisation of a more just and equitable system of international economic governance. He indicated that donor states will increasingly contend with arguments from developing countries, civil society, and the public, that a re-orientation of donor investment and assistance policy is necessary as a matter of international law. ends

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NUI Galway Law School Launches New Part-Time Programmes

NUI Galway Law School Launches New Part-Time Programmes-image

Tuesday, 17 July 2012

The School of Law at NUI Galway has announced six new programmes, starting in September 2012. The new programmes will be offered on a part-time basis and aimed at applicants who want to upgrade or refresh their legal skills but are unable take on a full-time course. Building on the innovative Master’s degree in Law, Technology and Governance, the School is accepting applications for: LLM in Law, Technology and Governance (part-time) Postgraduate Diploma in Commercial Regulation and Compliance (full-time) Postgraduate Certificate in Commercial Regulation and Compliance (part-time) Postgraduate Certificate in E-Commerce Law (part-time) Postgraduate Certificate in Intellectual Property Law (part-time) Postgraduate Certificate in Information Technology Law (part-time) This suite of programmes offers students an opportunity to explore in-depth substantive social issues and questions of law and governance as these mechanisms evolve to deal with ever-changing technology and rapid scientific advances. In addition, academics from other institutions and key figures in public service, private practice and national and international organisations regularly contribute to the programme and enrich the overall learning experience. NUI Galway’s School of Law offers an active and dynamic learning environment with significant interaction between students and staff. Its objective is to produce highly-skilled and competent graduates with a significant expertise in their chosen subjects. NUI Galway Lecturer in Law, Rónán Kennedy, said: “We have specifically designed these new programmes for those who want to upgrade or refresh their legal skills but cannot take on a full-time course. Successful completion of these programmes can open a number of career options. If you intend to become a solicitor or barrister, for example, or are already qualified and want to expand into new career pathways, the topics covered are all busy areas of practice and will open attractive options, both in Ireland and abroad. If you want to work in the public sector or public service, the focus on policy issues will give you a perspective which will be of considerable benefit.” The deadline for applications is Friday, 10 August and applications can be made through ENDS

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Microsoft Invitation for NUI Galway Professor

Microsoft Invitation for NUI Galway Professor-image

Tuesday, 17 July 2012

One of Ireland’s leading web science experts, Professor Stefan Decker, has been invited to attend the exclusive Microsoft Research Faculty Summit in the US this week. Professor Decker is Director of the Digital Enterprise Research Institute (DERI) at NUI Galway, which was set up with funding from SFI in 2003, and has since grown to become the largest research institute of its kind in the world. The annual Microsoft Research Faculty Summit unites academic researchers and educators with Microsoft researchers, product group engineers, and architects to explore new opportunities and challenges in computer science research. The event, involving 400 of the best academic investigators from around the world, takes place in Redmond, Washington, today and tomorrow. DERI’s work is focussed on bringing about networked knowledge, by developing and applying a range of web technologies and standards. According to Professor Decker: “New standards and technologies are changing the World Wide Web from a web of documents into a network of data and knowledge. A combination of technologies, known collectively as the Semantic Web, is making it possible to link that data together on the Web and to use it in new and exciting ways, and transform the Web into networked knowledge.” -ends-

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Irish Centre for Social Gerontology Launches New Report Series

Irish Centre for Social Gerontology Launches New Report Series-image

Tuesday, 17 July 2012

The 2011 Census shows that more than two out of every five people aged 65 and over lives in a rural community. Surprisingly, relatively little is known about the situation of this important demographic group. The Rural Ageing Observatory at NUI Galway’s Irish Centre for Social Gerontology is seeking to fill some of the gaps in knowledge on rural ageing. It recently launched the first two reports in a series that, in time, will provide vital information about the ageing population in rural Ireland. The first of the short reports focuses on key demographic trends and issues facing rural older people. The second report summarises evidence relating to income, poverty and deprivation of Ireland’s older rural population. Launching the reports, Professor Thomas Scharf, Director of the Irish Centre for Social Gerontology at NUI Galway, said: “More than 200,000 people over the age of 65 live in rural communities across Ireland. In the autumn, the government will be launching its National Positive Ageing Strategy. It’s important that this is a strategy for older people wherever they live – in rural as well as in urban communities. Greater awareness of the circumstances of rural older people, in particular, is essential if the right policy measures are to be adopted.” Both reports are available online at -ends-

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