Irish Higher Education Institutes Partnership Leading a National Education Revolution

Irish Higher Education Institutes Partnership Leading a National Education Revolution-image

Tuesday, 1 July 2014

Minister for Education and Skills Ruairí Quinn T.D. acknowledged the role of NUI Galway in revolutionising education in Ireland at the ACE (Accelerating Campus Entrepreneurship) Conference at Farmleigh House in Dublin yesterday. Over the last six years, NUI Galway has worked with seven other Irish Higher Education Institutes as part of the ACE Consortium, to introduce enterprise and entrepreneurship education in non-business courses. “We all know that business students learn valuable financial and management skills. But it is also vital that those studying other disciplines such as engineering, creative industries and healthcare learn essential business skills. By learning to think in an entrepreneurial way, graduates are better prepared for the world of employment or self-employment” explained Michael Campion of NUI Galway’s Discipline of Management. At the ACE Conference the CEEN (Campus Entrepreneurship Enterprise Network) was established. This will provide a network for educators to share resources and support the introduction of enterprise education in non-business disciplines across their campus. In addition to driving the entrepreneurship agenda in third level education, the CEEN will work with primary and secondary educators to integrate entrepreneurship and enterprise education into Irish education.  “Irish education must be innovative. It needs to adapt to meet the changing needs of graduates. It is not enough to teach technical skills. Entrepreneurship is a mind-set. It is a suite of skills. It is an ability to assess problems and find solutions. By teaching entrepreneurship, we give our children the toolkit they need to design their own future. This is the era of the ‘Entrepreneurial Graduate’ in Irish Education and NUI Galway is proud to lead this way in this major educational change” concluded Mr Campion. -Ends-

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NUI Galway Students Receive Merit Award at Enterprise Ireland Student Entrepreneur Awards

NUI Galway Students Receive Merit Award at Enterprise Ireland Student Entrepreneur Awards -image

Tuesday, 1 July 2014

Two final year BSc (Business Information Systems) students at NUI Galway were awarded a Merit Award at the recent Enterprise Ireland Student Entrepreneur of the Year Awards. Lorcan Farrell and Domhnall Walsh, both from Galway City, received the award for their project ‘Ice Eyes’. ‘Ice Eyes’ the is an innovative solar powered cat’s eye road marker that is equipped with the technology to identify the temperature of the road and signal to drivers via a blue LED light when the temperature of that road has fallen below freezing. The aim of the project was to reduce the amount of accidents on Irish roads and all over the world during the cold seasons. Mary Dempsey, College of Engineering and Informatics, NUI Galway said: “This success reflects how our students expand existing technology boundaries and it demonstrates the richness of their innovative capacity. I am very proud of our students and their achievement of a merit award.”  This year celebrates the 32nd year of the Enterprise Ireland Student Entrepreneur of the Year Awards. The Awards are part of a major drive aimed at tapping into the potential for students and young people to turn their entrepreneurial ideas into commercial businesses. This is Ireland’s largest and longest established third-level student enterprise competition. The awards are co-sponsored by Invest Northern Ireland, Cruickshank Intellectual Property Attorneys, Intel and Grant Thornton and are open to all third level colleges across the Island of Ireland.   The awards were presented by Tom Hayes, Head of Micro Enterprises and Small Business at Enterprise Ireland and Dougie Howlett, from Munster Rugby. Each team received a tablet from Intel and Intellectual Property Consultancy from Cruickshank.  -Ends-

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International Experts to Gather to Discuss Chemistry of Sugars

International Experts to Gather to Discuss Chemistry of Sugars-image

Tuesday, 1 July 2014

Numerous scientists around the world are working to better understand the complex sugars, or glycans, which coat every living cell in our bodies. Glycans are involved in the interactions between cells and physiological processes, such as fertilisation, cancer, and stem-cell differentiation. Some of the leading experts in this field will convene at NUI Galway from August 6-9, 2014. The goal of the 5th Warren Workshop will be to highlight the capabilities and limitations that exist in the detection, identification, and quantification of these carbohydrates. Professor Rob Woods, School of Chemistry, NUI Galway, explains the complexities involved in understanding the chemistry involved in glycosience: “Glycans are very complex and each one is unique. It’s almost like our cells are covered in snowflakes, each having its own unique fluctuating shape. So how do proteins or anitbodies identify and bind to glycans?  If we could better understand this, we could use this this knowledge to develop carbohydrate-specific biosensors for use in disease diagnosis and treatment”. The driving force for the Warren Workshop series is the need for detailed structural analysis of glycans in the context of complex biological systems. The workshop will bring together experts from around the globe in the discipline to establish workflows for tackling these huge challenges. Speakers will be coming from Ireland, the US, Switzerland, England, Japan, Australia, Sweden, Taiwan, the Czech Republic, Germany, the Netherlands, and Israel. Professor Pauline Rudd, National Institute for Bioprocessing Research and Training (NIBERT) notes that NUI Galway, DCU, UCD, TCD and NIBRT all have strong programmes in applied glycoscience, especially in technology development, analytics, molecular modelling, carbohydrate recognition, oligosaccharide synthesis and glycan pathway modelling. In addition, bioinformatics programmes have been pioneered by Irish scientists. This meeting focuses on many of these topics, and particularly on new technologies of direct relevance to Pharmaceutical companies.  In light of the 2013 Nobel Prize in Chemistry being awarded for Computational Simulations, the 5th Warren Workshop will also include a session on computational glycoscience. Professor Woods’ research group at NUI Galway is supported by Science Foundation Ireland and closely integrates strong computational and experimental skill sets: “Because of the mind-blowing complexities involved, we need the most advanced computational simulations to help us better understand how glycans are interacting and communicating within our bodies”. The team in Professor Wood’s lab is investigating antiviral agents to block viral infections and applying their findings to influenza; chosen because of the potential for a pandemic. The group is also working on the development of diagnostics for cancer markers with a focus on pancreatic cancer, one of the more virulent forms of cancer with a mortality rate of over 90%. Early detection of all cancers, preferably by non-invasive surveillance, is needed for all cancers, but particularly for the most aggressive forms. For further information on the 5th Warren Workshop visit  -ends-

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Secure Bicycle Compound at NUI Galway

Secure Bicycle Compound at NUI Galway-image

Tuesday, 1 July 2014

The new secure bicycle compound at NUI Galway was officially launched on the 18th June. Coinciding with this year’s National Bike Week the compound is open to staff and students who want to cycle to work and leave their bike in a secure location. A University ID card is all that is required to access the facility. With space for more than 320 bikes there are separate entrances and exits for cyclists use only with a permanent pumping station due for installation in the coming weeks. The high security compound is one of a number of facilities aimed at encouraging staff and students to cycle to campus. Bicycle lockers are currently on trial and additional bike racks are being installed at a variety of locations around the campus.

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University Institute Announces Major Collaboration Project with Leading Global Science Publisher

University Institute Announces Major Collaboration Project with Leading Global Science Publisher-image

Wednesday, 2 July 2014

Elsevier Publishers, one of world’s leading scientific publishers, have announced an ambitious collaboration with the Insight Centre for Data Analytics. The centre established by Science Foundation Ireland is a joint initiative between researchers at NUI Galway, Dublin City University, University College Cork, University College Dublin and other partner institutions. The collaboration with Elsevier will focus on developing new scientometric techniques - that is, techniques for measuring the progress and impact of scientific and scholarly work. A team at Insight NUI Galway will work on the development of a novel platform for incorporating various sources of scientometric information, both traditional (e.g. bibliometric) and new (e.g. social media) in order to capture a holistic view of scientific practice and discourse. “While the use of citation data for measuring scientific impact is well established”, explains Professor Siegfriend Handshuh of Insight, “it is far less clear how science propagates its influence through other channels, such as news publications, social media, government policy documents and so on.” Elsevier are at the forefront of the development of several scientometric tools such as PURE, a platform to measure an organisation's research and collaboration strategies and accomplishments. It is envisaged that the collaboration with Insight will lead to the development of novel scientometric services to complement and extend existing products such as PURE. “Elsevier is delighted to be working with the new Insight Centre on this project” said Nick Fowler, Elsevier’s Managing Director of Academic and Government Institutional Markets, who is responsible for PURE and other products. “Working with an academic research partner lets us take on projects with a higher risk and reward than we normally could. That higher risk/reward approach is also enabled by the generous matching grant from the Irish government, otherwise we would not be able to dedicate four Ph.D. researchers for three years to such a project.” “This is a very important collaboration for Insight”, according to Professor Handschuh, “as researchers, we have an interest in improving the way scientific information is communicated, used and measured. Partnering with Elsevier has given us an insight into real problems, real data  and challenges we would not have foreseen.”  -Ends-

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NFB Researcher awarded Royal Academy of Medicine Ireland Donegan Medal

NFB Researcher awarded Royal Academy of Medicine Ireland Donegan Medal-image

Wednesday, 2 July 2014

Catalina Vallejo Giraldo, a PhD student at the Network of Excellence for Functional Biomaterials (NFB) at NUI Galway, has been awarded the Royal Academy of Medicine Ireland (RAMI) Donegan Medal. She received the award for her presentation at the Section of Biomedical Sciences annual meeting held in UCD on Thursday, 19 June. The meeting featured a high calibre scientific programme covering novel biomedical research ongoing in Ireland. The competition is open to students presenting research for the first time at a meeting or conference and the Donegan Medal is awarded to the best oral presenter. This year, 16 entrants entered the competition. Catalina won the competition for her research on improving the design of implanted microelectrodes used for the treatment of neurodegenerative disorders. At present, implantable, electrically stimulating systems consisting of a number of electrodes that transmit signals via electrical conduction in bodily fluids are being investigated to treat neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s. While implanted electrodes work reasonably well for short term applications, they have had limited success over longer implantation times. With current methods the inflammatory response around the electrode interface increases to such an extent that there is neural loss and instability of the electrodes at the implantation site. It is this problem that Catalina’s research addresses by improving long-term function through use of conducting polymers to coat the implanted electrodes. Under the supervision of Professor Abhay Pandit, Dr Manus Biggs and Dr Eilís Dowd, she is developing polymeric neural probes for deep brain stimulation to treat Parkinson’s disease. Current therapies for Parkinson’s only provide relief from the symptoms of the disease and do not offer a cure. Catalina’s research, funded by Science Foundation Ireland, offers the possibility of halting the degenerative process with potential to cure the disease. Originally from Colombia, Catalina got her BSc with honours in Biomedical Engineering at Escuela de Ingeniería de Antioquia. After this, she was awarded her MSc in Biomedical Sciences from the prestigious Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, USA. She is starting her second year as a PhD student at NUI Galway. -Ends-

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NUI Galway is Top Irish University for World’s Most Influential Scientific Minds

  NUI Galway is Top Irish University for World’s Most Influential Scientific Minds-image

Wednesday, 2 July 2014

Three outstanding researchers at NUI Galway have been ranked among the ‘World’s Most Influential Scientific Minds: 2014’. Professor Henry Curran, Professor Colin O’Dowd and Professor Donal O’Regan have been ranked among the world’s top 3,000 scientific minds by the multinational media body Thompson Reuters. Those named on the list have earned their distinction by publishing the highest number of articles that rank among those most frequently cited by fellow researchers. More individuals were listed from NUI Galway than from any other Irish university. According to NUI Galway’s President, Dr Jim Browne: “The report describes those listed as being ‘on the cutting edge of their fields’ and ‘among the most influential scientific minds of our time’. This is certainly true of the NUI Galway individuals who excel and out-perform in their fields of chemistry, climate change and mathematics.” Professor Henry Curranis Director of the Combustion Chemistry Centre at NUI Galway. His research interest lies in the study of the chemistry of how fuels burn in combustors in order to increase efficiency and reduce emissions for a cleaner world. Professor Colin O’Dowd is the Director of the Centre for Climate and Air Pollution Studies, at the Ryan Institute, NUI Galway. Through his pioneering work in the field of atmospheric physics, has become internationally renowned as one of the leading scientists in the field of climate change. Professor Donal O’Regan is a Personal Professor of Mathematics at NUI Galway and an internationally recognised expert in the field of Nonlinear Analysis, Differential Equations, and Fixed Point Theory. He has written over 1,000 peer-reviewed mathematical articles, making him one of the most prolific authors in the history of mathematics in the world. Thomson Reuters analysts assessed papers indexed between 2002 and 2012 in 21 broad fields of study. They tracked authors who published numerous articles that ranked among the top one percent of the most cited in their respective fields in the given year of publication. These documents represent research that the scientific community has judged to be the most significant and useful. -ends-

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NUI Galway and SmartBay Funding Success to Examine Galway Bay Marine Environment

NUI Galway and SmartBay Funding Success to Examine Galway Bay Marine Environment-image

Monday, 7 July 2014

Researchers based in NUI Galway have recently been awarded a highly prestigious research funding from the Irish Research Council through the Enterprise Partnership Scheme. In partnership with SmartBay Ireland, an investment of €96,000 has been made which will bring together an interdisciplinary team of researchers from the Discipline of Information Technology, NUI Galway and the Department of Chemical Sciences in Dublin City University to develop a number of research streams that utilise the National Marine Test and Demonstration Facility, managed by SmartBay Ireland.  The Primary Investigators from NUI Galway are Dr Enda Howley and Dr Jim Duggan, while Professor Fiona Regan is leading the researchers from DCU. John Breslin and Regina McNulty will lead the research team on behalf of SmartBay Ireland.  NUI Galway researchers will begin development on accurate data visualisations of Galway Bay marine environment that can leverage the existing SmartBay infrastructure and accurate weather data. The outcomes of this research will be of pivotal use to key stakeholders such as members of the public, emergency response agencies, city and marine professionals. At the announcement of the funding Dr Enda Howley commented: “The project is a great vote of confidence by the IRC in the researchers involved in this area. This major investment shows the capacity of NUI Galway to partner on interdisciplinary research projects that have huge potential to impact on people’s daily lives. This particular research project based in NUI Galway aims to develop technologies that can assist all those who are potentially impacted by the marine conditions surrounding our cities. The chilling impact of this could be seen earlier this year in Galway City where extensive damage was inflicted by flood waters at Leisureland in Salthill and businesses at the Spanish Arch. Any technology that can assist us in better understanding the potential impact of coastal marine events can have a major long-term impact.” John Breslin from SmartBay Ireland said: “We were delighted to secure four enterprise-academia research partnerships through the Irish Research Council's, Enterprise Partnership Scheme. SmartBay Ireland will support the successful students in a wide variety of research areas, such as: data visualisation from our sub-sea cabled observatory; flood management analytics; the development of materials to mitigate the effects of marine growth and the detection of harmful algae blooms. All projects will utilise the National Marine Test and Demonstration Facility managed by SmartBay Ireland in Galway Bay.  The SmartBay team will provide data and technical support to ensure the success of these applied projects.” The announcement was made in the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland last month by Minister for Research and Innovation Seán Sherlock TD and Dr Eucharia Meehan. Awards to the sum of €5.7m were made by the IRC through the Enterprise Partnership Scheme. -Ends-

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NUI Galway Academic Recognised as One of Ireland's Top Women in Technology

NUI Galway Academic Recognised as One of Ireland's Top Women in Technology-image

Monday, 7 July 2014

Catherine Cronin, Academic Co-ordinator of online IT programmes and Lecturer in Information Technology at NUI Galway, has been named as one the top role models of 2014 among women in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) in Ireland. This was awarded by Silicon Republic, who recently drew up a list of the Top 100 Women in STEM in Ireland, and Catherine was presented with the award for Top Role Model of 2014 in Social Media. The list consisted of world-leading academics to inspiring science communicators, from tech business leaders to early entrepreneurs, in the areas of science, technology, engineering and maths. Catherine’s work focuses on online and open education, digital literacies, and social media in education. In addition to her teaching and research, she works with schools and community groups, including Coder Dojo, exploring these areas. She is currently pursuing a PhD in open education and digital identity practices. She holds a BSc in Mechanical Engineering, Masters of Engineering in Systems Engineering, and MA in women's studies, where her dissertation topic was gender and technology. Using the Twitter hashtag #ITwomen, she created several resources including a list of women keynote speakers as a resource for those planning gender-inclusive tech conferences. Speaking at the award ceremony, Catherine said: “As a long-time advocate for girls and women in STEM, it was an honour to receive this award from Silicon Republic. Women continue to represent less than 20% of all physicists, engineers and IT professionals. Encouraging girls and women to consider STEM and providing role models and mentors are just the first steps toward changing this. Our goal must be to create an inclusive STEM culture – beginning with noticing and challenging gender and other stereotypes, and under-representation, wherever we are. Imagine STEM classrooms, labs, workplaces and conferences with a truly diverse range of people and standpoints – all working together to solve problems and to create solutions. That’s my vision of success for the future.”

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Collaborating with University of California through Career Development Fellowship

Collaborating with University of California through Career Development Fellowship-image

Monday, 7 July 2014

Shane Browne, a final year PhD student at the Network of Excellence for Functional Biomaterials (NFB) at NUI Galway, has been awarded an Irish Research Council International Career Development Fellowship under the ELEVATE scheme. The award will cover his postdoctoral research at the University of California, Berkeley, USA to collaborate with Professor Kevin Healy for two years. The aim of this initiative, co-funded by Marie Curie Actions, is to allow Irish-based experienced researchers who have gained most of their research experience in Ireland to carry out research at an International Host Organisation. The scheme requires researchers to spend a mandatory one year return phase at a returning Host Organisation of their choice in Ireland. Shane will spend a third year at the NFB at NUI Galway to complete his fellowship. The project involves novel methods of treating limb ischemia which occurs when the blood supply is lost to a limb. Delayed treatment of the condition leads to morbidity, amputation and even death. Shane’s research will involve promoting new blood vessel growth to the limb using biomaterials in Professor Healy’s Laboratory. Professor Healy’s work focuses on the interface between biology and materials science to develop engineered systems to explore both fundamental biological phenomena and new applications in translational medicine. The research group at Berkeley is highly interdisciplinary, incorporating researchers from the fields of bioengineering, materials engineering, medicine, and molecular biology. Currently, Shane is completing his PhD which is funded by Science Foundation Ireland (SFI), under the supervision of Professor Abhay Pandit studying treatment of myocardial infarction (MI). He has received multiple rewards for his postgraduate research including a German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) fellowship and European Molecular Biology Organization (EMBO) travel fellowship. His current project involves using a collagen biomaterial system, which has been developed at the NFB, for the delivery of anti-inflammatory and pro-angiogenic gene therapy to damaged heart tissue. The aim is to improve functional recovery of the heart muscle by modulating the inflammatory response following MI, and by subsequently promoting the formation of new blood vessels. Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of morbidity in the developed world, and yet there is currently no treatment available to patients to promote the regeneration of infarcted myocardium. One of the NFB’s goals is to develop biomaterial-based cardiac gene therapy to reduce scarring and promote regeneration of the myocardium following MI. This approach could ultimately benefit patients at risk of heart failure and lead to reduced morbidity and improved heart function following MI. -ends-

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