Leinster scoops Debating Science Issues All-Ireland Finals

Leinster scoops Debating Science Issues All-Ireland Finals-image

Tuesday, 19 April 2011

St. Vincent's Secondary School, Dundalk, Co. Louth were declared the All-Ireland winners of Debating Science Issues (DSI) 2011. The grand final, which took place at the Science Gallery at Trinity College Dublin on April 14, was the result of a field of 56 schools narrowing to just four. The confident team from Dundalk persuaded Professor Tom Sherry, Dean of Science at NUI Galway, Dr Amy Sanders, Wellcome Trust Special Projects Manager, and Professor Orla Shiels Lecturer in Pathology and Medical Jurisprudence, that "animal testing is necessary for the advancement of disease treatment". Colaiste an Phiarsaigh of Glanmire Co. Cork were the Runners up at the Final. Ulster was represented by St. Catherine's Vocational School, Killybegs, Co. Donegal and Connacht by St. Joseph's College Garbally, Co. Galway. Debating Science Issues is a cross border schools science debating competition supported by a Wellcome Trust People Award for four consecutive years and involves eight collaborating partners: the Regenerative Medicine Institute (REMEDI) at NUI Galway, W5 in Belfast, Biomedical Diagnostics Institute at DCU, Royal College of Surgeons Ireland, CRANN at TCD, CLARITY at UCD, and Tyndall National Institute and Alimentary Pharmabiotic Centre both at UCC. The competition encourages young people to engage in debate on the cultural, societal and ethical implications of advances in biomedical science. Schools taking part initially receive a three hour biomedical, bioethical workshop to facilitate discussion on the ethical issues raised by stem cell research, genetically modified food, nanotechnology, health and self-testing kits or flu vaccinations. School students research further in preparation for the debate motion related to the initial workshop. From there, the debate motions circulate so that students debate on an array of controversial topical issues. Boston Scientific and NUI Galway's College of Science sponsored the provincial trophies and prizes. Other judges at the DSI grand final included Professor Tim O' Brien, Director of REMEDI; Danielle Barron, Editor of the Irish Medical News; Dr Diarmuid O'Brien, Editor of the Irish Medical News; Professor Gerry McKenna, Executive Director of CRANN, former Vice Chancellor of the University of Ulster; Dr Louise Mylotte, Lecturer in Biology at St. Angela's College, Sligo; and Dr Marion Boland Scientific Programme Manager at Science Foundation Ireland. REMEDI's Outreach Officer and competition co-ordinator, Danielle Nicholson, said: "Debating Science Issues tackles many of the prevailing big scientific, philosophical dilemmas. Students discussed the methods of science and utilitarianism and debated the moral status of the embryo; I was impressed." Connacht team mentor and teacher Fr. Iomar Daniels from Garbally College said of the initiative, "DSI has shown the students the importance and relevance of science and how it permeates the entire fabric of our society." -Ends-

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Call for Action to Improve Safe Disposal of Unwanted Medicines in Ireland

Call for Action to Improve Safe Disposal of Unwanted Medicines in Ireland-image

Tuesday, 19 April 2011

A new study undertaken by the Centre for Health from Environment at NUI Galway's Ryan Institute, finds most unwanted or leftover prescription medicines are disposed of incorrectly. Disposal of medicines by flushing down sinks and toilets, or including in general household waste, is a common occurrence and may result in environmental contamination. The research was conducted by 2nd year medical students at NUI Galway, Sarah Cormican and Michelle Furey. Out of 207 people surveyed for the Public Awareness Regarding the Safe Disposal of Unwanted Medicines in Galway City study, most had leftover medicines in their home but only one third regularly returned them to a pharmacy. Over half of respondents reported disposing of unwanted medicines along with general household waste, by flushing down toilets and sinks, or by burning. The study was undertaken in the context of international reports which show that many people do not know that unwanted medicines should not be by thrown into household waste or flushed down toilets or sinks. This is because the drugs can eventually end up in rivers and ground water and may contaminate drinking water supply. "We know that drugs are designed to have biological effects at low concentrations and therefore it makes no sense to take the risk of disposing of them in this way," explained Professor Martin Cormican, Director of the Centre for Health from Environment at NUI Galway. He added, "The levels of drugs in the environment are probably too low to have acute toxic effects, but the potential health and environmental impacts of long-term exposure to low levels of many different drugs is very difficult to assess." The study concluded that when respondents were given advice by a health-care professional, over half would be more likely to dispose of medicines correctly. In Ireland there is an additional problem because there is no ongoing national system for the safe disposal of unwanted medicines. Many retail pharmacies will take back unwanted medicines, but they do this on a goodwill basis and at a considerable cost to them. The HSE have in the past organised 'dump campaigns' for unwanted medicines but these are not a regular event. Professor Martin Cormican added, "The project highlights the need to put in place a national system for safe disposal of unwanted medicines similar to the battery recycling scheme. There is also a need for action to let people know about the need for safe disposal." -Ends-

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Brain Imaging Techniques Topic of NUI Galway Meeting

Brain Imaging Techniques Topic of NUI Galway Meeting-image

Tuesday, 19 April 2011

NUI Galway will host an international meeting entitled Combining Human Brain Imaging Techniques, at the end of April. International experts will review the latest advances in brain imaging techniques and the challenges and opportunities that lie in combining these techniques. The workshop, taking place from Friday, 29 April until Sunday, 1 May, will bring together a number of leading basic and clinical scientists to discuss the latest advances in combined imaging techniques. It will do so in an effort to further advance knowledge in the field and establish networks of excellence that further our knowledge in the future. Brain imaging techniques allow researchers and clinicians to view activity or problems within the human brain, without invasive neurosurgery. There are a number of accepted, safe imaging techniques in use today in research facilities and hospitals throughout the world. Each of these brain imaging techniques have their own unique strengths and weaknesses, and there may be potential benefits and difficulties in combining these techniques to achieve a fuller analysis of brain functioning. Dr Michael Hogan, School of Psychology at NUI Galway said, "Researchers and clinicians who seek to combine various different brain imaging techniques are faced with a number of challenges. These include interference between measurement systems, integration of measurement outputs, and integration of theoretical foundations to support measurement integration, to name a few. Nevertheless, rapid advances are being made at the levels of theory, measurement, and computational analysis systems that are furthering our understanding of brain functions in states of health and disease. There is great scope for the development of novel brain imaging techniques and technologies and my hope is that NUI Galway will lead the way by establishing strong links across discipline areas within the University and new networks of excellence both nationally and internationally." The meeting is organised by Dr Michael Hogan, NUI Galway, in collaboration with Joshua Balsters, Trinity College Institute of Neuroscience, Dublin; Jacinta O Shea, Oxford University; and Steven Jackson, Nottingham University. It is supported by the European Science Foundation (ESF) and the Health Research Board (HRB). Academics, post-doctoral and postgraduate researchers in basic and clinical neuroscience are encouraged to attend. Registration is free and bursaries are available for students and junior scientists. To register and obtain further information, visit www.erni-hsf.eu. -Ends-

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NUI Galway Students Fighting Fit for Entrepreneurship

NUI Galway Students Fighting Fit for Entrepreneurship-image

Wednesday, 13 April 2011

A two-day 'Entrepreneurship Boot Camp' was held recently at NUI Galway, to widen and deepen the enterprise know-how and employability of students. The boot camp presented a challenging and dynamic experience with games, activities, lectures, competitions and mentoring by academic staff, industry practitioners, knowledge experts and representatives from state agencies. Over 25 students, from all disciplines, were encouraged to fully participate in the boot camp experience by leaving inhibitions at the door and engaging in the process with an open mind. Student Paul Curley described the boot camp as "a completely fresh and life changing experience". In very personal and tangible ways, the boot camp immersed students in the skills, attitude and insights needed to link their entrepreneurial ideas to a commercially viable end. The event was organised by the Student Enterprise Exchange Network (SEEN) which is NUI Galway's student run and focused enterprise support service. Paddy Melia, from the SEEN team describes the event: "One of the outcomes was to realise that in the rubble of this recession lies opportunity. Our most talented young people on campus came forward to get booted into shape and take up the enterprise call. The boot camp brought three important ingredients for opportunity together. Motivated students, industry experts and funding representatives. The resulting outcome was something very special. The participants not only enhanced their entrepreneurial and life skills but also made an impression and took advantage by networking with on and off campus movers and shakers." Seamus Bree, Regional Director, Businesses and Enterprise Ireland commented on his experience at the boot camp, "The energy and commitment on the NUI Galway Entrepreneurship boot camp demonstrated that Ireland s best days lie ahead of us not behind us!" SEEN is part of the SIF ACE project and is supported by NUI Galway's Technology Transfer Office. -Ends-

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Strategic Research Agreement into Road Safety Technology announced at NUI Galway

Strategic Research Agreement into Road Safety Technology announced at NUI Galway-image

Tuesday, 12 April 2011

The Connaught Automotive Research (CAR) Group at NUI Galway has announced a strategic research agreement with Valeo Vision Systems, one of the world's leading manufacturers of automotive vision systems. The CAR Group at NUI Galway researches topics related to automotive vision systems to help improve road safety by allowing drivers to see blind spots around vehicles. The ultimate aim of such research is to develop intelligent cars that have a greater 'awareness' of their environment and a greater ability to avoid crashes, for example.  Valeo has a presence in 27 countries, with its Irish operations based in Tuam, Co. Galway, where it recently announced a significant increase in its Research and Development activities. Its partnership with NUI Galway is already making an impact according to Peter Reilly, R&D Director at Valeo Vision Systems: "Having access to a world class research group such as CAR means that we have a pool of new technology, ideas and potential employees right on our doorstep. We already have a number of NUI postgraduates who have been involved with the CAR Group working at our R&D offices in Tuam and they are really making an impact on our engineering capabilities." Under the directorship of Dr Martin Glavin and Dr Edward Jones, the CAR Group is based in the discipline of Electrical and Electronic Engineering at NUI Galway. It comprises of a team of researchers who work in close collaboration with industry on the development of the image processing systems. Dr Glavin commented: "Having a market leader as a research partner provides the CAR Group with a breadth and depth of knowledge of the requirements of industry that we might not otherwise be able to access. We have a fantastic working relationship with Valeo Vision Systems and they have been extremely supportive of our work at NUI Galway over the years. Our researchers gain invaluable experience by learning about the industry first-hand from people who work in that market every day." Dr Jones added: "Our research with Valeo allows us to exploit our expertise in signal processing and related technologies in a very relevant way. Furthermore, the fact that our Masters and PhD-level graduates are already being employed in significant numbers by companies like Valeo is a tangible example of the value of investment in University research, and with Valeo's recent announcement of 100 new jobs, we see a growing demand for highly qualified graduates". Over the years, the CAR Group at NUI Galway has received funding from Enterprise Ireland, IRCSET and directly from industry. Dr Neil Ferguson, Acting Director of the NUI Galway Technology Transfer Office, says the partnership with Valeo Vision Systems is very much alingned to the University's core mission of supporting regional developoment. He states: "Valeo is an excellent example of a knowledge-intensive company who are successfully competing in a very competitive market. We hope to contribute to this success through the provision of experienced PhD graduates and innovative technologies." -Ends-

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International Award for NUI Galway Graduate Student

International Award for NUI Galway Graduate Student-image

Monday, 11 April 2011

NUI Galway research student, David Byrne was recently awarded second place for his poster presentation at the Institute of Structural Engineers Young Researchers Conference held at the Institute's headquarters in London. The conference, now in its 13th year, provides a platform for research students to present their work and exchange ideas with their peers and industry leaders. David, a PhD student from Wicklow town, was presented with the award for his poster, entitled The analysis of shear transfer in void formed flat slabs, including in-situ measurements from a building. David's entry was shortlisted from over 60 abstracts submitted from PhD students throughout the UK and Ireland, and was judged by a panel of selected members from the Institution. "This is a great achievement for an NUI Galway graduate student at the early stages of his research", said Professor Gerry Lyons, Dean of Engineering and Informatics at NUI Galway. "This award confirms that our standards of engineering education and research in NUI Galway are at the very top in international standings. We are very proud of David." David's project relates to shear and load transfer in void form flat slab systems. These are an innovative and novel form of flat slab system, which allow a reduction in self-weight of the concrete and savings in construction materials. Central to his project is the instrumentation of the new Engineering Building at NUI Galway and its development as a teaching tool. The Engineering Building at NUI Galway is one of the largest engineering schools in the country at 14,000m2 and opens in September 2011. It will consolidate education and research activities in the various engineering disciplines. Among many innovative and notable features, it is among the first buildings in Ireland to employ the use of void form flat slab systems. One of the slab bays within the new Engineering Building has been instrumented with over 160 gauges across fifteen different sections. Sensors have been installed both in the concrete and on the steel reinforcement bars to monitor the geometric and material properties of the slab system during construction and throughout the building's lifetime. They are providing valuable data as to how the slab system behaves in-situ and responds to different loadings. David's research strategy will combine numerical simulation using finite element models and field measurements. The finite element models of the instrumented slab system will be validated by comparison and continual updating of data obtained from measurements on site. The principal investigator for this project is Dr Jamie Goggins, School of Engineering and Informatics at NUI Galway, and was co-supervised by NUI Galway's Eamonn Cannon. The research project is co-funded by the Irish Research Council for Science, Engineering and Technology (IRCSET) and Arup Consulting Engineers under an Enterprise Partnership Scheme. It forms part of an initiative to develop the new Engineering Building at NUI Galway as a 'living laboratory' for engineering, where live data sets from numerous types of sensors will be used to illustrate structural engineering and building performance concepts in undergraduate teaching and in the development of full-scale research in structural engineering and energy. -Ends-

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Engineering and IT Students Highlight Research

Engineering and IT Students Highlight Research-image

Monday, 11 April 2011

An Engineering and Informatics Research Day took place recently at NUI Galway which showcased research undertaken by students. This year, for the first time, the annual event was run in conjunction with the University of Limerick, as part of the Strategic Alliance between the two organisations. Research by students from both Universities was highlighted with a display of 174 research posters covering nine primary fields of engineering and informatics research. This year's theme was Publishing your Research and 200 students from NUI Galway and the University of Limerick (UL) listened to presentations from senior industry representatives and academics on how to present and promote their research to the highest international standards. A key element of Research Day is a competition among students for the best posters. Every year the top 12 students are selected by their peers to give a short presentation of their research. The winners of this 'shoot-out' are then selected by a panel of senior academics in the industry. Dr Peter Corcoran, Vice-Dean of Research, College of Engineering and Informatics, at NUI Galway, commented: "This is a special day in the University calendar, as Engineering and IT researchers in our College get together to present and debate their research and network with each other. This year, as part of our Institutional Alliance with the University of Limerick, we were pleased to have staff and graduate students from UL participate in Research Day for the first time. It is interesting, also, to note the complimentary nature of research activities in both institutions and we look forward to growing this collaboration with our Engineering and Informatics colleagues in Limerick." He continued: "Engineering research is often ignored by the mainstream media, yet it underlies everything in our modern society. Water, electricity, consumer and medical devices are all designed and maintained by engineers. The Research Day helps us realise how important and far researching the role of the engineer is in society. This year we have more than 174 distinct research projects represented - a record for our Research Day and a sign that engineering research is still strong in the West of Ireland." Over 1,400 people study Engineering and IT at NUI Galway. To serve the growing number of students, a new Engineering Building opens on campus in September 2011. -Ends-

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2nd International Dance Festival in Aid of the Special Olympics Ireland

2nd International Dance Festival in Aid of the Special Olympics Ireland -image

Monday, 11 April 2011

Galway's 2nd International Dance Festival will be held at the Radisson Blu Hotel on Saturday, 14 May at 7.30pm. The Festival will be a unique opportunity to see a variety of dancers performing in their traditional attire, including a Galway-based Mexican group presenting the famous 'Son de la negra' as well as dancers from Argentina, Bangladesh, Brazil, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, France, India, Ireland, Peru, the Philippines, Russia and Spain. This spectacular event is being organised by NUI Galway staff members Gloria Avalos, Ann Monahan, Breda Kelleher, Micheál Newell and Lorraine Tansey, together with Susana Campos of the Sisters of La Retraite. All the proceeds from this event will go to the Special Olympics to help support the clubs and organisations in Connaught. According to Gloria Avalos, "the International Dance Festival held in 2009 raised in excess of €10,000 and this year we are hoping to match or exceed this amount, all on behalf of a very good cause, Special Olympics Connaught". Following the dance performances, a D.J. will be playing entertaining music from many countries of the world. A raffle offering fabulous prizes will also be held during the evening. The organisers would like to thank their sponsors Marks and Spencer, Tesco, Galway Bay FM and CATERENT (Furniture & Equipment Hire). Tickets are priced at €10 or €7 for students and are available in advance from the Soc Box, in Áras na Mac Léinn, NUI Galway, as well as in the various NUI Galway canteens from 10.30am to 4pm on Thursday, 14 April. Tickets will also be available at the Radisson Blu Hotel on the night. Please invite your friends all are welcome. -Ends-

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NUI Galway President Says Poor Systems Compromising Change within Public Sector

NUI Galway President Says Poor Systems Compromising Change within Public Sector-image

Friday, 8 April 2011

"Poor systems within the civil service and the public sector will further dis-empower public sector leaders and compromise the change needed to correct our public finances," that's according to NUI Galway President Dr James J. Browne, speaking earlier today at the launch of Leadership in the Irish Civil Service: A 360° Review of Senior Management Capability report at the University today. President Browne added that a robust, independent and rational public service must be free from any suspicion of political clientelism. Civil servants, especially senior civil servants, must feel free to act with true accountability and transparency. In his speech, Dr Browne added that "senior leaders are currently managing and leading without the authority or indeed adequate control mechanisms to effect real change and this encapsulates the challenge facing leaders in the civil service, and indeed the wider public sector". The President is arguing for a system where senior managers in the public sector are given defined budgets and are responsible for outputs within their organisation. "Leaders and managers must have the freedom to allocate resources and to change processes while working within these budgets and achieving agreed outputs. There is no role for a central 'control' authority, in second guessing processes, procedures and decisions made at local level, provided always, of course, that decisions are made in accordance with best practice and good governance and are within agreed budgets." With a forward by Taoiseach Enda Kenny, the report is the culmination of a two-year research project at the University's Centre for Innovation and Structural Change (CISC) and Management Discipline. The Taoiseach has written that the report, "will inform public service policy and practice with regard to human resource management and leadership development". The Centre for Innovation and Structural Change (CISC) and Management Discipline, NUI Galway, led by Dr Alma McCarthy, carried out the leadership capability study, funded by the IRCHSS, at senior management level in the Irish Civil Service. The study was carried out between May and August 2010. Over 140 senior managers participated in the study from 12 Government Departments and the Office of the Revenue Commissioners with over 1,200 leadership surveys completed in total and represents the most extensive study of its kind to-date in Ireland. Keynote speakers at today's Conference included Dr Maria Maguire, Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development and Independent Consultant; Philip Kelly, Assistant Secretary General, Department of An Taoiseach with responsibility for Transforming Public Services and Brian Cawley, Director General of the Institute of Public Administration. Dr Alma McCarthy, CISC and J.E. Cairnes School of Business and Economics, NUI Galway, who presented the findings of the report at today's Conference said, "This conference focused specifically on the area of senior management leadership capability in the Irish public service. The conference debated the important areas of human resource management, talent management, and leadership development that merit attention in the drive for public service modernisation and reform. The conference is extremely timely given the new Government's express focus on reform and the establishment of the new Public Expenditure and Reform Department under Minister Brendan Howlin." The report will be available online at www.nuigalway.ie/cisc -Ends-

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NUI Galway Societies Awards

NUI Galway Societies Awards-image

Thursday, 7 April 2011

The NUI Galway Society Awards took place on campus recently with seventeen awards presented at the gala event. The Society Awards celebrate the contribution which over one hundred societies make both to the University and the wider community. NUI Galway Societies Officer Ríona Hughes, said: "The NUI Galway Societies Awards was a huge success and hosting the event on campus in the new Bailey Allen Hall was a fitting end to an outstanding year of creativity and involvement." The winners on the night will represent the University at the BICS National Society Awards which will be hosted in NUI Galway on Thursday, 21 April. · The coveted Best Society of the Year Award went to the Drama Society for the professionalism and creativity they brought to their numerous and varied events during the year. · Most Improved Society went to the GiG (Gay in Galway) Soc for their sheer determination and effort to improve and expand the society. · Best New Society went to the Comic Book Society who exploded onto the societies scene this year with colourful and original events. · Best Society Individual went to Drama Society's Neasa O'Callaghan whose hard work and dedication during the Irish Student Drama Awards was exemplary. Neasa is also the auditor of Classics Soc and an active member of Lit & Deb. · Best Fresher went to Ronan Gallagher. Ronan was the venue manager of the Bank of Ireland theatre during the ISDA Festival and has been involved in lighting for many Dramsoc productions. Ronan's commitment and passion to Dramsoc won him this award. · Best Event went to the ISDA festival which was organised by the Drama Society. The other awards on the night were: Best Departmental Society: Accountancy and Finance Society; Best Poster: Literary and Debating Society; Best Website: Comedy Soc; Most ALIVE Society: Musical Society (GUMS); Best Civic Contribution: Draíocht Nepal Society; Best Cultural Contribution: Anime and Manga Society; Best Small Publication: Musical Society (GUMS); and Best Multi Media/ Large Publication: Art Soc for their Lunatic Fringe publication; and Best Photograph to Joe Hyland in the Photography Society. Two Múscailt prizes were also presented to the Orchestra Society and Comic Book Society and the best contribution to Múscailt Arts Festival award went to the Juggling Society for their wonderful show during the festival. -Ends-

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