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About NUI Galway
About NUI Galway
Since 1845, NUI Galway has been sharing the highest quality teaching and research with Ireland and the world. Find out what makes our University so special – from our distinguished history to the latest news and campus developments.
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Colleges & Schools
NUI Galway has earned international recognition as a research-led university with a commitment to top quality teaching across a rang of key areas of expertise.
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Guiding Breakthrough Research at NUI Galway
We explore and facilitate commercial opportunities for the research community at NUI Galway, as well as facilitating industry partnership.
- Alumni, Friends & Supporters
At NUI Galway, we believe that the best learning takes place when you apply what you learn in a real world context. That's why many of our courses include work placements or community projects.
NUI Galway Midlands Alumni BBQ
Wednesday, 18 June 2014
All NUI Galway graduates, friends and guests are invited to a summer BBQ on Friday, 27 June in Grogan's, Glasson, Co. Westmeath. John O'Meara, one of the organisers, said: “This is a terrific way to get together and meet up with former classmates and other NUI Galway graduates. Grogan's in Glasson is an ideal venue. The evening kicks off at 8pm and with the good weather, long evening and excellent food and music it promises to be a great night!” The event is organised by the NUI Galway Alumni Midlands Club and tickets cost €20. To register for the event visit www.nuigalway.ie/alumni or call the Alumni Office at 091 493750. -Ends-
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CAO Change of Mind Question? NUI Galway has the Answer!
Wednesday, 18 June 2014
Online Q&A with Subject Experts to Inform Crucial CAO Decisions Before Change of Mind Deadline July 1st NUI Galway staff will be on hand to answer students’ queries online at www.nuigalway.ie/askus NUI Galway invites all CAO applicants, both undergraduate and mature students to go online and ask the question! NUI Galway staff will be on hand on Wednesday 25th June between 3pm and 5pm to answer queries, questions or quandaries, as CAO applicants enter the final phase of their decision making process. The deadline for the CAO change of mind is July 1st. Until that time, CAO applicants can alter the courses they have outlined on their CAO form. The change of mind period allows for considered reflection following the Leaving Cert exams and students are urged to fully inform themselves when considering their options. This is an excellent opportunity for each student to get tailor-made information on University facilities and student support services including finance and accommodation or indeed, about the CAO process itself. Senior academic representatives from each of the University’s five colleges will also be on hand to answer students’ questions about subjects and courses across the NUI Galway's 60 courses. Caroline Loughnane, Director of Marketing and Communications at NUI Galway, said: "Choosing a university is one of the most important decisions a student will ever make and we want to ensure that both students and parents have all the information they need to help them make the best choice. Go online wherever you are, at home or abroad, and don’t be afraid to ask the question!” Students can go to www.nuigalway.ie/askus at any time between 3pm and 5pm Wednesday 25th of June 2014. Anyone that wishes to pre-register for a reminder text can register at http://bit.ly/caoaskus -ends-
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NUI Galway Confers Degrees on 280 Students During Summer Conferring
Thursday, 19 June 2014
NUI Galway today (19 June) conferred degrees on over 280 students. Among that number, 80 were conferred with doctoral degrees. The largest cohort of students to graduate was over 120 future doctors who received their Honours Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery, and Bachelor of Obstetrics (MB, BCh, BAO) degree. Among the cohort of medical students, Sarah Cormican from Oranmore, Co. Galway received 8 out of 15 Final Medical Medals for her outstanding academic performance. Every year, NUI Galway awards the Final Medical Medals to the student who receives the highest mark in each subject area. Olympian Paul Hession will be conferred an MB BCh BAO and will receive a Final Medical Medal for Outstanding Sporting Achievement. Speaking at the ceremony, President of NUI Galway, Dr Jim Browne, said: “On behalf of NUI Galway, I congratulate each of today’s graduates. It is very encouraging to see the number of research and graduate degrees which we are conferring today. These graduate numbers continue to grow. From a base of about 50 doctorates per year at the turn of the millennium, we now confer up to 4 times that number annually.” President Browne added words of encouragement to graduates conferred at the ceremony: “Do not lose hope or courage in this current economic climate. You have what it takes to make a difference in our society. The opportunities you have to create your own environment and to shape your own futures are enormous.” International students were well represented at the ceremony, with the University conferring a large number of graduates from Malaysia, Canada and the US, among other countries. -Ends- Bronnann OÉ Gaillimh Céim ar 280 Mac Léinn i rith Shearmanais an tSamhraidh Bronnadh céimeanna ar bhreis is 280 mac léinn inniu (19 Meitheamh) in OÉ Gaillimh. Ina measc siúd, bronnadh céimeanna dochtúireachta ar 80 mac léinn. Ar an ngrúpa is mó díobh bronnadh Baitsiléir Onóracha sa Leigheas, Baitsiléir sa Mháinliacht agus Baitsiléir sa Chnáimhseachas (MB, BCh, BAO) ar 120 ábhar dochtúra. Fuair Sarah Cormican as Órán Mór, Co. na Gaillimhe, duine de na mic léinn leighis, 8 mBonn don Bhliain Deiridh Leighis as 15 Bhonn dá feidhmíocht acadúil. Gach bliain, bronnann OÉ Gaillimh Boinn Deiridh Leighis ar an mac léinn leis an marc is airde i ngach ábhar. Bronnfar MB BCh BAO ar an iar-lúthchleasaí Oilimpeach Paul Hession agus bronnfar Bonn Deiridh Leighis air as a chuid Éachtaí Iontacha Spóirt. Bhí an méid seo a leanas le rá ag Uachtarán OÉ Gaillimh, an Dr Jim Browne le linn an tsearmanais: “Thar ceann OÉ Gaillimh, tréaslaím le gach duine agaibh. Is ábhar misnigh dúinn ar fad go bhfuil an oiread sin céimeanna taighde agus iarchéimeanna á mbronnadh againn inniu. Tá líon na gcéimeanna a bhronntar ag méadú bliain i ndiaidh bliana. Bhíodh 50 céim dhochtúireachta in aghaidh na bliana á mbronnadh againn ag tús an chéid ach bronntar a cheithre oiread sin anois gach bliain." Thug an tUachtarán Browne misneach agus dóchas do na céimithe ag an searmanas bronnta: “Ná cuireadh cúrsaí geilleagair an lae inniu lagmhisneach ná éadóchas oraibh. Tá an cumas ag gach duine agaibh dul i bhfeidhm ar an tsochaí ar shlí éigin. Níl teorainn ar bith leis na deiseanna atá agaibhse an cineál saoil is mian libh a chruthú daoibh féin agus lántairbhe a bhaint as na deiseanna a thiocfaidh in bhur dtreo sna blianta amach romhainn.” Bhí mic léinn idirnáisiúnta i láthair chomh maith ag an searmanas, agus céimeanna á mbronnadh ar chéimithe as an Malaeisia, as Ceanada agus as na Stáit Aontaithe, i measc tíortha eile. -Críoch-
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International collaborative research in the Whittard Canyon aboard RV Celtic Explorer
Friday, 20 June 2014
An international research team, led by scientists from NUI Galway, is currently exploring the Whittard Canyon deep-sea submarine canyon system in the North East Atlantic onboard the Marine Institute’s RV Celtic Explorer. Researchers from Ireland, the UK, the USA and Germany are using the Institute’s ROV Holland I to study the diversity of deep-water animals and relate this to geology and ocean currents. The Whittard Canyon system is at the continental margin approximately 250 miles SW of Cork, covers an area of 2000 square miles, and is home to vulnerable marine ecosystems of cold-water corals, deep-water oysters and file clams. But new research is also revealing a remarkable diversity and abundance of rare black corals, which are protected under international legislation. “The extreme shape of submarine canyons seems to affect the water flow within them in such a way as to deliver nutrient rich waters to particular parts of the canyon system. This allows diverse ecosystems to flourish. Our research is attempting to understand these processes so that we can predict where the most vulnerable ecosystems are likely to occur and therefore ensure the environment is protected,” explained Dr Martin White of NUI Galway’s Ryan Institute, and the expedition’s chief scientist. According to Dr Louise Allcock, also of NUI Galway’s Ryan Institute, “Black corals are particularly vulnerable to any sort of impact. They grow extremely slowly and dating studies have shown that some species live for thousands of years.” The Whittard Canyon system is huge, with meandering branches extending over an area of more than 80 by 20 miles. Mapping the system, much of which is in depths below 1500m, to detect vulnerable species is difficult. Therefore the team hopes that the new data will reveal the factors that determine which species occur where. ROV Holland I provides a way of sampling deep-sea animals without impacting the ecosystem. The team is also providing deep-sea sponge samples to scientists searching for novel pharmaceutical compounds. If the chemists find interesting compounds such as antibacterial and other pharmaceutical properties in the sponges, they will aim to work out how to synthesize them in the laboratory. This is the first step in the production of new drugs. The scientists are blogging about their experiences and discoveries aboard RV Celtic Explorer throughout the survey (June 6th – 21st) on the blog scientistsatsea.blogspot.ie and on twitter via the hashtag #ce14009 The research survey is carried out under the Sea Change strategy with the support of the Marine Institute, funded under the Marine Research Sub-Programme by the Irish Government. -Ends-
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International Chartism Conference 2014: Ireland and British Democracy
Monday, 23 June 2014
NUI Galway’s Moore Institute is hosting the 19th annual Chartism Conference from 4-5 July. The conference theme, ‘Ireland and British Democracy’, points to the movement of people and ideas in the battle for political rights. The event will explore the positive and negative ways in which Irish nationalism and the British radical movement, Chartism, coalesced in the mid-nineteenth century. The conference will be launched on Friday, 4 July at 7.30pm in the Mechanics’ Institute, Middle Street, Galway City. Professor Luke Gibbons of NUI Maynooth will deliver a talk at the launch entitled 'Limits of the Visible: Representing the Great Hunger'. Conference organiser and NUI Galway History lecturer, Dr Laurence Marley, said: “The venue for the launch of the conference, the Mechanics’ Institute, has significance. It is a listed building dating back to the early Victorian period, and like similar institutes in Britain, it served as a self-improvement society for working men. Members of the Institute were also associated with the Repeal and Young Ireland movements of that period. In 1884, Irish nationalist leader, Michael Davitt, a man heavily influenced by the British democratic tradition, spoke there on the subject of reviving Irish industries.” Speakers at the Chartism Conference will include: Tim Keane and Gearóid Ó Tuathaigh, NUI Galway; Joe McGrath and Maura Cronin, Mary Immaculate College; Joan Allen, Newcastle University; Ian Haywood, University of Rochampton; Michael Huggins, University of Chester; Christine Kinealy, Quinnipiac University; Breandán Mac Suibhne, Centenary College; and Matthew Roberts, Sheffield Hallam University. The conference programme may be accessed at www.galwaychartismday2014.wordpress.com -Ends-
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NFB a strong presence at TERMIS-EU 2014 in Italy
Monday, 23 June 2014
Eleven researchers from the Network of Excellence for Functional Biomaterials (NFB) gave podium presentations at the prestigious TERMIS-EU 2014 conference in Genova, Italy last week. Abhigyan Satyam, a postdoctoral researcher at the NFB, was awarded the Young Investigator Award for Best Oral Presentation. The NFB, a research centre at NUI Galway, also had three researchers presenting posters at the conference. TERMIS is one of the most prominent organisations in the field of tissue engineering and regenerative medicine globally and attracts interest from the highest levels of the scientific community in biomedical research. The sessions this year focused on biomaterials and intelligent scaffolds, stem cells, growth factors, activation of developmental and regenerative pathways, and translation of research to the clinic and industry. The NFB, a Strategic Research Cluster funded by Science Foundation Ireland (SFI), had the most researchers presenting out of any of the research groups that attended the conference. Satyam’s winning lecture was about using macromolecular crowding to increase cellular activities to create extracellular matrix-rich tissue equivalents faster. When cells are in the body they are in a crowded space which makes them synthesise collagen quickly. When cells are placed in a less dense population area, such as culture conditions in a lab, collagen production is very slow. Satyam’s research, supervised by NFB’s Dr Dimitrios Zeugolis, involves adding inert polydispersed macromolecules into cell cultures to increase the density of the growth area which will, in turn, increase extracellular matrix production. Their research was recently published in Advanced Materials, the top among all materials science journals for 2012. Professor Abhay Pandit, the director at NFB, stated: “Our strong presence at TERMIS-EU 2014 is further indication of the relevance of NFB’s research within Europe. We will continue to initiate collaborative research, with partners from outside of Ireland and look towards funding opportunities within Horizon 2020.” -ends-
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Prestigious Creative Writing Scholarship for NUI Galway Student
Tuesday, 24 June 2014
NUI Galway BA with Creative Writing student, Helen Hughes, has been awarded the University College London (UCL), Faber and Faber/David Tebbutt Scholarship. The award is presented annually to fully fund a place on the prestigious UCL MA in Publishing programme. This is the second year running that an NUI Galway BA with Creative Writing student has been awarded this scholarship, with Philip Connor receiving it last year. Originally from Corr na Móna, Co. Galway, Helen has just completed her final year of the BA with Creative Writing degree at the University. She had her first short story published this year in Ropes literary journal from the MA in Publishing Class in NUI Galway. Commenting on the scholarship, Helen said: “I would like to sincerely thank the Tebbutt family and Faber and Faber for the opportunity of a lifetime. I still have to pinch myself when I think of studying in London this September and getting to work alongside the Faber team! I would never have gotten this far without the support of my family, my friends and the teaching staff in NUI Galway.” Faber and Faber and UCL announced the new scholarship in 2013 in memory of the late David Tebbutt, Finance Director of Faber and Faber. The scholarship is funded by the David Tebbutt Trust, which is jointly administered by Faber and Faber and the Tebbutt family. The principal aim of the Trust is to further the education of those wishing to pursue a career in any of the publishing, writing and information industries and related fields of activity. As well as covering Helen’s full fees for her MA, the scholarship also guarantees her a work placement with Faber and Faber. Dr John Kenny, Director of the BA with Creative Writing at NUI Galway, said: “I am delighted for Helen – her achievement is a testament to her own creativity and diligence and also to the contribution made to the Creative Writing programme by our teachers, writers and mentors. Helen particularly excelled within our workshop and project-led environment – her combination of talent, hard work and sheer care for the creative endeavours of others will stand her in excellent stead as she moves on now to the next stage of her learning. She will be one to watch in the publishing world.” -Ends-
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Minister for Education and Skills, Ruairi Quinn T.D. launches the Campus Engage Charter on Civic & Community Engagement
Thursday, 26 June 2014
20 Presidents of Higher Education Institutions sign a national charter to underscore their commitment to the civic and community engagement role and responsibilities of their institutions At a recent landmark event in Dublin Castle 20 presidents of Higher Education Institutions came together as leaders of higher education in Ireland, to publicly sign up to the 10 point Campus Engage Charter on Civic and Community Engagement. Under the charter the presidents underscore their commitment to the civic and community engagement role and responsibilities of their institutions. Launching the Charter, Minister for Education and Skills, Ruairi Quinn T.D. said, “Today is an important recognition of commitment by Ireland’s higher education institutions to build on what has been achieved to date and place Ireland at the fore internationally in terms of promoting civic and community engagement by higher education. The importance of ‘engagement’ is recognised in the National Strategy for Higher Education to 2030, and in the HEA’s performance framework, which both ask higher education institutions to engage openly with their community and wider society and for this to infuse every aspect of their mission. I congratulate all involved in the realisation of the Charter, and specifically to the Presidents for their commitment.” The launch of an Irish Charter for Civic and Community Engagement builds on the pioneering actions taken by other countries including Australia, UK and the US, who have signed up to similar agreements at national level to support and strengthen the civic role and responsibilities of higher education. NUI Galway (through the CKI) founded Campus Engage in 2007 and in 2013 the University mainstreamed it to the HEA for national embedding. This new Charter was developed byCampus Engage, now with representation from 17 Higher Education Institutions, Institutes of Technology Ireland and the Irish Universities Association, whose role is to promote innovative teaching, learning and other activities in the area of civic and community engagement. Speaking about this initiative, NUI Galway President, Dr Jim Browne, said: “We in NUI Galway are very proud of the national leadership role which our University has played in the development of civic engagement as a core value for higher education in Ireland. For over 10 years we have pioneered this field, developing areas such as volunteering and service learning within the curriculum through the Community Knowledge Initiative (CKI) established on our campus in 2003. The Campus Engage Charter gives full expression to the values which we’ve espoused and I am delighted to see the collective commitment of my colleagues in higher education harnessed in this way.” -Ends-
NUI Galway Confers Honorary Degrees on Commissioner Máire Geoghegan-Quinn, Lt. Gen. Seán McCann and Finian O’Sullivan
Friday, 27 June 2014
NUI Galway today conferred three outstanding individuals with honorary degrees. Those conferred were: Máire Geoghegan-Quinn, EU Commissioner for Research, Innovation and Science; Lt. Gen. Sean McCann retired Chief of Staff of the Irish Defence Forces; and Finian O’Sullivan Founder of Burren Energy Plc.. NUI Galway President, Dr Jim Browne, speaking at the conferring ceremony, said: “NUI Galway is fortunate to be associated with many outstanding honorary graduates throughout its history and those being honoured this year form a particularly distinguished group. Each one has made an outstanding and distinctive contribution to the diverse fields of political life, public policy and the international oil industry. NUI Galway is very pleased to be in a position to recognise these exceptional individuals.” Commissioner Máire Geoghegan-Quinn was conferred with a Degree of Doctor of Laws (honoris causa). A native of Carna, Co. Galway, Commissioner Geoghegan-Quinn is the current EU Commissioner for Research, Innovation and Science. She is a former TD for Galway West (1977-1997) and was the first woman Cabinet Minister since the foundation of the State. Commissioner Geoghegan-Quinn is also a former columnist with The Irish Times, TV presenter, and non-executive director of both Aer Lingus and Ryan Hotels. She is a former Member of the EU Court of Auditors and a former Member of the Governing Authority of NUI Galway. Lt. Gen. Seán McCannwas conferred with a Degree of Doctor of Laws (honoris causa). Recently retired Chief of Staff of the Irish Defence Forces, Lt. Gen. McCann was among the first of the Cadet classes to attend what was then UCG, and graduated with a Bachelor of Commerce degree in 1974. He is a graduate of the United States Command and General Staff College and was inducted into their International Hall of Fame in 2011. He served overseas on six occasions and led the Defence Forces during the historic initial deployment of Irish personnel to Mali and Syria in particularly challenging operational environments. He is being honoured in recognition of the strong relationship between the Army and NUI Galway since 1969. Lt. Gen. McCann was the first NUI Galway graduate to hold the post of Chief of Staff of the Irish Defence Forces. He was born in Cork but grew up in Tipperary. Finian O’Sullivan was conferred with a Degree of Doctor of Science (honoris causa). A Science alumnus of NUI Galway, he worked with Chevron as part of their frontier exploration and development team concentrating on the arctic and western plain of Canada. In 1980 he joined the oil service company United Geophysical in California undertaking exploration around the eastern hemisphere. Moving to Australia in 1982 he led Geophysical Systems Corporation operations expanding through the region to India, China and Thailand. Following a period with Olympic Oil and Gas Corporation in Houston, while based in London, Finian set up on his own, Burren Energy Plc which developed and discovered hydrocarbon resources in Central Asia, India and West Africa in addition to a shipping and trading venture in the Caspian region. Burren Energy Plc was sold to ENI in 2008 and Finian joined the Bayfield Group in July 2008. Finian was also an NUI Galway Alumni Award Winner in 2009. The three graduands join the ranks of previous honorary alumni which include, among many others, Nelson Mandela, Hilary Clinton, Christy O’Connor Snr and Jnr, Enya, Anjelica Huston, Fionnuala Flanagan and Margaret Atwood. -Ends- Bronnann OÉ Gaillimh Céimeanna Oinigh ar an gCoimisinéir Máire Geoghegan-Quinn, Lt. Gen. Seán McCann agus Finian O’Sullivan Bhronn OÉ Gaillimh céimeanna oinigh ar thriúr den scoth inniu Is iad na céimithe oinigh: Máire Geoghegan-Quinn, Coimisinéir an AE do Thaighde, Nuálaíocht agus Eolaíocht; Lt. Gen. Sean McCann, iar-Cheann Foirne Fhórsaí Cosanta na hÉireann; agus Finian O’Sullivan a bhunaigh Burren Energy Plc.. Bhí an méid seo a leanas le rá ag Uachtarán OÉ Gaillimh, an Dr Jim Browne, ag an searmanas: “Tá an t-ádh le OÉ Gaillimh céimithe oinigh den scoth a bheith aici in imeacht na mblianta ach is eisceacht céimithe oinigh na bliana seo. Tá a c(h)ion féin déanta ag gach céimí oinigh daoibh i réimsí éagsúla na polaitíochta, an bheartais phoiblí agus thionscal idirnáisiúntas na hola. Tá an-áthas ar OÉ Gaillimh a bheith in ann aitheantas a thabhairt do na daoine eisceachtúla seo.” Bronnadh Céim Dhochtúireachta le Dlíthe (honoris causa) ar an gCoimisinéir Máire Geoghegan-Quinn. Is as Carna, Co. na Gaillimhe ó dhúchas don Choimisinéir Geoghegan-Quinn agus is í atá ina Coimisinéir Eorpach um Thaighde, Nuálaíocht agus Eolaíocht faoi láthair. Bhí sí ina TD do Ghaillimh Thiar ó 1977-1997 agus ba í an chéad bhean í le bheith ina hAire Rialtais ó bunaíodh an Stát. Bhí sí ina colúnaí chomh maith leis an Irish Times; ina láithreoir teilifíse; agus ina stiúrthóir neamhfheidhmiúcháin ar Aer Lingus agus Ryan Hotels. Is iar-Chomhalta í de Chúirt Iniúchóirí an AE agus iar-Chomhalta d'Údarás na hOllscoile in OÉ Gaillimh chomh maith. Bronnadh Céim Dhochtúireachta le Dlíthe (honoris causa) ar an Leifteanant-Ghinearál Seán McCann Bhí Leifteanant-Ghinearál Seán McCann, iar-Cheann Foirne Fhórsaí Cosanta na hÉireann, i gceann de na chéad ranganna do mhic léinn an Airm in UCG ag an am, agus bronnadh céim Thráchtála air i 1974. D'fhreastail sé ar Command and General Staff College Stáit Aontaithe Mheiriceá agus glacadh leis san International Hall of Fame in 2011. Thug sé seirbhís thar lear sé bhabhta agus bhí sé i gceannas ar na Fórsaí Cosanta nuair a cuireadh comhaltaí na hÉireann go Mailí agus go dtí an tSiria den chéad uair ag tráth a bhí thar a bheith dúshlánach. Tá an onóir seo á bronnadh air mar aitheantas ar an ngaol láidir idir an tArm agus OÉ Gaillimh ó 1969. Is é an Lt. Gen. McCann an chéad chéimí de chuid OÉ Gaillimh a bhí ina Cheann Foirne ar Fhórsaí Cosanta na hÉireann. Rugadh i gCorcaigh é ach d'fhás sé aníos i dTiobraid Árann. Bronnadh Céim Dhochtúireachta le hEolaíocht (honoris causa) ar Finian O’Sullivan. Alumni Eolaíochta de chuid OÉ Gaillimh é. D'oibrigh sé do Chevron ar an bhfoireann taiscéalaíochta agus forbartha imeallchríche timpeall ar an Artach agus ar mhachairí thiar Cheanada. I 1980, thosaigh sé ag obair leis an gcuideachta seirbhíse ola United Geophysical in California i mbun taiscéalaíochta timpeall ar an leathsféar thoir. Bhog sé go dtí an Astráil i 1982 áit a raibh sé i gceannas ar oibríochtaí Geophysical Systems Corporation á leathnú amach chuig an India, an tSín agus an Téalainn. I ndiaidh seal a chaitheamh le Olympic Oil and Gas Corporation in Houston, agus é lonnaithe i Londain, bhunaigh Finian a chuideachta féin, Burren Energy Plc a bhí i mbun acmhainní hidreacarbóin a aimsiú agus a fhorbairt san Áise Láir, in India agus san Afraic Thiar chomh maith le fiontar loingseoireachta agus trádála sa réigiún mórthimpeall ar an Muir Chaisp. Díoladh Burren Energy Plc le ENI in 2008 agus thosaigh Finian ag obair leis an Bayfield Group i mí Iúil 2008. Bronnadh Gradam Alumni OÉ Gaillimh ar Finian in 2009. Beidh an triúr seo anois i measc céimithe oinigh eile mór le rá a tháinig rompu cosúil le Nelson Mandela, Hilary Clinton, Christy O’Connor Sinsear agus Sóisear, Enya, Anjelica Huston, Fionnuala Flanagan agus Margaret Atwood. -Críoch-
Is the secret to increased physical fitness in your back pocket?
Monday, 30 June 2014
Smartphone app study sees participants walk extra half mile or 1000 steps per day Is the secret to increased physical fitness in your back pocket? Using a smartphone app, participants in an eight-week trial were found to walk over 1,000 steps - or half a mile - extra per day. The research was carried out by the National University of Ireland Galway and is published today in the British Journal of General Practice. This is thought to be the first randomised controlled trial research evidence showing that use of a smartphone pedometer app, which provides feedback on physical activity and goal achievement, is associated with a clinically meaningful increase in physical activity. Not only did participants see improvements in step count, but some of those who used the smartphone app also had decreases in blood pressure and weight. A growing body of evidence shows that behaviour-change programmes using computer tailoring can be effective in changing lifestyle risk factors, such as physical activity. The emerging field of captology — the study of computers as persuasive technology — has described many of the mechanisms by which mobile phones have become such an important platform for changing human behaviour. Dr Liam Glynn, a Senior Lecturer in General Practice at the National University of Ireland Galway, and a practicing GP, led the research project called SMART MOVE: “Captology is a very interesting area for medical practitioners. The penetration of smartphones into our everyday lives, along with the availability of so many apps promoting physical activity, represents a unique opportunity in population health. There is real potential within healthcare to use these devices to explore, understand, and positively change human behaviour. “Our research has shown that significant improvements in physical activity rates can be achieved, which we know can lead to long term health benefits such as reduced risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes”. “Rather than just providing more evidence that tracking in any form supports behaviour change, the results of this trial represent an important step forward in the challenging issue of physical activity promotion by describing an intervention that is effective, accessible and potentially sustainable. Further data with longer follow-up are being collected from the current trial of the pedometer app conducted across six European countries,” added Dr Glynn. Methodology The trial recruited 90 participants, which were randomly divided into two equal groups. A control group who did not use the app and an intervention group who did. The app was based around the concept of a pedometer with a live and accurate recording of step count as the participant went about their daily activity. This provided constant feedback and tracking of physical activity with a visually appealing graphic display of step count history and the ability to goal set and receive visual rewards for goals achieved. Both groups in the trial were given similar physical activity goals and information on the benefits of exercise. However, and crucially, only the intervention group was told how to use the app to help them achieve these goals. The results from the trial were striking in that use of a smartphone application increased physical activity over an eight week period, compared to the control. The magnitude of change (over 1000 steps/day or approximately a half mile), is clinically meaningful and, if continued is expected to result in long term health benefit. While the control group demonstrated an initial increase in physical activity, this was followed by a decrease to baseline activity by the end of the trial period while the increase in activity seen in the intervention group was maintained. The potential advantage of using a smartphone application is that no additional piece of technology such as pedometer is required and people generally carry their mobile phone devices on their persons continuously. It has been suggested that significant improvements in public health in the future are more likely to come from behavioural change rather than from technological or scientific innovation. The results of this smartphone app trial would suggest that novel technologies such as mobile devices and related smartphone applications may become an important driver for the behavioural change process. Funding for the research was awarded by the European Union’s Northern Periphery Programme 2007–2013, through the Implementing Transnational Telemedicine Solutions Project. For further information visit www.galwayconnectedhealth.ie/ -ends-
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