Tuesday, 2 December 2014

Students will be performing readings of the winning scripts of the Walter Macken New Writing Award 2014 NUI Galway’s Centre for Drama, Theatre and Performance has announced details of a new relationship with Taibhdhearc na Gaillimhe, with the rehearsed readings of the three winning scripts of the Walter Macken New Writing Award.  The readings will take place on the stage of Taibhdhearc na Gaillimhe at 7pm on Thursday, 4 December.  The chosen scripts, An Love Micheart by Manchán Magan, Díonta by Biddy Jenkinson and Ar Strae by Éidin Nic Éinrí will all be read by students of NUI Galway’s BA and MA drama programmes. NUI Galway offers classes in performing drama in Irish as part of its BA in Drama, Theatre and Performance and its MA in Drama and Theatre Studies. These drama students have been working closely with the writers, script editors and staff of An Taibhdhearc over the last month as part of the script development process. NUI Galway has a long tradition of supporting the development of new writing in Irish.  In the last five years alone the University has commissioned plays and adaptations from prominent writers such as Biddy Jenkinson, Brendan Murray, Gabriel Rosenstock and Diarmuid de Faoite, which have been performed by drama students of NUI Galway.  “This new relationship between An Taibhdhearc and NUI Galway will open the doors on a whole range of exciting new possibilities within the creative arts as Gaeilge”, says Anne McCabe, Artistic Director of An Taibhdhearc. Tickets are available from the box office of Taibhdhearc na Gaillimhe on 091 563600. Please contact Marianne Ní Chinnéide on 087 9080194 for any further information.  -Ends- Mic Léinn OÉ Gaillimh ar stáitse na Taibhdheirce Beidh na mic léinn ag léamh na scripteanna a bhuaigh an Gradam Walter Macken 2014 Fógraíonn an Lárionad Drámaíochta agus Léiriúcháin an caidreamh nua leis An Taibhdhearc leis an léamh cleachtaithe ar na thrí dhráma nua-scríofa a bhuaigh an Gradam Walter Macken 2014.  Cuirfear an léamh cleachtaithe ar stáitse na Taibhdheirce ag 7pm, Déardaoinr an 4 Nollaig, áit a bheidh An Love Mícheart le Manchán Magan, Neainí Golue le Biddy Jenkinson, agus Ar Strae le Éidin Nic Éinrí á léamh ag mic léinn drámaíochta Ollscoil na hÉireann Gaillimh. Cuireann OÉGaillimh ranganna ar stáitsiú dhrámíocht na Gaeilge, as Gaeilge, ar fail mar chuid dá BA in Drama, Theatre and Performance agus a MA in Drama and Theatre Studies. Tá traidisiúin fada ag Ollscoil na hÉireann Gaillimh ag forbairt dhrámaí nua-scríofa na Gaeilge.  Le cúig bhliain anuas tá coimisiúniú déanta ag an Ollscoil ar scríbhneoirí ar nós Biddy Jenkinson, Brendan Murray, Gabriel Rosenstock agus Diarmuid de Faoite le drámaí a scríobh agus a athchóiriú do mhic léinn na hollscoile atá ag tabhairt faoi staidéar na drámaíochta.  “Osclóidh an caidreamh nua seo na doirse ar réimse leathan féidireachta ó thaobh na healaíona cruthaitheacha Gaeilge de” a deir Anne McCabe, stiúrthóir ealaíona na Taibhdheirce. Tá na mic léinn Ollscoil na hÉireann, Gaillimh tar éis a bheith ag obair go dlúth leis na scríbhneoirí, an eagarthóir scripte agusfoireann na Taibhdheirce mar chuid den phróiséis forbhartha scripte le mí anuas. Ticéid ar fáil ón Taibhdhearc ar 091-563600. Is féidir tuilleadh eolais a fháil ach glaoch ar Mharianne Ní Chinnéide ar 087 9080194. -Críoch-

Tuesday, 2 December 2014

NUI Galway recently conferred special certificates on the sixth cohort of ‘graduates’ from its Youth Academy. 210 primary school children from across the Western region received their certificates, with more than 1000 friends and family attending the ceremony. Established in 2012, the Youth Academy aims to inspire entry to university by introducing children and their families to University life. Since its foundation, almost 1000 children have graduated from a variety of courses on Saturday mornings ranging from Italian to Water Enginnering, Philosophical Discovery, Psychology, Biomedical Engineering, English Literature, Irish History, Déan Scannán, Eco-Explorers, The World of Cops and Robbers, and Information Technology. The Youth Academy runs for a six week period and works with high ability fourth, fifth and sixth class primary school children to support their learning and academic development, in partnership with their primary schools. Speaking at the event, President of NUI Galway, Dr Jim Browne, said: “The Youth Academy is a very important initiative by this University.  We feel that it responds to the educational needs of our young citizens and gives talented young students the opportunity to get experience of learning in a University. NUI Galway is committed to the sharing of knowledge with the wider community and ensuring that the pathways to university are open to all. I hope that initiatives such as the Youth Academy can highlight how this University can and does serve its community, not only here Galway but in society in general.” The Youth Academy co-founders received SFI funding for Youth Academy scholarships in STEM courses. This funding enhances community university partnership through STEM knowledge sharing activities offered to DEIS school/communities and elevates the educational potential of children and challenges their academic development. For further information on the courses and participation please contact Geraldine Marley, NUI Galway Youth Academy Coordinator, at youthacademy@nuigalway.ie. -Ends-

Tuesday, 2 December 2014

Galway City Walks Buildings in Stone was compiled by NUI Galway’s Professor Martin Feely and Dr Alessandra Costanzo and contains an accompanying street map displays the locations of the buildings described along the course of each of three walks. The three walks are as follows: Walk N1 West of the River Corrib starts at NUI Galway and includes Galway Cathedral, City Museum, Spanish Arch and Blake’s Castle; Walk N2 Galway City Centre highlights the buildings along Quay Street, High Street and Shop Street and includes St Augustine’s Church, St Nicholas’s Collegiate Church and Lynch’s Castle; and Walk N3 Eyre Square Area includes the Allied Irish Bank and Bank of Ireland buildings, Meyrick Hotel and the Railway Station. The city’s building stones display a variety of textures and fossils that reflect their geological origins. The walks can be followed by the city's visitors and geologists alike. It will prove very useful for urban geology fieldwork by primary, secondary and third level student parties. It provides an opportunity to study rocks from around the globe including some from China, Finland, Portugal, Italy, South Africa, Norway, Brazil, UK and of course Ireland in a matter of a few hours. The book is an invitation to enjoy learning about the geological heritage that surrounds us in Galway’s inner city. Co-author Professor Martin Feely said: “Dr Costanzo and I would like to thank Dúchas Na Gaillimhe - Galway Civic Trust for assisting with the publication of this book and in particular Delo Collier for her encouragement during the course of this project.” Local Historian, Tom Kenny, launched the new guide book, the latest in a series of Galway City walks called Buildings in Stone at the Hall of the Red Earl, Druid Lane, Galway. Galway City Walks Buildings in Stone is available at the offices of Dúchas na Gaillimhe - Galway Civic Trust, Druid Lane at a special launch price of €3. -Ends-

Tuesday, 2 December 2014

A major conference on neurodegenerative diseases in Galway last week has been hailed a huge success by organisers. This was the first time the Annual Meeting of the Network of European Central Nervous System Transplantation & Restoration (NECTAR) was held in Ireland. NECTAR saw researchers gather to discuss the latest developments in cell and gene therapies for neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and Huntington’s disease. One of the highlights of the conference was a talk by Sheila Roy, who is undergoing an experimental gene therapy treatment for Parkinson’s disease. She first started the treatment in 2011, as part of a trial for ProSavin, a viral gene therapy manufactured by Oxford BioMedica. Sheila Roy has seen some progressive improvements since she volunteered for the radical treatment, and she has been able to reduce her medication by 50 per cent. The Chair of the local organising committee is Dr Eilís Dowd, Senior Lecturer in Pharmacology and Therapeutics at NUI Galway, and a member of the University’s NCBES Galway Neuroscience Centre. Speaking about the conference, she said: “Sheila Roy gave a moving depiction of what life is like with Parkinson’s disease, and we are so thankful to her for sharing it with us. Her contribution rounded off a truly successful event.” The major remit of the 2014 NECTAR conference was to bring together scientists, clinicians, patient advocates and industry partners from across Europe and the international community to share the latest research in repairing the damage to the central nervous system as a result of degenerative diseases. At the conference, Dr Dowd was elected as President of NECTAR, an organisation which was founded more than 20 years ago: “Neurodegenerative diseases are currently treated using drugs that neither address the underlying causes of disease nor prevent neurodegeneration. They simply treat the symptoms of the disease. Cell and gene therapies aim to treat the disease itself and try to reprogramme the body’s mechanism to protect or even repair the brain. The science is moving rapidly, and networks such as NECTAR are facilitating the sharing of information among researchers in the field. However, we are still quite a way off any potential cure, but conferences like this renew our determination to succeed.” Eighteen international experts from across Europe, Australia and Canada spoke at the meeting. These included major international scientific speakers such as Professor Colin Masters, University of Melbourne, Australia and Professor Anders Björklund, Lund University, Sweden, as well as policy makers such as Dr Mary Baker, Past President of the European Brain Council, patient advocates, experts in clinical trial design and industrial speakers. In addition to the invited speakers, there were also several “data-blitz” sessions of short oral communications delivered by Irish and international researchers. PhD students and post-doctoral researchers played a significant role at the conference, adding to the environment of vibrancy and collaboration that lies at the heart of NECTAR. Neuroscience research and teaching are very vibrant at NUI Galway, and the University’s Galway Neuroscience Centre is proud to support both the NECTAR and CNS2014 meetings. The conference organisers gratefully acknowledged the support they have received from several funding agencies including the Campaign for Alzheimer’s Research in Europe, Science Foundation Ireland, the Irish Research Council and Fáilte Ireland. More information on the conference can be found at (http://www.nectar-eu.net/) Ends

Monday, 8 December 2014

A graduate from NUI Galway’s Huston School of Film and Digital Media, Will Collins has been nominated for an ANNIE Award. Now in its 42nd year, the Annie Awards are awarded by the International Animated Film Society, ASIFA-Hollywood, and recognise the year’s best in the field of animation and is animation's highest honour. Will, originally from Kanturk, Co. Cork, graduated with a Masters in Screenwriting in 2006. The animation, Song of the Sea, has been nominated in the Best Animated Feature and is one of eight films nominated. Produced by Cartoon Saloon which is based in Kilkenny, Song of the Sea has also been nominated in Best Character Development category. “The Huston School of Film and Digital Media is absolutely delighted with the seven ANNIE nominations (the Oscars for animated films) for Song of the Sea and in particular the nomination of our MA Screenwriting graduate Will Collins who wrote the screenplay. To be in the same category as blockbusters like The Lego Movie, The Tale of The Princess Kaguya, The Boxtrolls and How to Train Your Dragon 2 is an incredible achievement for an independently produced Irish animation feature and we send our congratulations to all involved” said Tony Tracy, Lecturer with NUI Galway’s Huston School of Film and Digital Media. This week Galway has awarded the first Irish City of Film designation from UNESCO, one of only five cities around the world to hold the title. Over 50 organisations were involved in the Galway bid including NUI Galway. Dr Pat Collins and Dr Jenny Dagg from the University’s Whitaker Institute prepared background data for the bid, while the Huston School of Film and Digital Media were involved through the Audio Visual Forum for the West. The awards ceremony will take place in Los Angeles in January 2015. -Ends-

Tuesday, 9 December 2014

Agreement with Tsinghua University builds on long-standing tradition of educational and research exchange, and highlights alumni connections NUI Galway will sign an agreement on Tuesday, 9 December, with Tsinghua University in China to collaborate on both education and research activities. The signing of the Memorandum of Understanding will be witnessed by President of Ireland, Michael D. Higgins, and President of China, Xi Jinping, in The Great Hall of the People immediately prior to the State Banquet to mark the visit. Both national Presidents have links to the universities as President Higgins is an alumnus of NUI Galway, while President Xi graduated from Tsinghua University. Dr Jim Browne, President of NUI Galway, and Ms Chen Xu, Chairperson of Tsinghua University Council, will sign the Memorandum of Understanding on behalf of their respective universities at 9am GMT (5pm Beijing time) on Tuesday. The agreement will feature: joint research in the fields of mutual interest to both universities; exchange of faculty members and researchers; exchange of students; joint organisation of seminars and academic meetings; exchange of materials in education; and research, publications and academic information. Science and engineering research and teaching is a particular strength for both universities. For the academic year 2015/16, a plan for undergraduate engineering student exchange and increased post-graduate mobility has been agreed. The agreement follows on from existing close ties between the universities. In research, a significant three-year EU project on cancer biomarkers led by NUI Galway, with Tsinghua University as a partner, has just come to completion. Also in research, 27 Tsinghua graduates have come to NUI Galway to pursue postgraduate degrees over the last two decades. In addition, several senior academic positions at Tsinghua University are held by NUI Galway graduates, and Tsinghua University alumni teach at NUI Galway. NUI Galway’s President Browne, has supervised many Tsinghua University graduates who have come to NUI Galway as PhD and masters students in the area of industrial engineering. Commenting on the agreement he said: “This is a historic agreement, which builds on a long tradition of educational exchange between NUI Galway and Tsinghua University, particularly in the area of Engineering. With this signing we look forward to deepening our collaboration, resulting in great student mobility between the two universities at under-graduate and post-graduate levels, as well as building new partnerships on a range of research fronts. It is especially fitting that this agreement is signed in the presence of the national Presidents, both of whom are alumni of the respective universities.” The signing will take place during the State Visit of President Michael D. Higgins to China. This is the first State Visit since 2003.  Accompanying the President on this three city visit to Beijing, Shanghai and Hangzhou, will be the Minister for Finance, Michael Noonan, T.D. and the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Charlie Flanagan, T.D. The visit will aim to deepen the political, cultural, business, scientific and educational relationships between the two countries. The President will be accompanied by Sabina Higgins. Dr Jim Browne is travelling as part of the delegation on the State Visit, following the invitation from Enterprise Ireland to the International Office of the Irish universities. He will also be accompanied by colleague, Professor Brian Hughes, Dean of International Affairs. NUI Galway has a very strong Alumni Group in Beijing, made up of alumni and member of the Irish expat community.  

Wednesday, 10 December 2014

NUI Galway signed an agreement on Tuesday, 9 December, with Tsinghua University in China, to collaborate on both education and research activities. The signing of the Memorandum of Understanding was witnessed by President of Ireland, Michael D. Higgins, and President of China, Xi Jinping, in The Great Hall of the People in Beijing, immediately prior to the State Banquet to mark the visit. Both national Presidents have links to the universities as President Higgins is an alumnus of NUI Galway, while President Xi graduated from Tsinghua University. Dr Jim Browne, President of NUI Galway, and Ms Chen Xu, Chairperson of Tsinghua University Council, signed the Memorandum of Understanding on behalf of their respective universities. The agreement features: joint research in the fields of mutual interest to both universities; exchange of faculty members and researchers; exchange of students; joint organisation of seminars and academic meetings; exchange of materials in education; and research, publications and academic information. Science and engineering research and teaching is a particular strength for both universities. For the academic year 2015/16, a plan for undergraduate engineering student exchange and increased post-graduate mobility has been agreed. The agreement follows on from existing close ties between the universities. In research, a significant three-year EU project on cancer biomarkers led by NUI Galway, with Tsinghua University as a partner, has just come to completion. Also in research, 27 Tsinghua graduates have come to NUI Galway to pursue postgraduate degrees over the last two decades. In addition, several senior academic positions at Tsinghua University are held by NUI Galway graduates, and Tsinghua University alumni teach at NUI Galway. NUI Galway’s President Browne, has supervised many Tsinghua University graduates who have come to NUI Galway as PhD and masters students in the area of industrial engineering. Commenting on the agreement he said: “This is a historic agreement, which builds on a long tradition of educational exchange between NUI Galway and Tsinghua University, particularly in the area of Engineering. With this signing we look forward to deepening our collaboration, resulting in great student mobility between the two universities at under-graduate and post-graduate levels, as well as building new partnerships on a range of research fronts. It is especially fitting that this agreement is signed in the presence of the national Presidents, both of whom are alumni of the respective universities.” The signing took place during the State Visit of President Michael D. Higgins to China. This is the first State Visit since 2003. Accompanying the President on this three city visit to Beijing, Shanghai and Hangzhou, were the Minister for Finance, Michael Noonan, T.D. and the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Charlie Flanagan, T.D. The visit aims to deepen the political, cultural, business, scientific and educational relationships between the two countries. The President was be accompanied by Sabina Higgins. Dr Jim Browne travelled as part of the delegation on the State Visit, following the invitation from Enterprise Ireland to the International Office of the Irish universities. He was accompanied by colleague, Professor Brian Hughes, Dean of International Affairs. NUI Galway has a very strong Alumni Group in Beijing, made up of alumni and member of the Irish expat community. Comhaontú sínithe ag OÉ Gaillimh le ceann de phríomh-ollscoileanna na Síne le linn Chuairt Stáit an Uachtaráin Uí Uiginn. Shínigh OÉ Gaillimh comhaontú inniu, Dé Máirt, an 9 Nollaig, le hOllscoil Tsinghua sa tSín ar mhaithe le comhoibriú oideachais agus taighde idir an dá institiúid. Bhí Uachtarán na hÉireann, Micheál D. Ó hUiginn, agus Uachtarán na Síne, Xi Jinping, ina bhfinnéithe ar an síniú, a rinneadh i Halla Mór an Phobail i mBéising, díreach roimh an bhFéasta Stáit in onóir na cuairte. Tá baint ag chaon Uachtarán náisiúnta leis na hollscoileanna – alumnus de chuid OÉ Gaillimh é an tUachtarán Ó hUiginn agus is céimí de chuid Ollscoil Tsinghua é an tUachtarán Xi. Shínigh an Dr Jim Browne, Uachtarán OÉ Gaillimh, agus Chen Xu, Cathaoirleach Chomhairle Ollscoil Tsinghua, an Meamram Comhthuisceana thar ceann a n-ollscoile féin. Sonraítear sa chomhaontú: taighde i bpáirt i réimsí inspéise ag an dá ollscoil; malartú comhaltaí foirne acadúla agus taighdeoirí; malartú mac léinn; comhreáchtáil seimineár agus cruinnithe acadúla; malartú ábhar oideachais; agus taighde, foilseacháin agus eolas acadúil. Tá taighde agus teagasc san eolaíocht agus san innealtóireacht thar a bheith láidir sa dá ollscoil. Don bhliain acadúil 2015/16, táthar tar éis aontú ar mhalartú mac léinn bunchéime innealtóireachta agus ar shoghluaisteacht mhéadaithe i gcás mic léinn iarchéime. Eascraíonn an comhaontú as comhoibriú dlúth atá ar bun cheana féin idir an dá ollscoil. I gcúrsaí taighde, cuireadh bailchríoch le deireanas ar thionscadal trí bliana AE i dtaobh bithchomharthaí ailse; OÉ Gaillimh a bhí ina ceanneagraíocht ar an tionscadal agus Ollscoil Tsinghua ina comhpháirtí aici. Tá 27 céimí ó Tsinghua tagtha go OÉ Gaillimh le fiche bliain anuas agus iad ag tabhairt faoi chláir iarchéime anseo. Lena chois sin, tá roinnt poist shinsearacha acadúla in Ollscoil Tsinghua ag céimithe de chuid OÉ Gaillimh, agus tá alumni de chuid Ollscoil Tsinghua ag teagasc in OÉ Gaillimh. I gcaitheamh na mblianta, stiúir an tUachtarán Browne roinnt mhaith céimithe ó Ollscoil Tsinghua a tháinig go OÉ Gaillimh mar mhic léinn PhD agus mháistreachta san innealtóireacht thionsclaíoch. Ag labhairt dó faoin gcomhaontú, dúirt sé: “Comhaontú stairiúil é seo, agus cuireann sé leis an traidisiún fada malartuithe oideachais idir OÉ Gaillimh agus Ollscoil Tsinghua, i réimse na hInnealtóireachta go mór mór. Agus an comhaontú seo á shíniú againn, táimid ag súil go mór leis an gcomhoibriú eadrainn a neartú tuilleadh ionas go mbeidh an-deis ag mic léinn bhunchéime agus iarchéime an dá ollscoil cuairt a thabhairt ar institiúidí a chéile; táimid ag súil freisin go dtiocfaidh comhpháirtíochtaí nua chun cinn i réimsí éagsúla taighde. Tá sé thar a bheith feiliúnach go bhfuil an comhaontú seo á shíniú agus an dá Uachtarán náisiúnta i láthair – iad beirt ina gcéimithe de chuid na hollscoile atá ina dtír féin.” Síníodh an comhaontú le linn Chuairt Stáit an Uachtaráin Micheál D. Ó hUiginn ar an tSín. Is í seo an chéad Chuairt Stáit ón mbliain 2003. Thug an tUachtarán cuairt ar thrí chathair sa tSín – Béising, Shang-hai agus Hangzhou; ina chomhluadar bhí an tAire Airgeadais, Michael Noonan, T.D., agus an tAire Gnóthaí Eachtracha agus Trádála, Charlie Flanagan, T.D. Is é cuspóir na cuairte an ceangal idir an dá thír i gcúrsaí polaitíochta, cultúir, gnó, eolaíochta agus oideachais a neartú tuilleadh. Tá bean chéile an Uachtaráin, Sabina Higgins, ina chomhluadar ar an gCuairt Stáit. Chuaigh an Dr Jim Browne anonn mar chuid de thoscaireacht na Cuairte Stáit tar éis d'Oifig Idirnáisiúnta Ollscoileanna na hÉireann cuireadh a fháil ó Fhiontraíocht Éireann. Chuaigh a chomhghleacaí, an tOllamh Brian Hughes (an Déan Gnóthaí Idirnáisiúnta) ar an turas ina theannta. Tá Grúpa láidir Alumni ag OÉ Gaillimh i mBéising agus céimithe de chuid na hOllscoile agus cuid de phobal na hÉireann sa tSín gníomhach ann. -críoch-

Thursday, 11 December 2014

“This is a Christmas gift that will keep on giving” Staff and alumni of NUI Galway are getting behind a campaign to encourage people to consider donating bone marrow. The campaign is inspired by the story of Paul Giblin, an engineering graduate and champion rower for the University, who is battling Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. Now 31 years-old, Paul was diagnosed in April 2012 and is currently undergoing his fourth regime of chemotherapy, having also had an autologous (own) stem-cell transplant and radiotherapy. His best, and possibly only chance to return to health, will be to find a match on the Global Registry, the pool from which all bone marrow donations are drawn. Friends are pulling together to spread awareness with a view to increasing the number of potential donors in Ireland on the Global Registry. “We are reaching out to family, friends and friends of friends. We are hoping to significantly increase the numbers signing up to become bone marrow donors, to give people in Paul’s situation a fighting chance”, explains Ruadhán Cooke, who is a lecturer in French at NUI Galway and actively involved in the rowing club. “This is a Christmas gift that will keep on giving and which some day you or a loved one may need and benefit from. The first step is to give a small sample of blood, it’s that simple, and it could be a gift that will someday save a life,” added Ruadhán Cooke. The Irish Blood Transfusion Service will run a dedicated Bone Marrow Recruitment Clinic on Monday,15 December in the Cumasu Centre, Racing Lodge, Doughiska Road, Galway. The clinic will take a small sample of blood to add to the database, and cross check for matches. Anyone interested in attending the clinic on Monday, or other clinics in future, should e-mail BoneMarrow@ibts.ie Paul is one of Ireland’s most decorated rowers, with 17 Irish Senior champion titles, as well as twice taking gold at Henley Royal Regatta. He was also a medalist at the World Under 23 Rowing Championships and World Student Games. In an impressive couple of seasons on the cycling circuit, he rode the 2010 Rás, and also competed at the World Para Cycling Championships as the sighted pilot in the tandem event. A qualified civil engineer, Paul retrained and now works as an Army officer, stationed at Dún Uí Mhaolaíosa in Galway. Last weekend he married his fiancé Cate. For more information on how you can help Paul and others like him visit http://marrowmatch.eu/  -ends-

Monday, 15 December 2014

flusurvey.ie will track the spread of flu across Ireland and provide useful real-time data   Irish people are being asked to volunteer information about their health this winter at flusurvey.ie. Now in its second year, the website is a collaboration between NUI Galway and the HSE - Health Protection Surveillance Centre. Volunteers are asked to register with the site, and log any flu symptoms if and when they develop.   The website asks participants about their overall health and possible influenza symptoms – headaches, fever, sore throats – and maps this information in real-time. This provides valuable real-time information for healthcare professionals on the demographic and geographic profile of people suffering from flu.   The system can map the spread of the disease in its early stages, and provide health professionals with an early warning signal of nationwide outbreaks.   Project Leader Dr Jim Duggan, of NUI Galway’s Ryan Institute, says: “Last winter we tracked data from hundreds of volunteers, with the majority coming from Dublin, Cork and Galway. Amongst our participants, we saw particular spikes in illness in mid-to-late February, and also observed the highest percentage of self-reported flu levels from our survey in the under-18 year age group.”   Flusurvey.ie has demonstrated the potential for self-reporting systems, and the team behind it is building on last year’s success to recruit more participants throughout the country. “Our web system is designed to handle a sizeable nationwide survey, and increasing the numbers who volunteer their health symptoms will enhance the overall information we can share with the HSE-HPSC”, adds Dr Duggan.   Dr Darina O’Flanagan of the HSE-HPSC welcomed the re-launch and said that flusurvey.ie is a useful addition to flu surveillance in Ireland and that the information gathered will be aggregated to complement existing methods of influenza surveillance.   Seasonal influenza is a highly contagious viral disease that is characterised by sudden onset of fever, accompanied by muscle pain or headache, and a cough or sore throat. In Ireland, the influenza season typically starts in October, and continues through to late May.   Volunteers register online and self-report by answering short questions relating to demographic, medical, socio-economic and lifestyle issues. The system is secure, and all patient information is analysed at an aggregate and anonymous level. Participants can also view their individual symptom history, and interactive health maps at local and national levels.    Flusurvey is accessible for registration at https://flusurvey.ie  

Friday, 19 December 2014

MEP Marian Harkin and members of the judiciary, as well as leading figures from the areas of disability and genetics joined on Friday night, 12th December, at the European Commission Representation to celebrate the launch of Genetic Discrimination – Transatlantic perspectives on the case for a European-level legal response. The book is edited by Professor Gerard Quinn, (Centre for Disability Law and Policy, School of Law, NUI Galway), Dr Aisling de Paor (School of Law and Government, DCU) and Peter Blanck (Burton Blatt Institute, Syracuse University, USA) and focuses particularly on the legislative and policy framework in the European Union emphasising gaps in protection and the scope for specific legislative action in the area of genetic discrimination. Professor Quinn said “One reason we are proud of this book is that it brings several disciplines together including the hard sciences, public policy, ethics and law in a common discussion about how to enable genetic and other scientific research to evolve and grow, how to enhance public confidence in the research and how to tame it so that it underpins and not undermines our values.” He continued “This book is written within a context that promises an explosion of scientific insights into what it means to be human and indeed how we might go beyond being human. It is a context that taxes our existing frames of reference to accommodate such changes whether they lie in ethics, public policy or law.” As genetic technologies advance, genetic testing may well offer the prospect of detecting the onset of future disabilities. Some research also posits that certain behavioural profiles may have a strong genetic basis, such as the determination to succeed, or the propensity for risk-taking. As this technology becomes more prevalent, there is a danger that genetic information may be misused by third parties and that particular genetic profiles may be discriminated against by employers, by providers of social goods and services, such as insurance companies and even by educational facilities. This book explores the different forms and potential uses of genetic testing. Drawing together leading experts in disability law, bioethics, health law and a range of related fields, it highlights the ethical and legal challenges arising as a result of emerging and rapidly advancing genetic science. On examining transatlantic perspectives on the matter, chapters in the book ask whether the US Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA) is proving to be an effective tool in addressing the issue of genetic discrimination and alleviating fears of discrimination. The book also reviews what insights may be gained from GINA within employment and health insurance contexts, and asks how the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) may impact similar debates within the European Union. This book will be of great interest to scholars and students of discrimination law, bioethics and disability law, and will be of considerable use to legal practitioners, medical practitioners and policy-makers in this area. ENDS

Monday, 10 November 2014

NUI Galway’s School of Nursing and Midwifery is running a free public lecture on Ebola: how it spreads, how it affects the human body, and how the outbreak can be contained. The lecture, on Tuesday, 18 November from 7-9pm in Áras Moyola, will also focus on hand washing and its importance in preventing the spread of infections in the community. Dr Diarmuid O’Donovan, senior lecturer in NUI Galway’s School of Medicine and the Director of Public Health for the HSE West, will be delivering the lecture alongside Evelyn Byrne, lecturer from the School of Nursing and Midwifery. Evelyn Byrne will explain why hand washing is important, including a demonstration on effective hand washing. Dr O’Donovan recently returned from working with the World Health Organisation (WHO) on the Ebola response. ‘Ebola – The Facts’ is the second event of a public lecture series, an innovative community outreach initiative started in NUI Galway’s School of Nursing & Midwifery this year. The series aims to share knowledge and expertise on health matters with local communities. Dr Adeline Cooney, Head of NUI Galway’ School of Nursing and Midwifery, said: “This public lecture series is interactive in nature, allowing full community engagement and we look forward to active and lively discussions and debates.” If there are any future topics you would like covered during the lecture, please contact john.quinlivan@nuigalway.ie or mary.e.gannon@nuigalway.ie. -Ends-

Monday, 10 November 2014

Workshops are part of the 2014 Galway Science and Technology Festival Humans are complex living things, a family of over 100 trillion cells of which there are over 200 different types! In our brains alone there are 14 times more cells than people on the planet. The way in which our cells work together in our body is a fascinating story, one that you can learn about with Cell EXPLORERS at the Galway Science and Technology Festival this year. This year, Cell EXPLORERS is running three different interactive workshops at the Galway Science Technology Festival Exhibition Day on Sunday, 23 November. The popular workshops will contain activities such as observing your own cheek cells under microscopes, extracting DNA and building DNA models, participants can learn all about cells and DNA. The School of Natural Sciences Next Top Model Organism Workshop also returns, allowing the general public the chance to interact with passionate researchers in NUI Galway. Members of the public will have the chance to learn about and observe model organisms which are being studied and can then vote for their favourite. New to the exhibition this year is the Brain EXPLORERS Workshop, supported by both the American Society for Cell Biology and The Biochemical Society. Complementing the ‘Amazing Brain’ exhibition by the Galway Neuroscience Centre, it explores the brain from the cellular level through the use of engaging activities such as puzzles, matching games, interactive circuits, and model building races. Cell EXPLORERS is a science outreach programme based in the School of Natural Sciences at NUI Galway. Volunteer students, staff and researchers all work together to promote biological sciences to primary and secondary school children and their families in a way that is both accessible and fun! With both school visits and interactive workshops during Science Week and the Galway Science and Technology Festival, funded by a Science Foundation Ireland’s Discover Award, there is something for every young (and older!) explorer. Since it began, Cell EXPLORERS has directly reached over 3,800 children, teachers and parents. The Cell EXPLORERS Fantastic DNA School Roadshow is once again bringing the opportunity to do DNA extraction experiments in the classroom to primary school children across Co. Galway! The ‘Little Cells’ school visits are also back. Aimed at infants, first and second classes this visit introduces young children to the different cells in our body in a fun and engaging way. To book a ticket for the free workshops visit the Galway Science and Technology Festival website, www.galwayscience.ie or go to the Galway Science & Technology Festival Exhibition day on Sunday, 23 November where you too can become a Cell EXPLORER! More information on Cell EXPLORERS is available on www.cellexplorers.com. -Ends-

Monday, 3 November 2014

To mark World Diabetes Day on Friday, 14 November, NUI Galway will provide a free foot screening clinic from 1-4pm in the NUI Galway Podiatry Skills Laboratory on the third floor of Áras Moyola on campus. Created in 1991, World Diabetes Day campaign is led by the International Diabetes Federation (IDF) and its member associations in response to growing concerns about the escalating health threat that diabetes now poses. In Ireland, it remains unknown exactly how many people are currently living with diabetes. The Institute of Public Health’s report Making Diabetes Count estimated that there were about 143,000 people with diabetes in Ireland and predicted that this number would increase by 37%, to 194,000 people, by 2015.    The Discipline of Podiatry at NUI Galway is the only School of Podiatry in the country and was established in 2008. Podiatry is a healthcare profession specialising in the management of disease and disorder of the lower limb and foot. Podiatrists are frequently involved in managing and treating individuals who are living with diabetes. For individuals who are living with diabetes – a number of diabetes related changes occur in the lower-limbs and ultimately this can affect the blood supply and the nerve supply to the feet. Dr Claire MacGilchrist, lecturer in Podiatry at NUI Galway, said: “Diabetes has emerged as a modern day epidemic and the literature has identified that for every individual diagnosed with diabetes there remains another individual living with the condition remaining undiagnosed. Early identification of the condition is essential and annual foot screening for individuals who have diabetes is crucial to identify diabetes related changes and implement effective management strategies to prevent ulcerations and amputations’. The World Health Organisation recently reported that every 20 seconds, somewhere in the world, a limb is lost as a consequence of diabetes, yet with effective screening programmes and early intervention strategies, ulceration and amputations are in many cases preventable.” The screening is strictly by appointment only. To schedule a 20 minute foot screening appointment email Dr Claire MacGilchrist at claire.macgilchrist@nuigalway.ie or 091 494265 before Tuesday, 11 November. -Ends-      

Monday, 3 November 2014

Lecture to mark landing of Philae space probe on Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko The European Space Agency will land the Philae probe onto the surface of comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko on Wednesday, 12 November. Philae has been travelling to the comet for over ten years. It is the first time that such a rendezvous and landing has been attempted. To mark this astronomical occasion, NUI Galway will hold a special lecture organised by the University’s Astronomy Society and School of Physics. The lecture will be given by Professor Andy Shearer from the School of Physics and will include a live demonstration of what a comet is, as well as describing the importance of comets to us on the Earth. Comets are the debris left behind when the solar system and the Earth formed 4.6 billion years ago. Their study gives us clues as to what the conditions were like when life first developed approximately 4 billion years ago. Their dramatic appearance in the night sky with a fuzzy head and long tail have always inspired mankind. It is thought most of the water on the earth was brought here by comets in the early part of the Earth life - if it wasn’t for comets we wouldn’t be here today. The European Space Agency (ESA) sent a space craft to the comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko which was discovered by two Russian astronomers in 1969. This journey took ten years and it flew past Earth and Mars once each, gaining speed each time. Since August the space craft, Rosetta, has been in close orbit around the comet looking for a place to land. ESA have decided that it is safe to land on the comet and will launch the probe, Philae, on 12 November. If the mission is a success the NUI Galway talk should include some of the first pictures from the surface of a comet. During the lecture, Professor Shearer will make a comet from its normal raw ingredients of water, organic tar and gravel. As comets are in deep space they are very cold and to mimic the conditions, the comet mix will be cooled to -170 degrees celsius. In this way Professor Shearer can show how the cometary fuzzy head and tail form. The lecture is part of the University’s Science Week which is organised by the Astronomy Society, will take place at 7.30pm on Wednesday, 12 November in room IT 250, IT Building. The event is free to attend but spaces are limited so arriving early is advised. For more information contact organiser Laura Boyle of NUI Galway’s Astronomy Society at l.boyle2@nuigalway.ie. -Ends-

Tuesday, 4 November 2014

Aileen Wruck, an undergraduate zoology student from NUI Galway has been collecting spiders in and around Galway city as part of her final year research project. Her goal is to get a better understanding of how spiders colonise human dwellings and turn man-made structures to their advantage. Over the past few weeks, Aileen has been trapping and collecting spiders from seemingly unlikely locations for wildlife including bridges, stone walls, attics, car parks and public staircases. To date she has managed to identify 110 specimens from 27 species. Her most prized catch are two false black widows found in a local car park. Aileen said: “False black widows are not native to Ireland, but they have managed to establish populations in most cities, where man-made structures provide the shelter and the warmth they would not get otherwise in the countryside. False black widows have had very bad press recently, but the reality is that they are very shy and not more dangerous than a wasp or a bee.” Dr Michel Dugon from the discipline of Zoology at NUI Galway and Aileen’s supervisor, is eager to explore this new urban wildlife: “By building large cities and developing international trade, we have effectively opened a world-wide network of urban environments. Many bugs have benefited from these new conditions and have become closely dependent on us for their survival and dispersal. The study of these man-made ecosystems is now a field of research on its own called urban ecology. It is both fascinating and slightly scary to think that we have created ecosystems where climatic and geographical boundaries do not apply anymore.” Have you come across false black widows or very unusual looking spiders in Galway? If so, you can send your pictures to Aileen by email at a.wruck1@nuigalway.ie. -Ends-

Tuesday, 4 November 2014

Professor Ruth Curtis, School of Psychology, NUI Galway, was recently appointed Fellow of the European Health Psychology Society for her contribution to the advancement of health psychology through research, education/training and public service. Although retired, Professor Curtis is still actively involved in the Health and Wellbeing Research Cluster in the School of Psychology She was presented with the award by Professor Aleks Luszczynska at the opening ceremony of the 25th EHPS conference in Innsbruck which hosted 1,000 delegates from 30 countries. -Ends-

Tuesday, 4 November 2014

NUI Galway will hold a public lecture entitled ‘Trickle Down Politics: Some Reflection on Irish Water’ on Thursday, 13 November. The lecture will be delivered by NUI Galway lecturer Dr George Taylor and will take place in room MY129, Áras Moyola at 7.30pm. “Irish polity is gripped with political angst is not in dispute. And yet, it seems almost perverse to record that precisely the moment at which you would expect politics to be relevant to its citizens, the state and its party representatives (the realm of political) seem increasingly irrelevant. For many commentators, particularly those keen on the more salacious aspects of Irish politics, this ambivalence toward formal politics can be attributed to a growing disenchantment with its political representatives, which have been subject to a tirade of revelations: from the ‘dig outs’ enjoyed by the Taoiseach, Bertie Ahern, and revealed at public tribunals, to the Ceann Comhairle’s, John O’Donohue’s, predilection for spending on ostentatious limousine trips at the taxpayer’s expense. In this lecture I will aim to provide a deeper analysis of this reform”, said Dr Taylor. Dr Taylor is a lecturer in politics and an internationally recognised scholar in Public policy who has published across a wide range of areas in world leading journals that include: environmental politics, food safety, risk and the financial crisis, regulatory reform and the international Haemophilia crisis.  -Ends-

Tuesday, 4 November 2014

Have you ever wondered what electricity is and where does it come from, or what is sound and how do scientists use sound to map the sea floor? What happens when rubbish ends up in the ocean? Is it true that some ocean plants glow? What surprises are there to be found in Galway Bay? Visit the second floor gallery at Galway City Museum to discover the answer to these questions and much more. Galway City Museum, together with the Ryan Institute at NUI Galway, have launched SeaScience. This new exhibition invites visitors to learn and discover more about everyday science and the environment, and how research at NUI Galway feeds into this. It was the intention of all contributors to this exhibition to provide visitors with an experience that will help shape the way they view and experience the world.   As a semi-permanent feature of the museum, SeaScience will be in place for the next 3-4 years; with some visitors already making multiple visits in the few short weeks it has been open. “The SeaScience Exploration Zone is a space that was designed and developed to get visitors excited about learning about the ocean, about the amazing landscape of the West, and about just some of the diverse research that scientists and engineers at NUI Galway’s Ryan Institute are conducting”, says Dr Sarah Knight, Outreach Officer for the Ryan Institute. “It has been so much fun working with the Galway City Museum on this project. Combining the knowledge of the marine environment that we have in the Ryan Institute and my own experience in education and outreach, with the incredible expertise of James Reynolds, Director Eithne O’Connell and the rest of her team at the Museum, we have created a space that has something to explore for everyone.” Irish science heritage writer, Mary Mulvihill, who officially launched the exhibition, said that people in Galway were doing research on salmon over 300 years ago. “So it makes perfect sense that this exhibition should be in Galway City Museum, in this lovely location where the Corrib River meets Galway Bay and the wild Atlantic Ocean. The research now being done at the Ryan Institute continues the work of many generations and even centuries of marine explorers. This new SeaScience exhibition is just what we need to inspire the next generation of marine scientists and engineers.” Children of all ages can come and experience the wonder of SeaScience for themselves. Take a journey in the mini-super-submarine or explore the dark room of glowing plankton. The museum is open Tuesday to Saturday from 10am until 5pm and admission is free! Bookings for group tours can be made by contacting the Galway City Museum, museum@galwaycity.ie. -ends-

Wednesday, 5 November 2014

Questions relating to pricing healthcare were discussed at a major international conference in NUI Galway yesterday. The conference was titled ‘Pricing Healthcare: The role of health economics evaluation in the emerging healthcare landscape in Ireland’. It brought together leading health economists from the UK and Ireland. It also included contributions from other stakeholders in the healthcare sector such as the pharmaceutical industry, clinicians, private health insurance companies, as well as leading representatives from the key decision making agencies in Ireland in this area such as the HSE, HIQA and the National Centre for Pharmaeconomics. The opening address at the conference was delivered by Ms. Loretto Callaghan, Managing Director of Novartis Ireland. The closing address at the conference was delivered by the President of NUI Galway, Dr Jim Browne. Every country in the EU and most countries in the OECD fund more than 50% of the total expenditure on healthcare in any year. The average across the OECD is around 72% and the share of total health expenditure in Ireland that the Government spends is about 67%. According to Brendan Kennelly, a lecturer in Health Economics at NUI Galway, who chaired the conference: “In any system dominated by public expenditure a critical question arises as to what healthcare should be provided. There are a host of competing demands across disease areas, across care levels, across population groups and across social classes. All of them have strong arguments that the particular intervention that they advocate should be funded. The demand for healthcare is likely to rise as the population ages. Medical innovations, as well as social, behavioural and environmental changes, have meant that more people are able to survive with chronic illnesses. In addition, research in diseases such as cancer continues to hold out the promise that new targeted therapies will be more successful in treating illnesses that hitherto were untreatable.” He continued: “However, resources are limited so the question arises as to how should a society decide on which particular elements of healthcare should be prioritised? This is a very challenging question and it is linked to another possibly more challenging question, namely how is health produced and how is it distributed across a population. Health or ill health are caused by a myriad of factors - biological, social, behavioural, psychological – and what a society would like to supply as regards healthcare is inextricably linked with what it thinks about how health is produced and how healthcare should be regarded.” The conference was jointly organised by Novartis Ireland and the Health Economics and Policy Analysis research group at NUI Galway. The group, which comprises about twenty academics, researchers and PhD students, conducts a wide range of research and has particular expertise in disease areas such as dementia, cancer, diabetes, stroke and mental health. The group works closely with clinical staff in the School of Medicine at NUI Galway and elsewhere and with leading health economists around the world. The Health Economics and Policy Analysis research group is merely one example of a strategic targeted approach to biomedical engineering research at NUI Galway which has succeeded in the university establishing itself as a leading player in health related research. -ends-

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

SUSI (Student Universal Support Ireland), the national Awarding Authority for all higher and further education student grants, will be the feature talk at NUI Galway’s Autumn Postgraduate Open Day on Wednesday, 19 November, from 12-4pm in the Bailey Allen Hall, Áras na Mac Léinn. This talk will provide students with an opportunity to gain information on the funding opportunities and application process available to them. The Open Day will showcase over 400 of NUI Galway’s full-time and part-time postgraduate programmes, including taught and research masters, and doctoral research options. The Open Day will focus on the benefits of doing a postgraduate programme and the practicalities of making an application. With over 3,500 postgraduate students currently attending NUI Galway, 70 information stands will provide details on postgraduate opportunities at the University, with academic staff and current students on hand to answer questions about specific courses. Information on scholarships, fees and other practical considerations will also be made available to prospective students on the day. Bríd Seoige, Senior Marketing Officer at NUI Galway, comments: “A postgraduate qualification broadens your skills-set, defines your areas of expertise, increases your specialist knowledge, and can improve your job prospects: over 91% of NUI Galway graduates are currently employed or are in further study within six months of graduating.” Throughout the day postgraduate students will have the option of attending talks on funding opportunities and applications available to them, career prospects and progression, CV clinics and there will also be information on how to apply for a postgraduate course. Irish graduates are ranked first in Europe in terms of how employers rank graduates, and postgraduate study boosts employability. The number of postgraduates in employment has grown consistently in recent years and NUI Galway’s well-established links with industry allows them to take the first step in building their career. NUI Galway offers a wide range of fourth level courses, developing programmes based on its traditional academic strengths of Arts, Social Sciences, Celtic Studies, Commerce, Medicine, Nursing, Health Science, Law, Engineering, Informatics and Science. These areas have been augmented with innovative research centres in areas as diverse as Biomedical Science and Engineering, International Human Rights, Digital Media & Film Studies, and Regenerative Medicine. To view NUI Galway’s suite of new and unique postgraduate programmes and to book your place at the Open Day visit www.nuigalway.ie/postgraduate-open-day  or simply call in on the day. To apply for an NUI Galway postgraduate course visit www.pac.ie/nuigalway. -Ends-

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

NUI Galway’s GiG Soc (Gay In Galway Society) will host their debut Mass Marriage 2014 on Wednesday, 12 November from 10-3pm. The event will take place in the Bailey Allen Hall, Áras na Mac Léinn, NUI Galway. The main aim of the Mass Marriage is to get students on the Register of Electors in time for the Referendum in spring 2015. Sean Reilly, Co-Auditor of GiG Soc at NUI Galway, said: “We know that college students are in favour of Same-Sex Marriage. But we also know that the majority of them aren’t registered to vote. We hope to get that majority on the Register of Electors so they can use their vote to affect positive change for the LGBTQ community.” For one day only NUI Galway’s Bailey Allen Hall will be transformed into a wedding venue for Mass Marriage 2014. There will be a “minister” to carry out the wedding ceremonies where students can marry a person of their choice, irrespective of gender. Instead of students signing a Certificate of Marriage, they will sign a Voter Registration form, and there will also be an information point in the hall where students can check to see if they are already registered. “To a student who has grown up in the Noughties, the current system of Voter Registration seems very outdated”, continues Sean. “This is why a lot of people in the 18-24 age category do not register. With this event, we hope to take the chore out of registering, and have a lot of fun in the process.” For more information contact GiG Soc at gigsoc@socs.nuigalway.ie. -Ends-

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

The renowned musicologist and performer Mick Moloney will deliver an audio-visual lecture at NUI Galway on ‘The Evolution of Old Time American, Country, and Blue Grass Music’. The event takes place on Thursday, 13 November, at 6pm in the Kirwan Theatre at NUI Galway. Using recordings of historic music and song, Mick Moloney will reconstruct the background of American music traditions, tracing their Irish sources. The event is co-sponsored by the Moore Institute at NUI Galway and the University’s Arts in Action series. Professor Moloney is Global Distinguished Professor of Irish Studies and Music at New York University. His exceptional career has combined the roles of professional musician, musicologist, record producer, teacher and arts presenter. He holds a PhD in folklore. He is author of Far From the Shamrock Shore: The Story of Irish American History Through Song and he has featured in documentaries Bringing It All Back Home and Out of Ireland. He was awarded the National Heritage Award from the National Endowment for the Arts, the highest official honour a traditional artist can receive in the United States. -ends-

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

As part of international Geography Awareness Week from 17-21 November, postgraduate students within NUI Galway’s Discipline of Geography have organised an eclectic programme of events around this year’s theme of ‘Geographies of Food’. Geo Week Ireland is an annual national event aimed to promote appreciation, understanding and awareness of geography and its relevance to society and education. The Geographical Society of Ireland is hosting its second national photographic competition on this years’ theme and has created a special webpage for students, teachers, community members and the general public to upload photographs around the themes of food growing, food exchange, food waste and food security. Dr Aaron Potito, Head of NUI Galway’s School of Geography and Archaeology, said: “GeoWeek Ireland promotes awareness, appreciation and understanding of geography through a huge variety of events and activities. Our postgraduates have been involved in GeoWeek since its inception and year-on-year there is a growing interest in the subject. This year our students have put together a broad range of events which shows there is a wonderful appetite for learning about food geographies in fun and exciting ways.”   Events this year include collaborations with the University’s Baking Society, the Organic Gardening Society, the Photo Society and the Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security Society. Among the many events taking place in NUI Galway during GeoWeek is a public panel discussion which is entitled ‘Food Futures on a Plate’, comprised of food experts from Galway and further afield. Dr Frances Fahy, Head of the discipline of Geography at NUI Galway, said: “This year we are delighted to welcome Dr Laura Devaney from TCD and Jacinta Dalton from GMIT. We especially welcome JP Mahon, owner of EatGalway, to our public panel discussion.”   The panel discussion, ‘Food Futures on a Plate’, is open to the public and will take place in Cairnes Lecture Hall 3, St Anthony’s Building, NUI Galway, on Wednesday, 19 November at 2pm. For more information or to register for the discussion please email f.carter1@nuigalway.ie. To find out more about the photographic competition visit http://www.geographicalsocietyireland.ie/geoweek-2014-photo-comp.html. -Ends-

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Sligo schools scoop first prize in both categories The winners of the €3000 schools science video competition, ReelLIFE SCIENCE, are today announced as part of Science Week 2014. The primary school category winners are Sooey National School, Co. Sligo, with Julien Torrades from Summerhill College, Sligo taking first place at secondary school level. Primary and secondary schools from all over Ireland were challenged by NUI Galway to make entertaining and educational short videos on a range of science topics. The challenge was taken up by thousands of students in 24 counties around Ireland, producing more than 250 three-minute science videos, in both English and Irish, for the competition. Selecting the best videos to share in the €3000 prize fund were judges Aoibhinn Ní Shúilleabháin, broadcaster and Lecturer in Mathematics at University College Dublin, Stephen Curry, Professor of Structural Biology at Imperial College London and Science writer with The Guardian, and Paul Clarke, St. Paul’s College, Raheny, winner of the SciFest National Final 2013 and Overall Winner of the BT Young Scientist & Technology Exhibition 2014. The ReelLIFE SCIENCE team, led by NUI Galway’s Dr Enda O’Connell, were overwhelmed by the response of the schools. Judge Aoibhinn Ní Shúilleabháin said: “I was astounded by the calibre of the videos from both the primary and secondary schools. It is wonderful to see the thought, preparation, fun, and learning that went into all of the videos and it is very encouraging to see students enjoying and communicating science.” Primary School Winners: The judges selected ‘The Secret Life of Honeybees’ produced by the 5th and 6th class students of Sooey National School, Co. Sligo, under the direction of their teacher Thomas Egan, as the best primary school video. The prize consisted of €1000 towards science resources for their school. Judge Professor Curry commented: “Sooey National School’s video had good science content, with a very, very funny script and the kids were clearly having a lot of fun which makes the film hugely appealing.” A video called ‘ChemKids’, examining this year’s Science Week theme ‘The Power of Science’, and made by all students, from junior infants to 6th class, of Scoil Eoin, Tahilla, Co. Kerry, finished in second place, winning €300 in the process. The third placed primary school video, ‘All You Need Are Worms’ was submitted by 4th class students of Rush and Lusk Educate Together National School in Dublin, winning €200. Also shortlisted were ‘The Digestive System’ by St. Patrick’s National School, Newbridge, Co. Kildare and ‘Bíodh an Fórsa Leat’ by Scoil Náisiúnta Iognáid, Gaillimh. Secondary School Winners: At secondary school level, the judges chose ‘The History of Medicine’ by Leaving Certificate student Julien Torrades from Summerhill College, Sligo, under the supervision of his Art teacher Jonathan Cassidy, as their winner. The video, described by Professor Curry as “a good use of stop-motion…with a nice sense of humour…covering an impressive amount of ground in a short space of time” earns €1000 for Summerhill College’s science programme. In second place, a video about Austrian physicist ‘Lise Meitner - the Science Hero that time forgot’ impressed the judges, winning €300 for Rosses Community School, Dungloe, Co. Donegal, while ‘Gravity in a Nutshell’ earned Causeway Comprehensive School, Co. Kerry, €200 and third place. Also shortlisted were ‘Vision - How We See the World’ by 5th year students from St. Andrew’s College, Blackrock, Co. Dublin, and ‘Alexander Fleming - Science Hero’ by Transition Year students from St. Marys School for Deaf Girls, Cabra, Dublin 7. An additional €250 publicly voted prize, was won by the video ‘Trees: Properties and Uses’ produced by the students of St Michael’s House Special National School, Ballymun, Dublin 9, with the help of their teacher Melanie McInerney. All the videos can be viewed at www.reellifescience.com and will be shown to the general public as part of the Galway Science and Technology Festival Exhibition, held in NUI Galway on Sunday, 23 November. The ReelLIFE SCIENCE initiative is supported by NUI Galway; the Science Foundation Ireland Discover programme, which seeks to promote the awareness and engagement of the Irish public with science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM); the Biochemical Society Scientific Outreach programme; the EU FP-7 funded VISICORT research project; Medical Supply Company; and the NUI Galway School of Natural Sciences outreach programme Cell EXPLORERS. ReelLIFE SCIENCE is one of 800 events taking place around the country for Science Week (www.science.ie), which runs from November 9-16. -Ends-

Thursday, 13 November 2014

Secondary school students interested in NUI Galway are invited to an information evening in Kildare on Thursday, 20 November. Parents and guardians are also particularly welcome to the event which runs from 7 to 9pm in the Osprey Hotel, Naas, Co. Kildare. The evening will begin with short talks about NUI Galway and some of the 60 courses it offers. Afterwards, current students and NUI Galway staff will be on hand at information stands to answer any individual questions in relation to courses offered by the University and about practical issues like accommodation, fees and scholarships, and the wide range of support services available to our students. The ever-increasing popularity of NUI Galway is in-part due to a suite of innovative new programmes, developed in response to the changing needs of the employment market. Unique programmes include a Bachelor of Arts in Human Rights, an Energy Engineering degree which is taught in the University’s new Engineering Building, Ireland’s largest School of Engineering, and a Maths and Education degree aimed at training Maths teachers. Visitors to the information evening will also get information on NUI Galway’s newest degree programmes, a BA in Drama, Theatre and Performance Studies, BA in Journalism, BA in Science (Physics- degree options in Applied, Astrophysics, Biomedical or Theoretical) and a Bachelor of Commerce (Gaeilge). Caroline Loughnane, Director of Marketing and Communications at NUI Galway, said: “NUI Galway has a great deal to offer. Our own students tell us our lecturers are inspirational and challenge them to achieve their full potential. The student experience in Galway is second to none, and we want to bring a taste of that to County Kildare, while also providing all the practical information on accommodation, CAO points, fees, scholarships and courses. With so many courses on offer, this event in Naas is a perfect opportunity for prospective students to meet current students and lecturers to see what degree might be the right fit for them.” To find out more about the information evening in Kildare, contact NUI Galway's Schools Liaison Officer, Siobhan Dorman on 086 0421591 or siobhan.dorman@nuigalway.ie. -Ends-

Thursday, 13 November 2014

The 17th Galway Science and Technology Festival, part of National Science Week, opened on Monday 10th November and will run for two weeks culminating in the hugely popular Festival Exhibition on Sunday 23rd November at NUI Galway. Funded by main sponsor Medtronic, the Festival aims to increase the uptake and popularity of the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) subjects among young people, and will bring over 180 free shows to 35,000 primary and secondary school students over the next two weeks. The Festival will explore and celebrate the ‘Power of Science’ in schools, colleges, research institutes, companies and community centres across Galway City and County.  Children at Primary schools will be immersed in all things science with a fantastic line up of free shows including Origami Workshops learning about Origami structures for use in nano-technology and medical diagnostics, a Lego Education Workshop will introduce robotics to young children, Bug Doctor brings tarantulas and snakes into the classroom, the Science of Sound shows students how to make sound and test how it travels, Wibbly Wobbly Web, Fantastic DNA invloves extracting the DNA from a bananaand Little Cells introduces students to the concept of cells that form our body. Secondary school shows will feature live experiments in Scientific Sue’s Chemistry Show, True Physics shows students how to launch rockets and and learn about flight pressure, Dr Ken’s Circus reveals the scientific principles used by circus performers using gravity in their stunts, travel on a hovercraft in The Magic of Science with Terence Finnergan and Bend it like Beckham in James Soper’s Science Shows. NUI Galway will throw open its doors to schools providing educational tours to the Geology, Zoology and Marine Biology and Computer Musuems, the NCBES Roadshow looks at the exciting future of Biomedicine in Ireland, a visit to the School of Maths are running workshops in schools on how to genetically breed a superpet, the 3rd annual THREESIS Competition where researchers battle it out to get to the point in 3-minutes and visits to the  Sea Science exhibition presented by NUI Galway's Ryan Institute at Galway City Museum. The Network of Excellence for Functional Biomaterials will also hold workshops with children performing “surgery” to fix heart shaped biscuits with decorations representing biomaterials. The workshops will take place in AC201 on the Arts and Science concourse at 11am, 12pm, 1.30pm and 3pm. There is something science and technology for everyone at GMIT including Careers in Science – Live Online in the Classroom, Creating Software Apps and Online Market Opportunities, The Ocean and Us introduces students to the Awesome Atlantic in the Marine Resarch Laboratories, Build Your Own Satellite by GMIT’s Civic Engineering, Sustainable Energy goes to schools as part of the Green Schools initiative engaging engineering with the community, and workshops on Hydraulics/Structures/Surveying in the Engineering Labs. The Marine Institute in Renville, Oranmore is hosting an open day on Thursday 20th November and inviting secondary school students from Galway City and County to visit their facility. On the day there will be exhibits on display, a tour of the site and the opportunity to speak to Engineers regarding careers in marine engineering. Festival Chairman, Tom Hyland commented, “We are looking forward to a wonderful two week celebration of the Power of Science and invite everyone to join us on our final day Exhibition on Sunday 23rd November at NUI Galway. During the two weeks students the length and breadth of the county will be participating in demonstrations, shows and workshops all geared towards inspiring the students to develop an interest in the STEM subjects.”  He added “I would like to thank our main sponsor Medtronic who for the last 13 years has been a sterling sponsor of this event, and also greatly appreciate the support of our partners SFI Discover, Boston Scientific, Cisco, Galway Enterprise Board, NUI Galway, GMIT, Avaya, Hewlett Packard, Fidelity Investments, Creganna, Merit Medical, IDA Ireland, Galway County Council, The Marine Institute, Údarás na Gaeltachta and Enterprise Ireland who all help bring excitement and fun to science and technology for children and families across the city and county.” The Final Day Exhibition will take place at NUI Galway Campus on Sunday 23rd November and will host over 80 interactive stands and over 25 shows and workshops representing areas in research, education, industry and the environment. For students and families interested in seeing more of the shows and workshops that will be visiting schools, they will have an opportunity to see them on Sunday 23rd at the Festival Exhibition. The shows are free and advance booking is advised due to demand. Up to 70% of the Exhibition shows will be available to book at www.galwayscience.eventbrite.ie on Friday 14th November and the remainder will be available on the Exhibition day. Programme details available at www.galwayscience.ie  and the Festival Exhibition will open from 10am to 6pm on Sunday 23rd November. Bookings can be made at www.galwayscience.eventbrite.com on Friday 14th November. Visit www.scienceweek.ie  for details of events nationwide or alternatively organise your own event – check out the ‘Get Involved’ guide www.scienceweek.ie/resources/get-involved/ Connect on Twitter @galwaysciencefe and on www.facebook.com/galwayscience and use the hashtag #SciWk2014 and #GalSci2014 to join the conversation. ENDS

Thursday, 13 November 2014

In conjunction with Ireland’s Science Week, Debating Science Issues (DSI) the cross border biomedical, bioethical project is being launched with an upper secondary school workshop series. NUI Galway-coordinated REDDSTAR leads the assemblage of collaborators delivering the schools’ science programme now in its eighth year. Although the workshop phase of the Debating Science Issues project is launched, several partners are still recruiting schools. The pre-competition workshops provide an open and impartial environment and challenge the students to consider the ethical impacts of contemporary research. After the school workshop, students work with their team and under their teacher’s supervision to prepare for a debate competition involving more than 36 schools across the island of Ireland to determine the 2015 All-Ireland winners. Debate adjudicators represent various stakeholders including science, communications/journalism, religion, medicine, ethics, patients, and interested publics. Debating Science Issues Coordinator, Danielle Nicholson said “As part of the Responsible Research and Innovation framework, Debating Science Issues builds bridges between the practice and end products of research and aims to meet the needs and values of the people it will ultimately affect- our young people. Debating Science Issues encourages students to engage in debate on the cultural, societal and ethical implications of advances in biomedical science. This project addresses contemporary scientific issues such as lifestyle-related disease, stem cells, nanotechnology, genetically modified food, immunology practices, organ transplantation allocation, rare diseases and health and self-testing.” Collaborators for Debating Science Issues 2015 include REDDSTAR, an EU project coordinated at NUI Galway, the Biomedical Diagnostics Institute at DCU, AMBER at Trinity College, Insight at UCD, Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, Alimentary Pharmabiotic Centre at UCC, Cork Institute of Technology, W5 in Belfast and University of Ulster, Coleraine. To find out more on the project visit www.debatingscienceissues.com. -Ends-

Friday, 14 November 2014

Findings from a research project at NUI Galway have provided new insights into the underlying causes of comfort eating. Comfort or emotional eating happens when we are not hungry but perhaps in need of stress relief or a reward. The study of over 500 people traced individuals eating habits back to their early childhood and particularly their parents responses to their emotions. Dr Jonathan Egan of NUI Galway presented the findings at the 44th Annual Psychological Society of Ireland Conference in Kilkenny yesterday (13 November). While the wide availability of convenience foods and an increasingly sedentary lifestyle are recognised as significant contributing factors to the spike in obesity rates, research is finding that psychosocial factors in childhood, such as abuse, lack of parental support, depression, may also play a role. “For many, if you are unable to express your emotions, the ‘solution’ is to comfort eat”, explains Dr Egan. “Children learn from an early age what emotions are acceptable within the household or not. If parents are caring and responsive to their children’s needs, while still being authoritative, our research indicates this leads to a healthy relationship with food. However, when a parent is overly dictatorial – ‘my way or the highway’ – children’s relationships with food can altered right into adulthood.” Combined with findings on the influence of permissive parenting, it seems that the degree of warmth and/or caring in the parent-child interaction may be of particular relevance in the development of attitudes towards expressing emotion. Healthcare professionals may play an important role in reinforcing the advantages of authoritative parenting and warmth and/or caring in the home, and communicating messages to parents regarding the importance of tolerance of emotional expression. The research looked at the relationship between a range of factors, such as how people learned to cope with their emotions in childhood, or how people relate to others, and how this influences eating patterns and BMI in adulthood. High fat and high sugar comfort food are often particularly popular with emotional eaters. Dr Egan explains, “biologically such foods reduce the activity of the Hypothalamic-Pituitary-adrenal axis in the brain, which in turn dampens the stress response and activates the brains reward centres. This also makes the likelihood of similar (compulsive) behaviour more likely in the future. The findings suggest that health professionals should routinely assess broad childhood experiences (including invalidation) when working with individuals around weight management. Furthermore, the findings point to the importance for health care professionals to promote authoritative parenting in childhood, as it is protective against overweight and obesity in adulthood. Dr Egan also pointed that: “Mindfulness and being able to recognise internal and external changes within and without your body seem also to be protective suggestions lots for treatment strategies.” Dr Egan worked with Roisín Finnegan, Andrea Gibbons and Lorraine McDonagh on the research which was funded by the Millennium Research Fund at NUI Galway. -ends-

Monday, 17 November 2014

A healthy diet may help protect our kidneys, according to a new study presented by NUI Galway researchers at a major conference in Philadelphia which comes to a close today. However, individuals must also pay particular attention to their sodium (salt) and potassium intake, according to the research, which analysed data from over 500,000 people. Chronic kidney disease is estimated to affect over 300,000 people in Ireland, although many people with chronic kidney disease may be unaware that they have it. Recent data suggests that approximately 4,000 people in Ireland have end-stage kidney disease, the most severe form of chronic kidney disease, and need dialysis or a kidney transplant. Chronic kidney disease is associated with an increased risk of other medical conditions including cardiovascular disease (heart disease and stroke). “Current guidelines for healthy eating focus primarily on preventing cardiovascular disease”, explains the lead author on the research, NUI Galway’s Dr Andrew Smyth, whose work is supported by the Health Research Board. “We completed this research work to explore if healthy eating may also protect from kidney disease. This is particularly important, as people with more advanced kidney disease may be advised to restrict their diet.” The study indicates that dietary modifications may reduce the burden of chronic kidney disease. Dr Smyth said: “Our results suggest that a healthy diet may reduce the future risk of kidney outcomes. Importantly, it highlights the importance of looking at the whole diet, rather than just looking at healthy foods alone. The most benefit was seen from a healthy diet, containing plenty of healthy foods, low amounts of unhealthy foods, higher potassium and not too much sodium. As dietary modification is a low-cost, simple intervention, it offers the potential to significantly reduce the burden from chronic kidney disease, while also protecting from cardiovascular disease.” Dr Smyth presented the initial findings of the study at Kidney Week 2014, the annual meeting of the American Society of Nephrology, which was attended by over 13,000 people. The study, which was called ‘Diet and Major Renal Outcomes: The NIH-AARP Diet and Health Study’, used data from a large US study (National Institutes of Health Diet and Health Study). Dr Martin O'Donnell of NUI Galway was the senior author on the report.   Over 500,000 people aged 50-71, living in the United States, provided medical information and completed a diet questionnaire, which was used to measure how healthy each person's diet was at baseline (using four different scoring systems), as well as calculating each person's intake of sodium and potassium. Using available follow-up data, the researchers explored the association between diet and kidney outcomes, including the need for dialysis or dying with chronic kidney disease. During the study period, almost 5,000 people required dialysis or died with chronic kidney disease. Using three of the four diet scoring systems, people with the highest scores for diet quality had the lowest risk of kidney outcomes. In these three scoring systems, people scored highly for eating plenty of healthy foods (such as fruits and vegetables) and for eating low amounts of unhealthy foods (e.g. deep fried, fatty or sugary foods). The biggest effects were seen with the scoring systems that focus on the whole diet. The fourth scoring system, which focuses only on healthy foods (Recommended Food Score), was not associated with kidney outcomes. In addition, the researchers found that high sodium intake was associated with an increased risk of kidney outcomes, as was low potassium intake. -ends-

Monday, 17 November 2014

Secondary school students interested in NUI Galway are invited to an information evening in Letterkenny on Thursday, 27 November. Parents and guardians are also particularly welcome to the event which runs from 7 to 9pm in the Radisson Blu Hotel, Letterkenny, Co. Donegal. The evening will begin with short talks about NUI Galway and some of the 60 courses it offers. Afterwards, current students and NUI Galway staff will be on hand at information stands to answer any individual questions in relation to courses offered by the University and about practical issues like accommodation, fees and scholarships, and the wide range of support services available to our students. The ever-increasing popularity of NUI Galway is in-part due to a suite of innovative new programmes, developed in response to the changing needs of the employment market. Unique programmes include a Bachelor of Arts in Human Rights, an Energy Engineering degree which is taught in the University’s new Engineering Building, Ireland’s largest School of Engineering, and a Maths and Education degree aimed at training Maths teachers. Visitors to the information evening will also get information on NUI Galway’s newest degree programmes, a BA in Drama, Theatre and Performance Studies, BA in Journalism, BA in Science (Physics- degree options in Applied, Astrophysics, Biomedical or Theoretical) and a Bachelor of Commerce (Gaeilge). Caroline Loughnane, Director of Marketing and Communications at NUI Galway, said: “NUI Galway has a great deal to offer. Our own students tell us our lecturers are inspirational and challenge them to achieve their full potential. The student experience in Galway is second to none, and we want to bring a taste of that to County Donegal, while also providing all the practical information on accommodation, CAO points, fees, scholarships and courses. With so many courses on offer, this event in Letterkenny is a perfect opportunity for prospective students to meet current students and lecturers to see what degree might be the right fit for them.” To find out more about the information evening in Letterkenny, contact NUI Galway's Schools Liaison Officer, Gráinne Dunne on 087 2440858 or grainne.dunne@nuigalway.ie. -Ends-