Volunteering Fair at NUI Galway Helps Students Engage with Community

Tuesday, 19 September 2006

Nearly 40 community organisations will come together at NUI Galway on Wednesday the 27th of September for the annual Volunteering Fair, which promotes the voluntary sector, showcases community organisations and encourages volunteering opportunities. Launched by NUI Galway's Registrar Jim Browne and the Galway City Mayor Niall Ó Brolcháin at 1.30pm in Áras na Mac Léinn, the fair will be aimed at promoting partnerships with communities locally, nationally and internationally. The Volunteer Fair brings together students and community who in the past have taken this opportunity to successfully share experiences and engage. The Volunteer Fair is a joint initiative between the Community Knowledge Initiative (CKI), the ALIVE programme and Student Services at NUI Galway, and will be an opportunity for students to share experiences and broaden their horizons beyond the sphere of academia. It addresses three areas, volunteering within the University, volunteering with local and national organisations, and volunteering with international organisations. Last year over one thousand students mingled with community organisations and this year even more are expected to attend. Attendees will receive a Volunteering Fair Booklet, which describes the organisations' aims and objectives and provides information to support volunteers and community organisations. The Volunteering Fair Booklet is a resource distributed by ALIVE, not only at the event but also throughout the year. Additionally, candy floss will be made and distributed to all attendees of the fair. ALIVE (A Learning Initiative and the Volunteering Experience) was established by the CKI to harness, acknowledge and support the contribution that NUI Galway students make by volunteering. The Volunteering Fair is the highlight of the first semester for the ALIVE programme. "The Volunteering Fair provides a space for community and students to engage and an avenue for developing mutually beneficial experiences. These experiences not only enhance academic learning and motivation but also make a very positive impact on the University, local and national community," said Lorraine Tansey, Student Volunteer Coordinator of ALIVE. "This is a great event for charging the student body with excitement for volunteering and meeting community partners." For further information, please contact Lorraine Tansey, ALIVE Student Volunteer Coordinator at 091 495346 or email lorraine.tansey@nuigalway.ie.

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New website to enable students to volunteer at the click of a button

Monday, 18 September 2006

The Community Knowledge Initiative (CKI) at NUI Galway has launched a new website that enables students to register as volunteers, at the same time allowing community organisations to recruit student volunteers. The amalgamation of registration for both students and community organisations will make volunteering an effortless process with minimal hassle. The Online Volunteering Opportunities Database allows volunteers to easily browse through a variety of volunteering opportunities and lets community organisations post volunteering opportunities to be browsed through. At the click of a button, students can then easily register to volunteer with their chosen organisation and the organisation can recruit them. The new website also offers educational links for research in community, volunteering, civic engagement and service learning/community based learning. In addition, it highlights video and audio webcasts that have been produced with national and international experts in the field of university-community partnerships. The CKI is a project established in 2001 by NUI Galway in order to place communities at the centre of debate and educate students for their role as citizens in democratic society. The website aims to be an informational resource for students and staff at NUI Galway, as well as those in the wider community. "We created a site that offers students, academics and community a gateway into volunteering and the possibilities university-community collaboration poses in modern society; we envisage that the CKI site will enable students to volunteer and learn about their civic responsibility through community," said Lorraine McIlrath, CKI Project Coordinator. Contact: Lorraine McIlrath, Community Knowledge Initiative, NUI Galway, Phone: 091 495234 ENDS

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Burns Victims and Cystic Fibrosis Sufferers could

Monday, 18 September 2006

Burns victims and cystic fibrosis sufferers could benefit from the latest research into hyper-resistant bacteria, often known as superbugs, at NUI Galway. The research, carried out by postgraduate Paul Mc Cay under the supervision of Dr Ger Fleming of NUI Galway's Microbiology Department, looked at the cross-resistance of a particular strain of bacteria to both antibiotics and disinfectant. The three-year study focused on Pseudomonas aeruginosa, an opportunistic pathogen often associated with burn wound sepsis or sufferers of cystic fibrosis and is frequently connected with hospital acquired pneumonia. The University team developed a highly resistant strain of the bacteria and mixed it with the original strain, and a very low level of either antibiotic or disinfectant. The research found that when low levels of antibiotic or disinfectant were present, the ordinary strain of the bacteria was significantly disadvantaged and the superbugs became dominant. The superbugs were also found to be more readily resistant to other types of antibiotic or disinfectant when they were subsequently introduced. Furthermore, superbugs with antibiotic resistance also had resistance to disinfectant, even though the disinfectant had never been present, suggesting a strong link between the development of resistance to antibiotics and disinfectant. "This could have major implications for those administering antibiotics. Firstly, for burn victims and cystic fibrosis sufferers, infections can be long-term. While treatment with antibiotics is the obvious solution this approach is sometimes quite broad and if one antibiotic does not work, we switch to another. However, we may in fact be selecting for resistance and developing an even stronger pathogen. Secondly, disinfectant - tolerant bacteria are emerging more often and this may contribute to antibiotic cross resistance", commented Dr. Fleming. With funding from Research Frontiers Programme, administered by SFI, and the Embark initiative, Paul Mc Cay is one of only a few researchers in Ireland or Britain that utilises long-term selective chemostat cultures for investigations. Using a chemostat culture system, which mimics a natural environment, a highly resistant strain of the bacteria can be grown and in theory grow indefinitely. This better mimics how bacteria behave in the natural environment while allowing bacteria to mutate, evolve and "adapt" to selective agents such as antibiotics and disinfectants. Dr. Fleming and Mr. Paul Mc Cay presented their work at the Society for General Microbiology's 159th meeting, in York on Wednesday 13 September 2006. -ends-

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NUI Galway Student's Brainwave to become Commercial Reality

Monday, 11 September 2006

11 September 2006: A postgraduate student from NUI Galway is the first university researcher in Ireland to receive payment for a 'brainwave' from Technology from Ideas Limited (TfI), the technology commercialisation company. Robert Healy, from the Mechanical & Biomedical Engineering Department, has a radical new idea in the field of renewable energy which potentially offers significant enhancement to existing technologies. Robert's initial idea was analysed by TfI looking at its market, technical and intellectual property merits. TfI expanded upon the idea turning it into a novel technology concept which would enhance current and proposed wave power generation devices. An added bonus of the technology is that it would also strengthen the structural integrity of a device allowing it to withstand more severe sea conditions. The technology involves the use of novel materials coupled with innovative structural modifications. The finer details regarding Robert Healy's idea remain top secret while under development; all he can reveal is that the idea came to him while "watching the surf in Galway". TfI will now commit time and resources to developing, demonstrating and protecting the idea, with the aim of selling or licencing a proven technology onto an end customer. The returns from future sales will be shared with both NUI Galway and Robert. In May of this year, NUI Galway signed a technology commercialisation agreement with Irish company TfI. Under the agreement, TfI will source certain categories of technology ideas from NUI Galway researchers for development and sale to industry. Dr Daniel O'Mahony, Director Technology Transfer Office, NUI Galway, said: "Robert's idea is an innovative solution to a problem he observed with current renewable energy devices. It is outside of his core area of expertise and requires further market-focused technology development before being ready for commercialisation – which is where TfI comes in. Our partnership with TfI offers NUI Galway a much needed alternative commercialisation route for our intellectual property and this idea is the first fruits of our relationship since signing our initial agreement with TfI". Commenting on today's announcement, Dan Richardson, TfI's Managing Director, said: "This award demonstrates our belief in the potential of this idea and in our ability to develop it into a valuable technology. This is the start of a potentially long commercialisation process for Robert's idea with the real returns for him and the University coming when there is a sale or licence deal. We expect further awards over the coming year as we take more ideas into our development pipeline." The agreement with TfI forms part of an ongoing strategic initiative for the Technology Transfer Office at NUI Galway in the development, commercial exploitation, industrial partnering and spin-out of technologies under development by a number of research teams at the University. - ends - Notes for editors Technology from Ideas (TfI) Technology from Ideas (TfI) is a new Irish technology commercialisation company partnered by key players in universities and industry. TfI locates unrealised ideas from university researchers, develops them into investment ready technologies, and sells them to customers worldwide for subsequent development into products. This is achieved through commercially focused development in our own laboratories and together with sales through established technology development company partners. For more information please visit www.technologyfromideas.com. Tel Dan Richardson, Managing Director on +353 86 172 4623. NUI Galway For more information please contact: NUI Galway, Dr. Daniel O'Mahony, Director Technology Transfer Office, 091 492147

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NUI Galway Disability Law Expert Re-Appointed to Irish Human Rights Commission

Monday, 11 September 2006

Professor Gerard Quinn, of NUI Galway's Law Faculty, has been re-appointed by the Government to serve another five year term on the Irish Human Rights Commission. An expert in Disability Law, Prof Quinn is the only person based in the West of Ireland on the Commission, which has made its mark domestically and internationally - where it is a member of the European Coordinating Group of National Human Rights Institutions Professor Quinn took a leading role within the Commission over the past five years on the drafting of the new United Nations treaty on disability as well as in the general field of social justice. He led the delegation from the Human Rights Commission to the United Nations on the drafting of the disability treaty which was finally agreed in New York in August. Speaking of his re-appointment to the Human Rights Commission, Prof Quinn said, "This is a great honour for me and for my Faculty. I intend using my next term on the Commission to help co-ordinate human rights commissions worldwide in implementing the disability treaty in domestic law where it counts most. I will continue to build research alliances worldwide on the challenging issue of disability law reform". Professor Quinn also co-directs a major legal Research Network for the European Commission on EU discrimination law which provides the Commission with a wide range of research on issues such as disability as well as age and race. He recently stepped down as First Vice-President of the European Committee of Social Rights (Council of Europe, Strasbourg). The Irish Human Rights Commission, which was established by statute in accordance with the terms of the Good Friday Agreement, is an independent statutory body mandated to ensure that Irish law and practice are in line with highest standards as set out in the Constitution and in international human rights agreements to which Ireland is a party. - ends -

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