Thursday, 10 May 2018

Author: Dara Stanley, Botany & Plant Science Department NUI Galway Opinion: as the landscape begins to bloom again after winter, we should remember that springing to life involves a complex web of timings and relationships It’s that time of year again when life appears after a long, cold winter. Blackthorns are coming in to flower around the country providing a sea of white in our hedgerows, while yellow primroses adorn roadsides. It’s a particularly colourful time of year in woodlands, with bluebell, wild garlic, wood avens and lesser celendine all forming carpets on the woodland floor.  Their aim is simple: to complete their lifecycle before the canopy closes and the woodland floor is thrown back into summer darkness. For many of us, these signs of spring signal ever longer days and warmer weather and so it is no wonder they are a common talking point. With the "beast from the east" and other cold snaps this year, it is likely that many plants are taking longer to burst into life than usual and we have already seen the knock on impacts for farmers in terms of delayed growth of grass and other crops. It seems easy to jump to the conclusion that this is climate change raising its angry head. Of course, climate change is a stark reality, but it takes many years of observations of the timing of these spring events to deduce these long term trends. This branch of science – known as phenology – examines the timing of spring events such as bud burst or flowering time and compares data over long timescales. The National Botanic Gardens, Valentia Observatory and a number of other sites around Ireland are part of an international phenological network. Here, the same tree species with the same genetic origin are planted and the timing of spring events monitored. Research carried out by Alison Donnelly and colleagues at Trinity College Dublin found that the long term trend in Ireland is for these trees to begin growing earlier. However, uncharacteristic years like this sometimes buck the trend! The timing of spring events is also important for insects that interact with the plants that are bursting into life. Bumblebee queens that have been hibernating for the winter are currently starting to emerge. This is a particularly crucial time in their lifecycle; they have been overwintering alone underground, and now have to visit flowers to collect nectar and pollen, make a nest and begin to lay eggs. Only then will the queen have workers emerge who can help her with her work. Having a source of flowers producing nectar and pollen at this time of year can be crucial for their survival. If the timing of spring events is "mis-matched" between the plant and its pollinator, it could have implications for both forage for bees and for the reproduction of plants. A study in Japan found that in years when spring came early, flowers of a native plant species (Corydalis ambigua) emerged before their bumblebee pollinators and as a result did not set as much seed. In other parts of the world, it seems that although flowers are flowering earlier due to changes in climate, their bee pollinators are also emerging earlier and so both sides are keeping in rhythm. As well as wildflowers, spring is also an important time for pollination of Irish crops. Globally, three quarters of all crops benefit from pollination by insects and other animals. About 30 percent of the food that we eat comes from crops pollinated by insects, including almost all of our vitamin C as well as other important nutrients. In Ireland, most of our crops that benefit from insect pollination flower in spring time. Again, the timing of spring and the emergence of pollinators is key. Apple orchards around the south-east are just coming into bloom and oilseed rape will soon be visible as large yellow masses of flowers around the country. Oilseed rape is partially pollinated by the wind, but in Ireland, insect pollinators increase yields by about a third, contributing about €4 million to growers annually. Apples are extremely reliant on pollinators and without them, there would be little or no yields at all. So when you’re looking at the emergence of the first flowers in spring, be cognisant of the fact that it is more than just the start of a new season – there is a complex web of timing and relationships with other organisms at play. One of the key ways in which to help bee populations is to ensure they have a sources of nectar and pollen in early spring time when new bumblebee queens emerge for the first time. If you want to do something for pollinators in your garden or on your land, the All Ireland Pollinator Plan has some useful information and guidance.  This article first appeared on the RTÉ Brainstorm platform.  Visit here

Wednesday, 16 May 2018

Author: Alison Herbert, Irish Centre for Social Gerontology Opinion: not all older people want to retire or, indeed, keep on working so it's important that policy makers take a nuanced approach to the extended working life Funny old month, Bealtaine. If it’s spring, we should have a spring in our step; if it’s summer, then we should be winding down. The Celtic festival of Bealtaine, a transitional point between the spring qquinox and the Summer Solstice, is traditionally a time to welcome back the light and sun, and trust in a healthy autumnal harvest. A more recent addition to Bealtaine in Ireland is the annual arts festival, which celebrates creativity in later life, offering opportunities to engage with music, drama, art, film and dance, and promotes all that is good about active ageing. Bealtaine lays down a strong marker that old need never be boring. But what does active ageing mean to older people and is this what they really want? The EU certainly believes so with its uncritical adoption of active ageing policies that embrace productivity. But this speaks to defining active ageing only within the narrow parameters of employment and an extended working life beyond the official retirement age. Governments have presented this seismic cultural change to work as a golden opportunity for us to flourish in a perfumed cloud of well-being, whilst building up our pension schemes. All of which is grand if those in their late sixties still love their jobs, are fit and healthy and view employment as a major part of self-identity. This is certainly the case for some and research tells us that those who can most easily afford to retire from the workplace are actually the ones most likely to continue working, or to "un-retire" post-retirement for reasons of self-fulfilment. But sizeable sectors of the population feel financially forced into continuing to work beyond retirement age and view this as a form of punishment not opportunity. For a variety of socio-economic reasons, many near-retirement aged workers may want out. They may want to try their hand at something different, to travel, to re-discover family and friends, or just to take it easy by putting their foot on the brake, not the accelerator. Both of these positions are perfectly valid. For some, their well-being and quality of life is improved by continued employment, but the converse is true for others. Those working in physically heavy, mentally demanding, precarious or meaningless jobs may view work as just another Manic Monday and see retirement as the get-out clause that they have long waited for. Women in particular have been found to be at a disadvantage in older age due to their often fractured work history. Gaps in employment to raise children or to act as carer to dependents, coupled with a leaning towards part-time or casual work all impact upon the ability to build up credits towards a non-contributory state pension or sufficient savings to contribute to a private pension scheme. This can, as a recent study on mid-life rural women in Ireland suggests, create a perception of future poverty and a felt need to continue working. That said, research also shows that many women work for more than pecuniary reasons. They may do so to secure a sense of purpose, forge social connections, gain status and establish an identity other than that of wife or mother. Whilst such women often emphasise the importance of job satisfaction over money, this nonetheless may leave them exposed to fewer resources beyond retirement age. Enjoying the present moment is of particular importance later in life so the attraction of retirement may outstrip that of an income A number of studies have looked at the gendered implications of retirement and the extended working life. While women may welcome the idea of new opportunities in late mid-life, and seize the time to engage in further education, travel, or new skills, research has found that many are simultaneously fearful of financial strain, lack of structured days, and loneliness. The decision to retire or not to is also influenced by the work status of one’s partner (or by not having a partner), the perceived state of health of both at mid-life and in later life and the need perhaps to help out adult children financially. Decisions around work and retirement are also influenced by the value we put on time: socio-emotional selectivity theory suggests that enjoying the present moment is of particular importance later in life when older people become acutely aware of limited time. Thus, the attraction of newfound time in retirement may be so powerful as to outstrip that of an income, secure or otherwise. A good quality of life is related to perceptions of control and autonomy. Studies clearly show that those who choose to extend their working lives or choose to retire tend to enjoy a better sense of well-being than those who feel forced into either decision. Such alerts suggest that governments and policy-makers would be well advised to adopt a more nuanced approach to the planning of the extended working life and pension-building that reflects the real trajectory of those in later life, particularly women. Older people who embrace active ageing, either through work or through an alternative pathway, must be similarly protected by policy actions against social exclusion in later life. To equate active ageing solely with work risks triggering its own Mayday signal.

Friday, 18 May 2018

Report: The discovery of black holes at the centre of the Milky Way will have major implications for future research By Valentina Balbi and Michel Destrade, NUI Galway Researchers at Columbia University recently announced the discovery of 12 Black Holes in the middle of the Milky Way galaxy. Projections estimate that around 10,000 isolated black holes should actually be located in a six light-years wide region. This discovery brings an end to a two-decade-long search for "a black hole density cusp" and will have major implications for black hole hunting and gravitational wave research. Black holes are invisible regions in the universe where the gravitational pull is so strong that nothing can escape from there, not even the light. That makes them particularly difficult to detect with classical telescopes. One trick astrophysicists have come up with is to capture the gravitational waves created when a black hole merges with another black hole. But it is extremely difficult to measure gravitational waves, because they travel billions of light years and reach earth with extremely low intensity. In fact, only five gravitational wave events have been recorded so far. The first confirmed detection took place in 2015, and lead to the awarding of the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physics. It was due to the merger of two black holes into a black hole "binary". Professor Charles Hailey from Columbia University and his collaborators used an alternative strategy to detect black holes. They searched for the weak but steady X-Ray emissions resulting from a black hole merging with a smaller low-mass star. They concentrated their efforts in the "neighbourhood" of Sagittarius A*, a super-massive black hole located at the centre of our own Milky Way galaxy (our solar system is located at the edge of the Milky Way galaxy, on one of its outermost spiral arms). Until now, no evidence had emerged to prove the theory that there were thousands of isolated black holes at the centre of our galaxy, surrounding super-massive black holes such as Sagittarius A*. The NASA’s archival data from the orbiting Chandra X-Ray Observatory revealed twelve X-Ray signatures of black holes – low mass stars binaries close to Sagittarius A*. From the density of these binaries among all possible black hole formations, the researchers were able to estimate that there must be about several hundred black hole – low mass star binaries, and tens of thousands isolated black holes hidden in the area within three light years of Sagittarius A*. Putting this figure into context, Matt Redman, director of the Centre for Astronomy at NUI Galway commented: "It’s astonishing to imagine all those black holes packed into such a small volume of space. By way of comparison, a similarly sized volume of space centred on the sun would not even encompass the nearest star, Proxima Centauri."  This cluster of black holes is the closest and most accessible cluster now known, located "only" 26,000 light years away from us, in a galaxy which is 100,000 light years wide. The study, which appeared in April in the scientific journal Nature, will have a strong impact on gravitational wave research. Scientists are now able to estimate how many black holes sit at the centre of the galaxy. This discovery will allow them to estimate which gravitational waves events can be attributed to black holes as opposed to other binary objects (white dwarfs, neutron stars) and supernovae explosions. Professor Andy Shearer from the School of Physics at NUI Galway commented that "The  presence  of so many black holes in such a confined volume makes black hole mergers, which produce the gravitational waves, more likely to occur. The centre of our Galaxy is an exciting place whose secrets will be revealed by telescopes such as ESO’s massive European Extremely Large Telescope and ESA's LISA, a space borne gravitational wave detector." Dr Valentina Balbi is a Marie Curie Fellow with the School of Mathematics at NUI Galway. Professor Michel Destrade is the Chair of Applied Mathematics at NUI Galway and a former Irish Research Council awardee. This article first appeared on the RTÉ Brainstorm platform.  Visit here

Monday, 14 May 2018

Author: Professor Ray Murphy, Irish Centre for Human Rights School of Law Opinion: now more than ever, we need to make clear that international law provides mechanisms for accountability The almost daily reports of atrocities being committed in Syria have created an impression that what is happening is somehow a normal part of contemporary conflicts. This premise must be rejected. Furthermore, we cannot allow the indiscriminate attacks and violations of international humanitarian and criminal law to continue or go unaddressed.   The recent successes of the Assad regime in defeating opposition forces around Ghouta, their last stronghold near Damascus, marks another milestone in the war similar to that of the fall of eastern Aleppo in 2016. It is now apparent that Assad and Russia intended to deal a final mortal blow to opposition forces irrespective of the consequences for the civilian population.   Since 2011, members of Syria’s armed forces and regime-aligned militias have been accused of committing serious human rights violations and crimes against humanity. This includes war crimes since the beginning of the armed conflict stage in July 2012. Russia and Iran, in addition to providing lethal weapons to the Assad regime, have also been implicated.  The UN Commission of Inquiry in Syria has documented human rights abuses by armed opposition groups albeit "not comparable in scale and organization with those carried out by the State". In 2012, it observed that human rights abuses perpetrated by armed opposition groups "may be prosecutable as war crimes". Apart from being a failure of international diplomacy and the UN, the current situation is an affront to all humanity.     At the heart of the problem with the UN Security Council is the abuse of the veto power of the five permanent member Nothing demonstrates the need for UN Security Council reform more than the inept response to date. At the heart of the problem is the abuse of the veto power of the five permanent members. These are more often than not central players in all the major armed conflicts around the world. They also happen to have primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security under the UN Charter while being the major arms manufactures of the world.  This is 2018, not Stalingrad during the Second World War or Grozny in Chechnya. The latter in particular provides a chilling insight into Russia's tactics and ultimate aim. Then, Russia also tried denial and counter claim to deflect attention from the widespread and systematic attacks on the civilian population and protected objects such as medical facilities.  What happened in Aleppo in 2016 and more recently Ghouta provides evidence of the broader strategy. The goal has been to crush all opposition groups in a brutal onslaught on rebel held areas. This is also part of a deliberate policy to drive the moderate rebels into the hands of more extreme elements and will ultimately leave no surviving moderates with which the West can align.  There must be accountability for the perpetrators of the war crimes and crimes against humanity taking place in order to deter others. There is evidence that this is what many Syrians want. It raises issues related to the so called peace versus justice debate as some argue that in the short term it would mean that those in power will have a greater incentive to fight on. The International Criminal Court is one option, but to date Russia has prevented the Security Council from referring the situation in Syria to the Court. A message must go out to all those involved in the conflict that what has occurred will not be forgotten and that all parties, not just the government forces, will be held to account.   Any criminal investigation must find its own evidence and build on what others have gathered, often at grave personal risk to local non-government organisations.  Models of other courts include the Ad hoc tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, the Special Court for Sierra Leone or the Extraordinary Chambers for Cambodia.  The latter was established decades later to prosecute those most responsible for the crimes of the Khmer Rouge in the 1970s.  The conflict in Syria will most likely be classified as a non-international armed conflict, albeit with an international dimension. This is because although Russian forces are participating in the conflict, they are there at the request and in support of the recognised government of Syria and this preserves the essential civil war nature of the conflict. The classification has significant implications for the legal framework governing the situation and hence the nature of any investigation and prosecution of alleged perpetrators.   A lot of evidence has already been gathered on the ground in Syria. The UN commissions of enquiry and similar investigation mechanisms may be able to assist in the process. However, any criminal investigation must find its own evidence and build on what others have painstakingly gathered, often at grave personal risk to local non-government organisations.  Unfortunately, there will be no accountability for those states and leaders that have prevented the UN from being effective. Russia and Assad act as if they have nothing to loose from mass killings. Politically and militarily this may be correct, but it constitutes an amoral strategy.  From a legal and ethical perspective, it must not go unchallenged.  Now more than ever, we need to make clear that international law provides mechanisms for accountability. Like those ultimately held to account before the international criminal tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda, there will be a day of reckoning for those most responsible for the crimes being committed in Syria. Unfortunately, the victims of the Syrian conflict may have to wait some time before this happens.  This article first appeared on the RTÉ Brainstorm platform.  Visit here

Wednesday, 23 May 2018

Author: Dr Malie Coyne, School of Psychology Opinion: parents mean the best for their children and would never consciously intend to cause them stress, but do they do so inadvertently? The Stressed documentary followed the trajectory of five adult volunteers who felt overwhelmed by their busy lifestyles and wanted to "be in the moment" more rather "doing" all the time. As therapist to one of the volunteers, I found that using the link between daily living patterns and the three emotional regulation systems (i.e. drive, threat and soothing) from Paul Gilbert’s Compassion-Focused Therapy (CFT) was a really powerful way of conceptualising and working with stress. For some, the insatiable need to succeed (drive system) may come from a painful place in our childhoods (threat system). This can result in us having real difficulty in nurturing ourselves (soothing system), as we may not have experienced a consistent model of soothing from our primary caregiver (usually a parent) as we were growing up. If a person hasn't been soothed adequately as a child, then it’s very difficult to know how to instinctively self-soothe in adulthood. This can lead to them ignoring stress alerts and not seeking much needed help and social support. Of course, traumatic experiences during a person’s lifetime including adulthood can also have a bearing. For more on the role of self-compassion in a VUCA (i.e. Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous) world, Dr Nelisha Wickremasingue describes the modern world experience of toxic stress as having origins in not feeling good enough which can trigger a threat reaction related to the fear of rejection or abandonment. To counteract this, three self-compassion practices are recommended including self-kindness (having a warm, soft and soothing inner voice); mindfulness (noticing our thoughts and feelings in the present moment without analysing or denying them) and feelings of common humanity (recognising that imperfection and suffering as shared and inevitable human experiences). This brings me to the early origins of stress and the impact of parents’ early relationship experiences on children’s stress. This was alluded to in my Brainstorm article, which described an initiative by the Galway City Early Years Committee, alongside HSE Health Promotion, Galway Healthy Cities and Galway Parent Network, to share evidence-based messages promoting the child-parent attachment on posters displayed in health facilities in Galway. A parent’s ability to reflect on their child’s needs even under situations of high stress significantly protects the child from the negative impacts of stress This drew the attention of the Stressed documentary makers who were looking at how the stress response develops over the course of a person’s lifetime beginning with the early years. This culminated in them filming us sharing our poster messages dispelling common myths around early parenting and a discussion with a Mother and Toddler and Baby group at the Galway ARD Family Resource Centre, which provided wonderful food for thought on their parenting experiences. On the early origins of stress, one of the posters had the following message on it: "Holding a baby when they cry helps them to grow into a confident and trusting toddler." Myth: You should leave babies alone so that they learn to be independent. Truth: Babies left alone think they have been abandoned so become more clingy and insecure when you are around. Evidence: Early separation from those we depend can be very frightening for a baby and raise cortisol levels in the baby's brain, which shapes their developing nervous system and determines how stress is interpreted and responded to in the future. Babies who are held and soothed when in distress grow into more confident toddlers who are better able to deal with being away from their parents temporarily, rather than becoming clingy. Before delving into this further, it is important to note that most of us parent with the best intentions for our children and would never consciously intend to cause them stress, but do we do so inadvertently? If so, how can we best protect them and grow them into emotionally resilient adults? In our common humanity, it is important to note that we all struggle as parents and that nobody is looking for the "perfect" parent; all a child needs is what Donald Winnicott called a "good enough parent". But sometimes life can get in the way and a resurgence of our childhood wounds can come to the fore when faced with our children’s significant needs, which can feel really overwhelming at times. It is within the sacred crucible of the relationship we form with our children that they learn how to manage stress and to trust in another to support them through it. The quality of the child-parent attachment bond is the foundation for a child’s emotional regulation, which will provide them with a psychological immunity to stress and promote emotional wellbeing and future resilience. Sue Gerhardt talks more about how early stress impacts on the developing brain in her book "Why love matters: How affection shapes a baby’s brain". In it, she speaks about the vulnerability of babies to stress and their dependency on an adult to calm them down and to disperse their cortisol (stress chemical). There is also a need for the parent to acknowledge their baby’s distress and soothe them using the quality of everyday interactions to build a secure connection.  Parents play a crucial role in helping children to regulate their emotions, which requires a lot of self-control and an ability to regulate our own emotions. As our children’s emotional regulators, our aim is to establish pathways and systems in their brains which will enable them to do this for themselves in the future. Without this type of responsive caregiving, children can have later difficulties in forming and maintaining relationships and in managing adversity and stress. So are we stressing our children out? Unfortunately transmitting a certain amount of stress is inevitable Although most parents have good intentions with their children, this is often not enough to develop a secure attachment relationship. Based on 60 years of Attachment Theory, the Circle of Security presents a road map for parents to understand and reframe their children’s needs. This speaks about the power of reflective functioning (the ability of the parent to imagine their own and their child’s mental state) in learning to stand back and choose the most contained responses with children. A groundbreaking study worthy of mention is the Adverse Childhood Experiences Study, which assessed the effects of traumatic childhood experiences on the child’s developing brain and their future physical and emotional health. It found that the more traumatic experiences an adult had experienced as a child, the greater their risk for both physical and mental health problems later in life. For more on how childhood trauma affects health over a lifetime, watch the Ted talk by paediatrician Nadine Burke-Harris or this discussion on her recent book The Deepest Well.  However, it is not just a child’s experience of a stressor which leads to an impaired stress response in adulthood, but how this stressor impacts on the parent’s ability to care for their child. Studies have shown that a parent’s ability to reflect on their child’s needs even under situations of high stress significantly protects the child from the negative impacts of stress. Another seminal paper worthy of mention is Selma Fraiberg’s "Ghosts in the Nursery" which linked a parent remembering their childhood pain with less likelihood of re-enacting their past with their children. So are we stressing our children out? Unfortunately transmitting a certain amount of stress is inevitable, but ruptures in our everyday interactions with children can be repaired with awareness of our childhood wounds and the ability to stand back and make more adaptive choices. These rupture and repair moments actually build a child's capacity for trust in the relationship. It is all about the predominant parenting style where "good enough" is enough. Rest assured that hope does exist and it is never too late. With awareness and support, every parent can work on the quality of their emotional connection with their child, which will build a psychological immunity to the negative effects of stress. As for nurturing yourself as a parent, gaining emotional support and filling your cup is vital and a good start is to welcome self-compassion into your life.  This article first appeared on the RTÉ Brainstorm platform.  Visit here

Monday, 28 May 2018

Author: Rebecca Downes, School of Humanities Analysis: no other contemporary writer has captured the comedy and tragedy of existence so intensely and with such humour and clarity as Philip Roth Having written part of a doctoral thesis on the theme of death in Philip Roth's work, I did not know quite how to feel when news of his death broke. Of course, death is nothing if not inevitable, and, at 85 years old, is not the worst that can happen. But it also is the worst that can happen. Roth knew this, and it is, in no small part, what makes his work so powerful. Roth published his first book Goodbye Columbus, a collection of short stories, in 1959. A decade later, he burst into the big time with the controversial Portnoy’s Complaint, a veritable panegyric to autoeroticism. Chronicler of the sex life of America, from the smashing of taboos in the 1960s to the prurient fascination of a nation "with a president’s penis" during the Monica Lewinsky scandal, he has always railed against moralism. He is celebrated and reviled in equal measure for his outrageousness, honesty and humour in sexual matters. But his greatest theme of all is death. I came to Roth late. I had read a couple of his works and frankly I came away feeling queasy. But when I found myself researching death in contemporary fiction, he loomed unavoidably over me. I knew I would have to go back to him, if only to justify why I wasn’t reading him. My intention was to devise a dismissive paragraph or two on why we - particularly those of us who considered ourselves card-carrying, liberal feminists - were well and truly over the sex and death drives battling it out like little boys’ toy soldiers. I hated the thought of it and so turned somewhat reluctantly to his 1995 novel Sabbath’s Theater, which seemed to mark the beginning of an obsession with mortality that prevailed until his retirement in 2012. It was a fortuitous choice. Here (spoiler alert) is the last line of that novel:  "How could he leave? How could he go? Everything he hated was here." He was at once a classic liberal individualist and a penetrating critic of that most American of ideologies This is precisely how I felt about the book. I could not put it down. Everything I hated was there and it was like nothing I had ever read before. If ever a writer could set fire to the page, Roth could. My queasiness returned but this was rollercoaster nausea. I wanted more. I squealed with laughter. I felt the blood race from my heart to my head, a sense of surprise as horror turned to delight, and often I couldn’t tell the difference. It was remorseless, raw, disorienting, and I went away and read his entire canon. Drawing out contradictions was his talent. He relentlessly demonstrated the dangers of holding too tightly onto convictions and ideologies. This is eminently portrayed in his eerily prescient allegory of the current rise of the conservative right in The Plot Against America. He was a tireless champion of eastern European writers during the Cold War. He was at once a classic liberal individualist and a penetrating critic of that most American of ideologies. To my mind, no other contemporary writer has captured the comedy and tragedy of existence so intensely and with such humour and clarity as Roth. The very act of reading him brings home the ability we all share, if only we were brave enough to admit it, to hold contradictory views. His extraordinary lyricism is never schmaltzy because it is powered by the full force of a gargantuan intelligence and a remarkable largesse in portraying human foibles. It opposes the trenchant convictions of public rhetoric with - I don’t think it is too much to say -love. Although he was no Hemingway, Roth was a writer of sinewy sentences. Not for him the fragile translucency of Henry James or the sideways Irish evasion of Joyce. Roth wrote with a candour and confidence that is quintessentially American. He favoured nouns and he was inordinately fond of lists. His novels are replete with rhapsodic catalogues of the solid stuff of the world. Even writing about death, he could capture the sensation of being alive with outstanding intensity The night after his death I was out walking in Boora bog in Co Offaly and I could not get a sequence from American Pastoral out of my head, a sentence, almost two-pages long, a signature litany that exemplifies the sheer love of life that makes Roth’s writing such a pleasure: "chicory, cinquefoil, pasture thistle, wild pinks, joe-pye weed, the last vestiges of yellow-flowered wild mustard sturdily spilling over the fields, clover, yarrow, wild sunflowers". As I wandered through the Irish pastoral, I felt lucky for having returned to Roth, grateful for his legacy. Even writing about death - especially perhaps - he could capture the sensation of being alive with outstanding intensity. In his majestic works of the 1990s, one gets the sense that each sentence testifies to a tightening grip on existence. Roth was in his sixties at the time, and death, while still far away, nonetheless came sharply into focus. Confronting mortality inaugurated an exceptional creative outburst late in an already illustrious career. In the post millennial period, Roth produced a series of short books - restrained, masterful in their own way - chronicling the process of loosening that grip. These stark novellas chart a stepping back from the great messy tangle of existence. Their brutal clarity is devastating, as if he was writing himself out of existence —which, now we know, he was. This article first appeared on the RTÉ Brainstorm platform.  Visit here

Wednesday, 30 May 2018

Author: Michael O'Dwyer, Apoptosis Research Centre Opinion: while cellular immunotherapy is currently costly and logistically difficult, the use of natural killer immune cells offers huge potential Cellular immunotherapy involves makes the cells of the immune system much more effective at seeking out and killing cancer cells. It's one of the most exciting developments in cancer treatment this decade, and is likely to play a major role in the future therapy of blood and other cancers.  One type of cellular immunotherapy gaining major traction is Chimeric Antigen Receptor (CAR)-T cell immunotherapy, which was recently named Advance of the Year by the American Society Of Cellular Oncology. CAR-T therapy involves taking the cancer patient’s own immune (T) cells and genetically changing them to better recognise and attack cancer cells, before injecting them back into that patient.  This treatment has already resulted in dramatically improved outcomes from different blood cancers. For example, 94 percent of patients went into remission after receiving CAR-T cells in a clinical trial involving multiple myeloma, an incurable disease from which only 50 percent of patients survive five years after their diagnosis. The current estimated cost of a CAR-T cell therapy in the United States is in the region of $500,000 While extremely promising, CAR-T therapy has a number of disadvantages. The logistics of growing a patient’s CAR-T cells in the laboratory is difficult and takes time, something patients with advanced cancer often do not have. Cancer patients may not have enough healthy T cells to start the treatment in the first place. If donor cells are used, it can introduce a graft versus host response that can have serious consequences for the patient, especially as CAR-T cells persist in the body.  Moreover, the costs involved are considerable and likely to be beyond the means of most healthcare systems. The current estimated cost of a CAR-T cell therapy in the United States is in the region of $500,000. When ancillary costs are taken into account, this could rise to $1.5 million per patient, due to the bespoke and challenging nature of the treatment.  Our research is looking into an alternative cellular immunotherapy option using a different type of immune cell, the natural killer (NK) cell. NK cells are named for their natural ability to kill intruders such as virus-infected cells, or cells that display early signs of cancer. Their ability to kill tumour cells makes NK cells an attractive option for cancer immunotherapies. They also overcome many of the cons associated with CAR-T cells, as NK cells do not elicit the graft versus host reaction and only last for a few weeks to months in the body, thus reducing the risk of long-term side-effects.  NK cells can come from the patient themselves or from donors such as volunteers, cord blood units, and NK cell lines that are commercially available. The number of cells collected can be greatly expanded by culture in the laboratory, enabling the administration of multiple doses of NK therapy. For example, 100 doses of NK cell treatment can be produced from a single unit of cord blood greatly increasing the availability while reducing the cost of treatment. We are investigating new approaches to optimise the activity of NK cells for the treatment of cancer. For example, we have shown in the laboratory that we can modify NK cells to make them better cancer killers, and we are working to improve the way NK cells "home" or find their way to the site of the tumour.  How to remove the off switch Another major obstacle in cellular immunotherapy is the existence of "off switches" on all immune cells, including NK cells. These off switches or immune checkpoints are an important control measure to stop the immune system from going out of control, but cancer cells frequently exploit this to inappropriately turn off immune cells, thus evading detection and destruction. We are taking a unique approach to overcome this problem by silencing immune checkpoint receptors on NK cells, effectively removing the "off switch" completely.  Currently, the majority of research efforts in this field, including clinical trials, are focusing on the enormous potential of CAR-T cells, but we believe that there is equal if not greater potential for NK cells. Regardless of the cells being used, cellular immunotherapy is, without doubt, the future of cancer therapy. The results to date from CAR-T therapy in leukaemia, lymphoma and myeloma have been truly outstanding. Patients who appeared to be completely resistant to drug treatments, such as childhood leukaemia patient Emily Whitehead, have gone into and remain in remission.  We should be starting to plan a national approach to immune therapies in the same way that the government re-organised cancer services This is a revolution in the treatment of blood cancers and may provide the prospect of a cure in certain patients. The sooner we embrace cellular immunotherapy, the sooner patients in Ireland will benefit from these revolutionary approaches. With the current population size in Ireland, this would warrant one to two specialist centres with the necessary expertise and infrastructure to deliver such complex treatments. This will require investment by our health service. We should be starting to plan a national approach to immune therapies in the same way that the government re-organised cancer services into specialist hospitals through the National Cancer Control Programme. As an early adopter and a leader in the research and development in this field, we will reap major economic benefits. Ireland will be in a prime position to develop innovative solutions that are attractive to industry, and produce graduates that are highly skilled in cellular immune therapy. We already have a strong record in the production of biologic therapies for the treatment of cancer, with many of the top pharma companies engaged in this activity in Ireland.  But we cannot rest on our laurels and need to ensure that pharma views Ireland as the go-to place for cellular immunotherapy in Europe. If the success of cellular immunotherapy in blood-based cancers can be expanded to solid tumours, the number of patients eligible for this treatment would increase dramatically. My hope is that we embrace this approach to save lives and put Ireland on the map as a pioneer in the delivery of cellular immunotherapy for cancer. This article first appeared on the RTÉ Brainstorm platform.  Visit here

Monday, 30 April 2018

NUI Galway student Meadhbh Ní Eadhra was announced the winner of ‘Iriseoireacht trí Ghaeilge – Raidió’ at the prestigious National Student Media Awards recently. Meadhbh was presented the award by Lynette Fay, Radio Journalist with BBC Radio Ulster and NUI Galway graduate, in front of an audience that included RTÉ’s Eileen Dunne, Senator David Norris, and Dublin GAA Manager Jim Gavin. The award was proudly sponsored by Foras na Gaeilge. “I am delighted to receive this recognition from well-known and much-respected names in the media industry,” said Meadhbh. “I love being on radio and would like to thank the University’s radio station Flirt FM for giving me the opportunity to broadcast my show every week. I have a great passion and love for the Irish language and hopefully my show is testament to that.” Meadhbh is from Spiddal in Co. Galway. Her radio show ‘Gan Teorainn’, is broadcast live on Flirt FM 101.3 every week. Meadhbh spent many years working as a journalist and literary critic with national newspapers such as Lá Nua, Foinse and Gaelscéal, and presented current affairs shows on Raidió na Life and Flirt FM. She first began broadcasting on radio when she volunteered with Flirt FM as an undergraduate student at NUI Galway, and she won the National Réalt DJ competition during that time. She is a published author who has written three award-winning books for young people, Rua, Fainne Fí Fífí and Faye. She has received many awards for her writing, including Oireachtas na Gaeilge prizes and the Moth International Short Story Prize. The National Student Media Awards, known as the Smedias by students, are an opportunity for aspiring media professionals to showcase their work and talent to Ireland’s top media personalities with high profile judges such as Academy award winning director Ben Cleary, multiple award winning author and playwright Paul Howard, and various editors and producers from Ireland's leading media organisations.  -Ends- Gradam Raidió mór le rá bronnta ar Mhac Léinn OÉ Gaillimh ag Gradaim Náisiúnta na Meán do Mhic Léinn  Ainmníodh mac léinn de chuid OÉ Gaillimh, Meadhbh Ní Eadhra, mar bhuaiteoir ar an ngradam ‘Iriseoireacht trí Ghaeilge – Raidió’ ag Gradaim Náisiúnta mór le rá na Meán do Mhic Léinn le déanaí. Bhronn Lynette Fay, Iriseoir Raidió le BBC Raidió Uladh agus céimí de chuid OÉ Gaillimh, an gradam ar Mheadhbh. I measc iad siúd a bhí sa lucht féachana ag an ócáid bhí Eileen Dunne ó RTÉ, an Seanadóir David Norris, agus Bainisteoir CLG Bhaile Átha Cliath, Jim Gavin. Rinne Foras na Gaeilge urraíocht ar an ngradam. “Tá an-áthas orm an t-aitheantas seo a fháil ó dhaoine a bhfuil ardmheas orthu i dtionscal na meán,” a deir Meadhbh. “Is breá liom a bheith ag craoladh ar an raidió agus ba mhaith liom buíochas a ghlacadh le stáisiún raidió na hOllscoile, Flirt FM, as an deis a thabhairt dom mo chlár a chraoladh chuile sheachtain. Tá grá mór agam don Ghaeilge agus tá súil agam gur fianaise é mo chlár air sin.” Is as an Spidéal i gCo. na Gaillimhe do Mheadhbh. Craoltar a clár raidió ‘Gan Teorainn’ beo ar Flirt FM 101.3 chuile sheachtain. Chaith Meadhbh na blianta ag obair mar iriseoir agus mar léirmheastóir liteartha le nuachtáin náisiúnta cosúil le Lá Nua, Foinse agus Gaelscéal, agus chuir sí cláir cúrsaí reatha i láthair ar Raidió na Life agus ar Flirt FM. Thosaigh sí ag craoladh ar an raidió nuair a rinne sí obair dheonach le Flirt FM agus í ina mac léinn fochéime in OÉ Gaillimh, agus bhuaigh sí comórtas Náisiúnta Réalt DJ le linn na tréimhse sin. Is údar foilsithe í a bhfuil trí leabhar, a bhain gradaim amach, scríofa aici do dhaoine óga, Rua, Fáinne Fí Fífí agus Faye. Is iomaí gradam atá bainte amach aici dá cuid scríbhneoireachta, lena n-áirítear duaiseanna Oireachtas na Gaeilge agus Duais Idirnáisiúnta Moth do Ghearrscéalta. Is deis iad Gradaim Náisiúnta Meán na Mac Léinn, na Smedias mar a thugann mic léinn orthu, do ghairmithe uaillmhianacha i dtionscal na meán a gcuid oibre agus tallainne a chur ar taispeáint do dhaoine mór le rá sna meáin in Éirinn agus moltóirí cosúil le Ben Cleary, an léiritheoir a bhfuil gradam Oscar buaite aige, Paul Howard, an t-údar agus an drámadóir a bhfuil gradaim go leor buaite aige, mar aon le heagarthóirí agus léiritheoirí éagsúla ó eagraíochtaí móra meán na hÉireann.  -Críoch-

Tuesday, 8 May 2018

Dr Martin O’Halloran, Director of the Lambe Translational Medical Device laboratory at NUI Galway is the only Irish scientist among fifty in Europe awarded European Research Council top-up funding, through a Proof of Concept Grant, to develop a novel hydrogel to treat chronic pain. The Proof of Concept grants, worth €150,000 each, are part of the EU’s research and innovation programme, Horizon 2020. The top-up funding award will allow Dr O’Halloran to develop the results of his scientific hydrogel concept to file patent applications and attract capital to make the research marketable, and explore the commercial and societal potential of the product. Chronic nerve pain can significantly worsen people’s quality of life. According to international studies, one in five adults in Europe suffers from chronic pain which amounts to 95 million people. The novel gel being developed during this project can be used to treat many different types of peripheral nerve pain. One common type of chronic pain is Trigeminal Neuralgia (TN), a prolonged debilitating condition caused by a trauma to the trigeminal nerve, resulting in sudden attacks of excruciating shooting facial pain. It is infamously called the “suicide disease” due to the high number of suicides associated with it. Dr Martin O’ Halloran will use his Proof of Concept Grant to seek to develop this novel hydrogel, which aims to provide long-lasting and drug-free treatment for this condition and other areas affected by chronic nerve pain. Speaking about the project, Dr Martin O’ Halloran, Techrete Senior Lecturer in Medical Electronics at NUI Galway, said: “We are delighted to receive this funding for our chronic pain project, given the tremendous impact the condition has on patients in Ireland. This project concept was co-developed with Dr Alison Liddy, an engineer-chemist at NUI Galway with a particular expertise in chronic pain. Given that this project marks our fourth European Research Council grant in four years, it is a great testament to the quality and hard work of the researchers in our laboratory.” A recently released independent review of this European Research Council innovation scheme showed that the initiative is “sound in concept and effective in practice”, helping ERC-funded scientists set up new companies, file patent applications and attract capital to make their research marketable. The new grants were awarded to researchers working in 12 countries: Austria (2 grants), Finland (3), Germany (7), Ireland (1), Israel (8), Italy (3), Netherlands (3), Norway (1), Spain (5), Sweden (3), Switzerland (3) and the UK (11). The grant scheme is only open to European Research Council grantees who can apply for funding in one of the three rounds of the call every year. The results of this first round of 2018, in which the European Research Council evaluated 114 applications. The budget of the 2018 competition is €20 million. For more information about the funded projects, visit: https://erc.europa.eu/erc-proof-concept-grant-2018-project-examples and to read the independent review of the ERC innovation scheme, visit: https://erc.europa.eu/news/review_praises_erc_poc_scheme -Ends-

Tuesday, 8 May 2018

NUI Galway will host the Eighth National Social Marketing Conference, ‘Co-Creating Change’, on Thursday, 24 May in the Aula Maxima. The national event will bring leaders and researchers in health and sustainable change in public and voluntary sectors together with world-renowned social marketing experts from Canada, Australia, Europe and Ireland. The conference will explore in greater detail how empowered citizens and communities can co-create and foster sustainable behaviour change. In addition, the conference will feature cutting-edge talks from around the world including insights into improving behavioural change effectiveness through applying a strategic approach to planning. This year the keynote speakers will include: Professor Walter Wymer, Professor of Marketing, University of Lethbridge, Canada;  Professor Sharyn Rundle-Thiele is Director, Social Marketing at Griffith University, Australia and Editor-in-Chief, Journal of Social Marketing; Professor Alan Tapp, Professor of Marketing, University of the West of England-Bristol; Professor Gerard Hastings, Professor at Stirling, England, and Professeur Associé at the École des Hautes Etudes en Santé Publique in Rennes, France; as well as additional health and environmental health presentations. Conversations throughout the day will include: how social marketing use tools in co-creating sustainable behaviour change; how to follow proven social marketing secrets to develop an effective intervention on limited budgets; how to use the success factors of proven social marketing interventions; how to address the major societal challenges of our time; and how to think strategically about innovative social change through co-creating change. Dr Christine Domegan, Head of Marketing Discipline, Senior Lecturer and Social Innovation and Policy Leader, Whitaker Institute, NUI Galway is this year's Conference Chair. Dr Domegan said: “We are excited and grateful to welcome an esteemed group of change experts from around the world who are engaging and seasoned speakers willing to share their insights, tips and tools for co-creating change in an easy and understandable manner.” For further information, schedule and online booking, please visit www.conference.ie. -Ends-

Thursday, 10 May 2018

NUI Galway will host a research seminar presented by Nobel laureate, Professor Paul Modrich of Duke University Medical Center and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute in the US. Professor Modrich will talk about ‘Mechanisms in human DNA mismatch repair’. Professor Paul Modrich was one of three scientists to share the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 2015 for landmark discoveries over four decades of work in DNA repair.  His host at NUI Galway, Professor Robert Lahue, trained as a postdoctoral fellow in Modrich’s laboratory. The Nobel Committee cited one of the Lahue-Modrich publications as groundbreaking. The Nobel Committee recognised Professor Modrich’s work on mismatch repair, which acts as a genetic spellchecker to preserve the DNA. Defects in mismatch repair are now known to cause certain hereditary forms of colorectal cancer. Genetic testing of cancer patients helps identify those with mismatch repair defects, providing information, which is important in guiding their treatment. Professor Robert Lahue from the Centre for Chromosome Biology at NUI Galway, said: “The research community at NUI Galway is tremendously excited about Professor Modrich’s visit and seminar.  He is a world leader in the area of DNA biochemistry and cancer biology. We are fortunate to have him visit, to present a seminar and to interact with members of our Centre and other researchers at NUI Galway.” -Ends-

Tuesday, 8 May 2018

NUI Galway students scooped four awards at the recent Union of Students in Ireland (USI) Student Achievement Awards Ireland (SAAI) 2018. The annual Student Achievement Awards Ireland is an opportunity for the student movement in Ireland to recognise the contribution of students to the life of Ireland and the student community. Bachelor of Science student Clare Austick from Galway City was awarded the Part-Time Officer of the Year Award; Bachelor of Commerce student Nargis Dewji from Tanzania won International Student of the Year; while Bachelor of Science in Biotechnology student Edel Browne from Athenry, Co. Galway, was presented with the Entrepreneur of the Year Award. NUI Galway Students’ Union was presented with the Welfare Campaign of the Year with their sexual health and guidance campaign. Congratulating the students, NUI Galway President, Professor Ciarán Ó hÓgartaigh, said: “University offers students a wonderful opportunity to try new things and develop their potential. Each of the NUI Galway winners of the USI Student Achievement Awards has demonstrated this to the full. They have shown a tremendous commitment to helping their fellow students, becoming respected student leaders and have benefitted by gaining confidence and life experience which will enrich their future careers. I extend warmest congratulations to each of the Awardees and I commend them for the way that they have used the opportunity which the student experience provides in order to help others.” -Ends-

Thursday, 3 May 2018

International conference at NUI Galway on 24 May to explore artificial intelligence and machine learning Festival season in Galway is well underway with the AtlanTec Festival 2018, which runs from April through to 25 May. Now in its fourth year, the IT festival is organised by the IT Association Galway (ITAG). At the heart of the festival will be the international conference on 24 May, co-hosted by NUI Galway. This year’s AtlanTec Conference at NUI Galway is themed on ‘The Art of Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning’. Some 300 business leaders and expert software developers are expected to attend the day-long conference which will explore all aspects of the topic. Artificial intelligence and machine learning are among the drivers of a wave of innovation in IT. Machines and robots are being programmed to adapt some of the cognitive functions associated with humans, such as learning and problem solving. Many have cited this as revolutionary and life changing for society as we know it. The conference will feature innovators and future thinkers who will give insights into such possibilities, while also discussing related technological topics such as data analytics, deep learning, virtual assistants and chatbots. An array of speakers have been announced from as far afield as Vancouver, Denmark, India, New York, the UK, as well as Ireland. Among those will be Nell Watson, an engineer, entrepreneur, and futurist thinker affiliated with the Singularity University and The Future Society at Harvard; and Canadian inventor Ann Makosinski who has created a flashlight that runs off the heat of the human hand and a mug that uses heat from a drink to charge a phone. IT Association Galway and AtlanTec Festival CEO Caroline Cawley explains the purpose of the festival and conference: “AtlanTec Festival showcases Galway’s diverse technology culture. It’s an opportunity to encourage creativity, collaboration and innovation within the IT, business and educational communities in the West of Ireland. The ability to attract international speakers of the calibre of Nell Watson and Ann Makosinski is a testament to the innovative culture that exists in the west.” Other festival events take place across a range of venues and include: In-Company Events across Galway’s Tecnology Sector – April until end May Digital Women’s Forum ‘Pressing for Progress’ - Hotel Meyrick, 23 May Transition Year Gets Techie – GMIT, 10 May Tech Tag World Championships – Corinthians RFC, 25 May Professor Lokesh Joshi, Vice-President for Research at NUI Galway, said: “Ireland is the second largest exporter of computer and IT services in the world. Some of the largest companies in the sector have bases in Galway. We are also home to some incredible innovative indigenous organisations, including 15 ICT start-ups based here on campus and many more in incubators across the city. Combine this with the research expertise at NUI Galway’s Insight Centre for Data Analytics and College of Engineering and IT, along with GMIT’s expertise and we have an ecosystem that goes from strength to strength.” The festival is supported by ITAG Skillnet, NUI Galway, Avaya, Cisco, Fidelity Investments, DXC, Fintrax, HPE, Storm Technology, Valeo, GMIT and Galway City Council. The Art of Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning conference will take place in the Bailey Allen Hall, NUI Galway on Thursday, 24 May. For bookings and full details of AtlanTec Festival, email contact@itag.ie or visit: www.atlantec.ie -Ends-

Tuesday, 8 May 2018

Advance Higher Education has announced today (Monday, 7 May) that NUI Galway has achieved an Athena SWAN award. Additionally, the School of Medicine has been conferred with a departmental level award. The awards at Bronze level recognises that the University and the School of Medicine have demonstrated a solid foundation for eliminating gender bias and developing an inclusive culture that values all staff.   Through the implementation of an action plan containing a range of specific, measurable activities, NUI Galway has introduced a range of initiatives focused on gender equality in recent years. Work on implementing these actions and other gender equality initiatives is already underway, and will continue to be fully supported by the University’s senior management team. These initiatives include: The introduction of gender quotas for University promotion schemes where applicable Inclusivity and unconscious bias training programmes and workshops for managers and staff Specific leadership development programmes for female University staff Targeted supports for parents returning from leave, including research grants to help mitigate the impact of an extended leave period on research activities, return to work programmes and breastfeeding support workshops Professor Anne Scott, Vice President for Equality and Diversity at NUI Galway, said: “We are delighted to receive an Athena SWAN Bronze award for our institution. It recognises the energetic and sustained work in recent years to address equality challenges in the University. However we recognise that we are still at an early stage in this important journey.” NUI Galway President, Ciarán Ó hÓgartaigh welcomed the result and paid tribute to the work of the Athena SWAN self-assessment team and in particular the Chair, Professor Anne Scott, Vice President for Equality and Diversity and her team in supporting this important initiative. President Ó hÓgartaigh also commented that due recognition should be given to the role played by his predecessor, Dr Jim Browne and the NUI Galway management team. Re-affirming his support for the implementation of the Athena SWAN three-year action plan, he stated that: “NUI Galway embraces diversity and diverse voices as a hallmark of the University and we look forward to reflecting this as a strength of the University, and its hinterland, in NUI Galway’s strategic development.” Athena SWAN is an internationally recognised Charter which supports the development of a better working environment for all staff and students, and helps institutions meet the requirements and expectations of research funders, align with policy priorities, and meet legislative requirements. The attainment of the Athena SWAN Bronze award has been identified as a key priority in the University’s Strategic Plan 2015-2020, and several funding agencies will make gender equality accreditation in higher education institutions a condition of funding by the end of 2019. -Ends-

Friday, 4 May 2018

New York Times columnist, Maureen Dowd and founder of Irish Central.com, Niall O’Dowd will lead a discussion of the new right phenomenon The Moore Institute at NUI Galway will host an event with special guests Maureen Dowd, Opinion Editorial columnist with the New York Times and The Irish Times, and Irish journalist Niall O’Dowd, founder of Irish Voice Newspaper, Irish America Magazine and Irish Central.com. Both will lead a discussion of the phenomenon, ‘Trump, Irish America and the New Right’. Professor Daniel Carey, Director of the Moore Institute at NUI Galway, says: “A striking recent development in American politics has been the emergence of Irish Americans associated with the Right and their participation in, or support for, the Trump administration. The traditional expectation that Irish Americans align themselves with the Democratic Party, led by the Kennedy family and figures like Tip O’Neill, has been overturned, first by conservative commentators on Fox News like Bill O’Reilly and Sean Hannity, and then by prominent members of the Trump election team and cabinet, past and present, including Steve Bannon, Michael Flynn, John Kelly, Sean Spicer, Mick Mulvaney, Kelly-Anne Conway, and others. In the wider Republican leadership, Paul Ryan and Kevin McCarthy, among others, play an important part in this emerging trend.” This event is designed to develop a better a better understanding of this transformation, what values animate it, and how significant it is for American and world politics. Professor Carey added: “The emergence of Trump as a political phenomenon has been his close relationship with Irish Americans, who have supplied advice, support, and filled cabinet posts in his administration. The national and international impact of these figures has been enormous. Maureen Dowd and Niall O’Dowd are well placed to explain this challenging moment and to offer insight to observers in Ireland.” A panel of contributors will participate in the event that include: Dr Kathleen Cavanaugh, Mr Larry Donnelly and Dr Charlotte McIvor from NUI Galway, and Professor Eileen Gillooly, Columbia University. The event will be chaired by Professor Daniel Carey, Director of the Moore Institute at NUI Galway. This event will take place on Tuesday, 15 May at 5.30pm in the Aula Maxima, Quadrangle, NUI Galway. The event is free and registration is essential, register at: https://www.eventbrite.com/o/moore-institute-13051737070 -Ends-

Thursday, 10 May 2018

NUI Galway has launched its University of Sanctuary Campaign. This campaign seeks to highlight the importance of access to Third-level Education for those living in Direct Provision and members of the Traveller Community. The aim of the campaign at NUI Galway is to increase public awareness of the global refugee crisis and Traveller-specific issues across the University campus. The campaign hopes to achieve their aim by advocating for the development of pre-existing fee waivers, bursaries, and scholarships for asylum seekers, while developing meaningful outreach programmes to address the dearth of Traveller participation in third-level education. The steering committee will introduce pilot projects promoting multiculturalism and equity across campus through cross-faculty cooperation. The campaign promotes increased awareness, understanding, inclusion and equity for all students attending or hoping to attend third-level education. Other higher education institutions have already received University of Sanctuary status and NUI Galway is hoping to join those ranks in the near future.  Professor Anne Scott, Vice President for Equality and Diversity at NUI Galway, said: “Education is an enormous force for good, it transforms peoples’ lives and opportunities. As a university NUI Galway is committed to working with our local community, regional leaders, with our sector and with government to ensure equality of opportunity in accessing third level education for our refugee and asylum seeking populations, in addition to members of the travelling community.” The University of Sanctuary Steering Committee at NUI Galway includes academic and administration staff, students and societies, community partners and individuals living in the Direct Provision centres in Galway. If you would like to be involved with the University of Sanctuary campaign at NUI Galway or for more information, please contact sanctuarynuig@gmail.com. -Ends-

Thursday, 10 May 2018

NUI Galway has launched its University of Sanctuary Campaign. This campaign seeks to highlight the importance of access to Third-level Education for those living in Direct Provision and members of the Traveller Community. The aim of the campaign at NUI Galway is to increase public awareness of the global refugee crisis and Traveller-specific issues across the University campus. The campaign hopes to achieve their aim by advocating for the development of pre-existing fee waivers, bursaries, and scholarships for asylum seekers, while developing meaningful outreach programmes to address the dearth of Traveller participation in third-level education. The steering committee will introduce pilot projects promoting multiculturalism and equity across campus through cross-faculty cooperation. The campaign promotes increased awareness, understanding, inclusion and equity for all students attending or hoping to attend third-level education. Other higher education institutions have already received University of Sanctuary status and NUI Galway is hoping to join those ranks in the near future.  Professor Anne Scott, Vice President for Equality and Diversity at NUI Galway, said: “Education is an enormous force for good, it transforms peoples’ lives and opportunities. As a university NUI Galway is committed to working with our local community, regional leaders, with our sector and with government to ensure equality of opportunity in accessing third level education for our refugee and asylum seeking populations, in addition to members of the travelling community.” The University of Sanctuary Steering Committee at NUI Galway includes academic and administration staff, students and societies, community partners and individuals living in the Direct Provision centres in Galway. If you would like to be involved with the University of Sanctuary campaign at NUI Galway or for more information, please contact sanctuarynuig@gmail.com. -Ends-

Thursday, 10 May 2018

Tá léachtóir sna meáin in Acadamh na hOllscolaíochta Gaeilge, OÉ Gaillimh,  Seán Breathnach roghnaithe le bheith ina stiúrthóir ar fhadscannán Gaeilge do TG4 faoin scéim maoinithe Cine4. Bíonn Seán Breathnach, as Leitir Mealláin i gConamara, i mbun scriptscríobh agus léiriú físe a theagasc ar an BA Cumarsáid agus Gaeilge san Acadamh. Scríobh sé agus stiúróidh sé an script don scannán Foscadh. Is í seo an chéad uair a mbeidh fadscannán á stiúradh aige. Tá Foscadh á léiriú ag Paddy Hayes don chomhlacht Léirithe Magamedia, atá lonnaithe i nGaillimh. Dráma tuaithe dorcha, lonnaithe i gConamara, atá ann. Nuair a fhaigheann fear óg místuama amach go bhfuil athzónáil i gcomhair tithíochta déanta ar an talamh a fuair sé le huacht i ndiaidh báis a mháthair, ar baintreach í, téann sé rite air a chuid naimhde a dhealú óna chuid cairde nua. Roghnaigh TG4 agus Bord Scannán na hÉireann an scannán le cur faoi bhráid Údarás Craolacháin na hÉireann an mhí seo faoin scéim, a bhfuil dianiomaíocht agus maoiniú €1.2 milliún in aghaidh an scannáin ag gabháil léi. Déanfar an scannán a thaifeadadh i lár na bliana 2019 agus déanfar é a thaispeáint ag roinnt féilte idirnáisiúnta scannán le linn 2020. Déanfar é a thaispeáint sna pictiúrlanna in Éirinn agus ar TG4 ina dhiaidh sin. Fuair an Breathnach maoiniú ón mBord Scannán roimhe seo chun an gearrscannán Maidhm a dhéanamh. Ghnóthaigh an scannán seo roinnt duaiseanna agus léirmheasanna moltacha ag breis is dosaen féile scannán in Éirinn, ar Mhór-Roinn na hEorpa, sna Stáit Aontaithe agus san Áis. Tá scríofa aige freisin faoin dátheangachas sna drámaí teilifíse, agus rinne sé iniúchadh ar dhomhan scéalaíochta An Klondike agus Corp + Anam a foilsíodh in iris phiarmheasúnaithe an Acadaimh, Léann Teanga: An Reiviú (2017). -Críoch- NUI Galway Lecturer to Direct a €1.2 million Full-length Feature Film in Irish A lecturer in Media in Acadamh na hOllscolaíochta Gaeilge at NUI Galway, Seán Breathnach, has been selected to direct a full-length feature film for TG4 under the flagship Cine4 funding scheme. Seán, who teaches scriptwriting and video production on the University’s BA Cumarsáid agus Gaeilge, wrote and will direct the script for Foscadh, marking his début production as director of a full-length feature-length film. Produced by Paddy Hayes of Galway-based Magamedia Productions, Foscadh is a dark rural drama set in Connemara. When an awkward young recluse finds his inherited land rezoned for housing after the death of his widowed mother, he struggles to distinguish friend from foe amongst his new found acquaintances. In a highly competitive scheme, the film has been selected by TG4 and Bord Scannán na hÉireann / the Irish Film Board for submission to the Broadcast Authority of Ireland this month with an overall budget of €1.2 million. The film will be shot in mid-2019 and will be screened at a number of international festivals during 2020 prior to its theatrical release in Ireland and its television premiere on TG4. Breathnach, who hails from Leitir Mealláin in Connemara, was previously funded by the film board to make the award-winning short film Maidhm. This film was shown to critical acclaim at more than a dozen film festivals in Ireland, continental Europe, the US and Asia. Breathnach has also written about bilingualism and television drama, including a discussion of the storytelling world of An Klondike and Corp + Anam, for the Acadamh’s peer-reviewed journal, Léann Teanga: An Reiviú (2017). -Ends-

Friday, 11 May 2018

Research carried out at NUI Galway has found a 40% blockchain adoption rate among Irish enterprises to date. The study investigated why implementation in Ireland is relatively low, and proposes recommendations to increase blockchain awareness and adoption that can provide opportunities not only for economic growth but also create a new foundation for how Irish organisations and government conduct business. Blockchain is considered to be a primary IT innovation of this decade that has the potential to disrupt and reshape a number of industries. Blockchain in its simplest form is a shared database system which allows users in a peer-to-peer network to verify and store records, representing a new way to access and trust data communicated over the internet.The study was led by Dr Trevor Clohessy and Dr Thomas Acton from the J.E. Cairnes School of Business and Economics at NUI Galway in association with the Blockchain Association of Ireland. The research focused on Ireland given its classification as a developed country in the EU, being a sovereign state with a highly developed economy and advanced IT infrastructure. Ireland is ranked in 13th place in the Bloomberg technological innovation index for 2018, which scores countries using seven criteria, including research and development spending, concentration of high-tech public companies and patent activity.The study looked at key organisational factors that influence blockchain adoption in Irish companies. Interviews were carried out with 20 organisations in Ireland, divided over different sectors such as financial, IT, education, fishing, gaming, legal, marketing and mobile app development and data was collected from representatives within these organisations in different management backgrounds that included IT, company owners, researchers and directors.Support from top management and organisational readiness were identified as key enablers for blockchain adoption. While legislative uncertainty, a lack of business cases and a lack of in-house expertise, were cited as the main reasons by decision makers for not adopting blockchain, and its association with initial coin offerings and digital currencies, such as cryptocurrencies, which were perceived negatively. The study revealed three patterns pertaining to the adoption of blockchain in Ireland: ·         Top management support positively influences blockchain adoption·         Large enterprises are more likely to adopt blockchain than SMEs due to budget and available resources·         Organisational readiness is an ‘enabler’ for blockchain adoption - employees with the requisite blockchain IT knowledge and skillsOf the 20 companies interviewed, eight had adopted blockchain and 12 had not, or did not intend to adopt blockchain in the next two years. In terms of blockchain awareness, five out of 20 representatives had a basic level of blockchain awareness, six had a medium level and only nine were able to demonstrate a high level of awareness.Speaking about the study, Dr Trevor Clohessy at NUI Galway, said: “Most blockchain developments are taking place within a small network of larger organisations, typically in the fintech and information technology sectors. Where it is used, it aims to enhance the speed and transparency of transactions along complex supply chains, while reducing costs. It is also used to optimise back and middle business processes and transactions, augmenting security, reporting and regulatory and compliance profiles.“One of the benefits of blockchain is that once transactional data has been entered into the digital ledger it is immutable, which means it is not possible to either amend or remove data entered, ensuring the integrity of all transactional records. And its shared ownership makes it less vulnerable to cyberattack. Beyond business, other beneficial uses of this technology would be in voting machines and ballot boxes to address electoral fraud and potentially looking at a blockchain enabled technology-controlled border identification system that could provide a possible solution to the current North/South Brexit border challenges.”The key findings from the study demonstrate that blockchain is not confined to financial technology and financial sectors, and welcomes further government action and strategic policy to promote blockchain more broadly to encourage universal engagement, such as the roll-out of a national, government-backed blockchain initiative like other developed countries.The J.E. Cairnes School of Business and Economics at NUI Galway is currently exploring various possibilities to address the gap in the lack of third level blockchain courses, such as creating executive blockchain workshops. Dr Clohessy has also introduced blockchain as a module for students within the modules for MSc Business Analytics and MSc Information Systems Management.To read the full study, visit: http://novoverse.nuigalway.ie/nui-galway-report-sheds-light-on-irish-blockchain-organisational-readiness/ -Ends-

Monday, 14 May 2018

Four primary schools from Kerry, Westmeath and Galway have been shortlisted to showcase their randomised clinical trials at NUI Galway on Friday, 18 May when the overall winner will be announced and presented with the START Trophy 2018. Now in its third year, the Schools Teaching Awareness of Randomised Trials (START) competition aims to educate students about why we need randomised trials to improve healthcare nationally and globally.   Primary schools around the country were invited to create their very own fun randomised clinical trial earlier this year. The competition is run by the Health Research Board – Trials Methodology Research Network (HRB-TRMN) at NUI Galway, to celebrate International Clinical Trials Day, and the anniversary of the first clinical trial which was carried out in 1747 in the British Navy. The four shortlisted primary schools are: St. Michael’s National School, Castlepollard, Co. Westmeath whose trial title is: Can ten minutes of daily exercise increase students’ fitness? The pupils evaluated the effect of four weeks of exercise on fitness levels measured by heart rate changes between randomised students who received the exercise programme and those who didn’t receive the programme. St. Joseph’s National School, Kinvara, Co. Galway whose trial title is: The effect of fidgeting on concentration. The pupils noticed that some students fidget a lot when listening. They investigated the effect this had on their concentration by comparing concentration scores between the control group, who sat with their arms crossed, and the test group, who had blu-tack to fidget with, whilst listening to their teacher. Meentogues National School, Headford, Killarney, Co. Kerry whose trial title is: How much can teachers influence us? The pupils decided to investigate whether teachers influence their decisions without telling them directly. The control group made decisions without their teacher being present in the room whilst the test group had the teacher trying to influence their decisions.  Glinsk National School, Castlerea, Co. Galway whose trial title is: Do extra educational maths games improve test results? The pupils provided a test among two groups to look at the impact of maths games on addition and subtraction. The test group was given a maths game and the control group was given a non-educational game. These were provided every day for 20 minutes over a period of two weeks.   Dr Sandra Galvin, HRB-TMRN Program Manager at NUI Galway, said: “This initiative has really captured the children’s imagination and creativity but I also think we can learn so much from their approach. Trials can be complex and challenging for people to understand, and yet here we have children rising to this challenge so well. START is about breaking down the barriers in the understanding of trials, and helping understand the power trials have to improve healthcare for all.” Speaking about the competition entries, Dr Mairead O Driscoll, Interim Chief Executive at the Health Research Board, said: “These kids have come up with a research question, taken a scientific approach to problem solving and then reported what they found clearly. All they need to do now is influence the right people to introduce change! All the participants are quite remarkable and if the future of health research is in their hands, I am very comfortable.” To learn more about the HRB-TMRN START competition visit: www.hrb-tmrn.ie or follow on Twitter at twitter.com/hrbtmrn or @hrbtmrn and Facebook at facebook.com/hrb.tmrn. -Ends-

Tuesday, 15 May 2018

The new national supercomputer will replace ‘Fionn’ which was installed in 2013  Ireland is set to install a new national supercomputer to support research and innovation in 2018 through ICHEC at NUI Galway, with funding of €5.4 million from Science Foundation Ireland. The new system will provide Irish researchers with the high performance computing power to address some of the toughest challenges in science and society such as tackling climate change, improving healthcare and innovating Irish products through agriculture, engineering and manufacturing. The new supercomputer is a fundamental component of Ireland’s National High Performance Computing Service, and research infrastructure that will facilitate emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence, machine learning and earth observation that are key to Irish industry and to foster new skills in the educational system. Like its predecessors, the new supercomputer will be managed and operated by the Irish Centre for High-End Computing (ICHEC) at NUI Galway, as part of the National High Performance Computing Service. The service allocates the available computer resources to Irish researchers based on a peer review process by an independent panel of scientists. It also provides extensive support and training to users of the system. The overall architecture of this new supercomputer is similar to the current system, ‘Fionn’, which has proven its value to the research community as evidenced by its constant full utilisation. While the new system will occupy the same amount of physical space and consume up to 50% more electricity, it provides approximately five times more computing power than its predecessor by virtue of advances in technology. Speaking about the importance of the new supercomputer, ICHEC Director, Professor JC Desplat from NUI Galway, said: “The future certainly lies in large amounts of data but without the appropriate high performance computing resources, data can become irrelevant. This upgraded national resource is essential to ensuring Ireland can compete internationally in key domains such as precision medicine, earth observation and artificial intelligence. It represents a crucial investment at a time where investments in high performance computing continue their strong growth globally.” Professor Lokesh Joshi, Vice-President for Research at NUI Galway, commented: “Since its inception, NUI Galway has hosted ICHEC and supported its development as an enabling technology, critical to Ireland’s competitiveness. The new national supercomputer will allow even more opportunity for innovation and impact across a myriad of sectors in Ireland’s economy and society.” The new system, which is being provided by Intel is comprised of a cluster of 336 high performance servers with 13,440 CPU (Central Processing Unit) cores and 64 terabytes of memory for general purpose computations. Additional components aimed at more specialised requirements include 6 large memory nodes with 1.5 terabytes of memory per server, plus 32 accelerator nodes divided between Intel Xeon Phi and NVidia P100 GPUs (Graphics Processing Units). The network linking all of these components together is Intel’s 100Gbit/s Omnipath technology and DataDirect Networks are providing 1 petabyte of high performance storage over a parallel filesystem. Penguin Computing will be integrating all of this hardware together and providing the software management and user interface layers. Commenting on the installation, Professor Mark Ferguson, Director General of Science Foundation Ireland and Chief Scientific Adviser to the Government of Ireland, said: “I am delighted to welcome the installation of the new national supercomputer which has been supported through the SFI Research Infrastructure Programme. This significant award builds on previous support provided to ICHEC for the Fionn supercomputer in 2012. It will significantly advance the data intensive computing and storage capabilities of Irish research activities in life-sciences, bioinformatics, material science, ICT, and engineering and further highlights Ireland as an attractive location for world-leading scientists and engineers.” Dr Elisa Fadda, Chair of the HPC National Service User Council, said: “The contribution of high performance computing to the advancement of scientific research is now recognised as invaluable worldwide. In Ireland we have an ever-growing community of researchers, whose work is internationally recognised in fields such as biophysics, bioinformatics, physics, chemistry, computer science and engineering, all of whom heavily rely on ICHEC resources.” The supercomputer, to be installed this summer, will be named by a public naming competition. Schoolchildren across Ireland are encouraged to research one of six pioneering Irish scientists and pick the most appropriate candidate to name the new system. The best answers will win Raspberry-Pi laptops and coding lessons for their classrooms. For more information about entering the naming competition, visit: https://nameourcomputer.ichec.ie/ -Ends-

Tuesday, 15 May 2018

NUI Galway’s Irish Centre for Human Rights, School of Law, is hosting an international conference on ‘The Rights of Migrants and Refugees: the role of courts and tribunals’ from 17-18 May. This two-day event brings together leading judges, practitioners and academics working on pressing issues of migration and refugee law internationally.   Professor Siobhán Mullally, Established Professor of Human Rights Law, Director of the Irish Centre for Human Rights, NUI Galway, said: “More people are forcibly displaced from their homes today than at any other time since the ending of World War II. The rights of migrants and refugees continue to be under threat, with many forced to take perilous journeys to reach safety, or to seek a ‘better place in the world’. Courts play a critical role in ensuring that laws do not yield to populist politics that seek to limit the protections of human rights and constitutional laws. In recent years, Irish courts have delivered landmark judgments on many of the most pressing issues for migrants and refugees, including on the right to work, family unity, protection against removal and detention, best interests of the child, and non-punishment of victims of trafficking. These and other questions will be explored at this two-day international conference.”   Keynote speakers include: Judge Paolo Pinto de Albuquerque, European Court of Human Rights; Judge Gerard Hogan, Court of Appeal, Ireland; and Hilkka Becker, Chairperson, International Protection Appeals Tribunal. Panellists include leading immigration law practitioners from Ireland and the UK, and academics and civil society representatives.   Full details and programme available at www.conference.ie. For more information or queries contact Professor Siobhán Mullally, Irish Centre for Human Rights, NUI Galway, at siobhan.mullally@nuigalway.ie.   -Ends-

Tuesday, 15 May 2018

Dr Aidan Thomson appointed as new Head of Music at NUI Galway From September 2018, students at NUI Galway will be able to take a Bachelor of Arts honours degree in Music. This is an exciting development for music making and music education in the west of Ireland, and builds on the University’s established reputation for excellence in creative arts subjects.   The University has also announced the appointment of new Head of Music, Dr Aidan Thomson. Dr Thomson has taught at the University of Oxford, the University of Leeds and, for the last fourteen years, Queen’s University Belfast, principally in music history, theory and analysis, but also in performance.   A feature of the four-year BA degree is that all students will have the opportunity in their third year to undertake a music-related placement. Students will also be able to work with top musical professionals throughout their degree, notably the current Galway Musicians in Residence, the ConTempo String Quartet.   The core of the degree is a thorough grounding in musicianship - theory, harmony, keyboard harmony and critical listening - and training in the repertory and culture of western classical and Irish traditional music. Students will also take core modules in performance, composition and sound technology over the course of their first two years. The degree is thus aligned with the requirements of the Irish Teaching Council, meaning that graduates would be equipped to take postgraduate teaching qualifications in Music at primary and secondary level.   Students will be able to learn from leading professional musicians during their degree through masterclasses and concerts. The university is developing strategic partnerships with the Galway Music Residency and Music for Galway, and is building on existing expertise in Music in different disciplines within the institution.   The degree complements many other disciplines within the College of Arts: English, Irish Studies, modern languages, and, most significantly, Drama and Film Studies. Students will have the chance to take modules that look at the relationship between music and theatre, and music and words, both academically and practically. In their final year, they will also take a module in writing about music and performance criticism, which is a feature of all creative arts subjects at NUI Galway.   Dr Aidan Thomson, newly appointed Senior Lecturer in Music at NUI Galway, said: “The timing of this new degree could not be better. Introducing music has the potential to make NUI Galway an important hub for musical performance, creation and thought. It builds on Galway’s reputation as a centre for artistic excellence, as recognized in its City of Culture status in 2020. The flexibility of the Music degree will equip students to embark on a wide variety of careers. They will be ideally equipped to build on the creative energy that will be Galway 2020’s legacy, be it as performers, composers, teachers, journalists, arts administrators or broadcasters, among others. But even before that, our students will be at the heart of the creative life of the university, the city and beyond.”   For more information on the new BA in Music visit http://www.nuigalway.ie/artsmusic/ or watch a video about the programme at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D_P4RTwVNVQ.   -Ends-

Wednesday, 16 May 2018

A new report published today by Volunteer Ireland and NUI Galway explores how volunteering impacts the development and sustainability of rural communities. The report was launched at NUI Galway to mark National Volunteering Week (14th – 20th May) by Minister Sean Kyne TD, Minister of State for Rural Affairs and Natural Resources and Pat Spillane, Ambassador for the Action Plan for Rural Ireland. Drawing on personal interviews and survey data, the report identifies a range of important impacts that volunteers have on rural communities. This includes positive impacts on rural infrastructure, the local economy, inhabitants themselves, social links and culture. For example, the research illustrates that volunteers play a critical role in providing local services such as children’s facilities; creating employment and improving the economy by delivering local festivals; and creating social links by fostering opportunities to meet new and diverse people. Both interviewees and survey respondents felt that volunteers were vital to sustaining rural communities. Speaking ahead of the launch, Volunteer Ireland’s Nina Arwitz, said: “Volunteering has a huge role to play in building healthy, connected communities and this is true especially in rural communities. Facing issues such as emigration and isolation, volunteers provide the social fabric of many rural communities. This research highlights not only the wide ranging impacts of volunteering on communities but also the less tangible benefits such as a sense of belonging and connection to one’s community.” NUI Galway’s Dr Maura Farrell, who led the research, continued: “Many rural communities are highly dependent on local volunteers to ensure the availability of services and facilities. Engaging our rural youth in sport; becoming a companion to an elderly neighbour or enabling a rural development project are only snapshots of what is achieved by rural volunteers, who are the drivers of rural sustainability and development and the heroes of many rural communities.”     Launching the report, Minister Kyne added: “Volunteers make a difference to communities across Ireland every day. I’m delighted to launch this research demonstrating the very real impact that volunteers have on rural communities in particular. Whether people volunteer with an organisation or simply lend a neighbour a hand, they make a critical contribution to sustainable, cohesive communities.”  eTownz CEO Pat Kennedy explained "When working with communities we focus on understanding and developing the assets within the community. Local volunteers are often the most important asset of a community and this research helped to shine a light on the huge impact they have in communities across rural Ireland." Finally, Ms Arwitz noted: “This research has evidenced something we’ve known to be true for a long time – volunteering builds better communities. We work to foster this through the national network of local Volunteer Centres and Volunteering Information Services that provide support to communities and advice to both organisations and volunteers. Together we aim to make sure that everyone feels connected to their community through volunteering. Research like this is key to informing our work.” -Ends-

Wednesday, 16 May 2018

Papers and registrations are now being accepted for the 14th Annual Conference of the International Society for Design and Development in Education (ISDDE), which will be held from 28–31 May at NUI Galway. This is the first time the conference has been held in Ireland. The conference theme, Culture and Educational Design, highlights the importance of context in principled and participatory, educational design, and the significant influence of culture, the historic, natural and social environs on learning, teaching and assessment. Dr Tony Hall, School of Education, NUI Galway, said: “We are delighted to have been invited to host the 14th Annual Conference of the International Society for Design and Development in Education, the first time the conference will be held in Ireland. ISDDE is one of the preeminent research communities for educational technology and design, and those researching, designing and developing educational resources, learning environments, curricular materials and technologies, particularly in the STEM areas.” Speakers will include: Professor Sarah Moore and Professor Merrilyn Goos, University of Limerick; Dr John Breslin and Dr Michael Hogan, NUI Galway; Dr Anna Walshe, National Council for Curriculum and Assessment, Ireland; Professor Zalman Usiskin, University of Chicago; Professor Kaye Stacey, University of Melbourne; and Professor Akihiko Takajashi, DePaul University, Chicago.  Dr Hall added: “The International Society for Design and Development in Education was recently affiliated to the International Commission on Mathematical Instruction.  Following last year’s conference at University of California, Berkeley, we look forward to hosting and welcoming Irish and international colleagues in educational design and technology to Galway and the West. This year’s conference theme, ‘Culture and Educational Design’ reflects the importance of the broader social, cultural and physical environs in the participatory and principled design of educational innovations and technologies.” The International Society for Design and Development in Education was formed to help educational designers work effectively as a coherent professional design and development community. The goals of the Society are to improve the design and development process, building a design community and increasing our impact on educational practice. More information available at: https://sites.google.com/view/isdde-2018/home. -Ends-

Thursday, 17 May 2018

NUI Galway academics contribute to a landmark survey of Irish history in the newly launched book ‘The Cambridge History of Ireland’ from circa 600 to the present day President of Ireland, Michael D. Higgins officially launched the book, The Cambridge History of Ireland in Dublin Castle recently. Written by a team of more than 100 leading historians from around the world, it includes contributions from Drs Caitriona Clear, Sarah-Anne Buckley and Pádraig Lenihan, and retired Professors Nicholas Canny and Gearóid Ó Tuathaigh from the Department of History at NUI Galway, and from Dr Lesa Ní Mhunghaile from Roinn na Gaeilge. The general editor, Professor Thomas Bartlett, was a lecturer and Professor in the University's History Department from 1976-1995. The work benefits from a strong political narrative framework, and includes essays that address the full range of social, economic, religious, linguistic, military, cultural, artistic and gender history. The arrangement of the volumes challenges traditional chronological boundaries in a manner that offers new perspectives and insights. Volume I, edited by Professor Brendan Smith of Bristol, presents the latest thinking on key aspects of the medieval Irish experience, focusing on the extent to which developments were unique to Ireland. The openness of Ireland to outside influences, and its capacity to influence the world beyond its shores, are recurring themes. Underpinning the book is a comparative, outward-looking approach that sees Ireland as an integral but exceptional component of medieval Christian Europe. Volume II, edited by Professor Jane Ohlmeyer of TCD, looks at the transformative and tumultuous years between 1550 and 1730, offering fresh perspectives on the political, military, religious, social, cultural, intellectual, economic, and environmental history of early modern Ireland. Dr Pádraig Lenihan from NUI Galway and Dr John Cronin jointly contribute a chapter on warfare in seventeenth century Ireland with reference to its unpleasant impact on the civilian population, strategy, tactics and weaponry, while Professor Nicholas Canny offers a sweeping narrative of how the history of this turbulent period has been approached by successive generations of historians from the sixteenth century to the present. Volume III, edited by Professor James Kelly of St Patrick’s, DCU, moves into the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Dr Sarah-Anne Buckley’s chapter on women, men and the family from 1730-1880, engages with themes of marriage, gender, mortality, infanticide, abduction, domestic violence, divorce, celibacy, arguing that this  was a time of significant change in the lives of middle- and upper- class women. Dr Lesa Ní Mhunghaile looks at cultural and intellectual innovation in Ireland in this century and, along with her co-writer Dr Michael Brown, pointing out that commentators on the Irish condition at this time produced ‘a sustained reflection….forming grand narratives of the possible pasts and futures the country might inhabit’ (see page 380 of the book). The final volume, Volume IV, edited by Thomas Bartlett, covers the period from the 1880s to the present, and in this volume Professor Gearóid O Tuathaigh provides an overview of political and social change in the years 1880 to 2016. NUI Galway’s Dr Caitríona Clear’s chapter on social conditions in Ireland from 1880 to the First World War tells of rail networks which extended all over the country to stimulate trade and facilitate leisure, and shops multiplying in number, while new employment patterns and educational regulations brought more and more men and women, boys and girls, than ever before, out of their homes and into contact with each other on a daily basis. The volumes are copiously illustrated with special features on images of the ‘Troubles’ and on Irish art and sculpture in the twentieth century. For a full list of contributors to each volume, visit www.cambridge.org -Ends-

Friday, 18 May 2018

NUI Galway student, Jason Sherlock, was recently announced as the Galway City Council Young Volunteer of the Year, at the 15th Annual Mayor’s Awards. The Mayor of Galway City, Cllr. Pearce Flannery presented the top award to Jason in recognition of his voluntary effort and fundraising activities for a number of groups within Galway. Jason, from Galway City, recently completed the School Leavers Access Programme. Jason is a weekly charity shop volunteer with The Society of St. Vincent de Paul, sorting donations of books and clothing while helping customers as a sales team member. In addition to this, Jason has volunteered for a number of Galway charities supporting their fundraising events. The Galway Simon Community Sleep Out, Croí, The West of Ireland Cardiac Foundation Fun Run, and Ability West bag packing event have all hosted Jason as a volunteer. Jason is also a volunteer with the Civil Defence, having recently completed the F.A.R course, the newest education and training standard, to ensure volunteers can provide first aid for a person who becomes suddenly unwell or injured until the arrival of emergency medical services. Upon reflecting on what volunteering has done for him, Jason said: “I learned to be more caring and giving, and learned to give back. I’ve learned to work as part of a team and to communicate effectively and to take criticism positively.” Lorraine Tansey, NUI Galway Student Volunteer Coordinator, said: “Students like Jason are willing to engage and we thank community projects in Galway for hosting students who are seeking to learn and bring their energy and enthusiasm. Jason is keenly aware of the root issues facing communities and a critical citizen, which is what we strive for in higher education. The next generation are not only caring about social needs but striving to see changes.” The Mayor’s Awards are a yearly initiative by Galway City Council to acknowledge voluntary work carried out by people within Galway City. The awards acknowledge outstanding people and organisations that, through their commitment to participating in unpaid community and voluntary activities, have made a significant impact on the quality of their communities in Galway City. -Ends-

Monday, 21 May 2018

The 2018 HBSC study marks 20 years of research and will cover mental health, use of e-cigarettes, sunbed use and means of sunburn protection, romantic attraction, cyberbullying, traditional bullying and body image The Health Promotion Research Centre at NUI Galway is currently undertaking the 2018 Health Behaviour in School Aged Children (HBSC) study, and are asking Ireland’s schoolchildren to lend their voices to the research.   The study coincides with the 20th anniversary of Health Behaviour in School-aged Children in Ireland research, which in partnership with the World Health Organisation takes place every four years in over 40 countries and regions in Europe and North America. The findings from the 2018 research will be published in spring 2019.   Since 1998, the Health Behaviour in School-aged Children Ireland study, carried out by the Health Promotion Research Centre at NUI Galway, has completed six survey rounds, allowing them to analyse trends in child and adolescent health. The results show that many aspects of children’s lives in Ireland have improved, but there are still important challenges.   The Health Behaviour in School-aged Children study adapts over time to the lifestyles and experiences of young people. New questions in the 2018 study will cover mental health and electronic media communication, the use of e-cigarettes, sunbed use and means of sunburn protection, romantic attraction, cyberbullying, traditional bullying and body image, and children’s sense of freedom and awareness of their rights as a young person.   All across Ireland, 10,000 young people in primary and secondary schools ranging from ages 9-17 will take part in the 2018 survey. Children will be invited to fill in a questionnaire asking about different aspects of their lives. The questions cover positive health behaviour such as physical activity, and negative health behaviours such as smoking and drinking, as well as wellbeing and life satisfaction. The study also asks questions in the contexts of children’s lives, like their friendships, families, schools and local communities. The analysis of their answers will inform policy and practice development in Ireland and Europe about how to support children and young people and how to improve their health and wellbeing.   Speaking about the research, Professor Saoirse Nic Gabhainn from the Health Promotion Research Centre at NUI Galway, said: “We strongly believe that young people should have a voice in any research on their health and welfare, and we keep them involved in all stages of the study. The Citizen Participation Unit of the Department of Children and Youth Affairs and the Health Behaviour in School-aged Children Ireland research team is inviting schoolchildren to identify and prioritise areas that are important in their lives. Then the children from ages 9-17 write their own questions for inclusion in the HBSC Ireland survey. These questions from the children include, for example, how often children play with their families, how self-confident they are, and whether they feel comfortable with their friends.”   Examples of the trends observed in the HBSC Ireland study over the past 20 years: Between 1998 and 2014 there was a significant decrease in the proportion of children who reported being current smokers (22.6% in 1998; 8.3% in 2014). Other indicators of smoking, such as early onset of smoking, also showed favourable changes. Between 1998 and 2014 there was a statistically significant decrease in the proportion of children who reported having ever been drunk (33.0% in 1998; 21.0% in 2014). Other indicators of drinking, such as early age of having the first alcoholic drink, also showed favourable changes. Between 1998 and 2014 there was a significant increase in the proportion of children who reported to have brushed their teeth more than once a day (57.6% in 1998; 69.5% in 2014). Between 1998 and 2014 there was a statistically significant increase in the proportion of children who reported finding it easy to talk to their parents about things that really bother them (for fathers: 73.0% in 1998; 82.2% in 2014; for mothers, 47.4% in 1998; 69.3% in 2014). The international Health Behaviour in School-aged Children research network agreed a group of ‘core’ questions on the fundamental aspects of healthy and risky activities, such as eating and dieting, smoking and alcohol, physical activity, school experience and support from family and friends that are used in all countries in exactly the same way. This means that the researchers at NUI Galway can compare young people’s health and wellbeing across all 40 plus countries that take part, and they believe it is crucial that young people have a voice in how their health is studied.   As well as serving as a monitoring and a knowledge-generating function, one of the key objectives of the HBSC research has been to inform decision-making about policy and practice. Irish data collected has been used to inform many national authorities and international health organisations. The Health Promotion Research Centre’s findings are channelled back to national and local youth health strategies, including the ‘State of the Nation’s Children’ and the ‘Better Outcomes Brighter Futures’ policy framework. Data from HBSC Ireland has been channelled into health-promoting initiatives including Tobacco Free Ireland and AlcoholAction Ireland, and are included in National Policy documents such as Healthy Ireland, the National Drugs and Alcohol Strategy, and the National Physical Activity plan.   International organisations like the World Health Organisation, UNICEF, UNESCO, the European Commission and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development also use data from the Irish HBSC study in their work.   A detailed report on the trends over time can be found here: http://www.nuigalway.ie/media/healthpromotionresearchcentre/hbscdocs/nationalreports/HBSC-Trends-Report-2017-(web).pdf     For more information about Health Behaviour in School-aged Children Ireland, visit: http://www.nuigalway.ie/hbsc/    -Ends-  

Monday, 21 May 2018

Researchers from the School of Physics at NUI Galway have carried out a biological monitoring study among the Irish adult population on non-occupational exposure to glyphosate, an active ingredient in chemical pesticides used to control weeds. This is the first study in Ireland describing glyphosate exposures among this population and the results suggest low exposure. The study investigated the background level of human exposure to glyphosate in Ireland and results from the study were recently published in the international journal, Environmental Research. The research was carried out by Michelle Leahy as part completion of her MSc in Occupational and Environmental Health and Safety and by Exposure Science PhD student Alison Connolly from the School of Physics at NUI Galway. The herbicide glyphosate is the active ingredient in over 750 products including Roundup®. Glyphosate is the highest volume herbicide used globally and extensively in agriculture and horticulture to combat weeds, and is sprayed as a pre-harvest drying treatment on certain food crops. It is also widely sprayed in parks, public spaces, lawns, gardens and roadsides. Dietary exposure through pesticide residues that remain on fruit, vegetables and grains after spraying, or home use of glyphosate based pesticide products, are thought to be the most common exposure routes among the general population. The NUI Galway researchers and collaborators from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) in Great Britain measured glyphosate in urine samples provided by 50 Irish adults to estimate background levels of exposure among this population. Environmental and dietary exposure to glyphosate can be determined by measuring levels in biological samples such as urine. Of the 50 samples analysed, 10 (20%) of the participants urine samples had detectable trace levels of glyphosate. The median concentration of the detectable data (10 samples) was 0.85 µg L-1. This is more than 1000 times lower than the Acceptable Daily Intake level of 0.5 mg/kg body weight/day set by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) for glyphosate.  Commenting on the study, research project supervisor Dr Marie Coggins and Exposure Science lecturer at the School of Physics at NUI Galway, said: “Biomonitoring data across Europe on chemicals such as pesticides is rare. In this study detectable levels of pesticides in urine were low, however, further studies such as this one are required to fully characterise chemical exposures in humans to support risk assessment and to inform policy.” To read the full study in Environmental Research, visit: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0013935118302251    -Ends-

Friday, 4 May 2018

Pint of Science Galway brings scientists out of the lab and in to your local pub NUI Galway scientists will talk about a variety of topics at pubs across Galway City and County, as part of the three-day Pint of Science Festival, where thousands of scientists around the world will speak about their research. The world’s largest festival of public science talks will take place from the 14-16 May. Galway will join nearly 300 cities and 21 countries around the world taking part in the festival. Seven scientists from NUI Galway will take to the stage in pubs across Galway to talk about their research and members of the public will have the chance to ask them questions. Topics will range from: Barnacles, Bacteria, and Beyond; Galway beneath our feet: Reconstructing Parts of our History; and Democracy in Education: Responsibilities as Citizens. The festival brings a unique line up of talks, demonstrations and live experiments to Galway alongside the main talks, and each event will also include a range of science-inspired activities including geeky puzzles and engaging stories. Pint of Science Galway events will take place in Campbell’s Tavern, Cloughanover, Headford with the theme ‘Natural Sciences and Practical Applications’, The Oslo bar event is themed ‘Shaping Future Generations: Education and Society’ and the Róisín Dubh with the theme ‘Innovating Women in Geoscience’. Ivor Geoghegan, PhD student in Biomedical Engineering at the College of Engineering and Informatics at NUI Galway, said: “We are excited to bring Pint of Science back to Galway. People can expect to hear fascinating stories of the research currently ongoing in Ireland from the comfort of their local pub.” Festival co-founder Dr Praveen Paul says: “There is so much fascinating research happening right under our noses that we don't know about. Some can get lost in translation leading to fake news. Pint of Science allows people direct access to inspiring scientists and encourages open discussion, all in the most familiar of places, the pub! It's great to see this enthusiasm for knowledge shared across the world.” Pint of Science was established six years ago by a group of UK-based postgraduate and postdoctoral researchers and has grown into one of the world’s biggest science festivals. The founders, Dr Praveen Paul and Dr Michael Motskin, have brought a personal touch to science, giving everyone the chance to meet the people behind the incredible research taking place across the globe. Tickets are €2 per event and on sale at: https://pintofscience.ie/events/Galway or www.pintofscience.ie -Ends-  

Thursday, 3 May 2018

Newly published essay challenges the critical assumptions that have led to the historical erasure of many of poet, John Donne’s women readers A new essay by Dr Erin A McCarthy from NUI Galway published in The Review of English Studies, challenges assumptions about the relationship between gender and taste and restores less well-known women to the history of reading who were previously erased from history. The influential poet John Dryden (1631-1700) famously complained that John Donne’s (1572-1631) poetry, best known for his metaphysical and deeply erotic poems, “perplexes the minds of the fair sex”, but Dr McCarthy’s essay examined 69 seventeenth-century manuscripts that show women read and collected the same poems as their male contemporaries. The diverse women drawn together in this essay played varied roles in early modern manuscript networks. They not only read poems but sought out, collected, and adapted them to include in their own manuscripts. Witty, rhetorical, and often challenging, John Donne’s poems have tended to be associated with all-male ‘coteries’ at the universities and the Inns of Court (professional associations for barristers in England and Wales). Some of the poems, particularly among the Songs and Sonnets and Elegies, even border on the misogynist. But their appeal extended beyond these relatively restricted circles of educated young men to reach a diverse range of early modern English readers, including women. Speaking about her research, Dr Erin A McCarthy from the Moore Institute at NUI Galway, said: “Donne’s relationships with his wealthy female patrons are well-known, but his works also appealed to women other than the familiar rich and famous ones. This essay restores these less well-known women to the history of reading and challenges assumptions about the relationship between gender and taste. Early modern women’s preferences were, in fact, broadly consistent with men’s, and it is almost impossible to know a reader’s gender without explicit evidence. “One thing about this essay that is particularly interesting to me is the list of 69 seventeenth-century books that can be directly linked to one or more named women. Most of these are ordinary women who were going about their business, they certainly wouldn’t have expected to be included in written histories of their time yet their influence on literature can still be seen today. It also strikes me that a lot of scholarship reading has been influenced by later, and even contemporary, norms and values.” “Sir Walter Scott thought that ‘the ladies’ would have preferred ‘strains more musical, if not more intelligible’, but actually, they were interested in the same things as their male contemporaries, and women both had access to and made efforts to acquire Donne’s poems. Just as women today might enjoy movies that seem to be marketed to men, and as men might enjoy romantic comedies marketed to women, this work shows that seventeenth-century women read widely among the texts that were available to them”, Dr McCarthy adds. Professor Daniel Carey, Director of the Moore Institute at NUI Galway, said: “The study of literary manuscripts and their circulation is among the most established scholarly approaches but it also one of the freshest. Erin McCarthy’s work, with its careful and meticulous attention to describing manuscripts in the seventeenth century, gives us a way to understand their diversity and complexity, as well as giving an insight into how people read and repurposed them. John Donne’s poetry is a key case in point, prized by women’s readers who copied his verses into manuscript collections that survive in libraries and record offices.” Dr McCarthy’s work is supported by a European Research Council-funded project. To read the full article in The Review of English Studies, visit: https://academic.oup.com/res/advance-article/doi/10.1093/res/hgy018/4931222 -Ends-

Monday, 21 May 2018

NUI Galway’s School of Natural Sciences Bio-EXPLORERS programme, in collaboration with Kitchen Chemistry, is now taking bookings for its three Summer Science Camps. Attendees can choose to attend the first camp from 2-6 July, the second from 9-13 July, or the third camp from 16-20 July.   The camp is open to all young budding scientists aged between 8 and 13 years old and participants will get a chance to work as real scientists by performing and analysing experiments in a real research environment.    The Bio-EXPLORERS programme is composed of two science communication and public engagement initiatives: Cell EXPLORERS directed by Dr Muriel Grenon and Eco-EXPLORERS directed by Dr Michel Dugon. With Dr Michel Dugon, the host of the RTÉ’s Bug Hunters, children will participate in activities such as discovering live local and exotic plants and animals, studying their habitats, and understanding how they interact with their environment. With the dynamic team of Cell EXPLORERS, children will learn how cells make our bodies work. They will run their own experiments, build models, observe their own cells under microscopes and extract DNA from cells. Each camp will also include a session with Kitchen Chemistry, from NUI Galway’s School of Chemistry, who run fun, hands-on experiments that bring chemistry to life!   The primary goal of these NUI Galway science outreach programmes is to inspire interest in science among young people and to impact positively on science education. All three programmes run activities designed to engage children in a hands-on way and stimulate their interest in exploring science-related themes. They have engaged thousands of children in the West of Ireland and are very active during the Galway Science and Technology Festival. Bio-EXPLORERS have run successful summer and Easter science camps since 2014, in addition to the very popular ‘Scientist for a Day’ one-day workshops during mid-terms, run in conjunction with Kitchen Chemistry. These camps provide a fun take on science where children can get involved and experiment as real scientists do. Small participant numbers, hands-on activities and a good ratio of well-trained, interactive demonstrators maximize the learning environment.   This year’s summer camps will each run over five days from 9.30am to 4.30pm daily and places are limited and will be allocated on a first-come first-served basis. The cost is €150 per child for this course packed with fun and exciting activities.   Visit www.cellexplorers.com for details on the camp and links to register. For any queries email cellexplorers@nuigalway.ie.   -Ends-      

Tuesday, 22 May 2018

Blackstone LaunchPad at NUI Galway recently announced the expansion of their student Entrepreneur in Residence (EIR) programme with Conor Lynch, a third year Mechanical Engineering student taking up a second student Entrepreneur in Residence role in the LaunchPad programme.    Conor set up his business at 11 years old, woodturning from his home in Tullamore, Co. Offaly. He is largely self-taught, having learned many of the techniques for woodturning from magazines and YouTube, but he has also had some exposure to some of the best woodturners in Ireland. He has work in private collections in America, Australia, France and Mexico and one of his pieces was presented to President Mary McAleese in 2011. He sells his craft pieces in local stores and online.   In 2014, Conor was featured on RTÉs ‘Junior Dragons Den’, where he pitched his business to five of Ireland’s most successful businessmen and women. He secured the €2,000 bursary and mentoring from Dragon Peter Casey. Also in 2014, he was featured on RTÉs Nationwide while exhibiting at the National Crafts and Design Fair (now known as Crafted) at the RDS in Dublin.   Natalie Walsh, Executive Director of Blackstone LaunchPad at NUI Galway, said: “We are delighted to expand our student EIR programme to include Conor, he is a fantastic role model for other students on campus who are interested in developing their business idea and has a wealth of personal experiences and practical advice to support his fellow students.  Being a third year student he also fully understands the challenges faced in terms of managing a student workload and getting a business up and running. Conor has been supported by our programme since 2015 and it has been amazing to see his professional and more importantly, his personal development grow so much over these few years.”   Conor Lynch said: “I am so thrilled to be part of the student EIR programme at Blackstone LaunchPad. The opportunity will give me more time to focus on what I really enjoy, which is showing other people that entrepreneurship is a viable career path for young people. I really like meeting with other entrepreneurs to come up with ideas, and I am looking forward to meeting students on campus.”   Blackstone LaunchPad at NUI Galway recently hosted Mike Wiebolt from Blackstone New York as part of a new mentorship and role modelling initiative by the Blackstone Charitable Foundation. Mike worked with students across the NUI Galway campus to mentor and coach them and their business ideas. In addition to being a Managing Director with Blackstone, Mike is a seriale who owns multiple hardware businesses across the US, and mentored Conor as part of his visit.   Conor added: “Meeting Mike was really positive, he has a wealth of experience and advice in terms of developing my business and I learned a great deal about his own business background. His advice was to really focus my efforts and harness any opportunities that come my way, such as working with the LaunchPad programme. He offered some insights into new ideas that I could explore and I am excited to focus in on these over the coming months, so watch this space.”   As the academic year winds down at NUI Galway, Blackstone LaunchPad are planning their campus programme for 2018/2019, Natalie Walsh added: “Next year will be our biggest year on campus. We will continue to grow our entrepreneurial community in partnership with our Colleges and Schools, launch our #madeinnuigalway initiative which is a showcase dedicated to displaying the products and services of NUI Galway’s talented entrepreneurs, and build on the successes of our 2018 initiatives including our female entrepreneurship programme InnovateHER and MIDAS (Medtech Innovation design and Start Up) programme.”   To view Conor’s products visit www.conorlynchwoodturning.com.   -Ends-

Tuesday, 22 May 2018

Tá Meamram Comhthuisceana sínithe idir OÉ Gaillimh agus RTÉ chun clár nua MA sa chleachtas gairmiúil sna meáin a chur ar fáil, le béim ar an bhfoghlaim phraiticbhunaithe trí mheán na Gaeilge i stiúideonna éagsúla de chuid RTÉ. Cuirfidh Acadamh na hOllscolaíochta Gaeilge in OÉ Gaillimh an MA (Cleachtas Gairmiúil sna Meáin) ar fáil ó Mheán Fómhair 2018. Beidh sé ar fáil ar bhonn lánama agus go páirtaimseartha. Clár léinn nuálach agus solúbtha é seo ina bhfuil meascán den staidéar acadúil ar líne agus tréimhsí suntasacha i mbun taithí oibre phraiticbhunaithe in RTÉ san iriseoireacht, sa chraoltóireacht agus i gcruthú ábhair don raidió, don teilifís, agus d’ardáin éagsúla ar líne. Beidh na mic léinn ag foghlaim in OÉ, Gaillimh; in aonaid Ghaeilge de chuid RTÉ i nDomhnach Broc; agus i stiúideonna réigiúnacha i gConamara agus i gceantair Ghaeltachta eile. "Tá RTÉ thar a bheith sásta a bheith i mbun comhpháirtíochta le hOllscoil na hÉireann, Gaillimh sa togra suntasach seo," a dúirt Grúpcheannasaí Gaeilge RTÉ, Rónán Mac Con Iomaire. "Is sprioc ar leith í ag RTÉ an chéad ghlúin eile de chraoltóirí na Gaeilge a fhorbairt agus a thabhairt chun cinn, agus tá muid á dhéanamh sin i gcomhar le hOÉ Gaillimh ar bhealach nach bhfuil feicthe in aon institiúid tríú leibhéal in Éirinn go dtí seo," a dúirt sé. Dúirt stiúrthóir an chláir, an Dr Uinsionn Mac Dubhghaill, go mbeadh tionchar mór ag céimithe an chláir ar na meáin in Éirinn sna blianta atá romhainn. "Lena mheascán tomhaiste den staidéar teoiriciúil ar na meáin chumarsáide agus den fhoghlaim phraiticbhunaithe, tá an clár léinn seo ag leanacht an chleachtais is fearr go hidirnáisiúnta in oideachas na meán," a dúirt sé. "Tá an clár léinn ag freastal ar éilimh ó mhic léinn ar chláir iarchéime a bhfuil naisc láidre acu le fostóirí agus leis an margadh. Tá sé ag teacht dá réir leis na moltaí sa Final Report in respect of a Strategy for the Development of Skills for the Audiovisual Industry in Ireland, a d'fhoilsigh na comhairleoirí Crowe Horwath i mBealtaine 2017." Tuilleadh eolais ó https://www.nuigalway.ie/acadamh/cursai/cursai_iarcheime/ma_cleachtas_gairmiuil_meain/#course_outline. -Críoch- NUI Galway and RTÉ to collaborate on new Masters programme NUI Galway and RTÉ have signed a Memorandum of Understanding for a new Masters programme in professional practice in media, with an emphasis on practice-based learning through Irish at a number of RTÉ studios. The MA (Cleachtas Gairmiúil san Meáin) will be offered by Acadamh na hOllscolaíochta Gaeilge at NUI Galway from September 2018. It will be available on both a full-time and a part-time basis. This flexible and innovative programme combines online academic modules with significant periods of practice-based work experience in RTÉ in journalism, broadcasting and content creation for radio, television and online platforms. Students will study at NUI Galway, at different Irish-language units at RTÉ’s headquarters in Donnybrook, in RTÉ regional studios in Connemara, and in other Gaeltacht areas. RTÉ Group Head of Irish Language, Rónán Mac Con Iomaire, said: “RTÉ is very happy to collaborate with NUI Galway on this important initiative. It is a particular aim of RTÉ to cultivate and develop the next generation of Irish-language broadcasters, and we are doing this in partnership with the University in a way that has not been seen in any third-level institution in Ireland until now.” Dr Uinsionn Mac Dubhghaill, programme director with Acadamh na hOllscolaíochta Gaeilge, NUI Galway,  said graduates of the programme would have a significant impact on the media in Ireland in the years ahead. “With its balanced mix of the theoretical study of media and practice-based learning it follows best international practice in media education, and responds to a demand from students for postgraduate programmes that have strong links to employers and the market. In doing this, it aligns with the recommendations in the ‘Final Report in respect of a Strategy for the Development of Skills for the Audiovisual Industry in Ireland’, published by consultants Crowe Horwath in May 2017.” For more information visit https://www.nuigalway.ie/acadamh/cursai/cursai_iarcheime/ma_cleachtas_gairmiuil_meain/#course_outline. -Ends-

Wednesday, 2 May 2018

Results from a new international study conducted by psychologists at NUI Galway has found that personality traits can predict death in old age. The study was published this week in the Journal of Psychosomatic Research. The study was carried out by Dr Páraic Ó Súilleabháin and Professor Brian Hughes from the School of Psychology at NUI Galway. The researchers investigated if personality traits are predictors of death in older adults. Drawing on data collected from The Berlin Aging Study* carried out from 1990-2009, this new study examined 417 adults between the ages of 70-100 years of age over a 19-year period in Berlin, Germany. This new research looked at the detailed data captured from these individuals and found that the personality trait of neuroticism predicted death from all-causes over the 19-year follow-up period. Crucially, the study found that people higher in the personality trait of neuroticism were at a distinctly greater risk of death than those within the average or lower ranges of neuroticism. Neuroticism is a personality dimension that all people possess that accounts for an individual’s tendency to experience negative emotions and display emotional instability. Individuals who score high on neuroticism are more likely to experience higher levels of sadness and anxiety.   Commenting on the study’s findings Dr Ó Súilleabháin from NUI Galway, said: “Personality is of critical importance to health, and is reflected in our biology and patterns of behaviour over long periods of time. This study provides strong evidence relating to the importance of the personality trait of neuroticism in impacting a person’s health and longevity in old age.” The study also sought to find ways which may explain the finding. The researchers found that neuroticism impacted the effects of a person’s ability to perform activities of daily living in old age (functional status), and a biological marker (the angiotensin-converting enzyme, ACE) on death. They reported that functional status is a critical marker for the deterioration of health in old age, while ACE is a critical enzyme in a variety of diseases, most notably cardiovascular disease. Dr Ó Súilleabháin, added: “Existing data suggests that by the year 2020, one in five Europeans will be over the age of 65 years. It is critical for future research to address the impact of neuroticism on the deterioration of health in old age, with a particular emphasis on its effects on cardiovascular disease. This study provides exciting opportunities and research avenues for future work in this area.” To read the full study in the Journal of Psychosomatic Research, visit: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0022399917312394  -Ends-

Tuesday, 22 May 2018

Library spans five centuries, was almost lost due to a convent building demolition, and contains a selection of significant religious publications from the 17th Century onwards The Dominican Convent in Taylor’s Hill, Galway has donated its library of more than 2,000 volumes, built up over five centuries, to NUI Galway at an event in the University Library recently. At one stage it looked like this valuable library, a vital part of Galway’s heritage, might be lost to the region due to lack of storage when the Convent building in which it was located had to be demolished. The University worked closely with the Dominican Convent to secure the long-term future of the historic library as a major research resource for the local community, academic staff and students on campus and visiting scholars worldwide. Professor Ciarán Ó hÓgartaigh, President of NUI Galway, welcomed the donation: “The Dominican Convent Library is one of Ireland’s historic treasures and will be an invaluable resource for teaching and research, engaging a range of audiences not just locally but internationally. The insights it provides into the education of women are especially significant. We also get a great sense of what life was like in the convent over four centuries and how the Dominican community connected with Europe and the wider world.”   The Dominican Convent Library represents the oldest continuously used library in Galway City today. It not only illustrates the place of study in the life of nuns (or women religious) from 1644 onwards, but it also gives testimony to the history of the education of women through the variety of books contained, ranging from dictionaries to theological and language studies. The collection provides insights into female education in Ireland across several centuries and the history of Irish religious, also capturing something of Galway’s history, and that of its academic institutions. Dominican Library Highlights There are many highlights in the Dominican Convent Library. It contains a selection of significant 17th Century religious publications including a 1617 edition of St. Thomas Aquinas’ Summae Theologicae and a 1616 edition of the life of St. Teresa of Avila – one of the bestsellers in all languages in the early modern period. Not surprisingly there are many works relating to the Dominican order dating from the 17th to the 20th centuries. An interesting example is The manner of receiving devout ladies in the Holy Order of St. Dominick, originating in the Dominican Convent in Drogheda, Co. Louth. Along with religious instruction, the first prospectus for the Boarding School which opened in 1859 includes French and French literature, English, German, Italian, History, Geography and the study of globes, Music and Arithmetic. The variety of languages represented in the library is especially noteworthy and is well represented in the 19th Century Welply Collection, donated by Kate Welply, an aunt of one of the sisters resident in the Convent, which contains titles in French, German and Italian. As befitting an educational institution there are volumes on a wide selection of subjects, ranging from astronomy to travel, from natural science to literature. From the 1640s, many of the women who joined the Galway Dominican community of nuns came from families belonging to the ‘Tribes’ of Galway. Local interest is therefore well represented, particularly by a set of Martin J. Blake’s Blake Family Records (1905).The library also includes volumes of important 19th Century art periodicals such as the Art Journal. Professor Marie-Louise Coolahan, Discipline of English, commented: “The sheer timespan of the coverage here is remarkable. Teresa of Avila’s Life, for example, was translated across Europe and used as a model by men and women, of all faiths, down through the centuries. It is a landmark in the history of autobiography and to have such an early edition here brings the entire genre to life for our students. I’m particularly delighted the archive is being launched in time for the annual conference on women religious, coming up on 7-8 June. This conference was first held here ten years ago; we’re planning a special preview of collection highlights for our delegates, who will be travelling from the USA, Japan, the UK, Belgium and Portugal, as well as Ireland.” The Dominican Convent Library is an important addition to the James Hardiman Library’s printed Special Collections and joins a subset of local religious libraries within its collections, including that of St. Anthony’s Franciscan College, Newcastle, and the Henry Library, from St. Mary’s Church of Ireland Cathedral in Tuam, Co. Galway. Details of titles from all three libraries can be viewed on the James Hardiman Library’s catalogue at www.library.nuigalway.ie. John Cox, University Librarian, noted that: “We are delighted that the University was able to provide an appropriate home for this great Library at a time when the Dominican Convent needed our support. The region would otherwise have suffered a very significant loss but the future of the collection is now secure. The investment the University has made in excellent facilities for special collections continues to be repaid.” The University’s Moore Institute will host the annual conference of the History of Women Religious of Britain and Ireland on 7 and 8 June. The conference programme is at https://tinyurl.com/yd5n4v7g and includes a paper by Sr. Alberta Lally from the Dominican Convent. ENDS

Tuesday, 22 May 2018

 US expert to speak on ‘Reform in Cook County and Juvenile Justice’ NUI Galway will host a public lecture entitled, ‘Reform in Cook County and Juvenile Justice, presented by Ms Toni Preckwinkle, President, Board of Commissioners, Cook County, Illinois today (22 May 2018) at 2.30pm. President Preckwinkle is the President of the Board of Commissioners of Cook County, municipal area in which Chicago is located.   The talk on Reform in Cook County and Juvenile Justice will focus on Ms Preckwinkle’s leadership to develop policies to improve health care access, bring increased fairness to the criminal justice system and expand employment training opportunities for some of the County’s most disadvantaged youth.   President Preckwinkle is a nationally recognised leader in the drive to reduce unnecessary and costly incarceration of non-violent offenders in the criminal justice system.   Speaking ahead of the event, UNESCO Chair in Children, Youth and Civic Engagement at NUI Galway, Professor Pat Dolan said: “The contribution of President Preckwinkle to finding community based solutions to youth on the margins and engaged in crime has been a major positive breakthrough with lessons to be learned for the Irish context. The methods of hopefulness in terms of interventions with and for youth are often overlooked or unheard ahead of more sensationalism in the media and occasionally in policy in Ireland.”   Toni Preckwinkle is the 35th president of the Cook County Board of Commissioners, an office she has held since 2010. A dedicated and effective public servant, President Preckwinkle has worked collaboratively to reshape County government through increased fiscal responsibility, transparency and improved services.   “I’m honored to deliver the UNESCO International Honorary Biennial Lecture, and especially pleased that I can focus my remarks on our key policy initiatives: public safety, public health and creating opportunity,” Preckwinkle said. “Since 2010, we have made progress in these areas and we will continue to press ahead to create more fair and equitable County for all of our residents.”   Before she was elected Cook County Board President, President Preckwinkle served 19 years as Alderman for the 4th Ward in Chicago, building a reputation for progressive independence. She replaced failed public housing with viable mixed-income development. Prior to holding elected office, President Preckwinkle taught high school history for 10 years. She holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Chicago. She is the mother of two and the grandmother of three.   Galway and Chicago, which lies within Cook County, have been Sister Cities for over twenty-one years.  Since then the two cities have developed a strong partnership based on a shared vision of creating programs and exchanges for the benefit of the citizens of both cities. Through the work of dedicated citizens and government officials the relationship has thrived.   The event will take place in the Aula Maxima today, Tuesday, 22 May at 2.30pm and is free and open to the public.   To register for the event - click here   -Ends-

Friday, 25 May 2018

NUI Galway study defines a digital roadmap for organisations to empower their employees to use their personal analytics data to enhance wellness and performance New research from NUI Galway examines the manner with which voluntary personal data analytics can be collected, managed and implemented by organisations within the workplace. The study focuses on a concept termed Enterprise Personal Analytics through which organisations can empower their employees by using their personal data analytics to digitally manage their working environment, enhancing wellness and performance. Data analytics technologies and techniques are widely used in organisations to enable them to make more-informed business decisions. While traditional organisational business intelligence metrics deliver a big picture of structures, processes, and roles, evidence from the study suggests that more detailed and personalised data analytics can help employees gain deeper and more granular insights into the manner with which they work. Wearable technology such as Fitbit is being used more often in organisations for Wellbeing Programmes. For example, IBM provided Fitbit devices to 40,000 employees over a two-year period which saw 96% of the users routinely monitoring health data. Employees who participated in the programme obtained an average of 8,800 more steps per day in comparison to employees who didn’t participate in the programme. Other organisations use it to support benefits managers to monitor employee performance and aiding in job safety by helping workers track sleep and activity levels. The study entitled ‘Enterprise Personal Analytics Digital Transformation Roadmap’, published in Cutter Consortium, was conducted by Dr Trevor Clohessy and Dr Thomas Acton from the J.E. Cairnes School of Business and Economics at NUI Galway. Dr Trevor Clohessy from NUI Galway, said: “We believe that the emerging concept of EPA has the potential to become the new frontier of competitive differentiation. Through voluntary opt-in, employees can provide their personal analytical data to the organisation they work for that can directly support the company’s vision and objectives. For instance, organisations contemplating using machinery to automate a business function can use personal analytics data to identify the benefits of such an action and weigh their decision against the loss of tacit knowledge that the company may lose by replacing people with machines. This can also help organisations enhance the physical and mental wellbeing of their employees. “Our research presents a two-dimensional grid (concerns versus perspectives) to define a roadmap that organisations can use to guide their EPA digital transformation efforts. We believe that if organisations build a culture of trust, their employees and customers will become acclimatised to capturing and analysing their personal analytical data within an enterprise setting. Our study also discusses how the potential nexus of parties, partners, employees, customers, data pools, cloud and network providers, encompassed in an EPA initiative, will require robust information governance mechanisms. Specifically, the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which comes into force on Friday, 25 May 2018, applies to all companies worldwide that process the personal data of EU citizens. Companies considering implementing EPA initiatives will have to operationalise information governance strategies that are fully compliant with GDPR requirements.” The study identified five specific concerns pertaining to the use of personal analytics in an enterprise setting: Individual information systems architecture, the design and capacity of each employee’s work station would need to enable the collection of personal analytics data. Knowledge and intellectual property (IP). Motivation and remuneration. Information governance. Dr Clohessy added: “As a result of the emergence of GDPR here in Europe, organisations are turning to blockchain technologies which has been cited as a compelling means of protecting personal data in a decentralised manner. The use of EPA will be strengthened by increased instances of business use cases with robust security and privacy safe guards. Consequently, the roadmap described in our study can assist companies to deploy simple field tests prior to jumping into the deep end of EPA.” The study can be read in full here: https://www.cutter.com/experts/trevor-clohessy -Ends-

Friday, 25 May 2018

An online database of over 500 images of Ireland dating from 1680-1860 How was Ireland depicted in illustrations of the country produced by travellers in the period from 1680 to 1860? A new database of images drawn from travel accounts answers this question. Based on years of research by a group of investigators at NUI Galway led by Professor Jane Conroy, Ireland Illustrated is now available to view online. Ireland Illustrated, 1680-1860, is a database of over 500 images of Ireland - woodcuts, water colours, engravings and other illustrations - with related text, drawn from more than 50 manuscript and printed works, and highlighting several neglected or rarely accessible sources. Many of the pictures in the database, woodcuts, water colours, engravings and other illustrations, have rarely, if ever, been seen by the public. It provides an opportunity to examine how, in the case of Ireland, diverse representations were created in the course of two centuries. This collection takes as a starting point the fact that the combination of word and picture in illustrated travel books has shaped how the world is seen, from the early days of printing to the era of the photograph, with the rise of the predecessors of the National Geographic, and continuing into the digital deluge of today. The database provides user-friendly access where people can search by region, townland, historical site, theme or keyword. For instance, users could easily find depictions of cabins, or images connected with fishing or archaeological monuments. Each image is accompanied by a full description and the context in the travel book or manuscript in which the illustration originally appeared. The records include information about the individuals who created these works and shed light on the interactions between authors, artists and publishers. Professor Jane Conroy from the Moore Institute at NUI Galway, said: “We think Ireland Illustrated will be attractive to a wide range of users: people curious about their locality, art historians looking at a particular artist’s work, or the development of fashions and techniques in landscape art. Historians of the book should find it an interesting case study of how illustrations became integrated into travel writing before the age of photography. Specialists of travel literature will be able to trace the different ways that travellers got involved with the realities of life in Ireland, or how they constructed in their minds a picture of the country they wanted to see. “One of the pleasures of our work in collecting this material was finding the unexpected things that caught the attention of travellers. For example, one French traveller in the eighteenth-century, Charles Coquebert decided to record the shapes of species of seaweed and their names in Irish from a conversation with a local boy on the coast in Sligo. The English visitor Arthur Young drew landscapes and nature, like almost everyone else from the last decades of the eighteenth century on, but also the design of a turnip hoe and the phases of construction of an Irish cabin. In 1681, Thomas Dineley was most interested in castles, tombstones and towns, but he also took time to draw the mining operations at Silvermines in Co. Tipperary, and the appearance of a comet. Other travellers were more interested in people.” Other interesting depictions of Ireland from the point of view of visual anthropology, is how people travelling to Ireland sometimes made sketches of their own, but also bought prints and sketches and pasted them into their personal albums, as did a certain Miss Hammill and a Mr. W.C. Drake. By the mid-nineteenth century there was an industry in providing these sorts of visual mementos, as well as pictorial letterheads, the precursors of the postcard. Users can also see the difference of locations between then and now. Many images in the collection allow the user to see lost landscapes such as Mitchelstown Castle, which is now replaced by the Dairygold Creamery, or the plantation village of Staplestown, with its mill-wheel, shop signs, and names of its tradesmen. An important part of the visual record of Ireland can be found in illustrations made by or for travellers. Ireland Illustrated draws attention to what they express and how they fit with the written record. What images are chosen, what scenes are worth noting, the colour and emphasis given to an account or a picture, these are important choices when representing a people and their country. They often say as much about the traveller as about realities on the ground. The presentation of these illustrated accounts encourages further exploration of general trends in the ways that people, including the Irish, thought about and imagined Ireland, and the esthetic or ideological forces at work behind the scenes. At the same time, it allows us to see and appreciate the individual viewpoints of those writers or artists who avoided the obvious comment and the sterotypical scene. The links between people, places, images and text sheds new light on interactions between individual authors, artists and publishers, and, through the examination of Ireland's case, it foregrounds some of the processes by which travel accounts became illustrated. Professor Daniel Carey, Director of the Moore Institute at NUI Galway, said: “This remarkable resource has resulted from years of painstaking research in libraries and archives. It will give users a new relationship to the country, through visual images produced over two centuries.” The database will continue to be expanded as more materials are discovered and incorporated and the research team welcomes contact from users about possible inclusions. The online database is hosted by NUI Galway’s Moore Institute, and it was created by researchers and IT specialists, with the support of libraries in Ireland and abroad, in particular that of the National Library of Ireland and the James Hardiman Library at NUI Galway. To visit the online portal of Ireland Illustrated, visit: https://ttce.nuigalway.ie/irelandillustrated/ For more information contact Professor Jane Conroy at jane.conroy@nuigalway.ie. -Ends-

Monday, 28 May 2018

The Health Promotion Research Centre at NUI Galway, in partnership with the Department of Health, the Health Service Executive and the Association of Health Promotion Ireland, will host the 22nd Annual Health Promotion Conference on Thursday, 7 June.   This one-day conference will bring together policymakers, researchers and practitioners, with the aim of strengthening the circle of knowledge in relation to participation and empowerment for health and social care service users. In line with re-orienting the health service, one of the health promotion priority action areas identified in the Ottawa Charter*, and the ‘Healthy Ireland Framework’, this year’s conference theme is ‘Participation and empowerment for health service users: Strengthening the circle’.   A number of international and national keynote speakers will feature throughout the conference. Keynote speaker, Professor Sean Dinneen from NUI Galway and Galway University Hospitals, will discuss how the voice of young adults with type 1 diabetes has influenced research being undertaken at NUI Galway.   Professor Anne MacFarlane, University of Limerick, will be asking how community and individual participation in primary healthcare can be strengthened. Professor MacFarlane said: “There is a long standing attention to participation in primary healthcare for different reasons: for shaping policy and the nature and configuration of local services, for setting priorities in practice settings and for ‘patient centeredness’ in general practice consultations. More recently, imperatives from policy makers and funders for Public and Patient Involvement in health research have been gaining momentum across disciplines, including academic general practice and primary care. There are concerns, however, about participation across these different kinds of participatory spaces: is it meaningful? impactful? inclusive of all community members service users and patients?”   Professor Tina Cook, Liverpool Hope University, will discuss the role of participatory health research in promoting positive changes for health through the power of collaborative learning. Joanne Morgan, Community Development and Health Network in Northern Ireland, will speak from a practical perspective on tackling health inequalities by working to empower communities.   This event provides a platform for the exchange of ideas for research, policy and practice developments in participation and empowerment for health service users. It also provides the opportunity to explore how health and social care services can be enhanced to support people in maintaining a good quality of life.   Dr Martin Power, conference co-chair and a lecturer in NUI Galway’s Discipline of Health Promotion, said: “This conference provides a significant opportunity for all stakeholders in health and social care to engage with and reflect on the benefits that can be gained from fruitful collaboration. The conference brings together the interdependent strands of practice, services and research to explore both what can be achieved and how best it can be achieved. The growing recognition of the importance of public, patient and service user involvement is reflected in the diversity of settings, groups and approaches that the conference presentations and workshops examine. A particular feature of this year’s conference is the introduction of a number of open forum workshops, which will further enhance opportunities for dynamic and lively exchanges.”   Dr Catherine Anne Field, conference co-chair and a lecturer in NUI Galway’s Discipline of Health Promotion, said: “This conference is an excellent opportunity to bring together all stakeholders involved in the practice of health promotion. The field of health promotion has always recognised that service users and patients have vast knowledge and expertise about their own health and well-being and we look forward to hearing the valuable contributions of those involved in research, practice and service delivery.”   The conference is relevant to practitioners, researchers and policymakers alike. For further information on the conference including the presentations by the keynote speakers visit https://bit.ly/2ptKsrP. For further enquiries contact hprc@nuigalway.ie   -Ends-

Monday, 28 May 2018

This is the first Higher Diploma in Arts (Politics and Society) delivered in an Irish university NUI Galway’s Centre for Adult Learning and Professional Development, in conjunction with the School of Political Science and Sociology and the School of Education, have announced the launch of the Higher Diploma in Arts (Politics and Society) due to begin in September 2018. This is the first time that a Higher Diploma in Arts (Politics and Society) has been offered in Ireland.   This is a two year part-time course which has been specifically designed to meet the needs of second level teachers who wish to teach ‘Politics and Society’ on the Leaving Certificate curriculum.   The course content is tailored to correspond directly with the four strands of learning on the Politics and Society curriculum, therefore providing students with the skills, knowledge, learning and teaching methodologies required to engage with the disciplines of Political Science and Sociology. The course covers a broad range of subject matter within these Disciplines, but focuses specifically on Power, Decision Making, Active Citizenship, Human Rights, Globalisation and Localisation.   Dr Michelle Millar, Head of the School of Political Science and Sociology at NUI Galway, said: “We are delighted to offer this new dynamic programme to second level teachers and to be the first university in the country offering a third level qualification in this subject.”   The course will be delivered from September 2018 in a blended learning format combining face-to-face seminars with online study throughout each academic year. More information on the programme is available at https://bit.ly/2LD6KRu.   -Ends-  

Monday, 28 May 2018

Public intellectual, essayist, journalist, and nationalist MP Tom Kettle (1880-1916) subject of lecture A new lecture series at the College of Arts, Social Sciences, and Celtic Studies at NUI Galway, will continue with Established Professor of Political Science and Sociology Niamh Reilly, on Thursday, 21 June at 5pm. The lecture will take place in room G011, Moore Institute in the James Hardiman Library.   In her talk, Professor Reilly will discuss gifted public intellectual, essayist, journalist, and nationalist MP Tom Kettle (1880-1916), who was killed in the Battle of the Somme in 1916.   Though not very well known in Ireland today, historian Senia Pašeta notes Kettle ‘was associated with almost every major political and cultural development’ during his lifetime. Kettle stood for constitutional democracy and a non-sectarian, self-governing Irish nation and cautioned against the insular tendencies of cultural nationalism. Recently, he has figured prominently in public discourse than at any time since his death. In this limited narrative, he is invoked as a conciliatory figure who demonstrates the possibility of combining the identities of ‘British soldier’, ‘Irish patriot’ and ‘European’ and is largely constructed as a precursor to Ireland's contemporary business-friendly 'centre-right'.   However, there is a larger and more complex story to be told about Tom Kettle. He was a vocal advocate for the rights of women and labour and a Catholic intellectual who supported the separation of Church and State. This lecture draws on continuing research into the social and political thought of Tom Kettle. It outlines the expansive scope of his thinking and influences, and his ideas about democracy and social justice, Irish nationalism and unionism, national development, religion and religious identity, militarism and internationalism, all of which, it is argued, remain salient today.   Dr Seán Crosson, Vice-Dean, College of Arts, Social Sciences and Celtic Studies at NUI Galway, said: “We are delighted to continue this new lecture series which provides a great opportunity for the University to make the general public more aware of the world-leading innovative research being undertaken in the college.”   The next edition in the College’s New Professors’ Inaugural lecture series will be presented by An tOllamh Tadhg Ó hIfearnáin, Roinn na Gaeilge, on Thursday, 4 October.   -Ends-

Tuesday, 29 May 2018

Saturday night and Sunday morning are busiest times for alcohol related cases in Emergency Departments A new study shows that 5.9% of people attending Irish hospital Emergency Departments had alcohol recorded in their notes. Led by staff in Galway University Hospital Emergency Department, the HSE Public Health Department in Galway and NUI Galway, this is the first study of its kind just published in BMJ Open.   The study included every Emergency Department in Ireland, a total of 29. Staff examined the notes of every person over the same four six-hour periods to identify alcohol related presentations. The busiest time was Saturday night and Sunday morning when 29% of people coming to Irish Emergency Departments were alcohol related.   Dr Brian McNicholl, Consultant in Emergency Medicine at University Hospital Galway, one of the authors of the study who organised the collection of information from all the Emergency Departments with the help of the Irish Association of Emergency Medicine, said: “We know alcohol is a problem in Emergency Departments at certain times but we need to know more about this to work out what needs to be done. We don’t have a nationally agreed way to collect this information so we developed a method with the help of colleagues all over the country. We confirmed that the people coming to us with alcohol related presentations are more likely to be male, arrive by ambulance, leave without being seen by a doctor, and to leave against medical advice.”   One of the authors of the study, Dr Diarmuid O’Donovan, Director of Public Health in the HSE West and Senior Lecturer in Social and Preventive Medicine at NUI Galway, said: “The burden of alcohol on Emergency Departments and on emergency services is substantial and expensive. We need to do more to prevent alcohol related harm, and to have better services for people who have alcohol problems so that people don’t end up in Emergency Departments and ambulances. In our study the alcohol related people were four times more likely to come by ambulance.”   This research will provide evidence to help improve ways of collecting information on alcohol use and better ways to provide hospital and other services for people with problem alcohol use. Further studies are underway to find out more about the issue.   To read the full study in BMJ Open, visit: http://bmjopen.bmj.com/content/8/5/e021932.full?ijkey=upfg2qrXDxnxcYz&keytype=ref   -Ends-

Tuesday, 29 May 2018

A team of NUI Galway Biomedical Engineering Masters students have been selected for a global innovation competition run by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the US. It is the first time a team from Ireland has been selected for the six month programme. The IDEA² Global Programme provides transformative mentorship and expertise to emerging innovation leaders to develop their project ideas. Teams complete IDEA² Global with projects that address compelling medical needs, a broad network of connections and competitive financial pitching strategies. Teams often form companies as a result of the mentoring from IDEA2 Global. The three students, Oisín McGrath, Belén Enguix Chiral and Syed Kumail Jaffry, as part of their Masters thesis project are developing a novel wearable device that can detect intermittent heart arrhythmia symptoms more reliably than current approaches. Their project was motivated by the 35 million people suffering from heart arrhythmia globally. Given that 60% of these individuals experience intermittent symptoms which may only occur once per week or less, meaning symptoms can often go undetected with conventional approaches, the students are developing a more reliable method to aid patient diagnosis. This project stemmed from a clinical need identified by the BioInnovate National programme, which is focused on innovation in the medical technology industry. BioInnovate Director, Dr Faisal Sharif at NUI Galway, said: “BioInnovate Ireland is delighted to support Biomedical Engineering students at NUI Galway for the Massachusetts Institute of Technology IDEA² programme. The selection of these students for this prestigious programme in the US demonstrates the high calibre of education standards and also students at the University. It is also heartening to see that high quality unmet clinical needs emerging from BioInnovate Ireland are further endorsed internationally through programmes such as IDEA² at Massachusetts Institute of Technology.” Professor Peter McHugh, Dean from the College of Engineering and Informatics at NUI Galway, said: “This is a fantastic achievement for our students at NUI Galway, and is a wonderful endorsement of the quality and international standard of the Masters of Engineering programmes that we have introduced in the College in recent years. We wish the team the very best in the programme, and look forward to bringing their positive experiences and learnings back to Ireland to fuel the development of our educational programmes and Irish high tech industry.” As part of the six month programme the team will receive innovation training, presentation skill building, and team-specific mentorship and guidance by internationally-recognised experts. In addition an NUI Galway team representative will attend workshops in Massachusetts Institute of Technology. -Ends-

Wednesday, 30 May 2018

CÚRAM PhD graduates, Dr Dilip Thomas and Dr Isma Liza Mohd Isa have both been awarded the 2018 Julia Polak European Doctorate Award, as part of the 29th Annual Meeting of the European Society for Biomaterials in Maastricht, the Netherlands in September. They are the fifth and sixth CÚRAM graduates to receive this distinction. The award is given by the European Society of Biomaterials Council and is presented annually at the event. Candidates nominated for the award must demonstrate that they have received a high standard of research education and training at a European level in the fields of Biomaterials and Tissue Engineering, and that they have also made significant scientific contributions having their research published in high impact journals, and accepted to present at top tier conferences in the field. Dr Mohd Isa’s PhD research focused on developing a potential new hydrogel treatment for lower back pain caused by disc degeneration, using a substance called hyaluronan (hyaluronic acid). Her research was recently published in the journal Science Advances. Lower back pain is the second leading cause of disability worldwide and a common reason for lost work days. Over 48% of Europeans and 80% of US citizens experience lower back pain due to degenerative intervertebral discs at some point in their lives, with associated healthcare expenditure estimated over $100 billion annually in the US and €5.34 billion in Ireland alone. Commenting on her award, Dr Mohd Isa from CÚRAM at NUI Galway, said: “I’m delighted to receive this award from the society. Our hope is that the success of this research could have an impact in the spinal research community and lead to potential treatment for people suffering degenerated discs and chronic back pain.” Dr Thomas’ doctoral research focused on the development of a microgel-based cell delivery device for the treatment of Critical Limb Ischemia (a severe obstruction of the arteries). The research adds to the current knowledge on cell encapsulation strategies (where transplanted cells are protected from immune rejection by an artificial membrane) by investigating the potential of biomaterials for this therapy. As a therapy, microgels would not only help faster tissue repair but also provide treatment for more patients. Dr Thomas is currently a postdoctoral fellow at the Cardiovascular Institute at Stanford University where he currently works on disease modelling using stem cells. Speaking about his award, Dr Thomas from CÚRAM at NUI Galway, said: “It is an honour to receive such a prestigious award from the European Society of Biomaterials and it is a testament to the excellent training I received from my advisors, Professor Abhay Pandit and Professor Timothy O’Brien, and my colleagues at NUI Galway.” The theme of this year’s European Society of Biomaterials conference will be ‘Materials for Life’, which expresses the challenge the field of biomaterials is currently facing, which is to provide effective and affordable biomaterials-based methods to repair and regenerate damaged and diseased tissues and organs. -Ends-

Wednesday, 30 May 2018

Nobel Prize winner and DNA scientist Professor Paul Modrich recently visited NUI Galway and met with 60 fifth and sixth class primary school children and their teachers. The students from two local primary schools, Scoil Mhuire Clarinbridge and Presentation Primary School Tuam, were on campus as part of the University’s Cell EXPLORERS programme.   Based in the School of Natural Sciences at NUI Galway, Cell EXPLORERS is a science education and outreach programme directed by Dr Muriel Grenon and funded by Science Foundation Ireland. The programme aims to involve, inform and inspire the young people about modern biology through a variety of hands-on activities.   Guided by teams of local scientists either studying or researching at NUI Galway, the children were introduced to cells and DNA, the work that scientists do, built DNA models and extracted DNA from bananas!   Professor Paul Modrich received the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 2015, jointly with two other scientists, for his work on the mechanisms that cells use to repair DNA, and agreed to meet the Cell EXPLORERS team and the young Galway scientists as part of his visit to NUI Galway. Professor Robert Lahue, Principal Investigator at the Centre for Chromosome Biology, researching DNA repair and links to human neurological disease, was also in attendance and worked with Professor Modrich when he completed his postdoctorate fellowship in his laboratory in Duke University Medical Center.   During his visit Professor Modrich joined the young scientists at the final steps in their DNA extraction experiment and took part in a ‘Questions and Answers’ session. Professor Modrich said: “Meeting with the young Cell EXPLORERS and their teachers was a highlight of my visit to Galway. The students were isolating DNA from bananas, and their interest and enjoyment was obvious, and I was extremely impressed by their level of maturity. Dr Grenon and her colleagues are doing a magnificent job with this programme.”   Principal of Scoil Mhuire, Clarinbridge, Seán Holian, said: “The Cell EXPLORERS team expertly introduced the topic of DNA and various scientific terminology to our pupils and proceeded to work with small groups in hands on activities. The pupils greatly enjoyed extracting the DNA from bananas and indeed taking it home to enlighten their families. It was an absolute privilege to meet with the 2015 Nobel Prize Winner in Chemistry, Paul Modrich who had just stepped off the plane from the US. He has had a particular interest in DNA exploration also. A very special day, meticulously organised and expertly delivered.”   Alma Devane from Presentation Primary School said: “The children loved the hands-on opportunity to act like scientists.  Having the chance to meet scientists and see they were ordinary people like themselves has definitely sparked an interest in the girls. Listening and talking to Paul Modrich was a once in a lifetime opportunity.”   -Ends-

Thursday, 31 May 2018

Conserving the important Sciuridae family is a key aim of the event NUI Galway will host the 8th International Colloquium on Squirrels from the 4-8 June, a global event that takes place every three years. The colloquium brings together squirrel researchers from around the world to discuss all aspects of squirrel biology including ecology, evolution, morphology, genetics, pathology and conservation.    Originally focusing on tree squirrels, the colloquium was expanded to include flying squirrels at the fourth meeting in Kerala, India in 2006. This year the event at NUI Galway will also include work on ground squirrels, conducted by scientists in Africa, Europe and America, to broaden the colloquium to include research on the whole Sciuridae family. Chair of the colloquium, Dr Colin Lawton from Zoology at the Ryan Institute in NUI Galway, said: “Research conducted by wildlife ecologists in NUI Galway and other Irish institutions will be presented at the colloquium. This will include the latest on the recovery of the red squirrel in Ireland, thanks to successful conservation projects, afforestation and the impact the pine marten has had on the invasive grey squirrel. “We are delighted to be hosting this prestigious event, and welcoming colleagues and friends from around the world to Galway. It gives us a great opportunity to learn from one another, and to work towards our common goal of conserving this important and fascinating group of animals.” Fifty one squirrel experts representing fifteen countries will present their work and hold discussion sessions on common themes, along with field excursions to forests in Cong and Moore Hall in Co. Mayo. Keynote speakers will include: Jane Waterman, University of Manitoba, Ontario will discuss sociality, reproductive skew and infection in an African ground squirrel. John Koprowski, University of Arizona, Canada will discuss the conservation of squirrels on the ground and in the trees, and the value of the Sciuridae. Stan Boutin, University of Alberta will discuss ecology, energetics and evolution of Kluane Lake red squirrels. The colloquium is sponsored by the National Parks and Wildlife Service, Environmental Protection Agency, the European Squirrel Initiative and Fáilte Ireland. The event will take place from the 4-8 June in the O’Tnuathail Theatre, Arts Millennium Building at NUI Galway. Places are still available to attend. For registration and full programme details, visit: http://www.conference.ie/index/index.asp and visit Facebook @squirrels2018. Video footage of red squirrels in Derryclare forest, Connemara, Co Galway: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=klrOgeI3D8Q&feature=youtu.be  -Ends-

Thursday, 31 May 2018

Funding raised will create 25 new jobs Neurent Medical Limited, a Galway-based medical device company specialising in the treatment of rhinitis, an inflammatory disease of the nose, has raised €9.3 million in a Series A funding round. The company was previously established by Brian Shields and David Townley who met through NUI Galway’s BioInnovate Ireland Programme with Enterprise Ireland funding the development work at the University through a Commercialisation Fund programme. Neurent Medical Ltd is a medical device company specialising in the Ear Nose and Throat (ENT) market. The company designs and develops products for treating inflammatory diseases of the nasal cavities. The initial product offering reduces the primary symptoms of rhinitis, congestion and rhinorrhoea. This funding will be used to advance product development, carry out clinical trials and prepare for US commercialisation of the device. The investment will also create up to 25 new positions in the company. Neurent Medical Chief Executive, Brian Shields, commented: “We are delighted to announce this investment, which will help us to advance our product development and ultimately get our technology in the hands of Ear Nose and Throat surgeons. Fountain Healthcare Partners, along with other members of our investment syndicate, bring huge experience to Neurent Medical and have a proven track record in the industry. We would also like to take the opportunity to thank Enterprise Ireland for their continued support over the past number of years.” David Murphy, Director of the Technology Transfer Office in NUI Galway, said: “Having supported the development and management of this technology since the team came up with the original concept, we wholeheartedly congratulate Brian and David on securing this investment and wish them well in the next phase of their growth.” During the clinical immersion phase of the BioInnovate Ireland programme, Brian Shields and David Townley spent time with clinicians, nationally and internationally, including NUI Galway’s Professor Ivan Keogh in the Ear Nose and Throat clinics. During this time, they invented a novel device solution to address a large unmet clinical need they observed. In collaboration with Professor Keogh, Professor Peter Dockery, the University’s Chair of Anatomy and Dr Martin O’Halloran from the University’s Translational Medical Device Lab, they carried out early validation of their technology concepts with commercialisation funding from Enterprise Ireland. Dr Faisal Sharif, Director of BioInnovate Ireland in NUI Galway, said: “We are delighted to see Neurent Medical funded for €9.3 million. This is a significant achievement which will enable them to commercialise their clinical device for rhinitis. BioInnovate Ireland supports fellows to identify unmet needs in different clinical areas through a dedicated fellowship programme which was co-funded by Enterprise Ireland. The success of Neurent Medical signifies the importance of identifying such unmet clinical needs.” Rhinitis is an inflammatory disease of the nose and is reported to affect up to 40% of the population, 25% suffering from allergic rhinitis and 15% from non-allergic rhinitis. It is the fifth most common chronic disease in the US and the most common chronic disease in children overall. Rhinitis is associated with direct healthcare costs of up to $15 billion per year in the US, and has a proven major impact on quality of life, cognitive function and decision-making. The illness is associated with decreased work productivity and absenteeism. The novel therapy being developed by Neurent Medical will offer allergic and non-allergic rhinitis patients an alternative, minimally invasive, and more readily accessible treatment to alleviate the two primary symptoms of rhinitis, rhinorrhoea and nasal obstruction. The therapy will enable Ear Nose and Throat surgeons to treat rhinitis patients in an Ear Nose and Throat office setting using only local anaesthesia, removing the complications and costs associated with existing surgical procedures. David Townley, Neurent Medical Chief Technology Officer commented: “We are excited that our latest investment provides an opportunity to expand our internal teams working across both primary and applied research. This is important to inform the company’s technology and product development and deepen our collaborations with leading experts to advance our treatment of rhinitis.” The funding round was led by Fountain Healthcare Partners with participation from Atlantic Bridge Capital, the Western Development Commission, Enterprise Ireland and a syndicate of Irish and US Medical Device veterans. For more information about Neurent Medical, visit: http://www.neurentmedical.com/  -Ends-


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