NUI Galway Hosts Ireland’s Only Harry Potter Convention

NUI Galway Hosts Ireland’s Only Harry Potter Convention-image

Monday, 9 March 2015

NUI Galway’s Harry Potter Society will hold a three-day convention dedicated to Harry Potter fans. PotterFest Galway, Ireland’s only Harry Potter convention, will take place from 13-15 March in Áras na Mac Léinn at NUI Galway.  Visitors of all ages are invited to attend and will have the chance to experience the magic of the Wizarding World here in Ireland. NUI Galway will be transformed into Hogwarts for three days of magical fun, with a huge variety of events such as Potter-themed games, cosplay competitions, panels, classes, role-playing workshops and guest speakers on everything Potter. Guests will be sorted into their perfect Hogwarts House and attend classes in all of Harry’s favourite subjects, from Potions, Transfiguration and Herbology to Defence Against the Dark Arts. The cast and crew of ‘Mudblood and the Book of Spells’, an upcoming original Harry Potter fan film set in Manchester, will be giving a behind-the-scenes sneak peak of what to expect from their movie. Sunday is Mothers’ Day in the Wizarding World too; the occasion will be honoured with a Mums of Potter Panel, as well as a Tea Party with Mrs Weasley. On Sunday there will be a chance to learn and try out playing Quidditch with the Galway Grindylows, Ireland’s first Muggle University team. Pre-registration for PotterFest Galway 2015 is now open on, with standard day tickets costing €10, while full weekend tickets are €15. Special concessions are available for families and children under 12. Tickets will also be available at the door throughout the weekend. For more information please contact Isabella De Luca, PotterFest Galway at or 087 750 4377, or visit -Ends-  

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Antenna-like structures found on immune cells for first time

Antenna-like structures found on immune cells for first time-image

Tuesday, 10 March 2015

A team of NUI Galway scientists have found that cells of the immune system have a previously undescribed ability. In a paper just published Journal of Cell Biology, the scientists describe the presence of primary cilia on immune cells. These antenna-like structures are found on almost all cell types in the body, but since the 1960s, it has been thought that they do not arise in blood cells. Professor Ciaran Morrison of NUI Galway’s Centre for Chromosome Biology, who co-authored the paper with Dr Suzanna Prosser, explains the significance: “The paper is of scientific interest because it provides new information about how ciliation is controlled. Also, we have shown that immune cells do at least have all the material they would need to make primary cilia. The next question is whether the cells make cilia in the body.” Cilia are structures that stick out of cells to sense their local environment. They are very important in monitoring fluid flows, so problems with cilia cause diseases that affect body orientation, development, the eye, the kidney and various other organs. These diseases, which include Joubert syndrome and polycystic kidney disease, are called ciliopathies. The paper describes how a small calcium-binding protein called centrin controls primary cilium formation by removing an inhibitor of ciliation called CP110 from the base of the cilium, allowing it to extend. Professor Morrison and his team discovered this by using gene disruption techniques in cultured retinal cells and in cultured blood cells, where they also found that cell starvation can induce cilia. Active immune system cells, including B- and T-lymphocytes, divide rapidly, so they would not normally have a chance to make cilia. “Cilia have not been described in lymphocytes before, to our knowledge”, explains Professor Morrison. “We starved the cells of nutrients to delay their division cycle, but ciliation still occurred at a very low frequency, in about 5% of cells. It is possible that, even if cilia do exist in the body on certain slow or non-dividing blood cell populations, they may be short-lived, difficult to visualise or rare. What ciliated immune cells might do is an entirely new question. These results, which came from work funded by Science Foundation Ireland, illustrate how surprising findings can emerge from work on unrelated topics.” The 60 scientists led by 11 Principal Investigators at the Centre for Chromosome Biology in NUI Galway are dedicated to understanding many different areas of chromosome biology, such as how cell proliferation is controlled, the structure and maintenance of the genome, precise control of genome duplication and how genes are expressed. Their work is critical to the ongoing scientific battle against cancer and other areas including human reproduction and fertility and genetic diseases such as Huntington’s Disease. -ends-

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NUI Galway Team Retain 'Global Investment Research Challenge' Title

NUI Galway Team Retain 'Global Investment Research Challenge' Title-image

Tuesday, 10 March 2015

Competition sees students from Irish universities compete for most professional analysis of a quoted Irish company In front of a panel of leading financial services professionals, a student team from NUI Galway retained the prestigious Chartered Financial Analysts Ireland 'Global Investment Research Challenge' title. Having won the competition in 2014 analysing Ryanair, this year's team took home the trophy with their analysis of Kingspan. The Challenge is an annual global competition that provides university students with hands-on mentoring and intensive training in financial analysis. It offers students a unique hands-on opportunity to learn from industry experts and to compete with peers from the world’s top finance programmes. The NUI Galway team comprised of four students from the Master of Economic Science International Finance programme, Adrian Bushell from Tuam, Co. Galway, Fergal Brennan and Niall Deasy, both from Ennis, Co. Clare, and Sarunas Ramanauskas from Galway City, and Bachelor of Commerce student, Adam Mollen from Tullamore, Co. Offaly. NUI Galway Academic Mentor and Lecturer in Financial Economics, Cian Twomey said: “It’s a fabulous achievement to have retained the title. It speaks volumes as to the high calibre of students taking our programmes at both undergraduate and postgraduate levels.” The NUI Galway team now proceeds to the European Middle-East Africa (EMEA) finals in Amsterdam in early April. -Ends-

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First NUI Galway Undergraduate Research Conference

First NUI Galway Undergraduate Research Conference-image

Wednesday, 11 March 2015

The public are invited to attend NUI Galway’s first-ever Undergraduate Research Conference on 19 March. Throughout the day, students will present on research topics ranging from biology, to philosophy to sociology. The objective is to provide undergraduates with opportunities to discuss their research for their educational, professional and career development. Organisers expect that such early exposure to research, especially through a conference environment, will spark a growing interest in future research opportunities. The conference is being organised in response to a groundswell of research among undergraduate students. Professor Lokesh Joshi, Vice-President for Research at NUI Galway explains how: “We are very much a research-led university. There is a vibrant and exciting research ethos among students at undergraduate level, postgraduate and PhD level. This event provides a platform for students to share their work, and for other students and members of the public to learn and explore a number of concepts around research.” A special roundtable discussion format will allow attendees and presenters to share thoughts and ideas during the sessions. With hundreds of delegates expected, a group of transition year students from the Galway city Secondary School transition years will volunteer and attend as conference organisers on the day. “We not only aim to bring the students and staff of NUI Galway closer together but to bring the community of Galway together, by inviting members of the public and community to engage with undergraduate research. The involvement of secondary schools will hopefully sow the seeds of research in the next generation of researchers”, said Lorraine Tansey, Volunteer Coordinator with NUI Galway’s ALIVE Programme. A brainchild of second year Commerce students Ben Coady, Brian Dooley, Jason Carey, Evan Wynne and their NUI Galway staff member, Lorraine Tansey, the conference is funded by EXPLORE, a collaboration between NUI Galway and NUI Galway Students’ Union. The purpose of EXPLORE is to encourage innovation, enterprise and creativity among staff and students. Dr Maria Gallo, St Angela’s College Sligo, partners of the conference said, “Undergraduate students across the University are involved in some interesting and valuable research projects. This conference is a unique opportunity to share their research with their peers as many of them may be considering postgraduate study or a research related career.” To find out more or register to attend visit -ends-

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9 out of 10 Irish Medical Students Consider Leaving Ireland when they Qualify

9 out of 10 Irish Medical Students Consider Leaving Ireland when they Qualify-image

Thursday, 12 March 2015

Report on Ireland’s Medical Brain Drain Thursday, 12 March, 2015: A study published today shows that 88% of Irish medical students are intending or are contemplating migration, when they qualify. Led by NUI Galway, this is the largest study of its kind in Ireland, and was published in the open access journal Human Resources for Health. This study included over 2,000 medical students in Ireland, of whom 1,519 were Irish, studying across the country’s six medical schools. The main reasons cited for possible migration included perceptions regarding career opportunities (85%), working conditions in Ireland (83%) and lifestyle (80%). Pishoy Gouda, a final year medical student at NUI Galway, was the principal investigator of the study. “We have known for some time, from previous research, that a significant percentage of qualified doctors are leaving the country. This research confirms this, with 34% definitely planning to migrate, but also shows a widespread culture of ‘intention to emigrate’ with a further 53% contemplating it. These migration intentions are a major concern to the sustainability the Irish healthcare workforce.” “This outflow of qualified personnel may represent a financial loss to the Irish healthcare system, when one considers the costs involved in training medical students, the cost of recruiting replacements and the service delivery constraints if replacements cannot be found.” Nearly two-thirds of students identified that they did not have a great understanding of the training following graduation and a third of the students surveyed also indicated that they had a poor understanding of how the Irish healthcare system worked. According to Dr Diarmuid O’Donovan, Senior Lecturer in Social and Preventive Medicine at NUI Galway, who supervised the study: “Interventions are needed including providing a better understanding of career structures and opportunities, and of the changing organisation of the health service. Changes are needed in order to retain medical graduates and attract those who have already emigrated to return.” As the shortage of doctors is so great in Ireland, Pishoy Gouda, the lead author suggests that postgraduate opportunities should also be made more accessible to non-EU students who are trained in Ireland. Current European working laws make it difficult for non-EU graduates of Irish medical schools to obtain Irish intern or pre-registration/foundation year positions; they are therefore lost to the system immediately upon graduation. “These statistics come at a time when Ireland is facing a significant shortfall in physicians. Because of this outflow of human capital, we are having to go to huge efforts to attract doctors from other countries, including developing nations. Not only is this a problem for Irish recruitment, but we need to be mindful of WHO guidelines on international recruitment and taking skilled personnel away from countries that have medical staff shortages”, said Dr Diarmuid O’Donovan. This research helps to define appropriate interventions at the medical undergraduate level, with the aims of enhancing student understanding of the Irish health service, career and training opportunities, and in the longer term, enhancing retention. Alongside NUI Galway, the report was co-authored by staff at the Department of Public Health, HSE West, Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, University of Limerick, University College Cork, University College Dublin, and Trinity College Dublin. -ends-

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President Higgins announced as Patron of Year of Light

President Higgins announced as Patron of Year of Light-image

Thursday, 12 March 2015

The UN has designated 2015 the UNESCO International Year of Light and President of Ireland, Michael D. Higgins, has been announced as the LIGHT2015 Ireland Patron. NUI Galway is coordinating Ireland’s involvement and a series of events will take place across the country, and schools will be invited to learn more about the science of light and the contribution of light to our communities. Leading this initiative in Ireland is Professor Martin Leahy from NUI Galway and he is the recipient for two funding awards from the European Union for these efforts. “Light particles, or photons, are harnessed for use in the world around us. Photonics is the science and technology of generating, controlling, and detecting photons. Photonics underpins technologies of daily life from smartphones to laptops to the Internet to medical instruments to lighting technology. We have truly entered the Photonics Era.” “We are delighted to have such high profile patron and distinguished orator supporting our efforts to promote the Year of Light in Ireland. Ireland has a rich history of light science and engineering from Newgrange 3200 BC to the modern scientific discoveries of Stokes, Hamilton, Joly, Jellet and Tyndall among others. The President’s reputation in social justice and the arts will assist us in bringing the power of light to a much wider audience.” LIGHT2015 represents a unique opportunity to marry science, engineering, medicine and the arts – particularly cinema and the fine arts. As part of the International Year of Light, children will have the chance to have their art projected onto walls in city centre locations and app enthusiasts will get access to new apps. “We are no longer in the electronic age, the 21st century is all about harnessing light through photonics. Water treatment, the internet, cinema, the fine arts, scientific discovery as well as medical diagnosis and therapy – all use photonics. This is what we want to celebrate during 2015,” added Professor Leahy. Recent recognition by Science Foundation Ireland through the award of €30 million to establish the Irish Photonics Integration Centre, and a previous award from the Higher Education Authority of €30.5 million for the National Biophotonics and Imaging Platform, demonstrate its continuing importance to Ireland and the Irish economy. Photonics is also recognised by the Irish Government as one of the six platform technologies and is directly underpinning many of the identified research priorities and, more recently, the €7 billion partnership between Photonics21 and the European Commission will have a substantial impact on future growth and job creation, and significantly assist the EU’s continued economic recovery. LIGHT2015 is a global initiative adopted by the United Nations to raise awareness of how optical technologies promote sustainable development and provide solutions to worldwide challenges in energy, education, agriculture, communications and health. To watch a video about the International Year of Light 2015 click here

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NUI Galway Holds First Climate Congress

NUI Galway Holds First Climate Congress-image

Monday, 16 March 2015

NUI Galway will hold its first climate congress highlighting national and international approaches, adaptation and mitigation. Focusing on the need for action on climate change, the event will take place on Wednesday, 25 March in the Bailey Allen Hall from 11am-8pm. Guest speakers will include: Tara Shine, Independent Expert and Special Adviser to the Mary Robinson Foundation. Tara will give a talk on the recent climate change negotiations, the new climate agreement, the link to the sustainable development goals and climate justice. Ian Lumley from An Taisce, who will discuss climate change and food production from an Irish perspective, what can or should Ireland contribute. Carla Sarrouy from the Warwick Crop Centre who will discuss her work concerning food security in Senegal. There will also be a networking event featuring a variety of NGO’s and NUI Galway societies who will present their work in relation to climate change. The event is organised by the Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security Society (CCAFS Society), which began operating in NUI Galway in September 2014. This event is free to attend. For more information, or to registration for the event, visit -Ends-

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NUI Galway Host Public Talk with Writer and Broadcaster Dr Deirdre Ní Chonghaile

NUI Galway Host Public Talk with Writer and Broadcaster Dr Deirdre Ní Chonghaile-image

Wednesday, 18 March 2015

The talk is part of the Martin Reilly Lecture Series NUI Galway’s Centre for Irish Studies and Comhrá Ceoil has announced details of the second Martin Reilly Lecture of 2015. Taking place on Tuesday, 31 March at the Galway City Library at 6.30pm, the talk will be delivered by writer and broadcaster Dr Deirdre Ní Chonghaile. Deirdre’s talk, ‘Sean-nós song in Pennsylvania, 1884-1935: the Reverend Daniel J. Murphy Collection’, explores the work of the scholar Reverend Murphy (1858-1935) from the Ox Mountains in County Sligo. During his life-time, Reverend Murphy, together with JJ Lyons of Glenamaddy, collected over 1000 Irish language songs in Philadelphia and the surrounding coal-mining towns.   From the Aran Islands Deirdre is co-ordinator of the on-going project Amhráin Árann - Aran Songs and is currently writing a book about music-collecting in Ireland. This series of talks is dedicated to Martin Reilly, the celebrated Galway uilleann piper, and gives an opportunity to researcher-practitioners in Irish traditional music and dance to present their work in a public forum. Admission is free to all the talks in the Martin Reilly Lecture Series. Further information on all the talks in the series available on Facebook at Martin-Reilly-Lecture-Series or e-mail -Ends-

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NUI Galway Professor Elected Science Secretary of the Royal Irish Academy

NUI Galway Professor Elected Science Secretary of the Royal Irish Academy -image

Wednesday, 18 March 2015

Professor Peter McHugh was elected Science Secretary of the Royal Irish Academy at the Stated General Meeting of the RIA recently. The Royal Irish Academy is Ireland’s leading body of experts in the sciences and humanities. Founded in 1785 The Royal Irish Academy/Acadamh Ríoga na hÉireann is a publicly funded institution established for the promotion of Irish academic research. Professor Peter McHugh holds a BE in Mechanical Engineering from UCG (1987), and an MSc (1990) and PhD (1992) in Mechanics of Solids from Brown University, Providence, USA. He joined NUI Galway in 1991, where he is currently Professor of Biomedical Engineering and Head of Discipline of Biomedical Engineering, within the College of Engineering and Informatics. His research is focused on fundamental developments and applications of computational and experimental methods in biomechanics, tissue mechanics and medical implants and devices. He has taken a leadership role in the development of biomedical engineering in Ireland through high quality and prolific research and publication output, and undergraduate and graduate education programme generation. He has received numerous awards, including membership of the Royal Irish Academy (2011), the Silver Medal of the Royal Academy of Medicine in Ireland (Section of Bioengineering) in 2011, the Presidential Nominee Fellowship of Engineers Ireland in (2009), and the Alexander von Humboldt Fellowship (1995).  

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Galway Projects To Benefit From Research Funding Partnership

Galway Projects To Benefit From Research Funding Partnership-image

Thursday, 19 March 2015

Irish Research Council announce partnership with The Wheel The Irish Research Council (IRC) has announced that a number of Galway based projects will receive funding under a newly launched partnership with The Wheel, aimed at engaging community and voluntary organisations in academic research.  Researchers from the National University of Ireland Galway (NUIG) are collaborating with organisations such as COPE, Aiseanna Tacaíochta Networks, EmployAbility, Galway Simon Community, Burrenbeo Trust and Rape Crisis Network Ireland, to address pressing societal issues. Under the partnership, the IRC is awarding almost €400,000 to support collaborative projects between community and voluntary groups and researchers around the country. Galway Research Projects Dr Josephine Boland, NUI Galway, is working on one such research project. In association with Galway Simon Community, the research will develop a participatory approach to planning a new resettlement service which empowers young adults to exit homelessness, and transition to independent living. Other projects awarded funding include: COPE - Home Movies: Using Community Filmmaking to Explore Perspectives on Belonging. Aiseanna Tacaíochta Networks - Self Directed Support and Disability – Achieving Good Lives. EmployAbility – A series of events to explore the options of piloting a Community Café that employs people with disabilities for the new ILAS (Institute for Lifecourse and Society) building at NUI Galway.‌ Burrenbeo Trust - ‘Find out’: How to record objects from the past. Rape Crisis Network Ireland - “Sexy Consent”: Devising Workshops to Empower Young Adults to Negotiate Consent to Sexual Activity. Commenting today, Dr Eucharia Meehan, Director of the IRC, said: “Research can add value to all of society, benefiting all sectors, whether enterprise, government or civic, and ultimately benefits all citizens. “The partnership between the Irish Research Council and The Wheel is a new departure for the research sector.  It provides a targeted research funding mechanism which includes community and voluntary groups. The research findings from these projects will not only benefit grassroots communities, and inspire the work of researchers, but will also inform national policymaking for civic society.” Official Launch by Minister Jan O’Sullivan The partnership between the Irish Research Council and The Wheel was officially launched in Dublin by the Minister for Education and Skills, Jan O’Sullivan TD. Commenting at the launch, Minister O’Sullivan said: “Effective engagement between higher education and the community and voluntary sector is a key objective of the National Strategy for Higher Education.    “This partnership between the Irish Research Council and The Wheel will facilitate researchers to exchange knowledge and spread their work beyond academia.  At the same time, it will allow community and voluntary groups to access leading research expertise and to collaborate on cutting-edge research projects.  Ultimately, this will increase awareness of the benefit of research on society, and on our quality of life. I look forward to seeing the outcomes of the projects funded under this initiative.” For more information, visit ENDS

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