NUI Galway's success at Henley Royal Regatta

NUI Galway's success at Henley Royal Regatta-image

Friday, 8 July 2005

This year two NUI Galway crews made the final of Henley Royal Regatta. The crew of John Forde, Marc Stevens, Paul Giblin and Dave Mannion raced in the Visitors Challenge Cup. They easily qualified for the quarter final, but encountered stiff opposition from Molsey Rowing Club in the semi-final. Having defeated Molsey, NUI Galway progressed to the final against a strong Oxford Brookes crew stroked by an Irish man, Derek Holland. The final took place on Sunday in front of a packed stadium. NUI Galway stormed into a strong lead which they maintained throughout the race, winning the coveted Visitors Challenge Cup. A very young and inexperienced crew of James Wall, Steve Keyes, Paul Murray and Evin Donelly raced in the Student Coxed Fours Challenge Cup. They were led by Ruadhan Cooke who coxed several Henley and Irish Championship winning crews. The most exciting race of the event and arguably the regatta was their semi final against tipped favourites, Imperial College London and Goldsmith College. The Imperial crew had a very strong first half, taking up a length lead. The NUI Galway students fought back and in a sprint for the line won by an official verdict of one foot. However, in the final, the Galway crew was pipped at the line by Durham University, who on the way to winning the event, broke all the course records. Ends

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International Feminist Conference at NUI Galway

International Feminist Conference at NUI Galway-image

Friday, 1 July 2005

An international conference on Feminisms Within and Without,' organised by the Women's Studies Centre at NUI Galway, will take place from Thursday 7th to Saturday 9th July 2005 in the Arts Millennium Building. Many of the papers to be presented reflect debates central to contemporary feminist politics and Women's Studies, such as the distinction between education and activism, and theory and practice, as well as the many and varied feminist frameworks within which women's work – paid and unpaid – can be analysed. Delegates from Ireland, Europe, the United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand will present papers on many different areas of the social, political, academic and creative aspects of Women's, Feminist and Gender Studies. The conference provides an opportunity to bring together experts in these fields, as well as from related disciplines, to exchange ideas and information. The international thrust of the conference is reflected in the extensive range of papers being presented, which include "The evolution of Spanish Feminism", "A Critical Look at New Zealand's Gender-based Art Environment," and "The Sufism of Ibn' Arabi." The Irish dimension includes papers on "Republican Women TDs in Early Twentieth Century Ireland," and "Fetal Imaging and the Creation of Knowledge." There are also papers on topics such as ethics in medicine/nursing, feminist child-rearing, and masculinity studies. An opening plenary panel, made up of Ailbhe Smyth (Ireland), Katharine Side (Canada) and Sandra Krajewski (USA) will address various aspects of feminist politics in Ireland and beyond. Guest speaker for the conference is film director, Mystelle Barbée, whose film 'Highway Courtesans' will be shown as part of the conference, in conjunction with the Galway Film Fleadh. The conference will also include a sean-nós performance workshop, and a feminist writing for performance workshop. Sessional fees are available for half- or full-day attendance. Details of the programme and conference events are available on www.conference.ie Ends

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Ireland's first national Centre for High End Computing announced

Ireland's first national Centre for High End Computing announced-image

Wednesday, 31 August 2005

- New €2.6 million centre will give Ireland a supercomputing capability- Researchers at eight Irish third level institutes today (August 29th 2005) announced that Ireland's first supercomputing centre – the Irish Centre for High End Computing, (ICHEC) will commence operation on Thursday, 1st September 2005. The centre, which will deliver a national research infrastructure, has been funded through a €2.6 million Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) grant, a €0.7M equipment loan from the HEA PRTLI funded CosmoGrid programme and an equipment loan of €1.2M from TCD's HEA PRTLI funded IITAC programme. When completed, ICHEC, will address the growing need for computational resources to assist Irish researchers in their work in disciplines as diverse as medical device simulation, marine modelling, bio-informatics, drug discovery, astrophysics and computational chemistry. High End Computing, also known as 'super computing', uses the most advanced aspects of modern computer science to produce supercomputers capable of many trillions of calculations per second. With this power many physical problems can be simulated on the computer – in silica. For example it is possible in silica to determine how a surgical implant such as a stent will fatigue during its lifetime. Doing this on a computer has clear benefits over measuring the fatigue after it has been put into a patient. The development of the centre is the first of a three-phase project with the objective of ensuring that Ireland is a leader in high end computing on a per capita basis by 2010. It is expected that the centre will be a major power house for the knowledge based economy, benefiting Universities, SMEs – through its technology transfer work – and multi nationals. Commenting on the importance of the project, Dr Andrew Shearer, Dept of Information Technology, NUI Galway and Director of ICHEC said, "Ireland's ability to compete for international science projects has been hindered by the lack of computational resources, with no machines in the country making the world's Top 500 Supercomputers list. This centre will transform computational science in Ireland, creating facilities, which will be on a par with those in the rest of Europe. "Computational science is one of the few areas where Ireland can contribute to 'big' science projects. In the future, we intend that Ireland will be a Centre of Excellence in High End Computing. The ICHEC will also be of immense importance in economic terms, by keeping Ireland competitive and attracting high tech industries to the country. As high end computing can answer almost any question that a researcher in academia or industry would want to ask, the benefits of the ICHEC are endless," he says. Prof. Luke Drury, Director of CosmoGrid said "The CosmoGrid project is delighted to be part of this exciting development which will significantly enhance our ability to deliver grid-enabled computation as a tool for Irish researchers." As well as aiding Irish academic research another important aspect of the new centre will be its role in embedding advanced computing methodology into Irish research and through spin off and collaboration, to transfer advanced computing technology and expertise to the Irish economy. The Irish Centre for High End Computing involves eight partner institutions; NUI Galway, Trinity College, Dublin, Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies (DIAS), UCD, UCC, NUI Maynooth, Dublin City University and the Tyndall Institute. ICHEC will also have an industrial outreach programme working with those researchers and industries that do not normally have an interest in super computing. In addition, an outreach programme will be developed to encourage second-level students to develop an interest in computational science. Ends

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NUI Galway hosts major Health Psychology conference

NUI Galway hosts major Health Psychology conference-image

Monday, 29 August 2005

A major international conference entitled "Enhancing Individual, Family and Community Health" will be held in NUI Galway from the 31st August to 3rd September 2005. The European Health Psychology Conference 2005, which will be attended by 620 delegates from 34 countries, brings together a range of academics, healthcare professionals and organisational psychologists who will present cutting edge research on a wide variety of topics, which are impacting health and the quality of family life in society. The diverse range of topics to be discussed include the stress of illness; sexual health; perceptions, attitudes and the experience of aging; quality of life following childhood illness; coping with cancer and chronic pain; influences of exercise and physical activity; and public attitudes towards advances in genetic technology. Professor Shelley Taylor, UCLA will deliver a keynote address on Wednesday on 'Why people tend and befriend under stress', which will address the importance and source of social support for those suffering illness or stress. For many people suffering severe stress or trauma, expressing their feelings through writing has proved both therapeutic and life-enhancing. Professor James Pennebaker, University of Texas, who has carried out extensive research in this field, will deliver a keynote address on Thursday, entitled ''Two decades of expressive writing and health.' Commenting on the conference Professor Ruth Curtis, Conference President and member of Dept of Psychology, NUI Galway, said, "We are very honoured to host this prestigious conference, which recognises the outstanding contribution that the Department of Psychology at NUI Galway has made to health psychology in Ireland. "This conference brings together many of the leaders in this field and recognises the importance of health psychology in helping us to explore and understand how we cope with and manage the impact that an ever changing society is having on people's lives. "We have a duty to ensure that policy makers understand the important role that health psychology plays in preparing strategies for the development of health services in Ireland. It is vital that the Government recognises this important role in the future and provides funded training places to enable graduates to specialise in health psychology." Health psychology can play an important role in significant health promotion initiatives such as the introduction of the smoking ban in Ireland. NUI Galway was the first university in Ireland to introduce a professional training programme in Health Psychology. -ends-

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Lifting the lid on the amazing nocturnal activities of bats

Lifting the lid on the amazing nocturnal activities of bats-image

Monday, 22 August 2005

The amazing diversity of bats, of which there are 10 species native to Ireland, is the focus of a week-long conference at NUI Galway (22nd – 26th August). Over 200 scientists from 40 countries are attending the 10th European Bat Research Symposium where they will dispel myths regarding the blindness of these nocturnal creatures and explain the important role bats play in agriculture. NUI Galway's long involvement in bat research, first initiated by Professor James Fairley in the early 1980s, led to the University being chosen as the venue for the conference's first visit to Ireland. A keynote address delivered by Professor Thomas Kunz, Professor of Biology at Boston University, will focus on the role bats play in controlling agricultural pests. For example, the local bat population of the Brazilian Free Tailed Bat species in south central Texas may exceed 100 million each night. These bats disperse over varied landscapes to feed on flying insects. Some of their prey includes crop pests such as the corn earworm and the cotton hole worm. Dr James Dunne of NUI Galway's Department of Zoology explained how beneficial the creatures are in controlling Ireland's insect population. "The small bat seen first at dusk, weaving around and over trees is the Pipistrelle. This is the most common bat in Ireland and feeds mainly on midges, mosquitoes, caddis flies and crane flies. A pipistrelle may eat 3,000 small insects in a single night. A roost of 100 can account for the annihilation of many millions of harmful insects over a summer," he said. Dr Dunne also put paid to some of the more popular misconceptions about the common bat. "Despite several myths, bats are not blind, they do not entangle themselves in people's hair and the species native to Ireland, do not spread disease." Other areas to be explored throughout the week-long symposium include research which sheds light on the eating habits of bats. Although the vast majority of bats feed on insects, research by scientists in the Basque region has shown that the long-fingered bat is capable of also feeding on free swimming fish by plunging onto the water surface and grasping them with their hind feet. The Lesser Horseshoe Bat is one of Europe's rarer species and is the subject of a number of papers to be delivered at the conference. Sinead Biggane, a researcher with the Department of Zoology at NUI Galway, has been part of a team who have been studying a maternity roost in County Clare for many years. Using radio transmitters, Sinead tracked individual bats to determine their main feeding areas and pattern of feeding. She shows that the bats use mixed woodland, riparian woodland and associated habitats for foraging. They use hedgerows and stone walls to commute to their feeding areas and will not cover large open spaces. This research has important implications for the conservation of bats. The economic boom throughout Europe has resulted in the destruction of many bat inhabited old buildings. The conference will include a special workshop which will deal with the problems associated with this growing trend and also the legal obligations under European law to protect bats and their habitats will be discussed.

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