NUI Galway Web Researcher Secures Funding From Google

NUI Galway Web Researcher Secures Funding From Google-image

Thursday, 16 December 2010

An NUI Galway Researcher at the Digital Enterprise Research Institute (DERI), Dr Alexandre Passant, recently won a Research Award granted by Google to work on the next generation of mobile social networking applications. The grant will fund a team for a year, enabling them to combine theoretical research and implementation, which will make the product directly usable by end-users and advance the state of the art in the domain of social networking applications. A key element of the research will be the protection of privacy for users. In this recent round of funding, Google distributed 112 awards, for a total of more than six million dollars, and 29 percent of the funding was awarded to Universities outside the U.S.A including NUI Galway. Most social network applications are closed worlds, where you have to give your data to a provider such as Facebook in order to share this data with friends and the user cannot interact with friends on other social networks. Researchers at DERI have been working on SMOB, a microblogging framework as an alternative that enables semantic and distributed social networks. The result is that the user does not rely on a third-party provider, but owns their data and can share it with whomever they want. In the SMOB framework, distributed hubs communicate with each other to exchange the microblog posts and subscriptions in order to follow particular blogs or have others follow an individual blog, belonging to another user. Each user installs their own hub and the communication spreads from there. Dr Alexandre Passant, Unit Leader at DERI and Principal Investigator for the project, explains "With this Google Research Award, we will push the boundaries of this research to make such distributed networks as SMOB communicate directly between mobile phones, with a special focus on privacy. Our goal is to make users really control who they want to share content with, based on dynamic and in-the-cloud identification of people belonging to particular groups, for instance colleagues or family members, without having to subscribe to a service that will own your data. We will in particular rely on Google s PubSubHubbub protocol to do so, combined with our expertise in Social Networks and Semantic Web technologies." Professor Stefan Decker, Director of DERI says "The grant from Google shows the quality and relevance of Irish research, attracting more and more commercial interest. Our responsibility is to create the environment that makes it possible for the research to also transition into commercial reality, improving the lives of people, instead of staying solely in academia." -Ends-

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NUI Galway Students' Union Shop Scoops National Prize Two Years in a Row

NUI Galway Students' Union Shop Scoops National Prize Two Years in a Row-image

Monday, 13 December 2010

The XL Students Union Shop on the campus of NUI Galway has won the national prize for best Stationary Offering at Shelflife C-Store Awards 2010, held last week in Dublin. The shop was one of 23 outlets to pick up an award from amongst hundreds of local convenience store entrants from across Ireland. This is the second year in a row the shop has won this prestigious award. John Moane, Managing Director of BWG Foods Wholesale Division says, "It is confirmation of how well they understand their customer s needs. The team is very deserving of this industry accolade and they should take pride in displaying it alongside their other awards." Students' Union Shop Manager Liam Buckley says, "The staff and I are delighted to have won this award two years running. There is a huge effort in keeping the standards high in the shop and it is a great achievement by all that this has been recognised at a national level by winning the most sought after accolade in the retail industry." The ShelfLife C-Store Awards, now running for 11 years, were set up to recognise retailers and retail outlets that set the highest standards in the retail industry. ENDS

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NUI Galway Alumni Awards Gala Launched

NUI Galway Alumni Awards Gala Launched-image

Monday, 13 December 2010

Details have been announced of NUI Galway's 11th Annual Alumni Awards Gala, which will take place in the Bailey Allen Hall on Saturday, 5 March, 2011. Proceeds from the event will support the expansion of NUI Galway's Archives through the acquisition of new collections and the development of humanities programming for the Arts, Humanities and Social Science Research Building. One of the highlights of the evening, which has established itself as a premier national event and one of the key social occasions in the West of Ireland, is the presentation of the Annual Alumni Awards. These awards celebrate the life-long value of an NUI Galway education and recognise individual excellence and achievement among the University's more than 80,000 graduates worldwide. Six alumni awards will be presented on the night. They include: Aer Arann Alumni Award for Sports Achievement and Leadership; AIB Award for Arts, Social Sciences and Celtic Studies; Bank of Ireland Award for Business, Public Policy and Law; Bank of Ireland Alumni Award for Engineering and Informatics; Medtronic Award for Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences and Seavite Alumni Award for Science. For ticket enquiries, contact Emma Goode in the Alumni Office on 091 493750, Tickets cost €100 per person. For further information on the event please contact JB Terrins, Director, Alumni Relations, NUI Galway. 091 495411 ENDS

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Ecologists Say Sustainable Farming Practices Help Protect Biodiversity

Ecologists Say Sustainable Farming Practices Help Protect Biodiversity -image

Monday, 13 December 2010

Work carried out by the Applied Ecology Unit at NUI Galway have found that intensive farming practices have definitive effects on local biodiversity – where biodiversity includes all living organisms in, and their interactions with and within, an environment. At a recent talk held in NUI Galway, Dr. Mike Gormally of the Ryan Institute for Environmental, Marine and Energy Research spoke of the challenges facing the unique biodiversity in the West of Ireland. The talk followed a significant breakthrough in negotiations in Nagoya, Japan at the end of October, when almost 190 member countries of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) met to discuss a new global strategic plan for protecting biodiversity. Focusing on the effects of farming on peatlands and turloughs (disappearing lakes) in the West of Ireland, Dr. Gormally explained that sustainable farming practices are intrinsic to the protection of biodiversity, and that many native plant and insect species would suffer if sustainable agricultural practices ceased. Some of these species are found only in the West of Ireland and are a fundamental part of intricate regional food webs and cycles of life. Identifying climate change as another threat, Dr. Gormally stated that there would be "winners and losers" in Irish biodiversity if the effects of climate change were to continue in their current trend. "The Nagoya Agreement, recently adopted by the CBD, outlines 20 goals for 2020, to protect threatened habitats and to halt the disturbing rate of extinction of plant and animal species." explains Dr. Gormally. He adds, "In the west of Ireland, where we have really special habitats such as turloughs, peatlands, and the karst limestone found in the Burren, the biodiversity is unique and complex, and there is still so much to be understood and explored. We desperately need for loss of biodiversity to be globally recognised as a threat as potentially damaging for human health and welfare as climate change. Hopefully the protocol adopted at Nagoya will go some way to make that happen." Dr. Colin Brown, Director of NUI Galway's Ryan Institute, says "The work of Dr. Gormally and members of his Applied Ecology Unit play an important role in assisting Ireland to address the targets outlined by the Convention on Biological Diversity. Climate change, urbanisation, misuse of our resources, and some modern agricultural practices can threaten biodiversity. With a better understanding of the interactions between flora, fauna and landscape, we could manage our land and resources in a way that maintains a healthy ecosystem while supporting a wide range of human activities." For more information contact: Dr. Michael Gormally, 091 493334 email: ENDS

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Druid and NUI Galway Announce Collaboration

Druid and NUI Galway Announce Collaboration-image

Monday, 13 December 2010

The West of Ireland has always been renowned for the central role played by the creative arts and NUI Galway has provided a breeding ground for the development of artistic talent in successive generations of students. Now, in a groundbreaking initiative, NUI Galway and Druid are coming together to form a partnership that will be crucial in maintaining and developing the performance arts of the region into the future. In an exciting new collaboration, NUI Galway will contribute to the development of Druid's next major theatre event (to be produced in 2012/13) while Druid, in turn, will develop a range of practice-led workshops and seminars including a series of Master classes for BA and MA students. In addition, in a move that highlights the new initiative, a Druid Director-in-Residence will be appointed who will co-ordinate the joint Master classes and workshops and offer classes and mentoring in various aspects of directing and stagecraft to NUI Galway students. These contributions will enhance two successful NUI Galway academic programmes: the MA in Drama and Theatre Studies and BA Connect in Theatre and Performance. The relationship between NUI Galway and Druid is a long and fruitful one. The company was founded on campus in 1975 by graduates Mick Lally, Marie Mullen and Garry Hynes. Through the years the two organisations have collaborated at various times including notably the housing of the Druid archive at the James Hardiman Library at NUI Galway and the establishment of a playwriting award in memory of the late Jerome Hynes who was General Manager of Druid at a formative stage in the company's development. The three founders, as well as being graduates, have all been awarded Honorary Degrees by the University. Commenting on the new partnership, NUI Galway President James J. Browne said, "We are very excited by this new and innovative partnership with Druid, which, I believe, holds wonderful opportunities for both organisations. For the University it represents a new creative thrust for our academic programmes in theatre and drama, which will be enriched by the talent and experience of a world leading professional theatre company. In turn we are able to play a role in Druid's ability to continue to present first class theatre for stages both here in Ireland and abroad." Garry Hynes commented that, "Back in 1975 NUI Galway helped Druid launch into the world with the provision of various facilities and continued to help us informally through the years. Now 35 years later we are at the beginning of a new and very exciting partnership. Without NUI Galway, and other partners, Druid simply would not be able to produce these major projects that have become such central events for our actors and our audience alike. Just as I - informally - took my first steps in the theatre in NUI Galway, I am now, through this programme looking forward to helping the emergence of the next generation of theatre makers from my alma mater." Druid would like to acknowledge the continued support of the Arts Council in funding the company's work and also the support of Culture Ireland in funding its international touring programme. ENDS

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NUI Galway to Host Seminar on Rural Ageing and the Recession

NUI Galway to Host Seminar on Rural Ageing and the Recession-image

Thursday, 9 December 2010

"An Age Old Problem - Where Now for Rural Services" The Irish Centre for Social Gerontology at NUI Galway is hosting a seminar on rural ageing and the recession, in conjunction with the Centre for Ageing Research and Development in Ireland (CARDI), Irish Rural Link and the Rural Community Network Northern Ireland. The seminar, which is part of CARDI's Older People and the Recession Series, is taking place today, Thursday, 9 December and tomorrow, Friday, 10 December in the Martin Ryan Institute (Annex) at NUI Galway. This event will focus on ageing in rural Ireland, North and South, and will examine crucial issues of concern for researchers, policymakers and older people themselves about the impact of the recession. The keynote address will be given by Professor Norah Keating, Co-Director of Research on Aging, Policies and Practice, Department of Human Ecology, University of Alberta, Canada. It will also feature contributions from national experts in the fields of ageing research, policy and practice and will showcase findings from two CARDI funded research projects relating to ageing in a rural context. Professor Thomas Scharf, Director of the Irish Centre for Social Gerontology (ICSG), says the event is particularly timely: "At a time when everyone is facing up to the new realities of economic uncertainty, it is useful to reflect on what works and what doesn't work in meeting the needs and aspirations of older citizens living in rural communities across Ireland. This seminar brings together some of the country's best people to help shape the future of rural services for a growing proportion of our population." Dr Roger O'Sullivan, Director of CARDI says, "Older people make up a significant part of the rural population of Ireland, North and South. This seminar not only addresses the particular issues facing older people in terms of accessing transport and other services but also takes a closer look at the positive contribution older people make to rural communities. The CARDI funded research projects which will be launched at the event underline the importance of listening to older people's voices when making decisions on rural policy and services in Ireland, North and South. Recognising the value of rural communities and older people who live in them will be especially important in the context of the difficult decisions about public spending that lie ahead." Dr Kieran Walsh, NUI Galway, will present findings from a CARDI funded project entitled 'Older people in Rural Communities: Exploring Attachment, Contribution and Diversity in Rural Ireland and Northern Ireland' focusing on case studies of the experiences of older people. The report, which was written in collaboration with colleagues at NUI Galway, Queens University, the Rural Community Network and FORUM Letterfrack, is a part of a larger programme of work on rural ageing being pursued by the Healthy Ageing in Rural Communities (HARC) research network. Dr Aoife Ahern, University College Dublin, will also present a project exploring the issue of rural transport for older people. -Ends-

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NUI Galway Alumni Christmas Gathering

NUI Galway Alumni Christmas Gathering-image

Thursday, 9 December 2010

The NUI Galway Alumni Association invites all graduates, returning to Galway for Christmas, to the annual Alumni Christmas Gathering. Now in its sixth year, the Christmas Gathering is a great reason to return to campus and catch up with old friends over a glass of mulled wine and some mince pies. To ensure a festive atmosphere, the Orbsen Choir will be on hand singing carols to get everyone in the mood for Christmas. "Coming back to NUI Galway at this time of year is a wonderful experience, especially as a graduate. Unlike your time spent here as a student, there are no exams to worry about, and you never know who you'll bump into" says Mairin Gilvarry, Chairperson of the Alumni Association Board. "We encourage all graduates to come along, bring a friend and pass on the message to former classmates." The Christmas Gathering, a free event, will take place on Friday, 17 December, in the Quadrangle from 5:30 to 7:30pm. Please RSVP to Colm O'Dwyer, Alumni Office, on 091 493 750 or -Ends-

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€3.7 Million EU Grant Awarded to the Centre for Disability Law and Policy

€3.7 Million EU Grant Awarded to the Centre for Disability Law and Policy -image

Tuesday, 7 December 2010

The Centre for Disability Law and Policy at NUI Galway has been awarded an EU Framework 7 grant worth €3.7 million to develop and lead a Pan-European doctoral research project over four years. The focus of the research will be to find practical ways of making the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities a reality in the daily lives of people with disabilities in the EU. The FP7 grant will enable the Centre to lead a network of six other leading disability policy research Centres across Europe (including the Netherlands, UK, Norway, Spain, and Iceland). Several leading disability research institutes in the world will also contribute to its work including the Harvard Project in Disability. The project – called DREAM (Disability Rights Expanding Accessible Markets) – is premised on the idea that smart EU policy initiatives on disability are not just good for people with disabilities, but also help expand markets and increase overall levels of economic activity. Digital Europe, the main umbrella body for European software and hardware manufactures and services, acts as a key commercial partner. All of the researchers will also have the opportunity to gain invaluable and funded work experience with leading European civil society groups such as Interights (London), Mental Disability Advocacy Centre (Budapest), the European Disability Forum (Brussels) and the European Group of Human Rights Commissions. This will help sharpen their analysis and lead to policy recommendations that are well grounded in experience. The Centre, which is based in the School of Law at the College of Business, Public Policy and Law at NUI Galway, is part of the emerging Lifecourse Institute at the University which combines the research strengths of three NUI Galway Centres on ageing, children and families as well as disability. Director of The Centre for Disability Law and Policy at NUI Galway, Professor Gerard Quinn says, "This places the Centre at the very forefront of research that points the way toward better European law and policy on disability. It will train a new breed of policy entrepreneur in the disability field. This is the vital bridge to creating better living conditions for the over 60 million Europeans with disabilities. We are honoured to have been chosen to lead on this project which has European level significance. The researchers will have unrivalled access to world authorities on disability from Australia to Harvard." NUI Galway President Dr James J. Browne says, "This is great news for the University and indeed for Ireland. It is a good example of university research that is both socially responsible and that also aims at increasing economic activity. I understand it is the single largest FP7 grant given to a research Centre at an Irish Law School. It augurs well for the new Lifecourse Institute at the University of which this Centre is a part". ENDS

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NUI Galway Co-hosts Irish Open Data Hackathon

NUI Galway Co-hosts Irish Open Data Hackathon -image

Tuesday, 7 December 2010

The Digital Enterprise Research Institute (DERI) at NUI Galway and the Galway community space 091 Labs co-hosted the only Irish Open Data Hackathon on December 4 2010. The event led to the creation of useful websites and software applications which improve citizens' access to public data and services and knowledge and understanding of work of governments. A piece of data is described as open if people are free to use and redistribute it, subject only to the requirement to attribute and share-alike. The goal of the one day Hackathon event was to encourage the adoption of open data policies by the world s local, regional and national governments. Open Data policies increase government transparency, spur the digital economy, and improve civic participation. Applications created on the day in Galway included a website that helps citizens track the latest planning applications submitted to Galway City Council, and an integrated online bus schedule for all Galway-Dublin coach connections. Another website allows users to utilise an improved way of accessing Dublin Bus schedules. A team produced an online visual report that shows where Arts Council funding goes. A new application showing all the public toilets in Galway city including wheelchair accessible toilets was created. The NUI Galway based Hackathon was part of a global series of events, ranging from Bangalore to Los Angeles and from Brasilia to Thailand, celebrating and highlighting the use of Open Data for citizens. More than 1000 people in over 73 cities on five continents dedicated time to helping foster both a local and international community of open data hackers, advocates and citizens. Professor Stefan Decker, Director of DERI Galway, said: "DERI's participation in the Open Data Day shows that Irish researchers do not only publish academic papers, but are actively involved in shaping their community. To maximise the value I would like to encourage local and national governments to make their data available." Declan Elliott, founder of 091 Labs in Galway, said: "Open Data is a grassroots effort. In times when politics cannot solve major problems, collaborative community spaces like 091Labs in Galway encourage public participation. This fosters creativity which in turn produces value by creating new ideas which enable entrepreneurs and spur economic growth." ENDS

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NUI Galway Students Attend National Volunteering Conference

NUI Galway Students Attend National Volunteering Conference-image

Monday, 6 December 2010

Students from NUI Galway recently attended 'Building a Voice for Student Volunteering', a National Conference where students from over 15 colleges across the island of Ireland gathered in anticipation of the EU Year of the Volunteer in 2011, to share experiences and ideas on the impact of third level student volunteering. It was sponsored by Campus Engage, the HEA funded network to support civic engagement within higher education in Ireland. The conference provided a space for student volunteers to meet together for the first time with an opportunity to share effective practice and create 'how to guides on student volunteering. The forum took the approach that the experts in student volunteering are the student volunteers themselves and addresses were delivered by students for students. Richard Manton, Student Volunteer in NUI Galway says: "I found the conference to be thoroughly enjoyable and informative. From the outset, the informal and open nature of the event was clear - emphasis was placed on the pooling of ideas by those actively involved in student volunteering, rather than a series of lectures. I found that I was able to draw from my own volunteering experience and discuss with others the best ways to build a voice for student volunteering in Ireland." In the last seven years there has been an upsurge in student volunteering activities across the third level sector with the ALIVE Volunteer Programme at NUI Galway, Trinity Volunteer Opportunities Forum and Dean of Students Roll of Honour, the Uaneen Programme at DCU, DIT's volunteer programme, President's Award for Volunteering at UL and GIVE at LIT. All of these recognise diverse activities that students undertake as volunteers within a community that ultimately gives them an extra edge on graduation. Lorraine Tansey, Student Volunteer Coordinator at the University says: "NUI Galway has built of its rich history of student engagement and activism to lead at the forefront of pioneering student volunteering programmes across higher education in Ireland. Our students benefit enormously from national opportunities to meet fellow student volunteers and highlight their contribution to society." This event is the first in a series of Campus Engage sponsored events that will harness and recognise the positive contribution that students make through volunteering to community. During 2011, the We Volunteer! mobile exhibition showcasing images of diverse student volunteering contributions will travel across Ireland and Europe. -Ends-

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