US Supreme Court Judge to address NUI Galway Law Society

US Supreme Court Judge to address NUI Galway Law Society-image

Tuesday, 23 January 2007

NUI Galway is pleased to announce a visit by US Supreme Court Judge Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg to the University on Wednesday 31st January 2007. Justice Ginsburg will meet with NUI Galway President Dr Iognáid Ó Muircheartaigh before addressing the University's Law Society in a special session, An Evening with Justice Ginsburg, at the O'Flaherty Theatre at 8.00pm. Justice Ginsburg's visit continues the strong relationship the Law Society at NUI Galway has developed with the judiciary of the most powerful court in the United States. Welcoming her to the University, Donncha O'Connell, Dean of Law says: "It is a tremendous credit to our students that they succeeded in securing a visit from a US judge of such eminence as Justice Ginsburg. The Faculty of Law is honoured by her visit to NUI Galway and we look forward with great interest and enthusiasm to learning from her unique insights as a distinguished member of, arguably, the most important court in the world." The event will be hosted by Today FM broadcaster and practicing barrister Ted Harding, who will interview Justice Ginsburg. The audience will then be invited to take part in a Question and Answer session with the Supreme Court judge. The Brooklyn-born judge became only the second woman to serve on the Supreme Court when nominated by President Bill Clinton in 1993. Her refusal during confirmation hearings to answer questions regarding her personal views on issues such as abortion, gay rights or hypothetical situations as a Supreme Court Justice became known as the Ginsburg Precedent. Among her most notable judgements is her dissenting opinion in the infamous Bush v Gore case which effectively decided the 2000 US Presidential election. She also challenged the Bush administration in the Guantanamo detainee case, Hamdi v Rumsfeld, by voting against the majority when the court allowed the President to declare an American citizen an enemy combatant. An Evening with Justice Ginsburg is open to the public and those wishing to secure tickets should contact the NUI Galway Societies Box Office on 091 492852. -ends- For further information contact: Jacqueline Hogge, NUI Galway Press Office Email: jacqueline.hogge@nuigalway.ie Tel: 00353 91 493361

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NUI Galway Students to Build Homes in Ghana

NUI Galway Students to Build Homes in Ghana-image

Monday, 22 January 2007

22 January 2007: Twenty-one NUI Galway student volunteers have been selected to travel to Ghana in May to help local people build their own homes. The students will spend two weeks in the western African country working and living on the construction site with the homeowners' families. On Thursday, at NUI Galway, Mayor of Galway Niall Ó Brolcháin will announce the names of the chosen volunteers and formally launch the fund-raising efforts to finance the trip. The trip is being organised by the NUI Galway Chaplaincy, part of the University's Student Services, in conjunction with Habitat for Humanity Ghana, which has already built over 4,000 homes in Ghana. According to Habitat for Humanity Ghana, despite a high per capita output, the majority of Ghanaians live in overcrowded rooms with the attendant health problems. Response to the project from the University community has been huge with well over 250 people attending a preliminary information evening and over 110 people applying for places on the team. According to one of the team leaders, Sr. Avril O'Regan from NUI Galway's chaplaincy; "The group of volunteers is comprised of enthusiastic students who, having been afforded the opportunities of a university education in Ireland, wish to give something back to those less well off. This is a unique opportunity to become active partners with people of another culture and help build homes and hope." Sister Avril continued, "Enthusiasm and volunteers are assets we have in abundance for this exciting and challenging project but we require material and financial support. Sending a team abroad entails significant cost which the team must fund entirely. Money raised goes to cover personal costs e.g. travel, insurance, food and water, as well as project costs including a substantial contribution towards the construction of the houses. In total the team seeks to raise in excess of €60,000." The NUI Galway group comprises 24 people, including three team leaders. The 21 students chosen for the team are drawn from a variety of Faculties and counties. The team leaders are Sr. Avril O'Regan (Dean of Residence/Chaplain NUI Galway), Mr Peter Mannion (Students' Union Education Officer NUI Galway) and Fr. Gabriel Kinahan (Franciscan, The Abbey). Parties interested in supporting this work may make a donation by sending it to Habitat for Humanity, c/o Sr. Avril O'Regan, Dean of Residence, NUI Galway. All monies received will go directly to this project. Further information can be obtained from Sr. Avril O'Regan on 091 492168 (avril.oregan@nuigalway.ie), from Peter Mannion on 091 493707 (peter.mannion@nuigalway.ie) or by visiting www.habitatireland.ie. - ends – Notes to Editors: How Habitat for Humanity (HFH) works: HFH builds and renovates simple, decent homes with the help of homeowner families, through volunteer labour and donations of money and materials. HFH works to make homes available to all people regardless of race, faith, gender or age. HFH build houses throughout the world, including Ireland, where the first four homes were built in Ballymun in 2005. In Ghana they build more than 400 houses a year and recently celebrated the dedication of their 4000th house. HFH homes are sold to low-income families at no profit and are financed through affordable long-term loans. Mortgage length varies between 7 – 30 years. All mortgage payments, combined with donations, are used to build more homes around the world through a revolving fund. In addition, homeowners invest hundreds of hours of their own labour building their own homes and the homes of others. Among other benefits, this reduces the cost of the homes, increases the pride of home ownership and builds communities.

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East meets West theme at Múscailt Fleadh Imboilg '07

East meets West theme at Múscailt Fleadh Imboilg '07-image

Monday, 22 January 2007

NUI Galway's seventh Springtime Arts Festival Múscailt (meaning 'to awaken/inspire/celebrate) will officially open on Monday, 5 February at 1.00pm in the Aula Maxima. This year the festival has joined forces with the Celtic Fleadh Imboilg for a new and exciting programme that will see the campus come alive with concerts, theatre, dance, exhibitions, storytelling, film and live performances. Múscailt Fleadh Imboilg '07 will open the week-long programme with No Crows, a band with a global repertoire, including Traditional and Eastern Music. This year's festival, running until Friday, 9 February, celebrates the Celtic Fertility Festival meeting Chinese New Year. Everyone is welcome to attend a programme of mainly free events featuring a wealth of talent from global and local artists. The Fleadh Imboilg is the ancient Celtic celebration for the start of spring. Established by the NUI Galway History Society last year, this traditional festival of renewal and hope is focused on organising fun events while also raising money for charity. This year's programme includes a trip to Gairdín Bhríde in Connemara, which reflects ancient Irish Celtic spirituality, and Spraoi Bhríde, a fund-raising drive in Galway city. NUI Galway Arts Officer, Fionnuala Gallagher, says: "Múscailt Fleadh Imboilg 2007 is a culture fest, where East meets West and Old meets New, celebrating diverse art forms, often together. Traditional arts such as storytelling, circus and juggling meet experimental performance and visual arts. It aims to bring people together in an act of celebration. The brief is to change the spaces that we study and work in for one week, to do a Spring clean, excite all our senses and most of all, enjoy." Highlights of this year's festival include: No Crows, featuring former Waterboys' rock fiddler Steve Wickham, Anna Heuston on the cello/mandolin, Felip Carbonell, on flamenco/manouche guitar and Eddie Lee on double bass. The band will be joined by special guests including Salit, a Malaysian Martial art/dance act; Cry of the Celt, a rollicking Irish dance troupe and a performance by ensemble-in-residence, ConTempo, who have arranged a piece specially for the occasion. A production of South Pacific by the Galway University Musical Society. The society's annual production runs from 6 – 10 February 2007 in the Black Box Theatre. Further information and tickets are available at www.muscailt.nuigalway.ie or by contacting the info/ticket desk at 091-492852; email:socsbox@socs.nuigalway.ie. A commission of art pieces on 'Transparency and Body' will exhibit in various buildings across the campus. Site specific works by 14 students from the Burren College of Art, Múscailt Bóirne, will adorn glass corridors throughout the University and Martina Hynan's new work Liminal Being will be on display in Áras Moyola. Original theatre featuring in this year's programme includes the One Act Play Series competing for the Jerome Hynes Best Production Award. Other theatrical highlights include the premier of 'Living with Johnny Depp', by Toot and Coo, and Taxi Rank by Janēva Dance Company, which arrives fresh from a successful run at Project '06. Múscailt Fleadh Imboilg '07 presents the perfect opportunity to take part in the cultural life of NUI Galway. The festival is supported by Galway University Foundation, AIB and NUI Galway Arts Office. -ends- For more information check: www.nuigalway.ie/arts_office/ Tel. Arts Office: 091 512062

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'A Little Goes a Long Way' when Alan Kerins Gives Seminar at NUI Galway

'A Little Goes a Long Way' when Alan Kerins Gives Seminar at NUI Galway-image

Monday, 22 January 2007

22 January 2007: Alan Kerins, organiser of the Alan Kerins African Projects, will speak at NUI Galway on 25 January at 1.00pm about his ongoing charity work, and the importance of volunteering to the community. Tickets for the free event, entitled 'A Little Goes a Long Way', will be available to the public, but must be booked in advance. Mr. Kerins will speak as part of a keynote seminar series hosted and sponsored by the Community Knowledge Initiative (CKI) at NUI Galway. Focusing on themes related to civic engagement and active citizenship, this keynote series is being offered as a response to the impact that volunteering has in today's communities. The African Project began after Alan's visit to the Cheshire Home for Physically Disabled Children, in Mongu, western Zambia in 2005. What he saw triggered a fundraising campaign that has raised over a quarter of a million Euro for AIDS Orphans, water schemes, food aid, school building, housing development, childcare and rehabilitation. Mr. Kerin's works as a physiotherapist and plays on the Galway County Hurling Team. He was the winner of the Irish People of The Year Award 2006 as well as winning the Rehab Galway Person of the Year 2006 for his work with the African Project. Lorraine McIlrath, Project Coordinator, Community Knowledge Initiative, NUI Galway said "We are delighted to have Alan participate in our Keynote Seminar Series as he represents a generation of young people who have a huge propensity for giving of their time and energy to benefit the community. We are witness to this here on campus where our students actively participate in service-learning programmes and join our ALIVE volunteering project." Dr. Garret FitzGerald was the first to speak as part of the Keynote Seminar Series in November 2006 and other speakers lined up for the coming months include Mary Davis, Chair of the Taskforce on Active Citizenship; Alan Rusbridger, Editor of the Guardian; Maurice Mullard, University of Hull, Reader in Social Policy; and Caroline Casey, The Aisling Foundation. The Community Knowledge Initiative (CKI) is a project at NUI Galway that promotes partnership with communities and endeavours to enhance social commitment within communities. Funded by philanthropic donations, the CKI hopes to reinvigorate the civic mission of higher education in Ireland, putting communities at the centre of debate. For tickets, please contact Mary Bernard at the Community Knowledge Initiative at mary.bernard@nuigalway.ie or on 091 493823. -ends – For further information contact Lorraine McIlrath, Project Coordinator, Community Knowledge Initiative, NUI Galway. Phone 091 495234

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Minister for Education Praises National Essay Competition

Minister for Education Praises National Essay Competition-image

Tuesday, 16 January 2007

This year's BT Young Scientist & Technology Exhibition saw Leaving Cert student Paul Kelliher of the Intermediate College in Killorglin, Co. Kerry, receive top prize in an exciting national science essay competition organised by NUI Galway. Paul, who won a laptop, crystal trophy and €500 science bursary for his school, received his prizes from the Minister for Education and Science, Mary Hanafin T.D., on the Science Foundation Ireland booth at the festival. The competition, co-ordinated by the Regenerative Medicine Institute (REMEDI) at NUI Galway, and sponsored by Medtronic, is now in its second year. Over 250 essays were received from across the country on the theme of "The Quest for Immortality: Who wants to live forever?" Presenting the prizes for the second year in a row, Minister Hanafin described the competition as an initiative worth acknowledging and described writing about science as something that "enables us to spread our ideas all over the world." Professor Frank Barry, Scientific Director at REMEDI and competition judge, thanked all the students who participated in the competition, highlighting that "There are many attributes which are necessary to become a successful scientist. Two of those are the ability to ask big questions and also the ability to communicate clearly the results of these efforts and I think that we have a very talented pool of students that have excellent writing skills in the sciences." Professor Frank Barry also thanked Medtronic and SFI for their work in supporting science education. Paul's essay was selected from a top-ten shortlist by a high profile panel of judges including Leo Enright (Chair of the Discover Science & Engineering Steering Committee), Tom Kennedy (Editor of Science Spin Magazine), Professor Frank Barry (Scientific Director, REMEDI) and Cormac Sheridan (Freelance Science Journalist) who met at REMEDI in November 2006 to choose a winner. Commenting on Paul's essay, competition judge Cormac Sheridan said "Paul's essay crackles with ideas and are expressed with great verve. He is a writer with real intellectual energy and genuine potential." The runner up prize of a video iPOD, crystal trophy and €250 school science bursary went to transition year student Sarah Grace, of the Loreto Abbey Secondary School in Dalkey, Co. Dublin. Organised as part of a joint REMEDI and NCBES secondary school outreach programme called GRO (Galway Regional Outreach), the aim of this annual competition is to hear young people's views on contemporary scientific questions and to encourage students to consider studying science in third level. Last year's competition winner, Laura Bree, is now studying biomedical engineering at NUI Galway. REMEDI is a Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) funded research institute at the National Centre for Biomedical Engineering Science (NCBES) located at NUI Galway. To read the winning essays or for additional information on REMEDI and NCBES outreach programmes, visit www.remedi.ie and www.ncbes.ie -ends-

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Léinn do Chéimithe in OÉ Gaillimh

Léinn do Chéimithe in OÉ Gaillimh-image

Tuesday, 16 January 2007

16 Eanáir 2007: Díreofar aird ar raon cúrsaí iarchéime agus iardhochtúireachta OÉ Gaillimh ag Aonach Bliantúil Léinn do Chéimithe, aonach a reáchtálfar ar an gcampas in Áras na Mac Léinn ó 1.30i.n. go dtí 5.00i.n., Dé Luain, an 5 Feabhra. Deis iontach a bheidh san Aonach seo do mhic léinn a bhfuil bunchéimeanna bainte amach acu níos mó eolais a fháil ar chúrsaí iarchéime. Tá 400 clár á thairiscint ag an Ollscoil, mar aon le roghanna taighde lánaimseartha agus páirtaimseartha, do bhreis agus 3,000 mac léinn iarchéime. Táthar ag súil go bhfreastalóidh 2,500 duine ar an Aonach atá ag fáil tacaíochta ó Bhanc na hÉireann. Beidh os cionn 70 seastáin ó OÉ Gaillimh agus institiúidí eile ó thimpeall na tíre ag an Aonach le heolas a thabhairt agus comhairle a chur ar mhic léinn. Beidh cur i láthair agus seimineáir faoi roghanna taighde, maoiniú agus deiseanna gairme ar fáil freisin. Le blianta beaga anuas, tá tús áite tugtha ag an Rialtas d'oideachas iarchéime atá tiomanta don taighde, nó oideachas 'ceathrú leibhéal', ar mhaithe le freastal ar an éileamh atá ann d'fhostaithe ardoilte le tacú le fás geilleagrach. I bhfad ó shin, ghlac OÉ Gaillimh leis an dúshlán oideachas ceathrú leibhéal den scoth a chur ar fáil, agus tá na seanréimsí acadúla feabhsaithe againn chun Ionaid Taighde nuálaíocha agus cheannródaíocha a chruthú i réimsí éagsúla cosúil le hEolaíocht Innealtóireachta Bithmhíochaine, Cearta Daonna, Athrú Comhshaoil agus Léann na hÉireann. Seo a leanas a bhí le rá ag John Hannon, Comhairleoir Sinsearach Gairme, Seirbhís Gairme OÉ Gaillimh, "Cuireann staidéar iarchéime go mór le hionchais ghairme na mac léinn. In OÉ Gaillimh tá réimse leathan iarchéimeanna forbartha againn, lena n-áirítear cúrsaí Máistreachta múinte agus taighde agus cláir thaighde Dochtúireachta den scoth. Tagann mic léinn as gach cearn den domhan chuig OÉ Gaillimh gach aon bhliain chun iarchéim a dhéanamh, agus ag an am gcéanna tá an dea-cháil atá orainn ag dul ó neart go neart." I measc na gcúrsaí múinte iarchéime a cuireadh ar fáil as an nua tá: MeconSc agus MA i Múnlú Eacnamaíoch & Comhshaoil MEconSc in Airgeadas Idirnáisiúnta Máistreacht sa Mhargaíocht MA in Ardscileanna Teanga Anailís Fheidhmeach Iompraíochta Na Meáin Dhigiteacha Stair na Meánaoise Léirú agus Stiúradh Abhcóideacht agus Gníomhaíochas Pobail Drámaíocht Scileanna Raidió Léann an Aistriúcháin Modheolaíochtaí do Theagasc Teangacha Riachtanais Speisialta Oideachais Céim Mháistir Dlí (Dlí Poiblí) Altranas – lena n-áirítear Dioplómaí Iarchéime sa tSeaneolaíocht, Cúram Maolaitheach, Meabhairshláinte, Ortaipéidic, Sláinte Phoiblí, Oinceolaíocht Eolaíocht Bhithleighis Biteicneolaíocht Fisic Mhatamaiticiúil Bunaithe ar théama an 'cheathrú leibhéal', tá branda nua roghnaithe ag OÉ Gaillimh le déanaí dá deiseanna oideachais iarchéime, branda ar a dtugtar go4th™. Ar an láithreán gréasáin nua, www.go4th.ie tá léargas le fáil ar na deiseanna iarchéime atá san Ollscoil mar aon le réamheolaire ar líne. Chomh maith leis sin is féidir iarratais ar líne a dhéanamh tríd an láithreán gréasáin www.go4th.ie. Is féidir dul i dteagmháil leis an tSeirbhís Gairme ag (091) 493589 chun sonraí a fháil faoin Aonach Léinn. - críoch –

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NUI Galway Goes Fourth with Graduate Studies Fair

NUI Galway Goes Fourth with Graduate Studies Fair-image

Monday, 15 January 2007

15 January 2007: NUI Galway's array of postgraduate and postdoctoral courses will be under the spotlight at the annual Graduate Studies Fair, which takes place on campus in Áras na Mac Léinn from 1.30pm to 5.00pm, on Monday, 5 February. It is the perfect opportunity for those with a primary degree to find out more about taking the next step in their education. The University offers 400 programmes, as well as full-time and part-time research options, to over 3,000 postgraduate students. Some 2,500 people are expected to attend the fair which is supported by Bank of Ireland. Over 70 stands from NUI Galway and other institutions throughout Ireland will provide attendees with information and advice. Presentations and seminars on research options, funding and career opportunities will also be offered. In recent years the government has prioritised postgraduate research-driven education, or 'fourth level' education, to meet the demand for highly skilled employees to support economic growth. NUI Galway has long-embraced the challenge to deliver world-class fourth level education and has built on traditional areas of academic strength to create innovative and cutting-edge Research Centres in areas as diverse as Biomedical Engineering Science, Human Rights, Environmental Change and Irish Studies. According to John Hannon, Senior Careers Adviser, NUI Galway Careers Service, "Studying at post-graduate level is of huge benefit to career prospects. At NUI Galway we have developed an extensive range of postgraduate degrees, including taught and research Master degree courses and excellent Doctoral research programmes. Students from all over the world travel to NUI Galway every year for their postgraduate studies as our reputation goes from strength to strength." Taught postgraduate programmes that have recently become available include: MEconSc and MA in Economic & Environmental Modelling MEconSc in International Finance Master of Marketing MA Advanced Language Skills Applied Behaviour Analysis Digital Media Medieval Studies Production and Direction Public Advocacy and Activism Drámaíocht Scileanna Raidió Léann and Aistriúcháin Modheolaíochta do Theagasc Teangacha Special Educational Needs Master of Laws (Public Law) Nursing – including Postgraduate Diplomas in Gerontology, Palliative Care, Mental Health, Orthopedics, Public Health, Oncology Biomedical Science Biotechnology Mathematical Physics Working with the 'fourth-level' theme, NUI Galway has recently re-branded its graduate education opportunities under the banner go4th™. The new website, www.go4th.ie showcases postgraduate opportunities at the University and provides an online prospectus as well as facilitating online applications. Contact the Careers Service at (091) 493589 for details of the Graduate Studies Fair. -ends-

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Integrated Approach to Air Quality and Climate Change Needed

Integrated Approach to Air Quality and Climate Change Needed-image

Monday, 15 January 2007

15 January 2007: A new report published by the Environmental Change Institute at NUI Galway calls on European environmental researchers and policy makers to agree an integrated approach to tackling both air quality and climate change. Traditionally, air quality and climate change have been addressed separately. However, solutions to one problem - if carefully devised - can also be an efficient solution to the other, according to the authors of the report. Dr. Colin O'Dowd, Department of Experimental Physics and Environmental Change Institute at NUI Galway, who is editor of the report, says: "A critical motivation to have an integrated scientific and technical analysis of key air quality and climate change issues is to better support policy development. The aim is to optimise cost-effectiveness and cost-benefit of abatement and mitigation strategies, which have win-win scenarios for air quality and climate change. "Not all areas of air quality and climate change are closely linked, partly due to their different impacts over different time scales. However, there is significant opportunity to develop synergistic research work in key common areas. "With increasing economic activity, pollutant emissions impact more and more on air quality and climate change. For example, methane - a global greenhouse gas, is also a source of ozone which is a local pollutant. Therefore, reductions in methane emissions can lead to a reduction in ozone levels. Similar common issues exist with the impact of atmospheric aerosols (or Particulate Matter) on air quality and climate." The report is a strategic output document from the European (FP6) funded ACCENT (Atmospheric Composition Change – A European Network) Network of Excellence. It brings together the views of leading researchers and policy contributors in Europe and the US, and highlights the common research and policy issues relating to air quality and climate change for the future. In addition, the position statement and recommendations report outlines strategies for harmonising research in support of policy development for the future in terms of common issues between air quality and climate change. The target audience is national and European Policy makers such as the Department of Environment, Heritage and Local Government and Environment and departments in other EU member states, DG Environment and the European Environmental Agency as well as research funding bodies. The report is expected to have an important impact on and contribute to improved understanding of important environmental issues and support the development of solutions to such human induced environmental change. More information can be found on http://www.accent-network.org. -ends-

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Student Enterprise Awards presented at NUI Galway

Student Enterprise Awards presented at NUI Galway-image

Monday, 8 January 2007

08 January 2007: A number of innovative awards designed to encourage entrepreneurial awareness among students have been presented in NUI Galway. The annual awards are presented to students who participate in the Introduction to Business Module that has been running at NUI Galway for the past 17 years. The module is designed to foster an awareness of businesses and how they operate. The overall objective is to introduce students to the fundamental concepts of Marketing, Management and Accountancy and to examine their application in Irish and international business situations. Students who participated in the module were required to develop a business plan for a start-up enterprise related to their primary area of study, which includes community development, biotechnology, microbiology, biomedical science, biochemistry and chemistry. The prizes are sponsored by Bank of Ireland, and are awarded to the best overall business plan for a start-up enterprise, 2nd and 3rd runner up, and "the most bankable business plan" as chosen by Bank or Ireland. Bank of Ireland, Most Bankable Business Plan – Advanced Ocular Clinic MSc. in Biomedical Science students Evan Brick, Martin Canavan, Aisling Donoghue and Norah O'Brien planned to establish a clinic specialising in corrective eye surgery. The Advanced Ocular Clinic (AOC) would use the innovative technology of intra-ocular lenses (IOLs) to restore good vision acuity to its prospective patients with a minimally invasive procedure carried out on an out-patient basis. 1st Place DOGene Laboratories Ltd. MSc. in Biotechnology students Sinead Darcy, Andrew Douglas, and Ann Smyth aimed to provide a DNA profiling service to the canine industry. Their company intended to initially target the pedigree dog market and the greyhound industry for DNA profiling and in the long term conduct genetic testing for hereditary diseases in dogs. 2nd Place SOUPlus+ SOUPlus+, backed by MSc. in Biomedical Science students Karly Burke, Joan Fitzgibbon, Elaine Gleeson and Louise Lilly identified a gap in the market for a fresh ready-to-serve soup that contained an added bonus of vitamins and dietary supplements to boost the immune system. They planned to base their business in Galway, source the vegetables for their product locally, and sell in farmers markets and independent grocery stores. 3rd Place Biogum Ltd. BSc. in Biotechnology students Julie Collins, Rebecca Finn, Hannah O'Keefe and James O'Malley planned to launch a symbiotic chewing gum. The sugar-free gum which would be fortified with vitamin C and calcium would be available in a range of flavours and combines the features of a regular chewing gum with added nutritional benefits. The Introduction to Business Module was developed to respond to an increasing demand for entrepreneurial awareness among students in various undergraduate and postgraduate programmes. Currently, the module facilitates over seventy students, in seven academic programmes. -ends-

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NUI Galway Awarded €2 Million for Bio-fuel Research

NUI Galway Awarded €2 Million for Bio-fuel Research-image

Monday, 8 January 2007

08 January 2007: NUI Galway has been awarded over €2 million for bio-fuel research under a seven year programme from the prestigious Charles Parsons Research Funding Awards scheme, announced by the Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources, Mr Noel Dempsey, T.D.. This injection of funding will enable the University to put highly skilled fourth level graduates to work at addressing some of the most pressing energy issues facing Ireland today. Following the award, the Microbial Bioenergy Group at the NUI Galway's Environmental Change Institute will recruit twenty new researchers at postgraduate and postdoctoral level. The team will aim to produce improved bio-fuels from organic wastes such as domestic sewage. It will also research highly novel microbial and bio-fuel cells, which produce electricity through the action of naturally occurring bacteria. These new technologies have the potential to accomplish both large-scale wastewater treatment and electricity generation, with sanitation and energy benefits for both developed and developing countries. The Microbial Bioenergy research group is jointly led by Dr. Vincent O'Flaherty and Dr. Dónal Leech, from the Departments of Microbiology and Chemistry, respectively. The project coordinator, Dr. O'Flaherty said, "The Charles Parsons Award will help NUI Galway to develop and deploy new energy technologies which are essential to deliver security of supply, sustainability and competitiveness to Ireland. There is a particular and urgent need for research into producing viable alternative energy sources to tackle Ireland's reliance on fossil fuels". The Charles Parsons Research Funding Awards scheme was named after Irishman Charles Parsons (1854-1931) who, in 1884, invented the steam turbine, which made affordable electricity readily available for the first time. The competition was open to institutes and groups from all thirty-two counties and applicants were evaluated by an international panel of experts, as part of the highly competitive process in which only seven awards were made nationally to cutting-edge research groups. -ends- Notes to editors: About Microbial Fuel Cells Microbial fuel cells (MFC) produce electricity through the action of naturally occurring bacteria that drive power production by breaking down organic substrates in, for example, wastewater and then transporting electrons from their cell surface to the anode, the negative electrode of a fuel cell. The electrons flow from the anode through a wire to a cathode, the positive electrode of a fuel cell, where they generate electrical potential and combine with oxygen to form water. An added benefit of the approach is that as the bacteria generate electricity, pollutants are also removed, cleaning the wastewater. The power outputs reported thus far from MFC are usually small, but this is expected to change in the coming years as research continues. In addition, MFCs can be used to produce hydrogen directly from organic wastes for use as an alternative vehicle fuel. The project team leader, Dr. Vincent O'Flaherty, noted that "there is real potential for MFCs to accomplish both wastewater treatment and electricity generation at large-scale in the future, with sanitation and energy benefits for both developed and developing countries".

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