An Taoiseach Enda Kenny Helps Launch Visionary Initiative to be Supported by €300 Million Euro Fund

An Taoiseach Enda Kenny Helps Launch Visionary Initiative to be Supported by €300 Million Euro Fund-image

Thursday, 19 March 2015

The Global Sustainability Initiative (GSI), an innovative global impact investment project, joins the fight against global warming with the creation of a safe economic model for sustainable production and consumption of food, water and energy in disadvantaged regions of the world will have an initial focus on southern Africa. An Taoiseach Enda Kenny, Mayo County Council Cathaoirleach Damien Ryan and Mayo County Chief Executive Peter Hynes, were on hand in Washington DC for the announcement on Monday 16 March, and welcomed GSI’s launch, the result of five years of development and planning by Dublin-based OpenSparkz LP and its partners. Mayo County Council Enterprise and Investment Unit has worked with OpenSparkz to select suitable sites for GSI operations in the county and is delighted with this significant announcement today following detailed discussions regarding the project since last summer. NUI Galway will support research and development at the Global Sustainability Centre to be based in Castlebar. According to Dr Jim Browne, President of NUI Galway, who was in Washington DC for Monday’s announcement: “We are delighted to be part of this exciting and innovative new project. NUI Galway’s priority areas of research and development align closely with the Global Sustainability Initiative’s vision. We hope to work together and to apply our support and expertise to great effect.” “Ireland was chosen as headquarters for GSI given the country’s strong technology and skills base in sustainability, and in particular, its leadership in food technology and its long-term friendly relationships with Africa and other less developed markets,” says Paul Lindsey, CEO of Opensparkz.” In addition, the level of practical support we have received from the Mayo County Council and the Irish Government agencies provided a concrete stepping stone towards securing the necessary locations to allow substantial operations take place in Co. Mayo." OpenSparkz and leading innovative partner companies will develop a technology hub within the Castlebar facility to be called the Global Sustainability Centre, expecting to generate more than 250 new jobs. The financing of the Centre and GSI’s initial projects in Africa are led by investment bank BPA International Group in partnership with OpenSparkz. BPA. With formal approvals from the Luxembourg Regulator, the CSSF, BPA has launched an alternative investment fund “GSF1” in Luxembourg and is now taking investment commitments for some €300 million, forming the basis of a listed offering when GSI’s projects are sufficiently developed.  “Investments into GSI projects will come from the impact investment sector, as well as sovereign wealth funds, multilateral and supranational bodies and the multinational corporate and institutional brands,” says Stephen Johnson, Chairman of the BPA International Group. “In fact, these organisations strongly supporting global sustainability and are actively increasing their investments in development projects like GSI.” GSI and GSF1 The GSI initiative will play a role in helping to provide solutions to a series of world-scale challenges, including the development of viable new sustainable biomass fuel supplies which will be essential in helping Governments tackle the threat of global warming. GSF1 intends to secure land rights in South Africa which will be used to produce these biomass energy fuels in collaboration with local communities, who will benefit from the investment that will be made in improving their nutritional, health, education and technology conditions. The land will also be developed to produce large scale supplies of healthy bio-organic foods and new bio-diversity wildlife reserves to secure the survival of endangered species, including animals like the rhino, which are under increasing threat from poaching.  The GSF1 approach is unique in that 40% of the profits generated by the initiative will be reinvested as social dividends dedicated to the development of urgently needed social projects within these local and other communities, such as farming for food supply, water purification, health clinics, schools for education, energy and IT / tech connectivity. Global Sustainability Center Partners Research and development at the GSC will be supported by Irish universities and institutions, including the NUI Galway, GMIT and Mountbellew Agricultural College as well as the Western Development Commission. Opensparkz is also working closely with the IDA and Enterprise Ireland to help us to attract more leading global companies into the Centre and Ireland. Opensparkz has already started to attract global partners to the GSC in Castlebar including: Viridis Aquaponics (U.S) - food production through the use of aquaponics and high tech methodologies. ( New Generation Biogas (England) - technologies and equipment for local community power production and bio-fertilizers through anaerobic digestion. ( IFood Systems (Canada) - packaging technology that extends the shelf life, safety and vitality of agricultural food products. ( Flexiway Solar Solutions (Australia) a subsidiary of NRS International that creates fit-for-purpose solar lights for the humanitarian aid and international development sectors ( Hedviga Group (Czech Republic) products that convert organic materials from waste (rubber granules, sorted plastics, biomass and sorted municipal waste) into useable products and fuel. ( Arcadian Biomass (US) expertise in project development, construction, commissioning and operation of lumber, wood chipping, co-generation and wood pelletising operations. ( Aquiva Foundation (England) a registered charity delivering sustainable desalination project based on the innovative memsys technology in developing countries using waste heat from power generation or solar  ( Risk Management International, Ireland's longest established firm providing risk management and project assurance. ( Indaba Mobile, a South African-based mobile-focused enabling company that extends social networking and communication to the last mile in frontier markets. ( OpenCarb LP, an Irish-based enterprise, that secures, trades and assures biodiversity rights from sustainable  projects for the benefit of those communities protecting the environment. ( “This project has resulted from many years of research and development on a new economic model and best in class technologies that will work in less developed markets and deliver impact at scale to communities. The GSC will be a one stop shop to facilitate the delivery to communities of both capital and technologies.  It will focus on the big six basic community needs including Food, Energy, Water, Healthcare, Education and IT access, using an economic model based on trade rather than aid. This new approach of investment for impact provides both investors and communities alike better outcomes at scale,” says Declan Conway, Chairman and Founder of OpenSparkz LP. This is just the beginning of what is to become a major co-operation between developed countries and the developing ones but also the many powerful institutions, organisations and businesses that have already expressed interest in being involved - for a better world for everybody. The Global Sustainable Fund initiative was inspired from a commitment to action with the Clinton Global Initiative, a US-based group which was established by Bill Clinton to help support worthwhile projects globally. Accordingly, GSI is looking to play it's part in helping to solve some very big world-scale issues, including developing new sustainable fuel supplies to replace coal with biomass and providing sustainable food production which can help us all to tackle the catastrophic risks created by the threat of global warming. -ends-

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Become a Scientist at NUI Galway’s Bio-EXPLORERS Easter Science Camp

Become a Scientist at NUI Galway’s Bio-EXPLORERS Easter Science Camp-image

Monday, 23 March 2015

NUI Galway’s School of Natural Sciences Bio-EXPLORERS programme is now taking bookings for its Easter Holiday Science Camp running from 7-10 April. The camp is open to all young 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 Dugon, the host of RTÉ’s Bug Hunters, children will participate in activities such as discovering 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. The Bio-EXPLORERS programme’s primary goal is to inspire interest in science in the general public and to impact positively on science education. It proposes activities that are designed to engage children in a hands-on way and stimulate their interest in exploring science-related themes. The programme has engaged thousands of children in the West of Ireland since its creation and has been very active during the last Galway Science and Technology Festival. Last year Bio-EXPLORERS ran three successful science holiday camps at Easter and Summer time. 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 maximise the learning environment. The Easter Science Camp will run over four days from 9.30am to 4.30pm each day. The cost is €140 per child, €125 for additional siblings for this course which is packed with fun and exciting activities. Places are limited and will be allocated on a first-come first-served basis. For further information or to book a space on the Camp email or visit for more details on our activities. -Ends-      

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Public Seminar on Overseas Development and International Volunteering

Public Seminar on Overseas Development and International Volunteering-image

Monday, 23 March 2015

International volunteering and development will be the topic of a public seminar on Thursday, 26 March, from 10am to 1pm at NUI Galway. The event will be an opportunity to discuss development topics and learn about overseas development being carried out by the European Commission. This event will be of particular interest to the general public and those interested in volunteering overseas. The seminar is organised by the Europe Direct Information Centre, Ballinasloe Library in association with the Centre for Global Women's Studies at NUI Galway. It takes place in the Institute for Lifecourse and Society, NUI Galway (located near the Corrib Village entrance) and will be opened by Professor Pat Dolan, Director of the Child & Family Research Centre and UNESCO Chair in Children, Youth and Civic Engagement. A panel discussion and Q&A will be chaired by Dr Niamh Reilly, Co-Director, Centre for Global Women's Studies, School of Political Science and Sociology at NUI Galway. According to Dr Reilly: “We are organising this event in response to the European Year for Development 2015, a European Commission designated theme to nurture and engage development themes. The citizens of Galway and Ireland have a long held involvement in overseas development and volunteering, and this will be an opportunity to catch up on the latest initiatives.” The European Year for Development 2015 was launched in Dublin Castle by President Michael D. Higgins, earlier this year. At the time the President was quoted as saying, “This process will succeed only if it is nurtured by the energy, creativity and legitimacy of a wide range of social actors. Parliaments and citizens must not avert their gaze. They must hold governments to account to ensure that decisions are truly based on the needs of the people, including those who are marginalised and most vulnerable, our sisters and brothers in the human family.” Other speakers will include: Kerry Smith-Jefferys, Head of Advocacy PlanUK, who has a background in Human Rights Law with a career in the development sector specialising in conflict resolution, humanitarian response, children's rights and gender issues. Genet Adam and Faith Amanya, MA Students in Gender, Globalisation and Rights at NUI Galway, who will speak about their NGO background and their journey to an Irish Aid Scholarship. Lorraine Tansey, Coordinator at NUI Galway ALIVE Volunteering Programme, who will deliver a presentation on the current volunteering landscape. Paula Kenny of Irish Aid at the Department of Foreign Affairs will discuss funding. To find out more or register to attend visit -ends-

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Young people are ‘happier and healthier’ than a decade ago

Young people are ‘happier and healthier’ than a decade ago-image

Tuesday, 24 March 2015

NUI Galway lead Ireland’s involvement in study across 40 countries Young people are happier and healthier than their counterparts a decade ago, according to a major new study into the wellbeing of adolescents across Europe and North America. A study, part of collaboration with the World Health Organization (WHO), sheds new light on the habits and happiness of 11 to 15 year-olds in over 40 different countries across a 16 year period (1994-2010). The Irish partners, Drs Saoirse Nic Gabhainn, Michal Molcho and Colette Kelly from the Health Promotion Research Centre in NUI Galway co-authored the study launched today. Findings include some significant improvements in how young people report their own health and well-being. Overall, the results suggest that contemporary adolescents are in a better position than past generations. NUI Galway’s Dr Saoirse Nic Gabhainn, Principal Investigator for Ireland, commented, “Adolescence is a crucial stage in life when you lay the foundation for adulthood, whether that’s healthy or otherwise. While there is much to celebrate about the health and well-being of many young people today, others continue to experience real and worrying problems.” Over the last decade in Ireland there has been a decline in school-aged children drinking alcohol weekly and in experiencing multiple injuries. There have also been improvements in both self-rated health and ease of communication with parents. However, the study found increased pressure from schoolwork and no reductions in bullying. The study also identified a significant rise in Ireland of children from less affluent families having more health complaints. “By comparing today’s young people with their counterparts a decade ago we can better understand how their health is influenced by the circumstances in which they live; of real concern must now be the increases in social inequalities in Ireland, where children from poorer homes are more likely to report ill-health, and the gap between rich and poor has increased over time,” added Dr Nic Gabhainn. Trends in young people’s health and social determinants ‘Trends in young people’s health and social determinants’ is published today in The European Journal of Public Health. The study, led by St Andrews in Scotland, is the only study of its kind in Europe and North America. It features 20 papers from researchers taking part in the Health Behaviour in School-aged Children (HBSC) study, a cross-national collaboration with the WHO. HBSC Ireland is funded by the Department of Health. The papers included in the report describe how trends can be interpreted when looking at patterns and differences between countries, across areas such as eating habits, obesity, physical activity, bullying, safe sex, communication at home, and the use of alcohol, tobacco and cannabis. Despite the generally positive findings, many - if not the majority - of adolescents living in Europe and North America, still do not meet the recommendations for healthy living. Critically, several key groups still remain at risk of poor health, with potentially damaging and long-lasting consequences. The detailed analyses revealed that girls, older children and in particular those in Northern European countries experience lower levels of life satisfaction. Findings also reveal that in the majority of countries, children from less affluent families had more health complaints. This inequality has increased significantly over time in Ireland, as it has in Austria, Canada, France and Lithuania. The report suggests that while the overall optimistic picture seems surprising considering that many countries faced a severe economic crisis in the last decade, policies and actions to improve public health were implemented in many countries in the same period. It also concludes that the general feeling that young people are better off today could also be attributed to changes in fashions, behavioural norms and societal values. Dr Nic Gabhainn continued, “For almost 20 years the Irish HBSC study and research network has built up an increasingly detailed picture of trends and developments in adolescent health. This valuable database can support strategies to disrupt negative cycles that take root in the second decade and contribute to health inequities in the long-term. Policy makers can use this work to ensure that their decisions are targeted, effective and have their roots in the real world. Evidence such as this give all of us an opportunity to act to secure the health of the next generation.” ENDS

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CÚRAM hosts successful polymers in medicine conference

CÚRAM hosts successful polymers in medicine conference-image

Tuesday, 24 March 2015

First time annual AFPM conference has been held in Ireland A major conference on the future developments of polymers for medicine opened in Galway yesterday, and is being hailed a huge success by organisers. This is the first time the Advanced Functional Polymers in Medicine (AFPM) annual conference has been held in Ireland, and it continues until tomorrow. The Chair of the local organising committee is Professor Abhay Pandit, Director of the newly established Centre for Research in Medical Devices (CÚRAM) at NUI Galway, a Science Foundation Ireland Research Centre. Speaking about the conference, he said: “CÚRAM will use cutting-edge research in biomaterials to design medical devices to respond to the body’s environment and to deliver therapeutic agents, such as drugs, exactly where needed. We are delighted for CÚRAM to host the AFPM 2015 as our first conference because the research presented greatly compliments the aims of our research centre.” The aim of the AFPM 2015 conference is to strengthen multi-disciplinary collaborations between chemists, material engineers, physicists, biologists and clinicians to develop advanced functional polymers for medicine. Leading experts from across Europe and the international community in the field, are presenting the current status, challenges and requirements for future developments of polymers for medicine. A total of 120 delegates have gathered at the Hotel Meyrick for the event. Twenty-three international experts from across Europe, America and Asia are speaking at the meeting. These include major international scientific speakers such as Professor Todd McDevitt, Georgia Tech, USA and Professor Ali Miserez, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore. One of the highlights of the conference has been a talk by Professor Dennis Discher from University of Pennsylvania, USA. His research involves developing novel polymers to shrink tumours and treat genetic diseases. In addition to the invited speakers, young researchers also participated in the conference giving oral and poster presentations. The conference is in conjunction with the Marie Curie funded AngioMatTrain Research Summer School 3, the aim of which is to train researchers at the early stages of their career. PhD students and post-doctoral researchers played a significant role at the conference, which provided an outstanding opportunity to help young scientists in their career development and offer them an interdisciplinary discussion forum within an exclusive circle. The conference organisers gratefully acknowledged the support they have received from several funding agencies including EU Seventh Framework Programme for research, Science Foundation Ireland, Irish Research Council, Fáilte Ireland, Zwick and Stryker. -ends-  

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NUI Galway Taskforce on Gender Equality

NUI Galway Taskforce on Gender Equality-image

Wednesday, 25 March 2015

The new Task Force on gender equality at NUI Galway held its first meeting today on campus. The University is fully committed to achieving equality of opportunity for all staff, irrespective of gender, and the Task Force was given a broad remit by the University’s Governing Authority to consider the present gender mix among staff, including academic and support staff, and to advise the University what measures it should take to develop gender equality and over what timescale. The Task Force comprises 16 members in total – eight external and eight internal – with a wide spectrum of expertise and different perspectives. 11 of the 16 members are female, and a number of members are leading experts in the fields of equality and diversity. The Task Force will establish its own terms of reference and carry out its work independently of the University in an open and transparent manner. At its first meeting the Task Force agreed to consult widely with the University community on their experience of gender-related issues. The Task Force also noted the importance of ensuring alignment and consistency between its recommendations and the gender actions arising from the University’s submission under the Athena Swan programme which is due at the end of April. Recognising the importance and urgency of this issue, the Task Force will report periodically to the Governing Authority, and will produce a comprehensive report of its recommendations by no later than Spring 2016. Speaking after the meeting, Professor Jane Grimson, Chair of the Task Force, said: “The Task Force held its first meeting this morning and I am confident that the diversity of knowledge and experience among the membership of the Task Force will lead to well-informed decisions and recommendations on how to bring about sustainable transformation in gender equality and diversity in the University, in order to ensure that the contribution of all staff to the University is recognised and valued and that all staff are equally supported in their work to achieve their full potential. The Task Force looks forward to engaging with the University community, whose experience and suggestions are critical to ensuring meaningful and sustainable change.” The next meeting of the Task Force will take place in May. Ends

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NUI Galway Events to Focus on Disability Support Training and Awareness

NUI Galway Events to Focus on Disability Support Training and Awareness -image

Thursday, 26 March 2015

NUI Galway's Disability Support Service will run two training and awareness events next week. The first, an Employability Career Seminar will take place on Tuesday, 31 March from 6-7pm in the Careers Seminar Room on the concourse. The Employability seminar will focus on the recruitment and employment of people with disabilities and will include talks on career options, disclosure requirements and general CV tips. On Wednesday, 1 April, a Personal Evacuation Emergency Procedures training and awareness event will be held in The Cube, Áras na Mac Léinn from 1.15-2.50pm. The training will give advice and demonstrations on emergency evacuation procedures from fire or other emergency situations. The course is being given by Billy Henderson of Henderson Fire and Safety, one of Ireland's leading experts on disability emergency evacuation procedures and is suitable for anyone with an interest in this area. Denise Keaveney, Disability Support Officer at NUI Galway, said: “Employability and emergency safety procedures are areas of major importance to all members of society and these events will offer practical and valuable information for anyone who has experience of, an interest in, or responsibility in these areas.” -Ends-

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NUI Galway launches Strategic Plan with ambitious aims for 2020

NUI Galway launches Strategic Plan with ambitious aims for 2020-image

Thursday, 26 March 2015

• Catapult NUI Galway into the top 200 universities worldwide • Secure over €100 million in competitive EU research funds • Transform organisational culture to achieve gender equality • Provide 80% of students with work-based experience • Create new student accommodation and sports facilities • Enhance links with community through initiatives such as Industry and Innovation Hub and leading Galway’s European Capital of Culture bid NUI Galway’s President, Dr Jim Browne, today unveiled Vision 2020, the University’s new Strategic Plan 2015–2020. Over the next five years, the ambitious plan aims to catapult NUI Galway into the top 200 universities worldwide while securing €100 million in competitive EU research funds. For students, Vision 2020 promises work-based learning experiences across 80% of undergraduate programmes. Students will also benefit from new accommodation and enhanced facilities for field and water sports. Internationally, NUI Galway will maintain and grow the global spread of its student population, the five-year plan intends to have 25% of the student body coming from outside Ireland. Locally, the University plans to develop a major Industry and Innovation Hub and lead Galway’s bid for European Capital of Culture 2020. NUI Galway will also continue its key agenda of achieving gender equality and empowering staff to reach their full potential. At the unveiling of the plan to all university staff, Dr Browne spoke of the approach to the University’s 175th birthday in 2020 and how all present could be truly proud of recent successes: “The past decade has been a period of transformation and rapid growth especially in terms of our campus - with the development of new buildings, facilities and research laboratories. We have invested €400 million in our capital development. Now it’s time to build on the strengths of our people - to invest in and support our organisation as it becomes recognised locally and nationally and internationally as a university of choice, relevance and renown in the eyes if the world.” Catapult NUI Galway into the top 200 universities worldwide Bucking the national trend and consistently increasing its position over recent years in the most respected and competitive world rankings, - the Times Higher Education (314) and QS ranking (284) - NUI Galway was the only Irish university to increase its position in these two main international rankings. The European Commission’s U-Multi-rank system in 2015 scored NUI Galway the highest ranking of 4 A grades. NUI Galway also ranked in the Top 100 most international universities in 2015 in Times Higher Education’s indicator for international outlook. With its growing profile, NUI Galway will push its pursuit of an ambitious internationalisation agenda. It will commit to, and focus energy on being a top 200 ranked university by 2020. With this aim of becoming one of the world’s top-tier universities, it will build on relationships of substance that span the globe. This ambition will be driven by the University’s focus on internationally recognised achievements in specific areas of teaching, research, and community engagement. NUI Galway will maintain and grow the international nature of its student population. Vision 2020 commits the University to attract 25% of the student body from outside Ireland. Secure over €100 million in competitive EU research funds Building on the University’s success so far with European Research Council (ERC) grants, Vision 2020, commits to securing €100 million research funding from EU programmes. The University has prioritised five cross–disciplinary research themes, building on its international success: Applied Social Sciences and Public Policy; Biomedical Science and Engineering; Environment, Marine and Energy; Humanities in Context, including Digital Humanities; and Informatics, Data Analytics, Physical and Computational Sciences. A major success in recent years has been the expansion of PhD research at NUI Galway to have one of the highest rates of enrolment in Ireland on structured PhD programmes. The University will target in excess of 200 doctoral graduates per annum by 2020 and 80% of PhD students participating in structured PhD programmes, up from 40%. Transform organisational culture to achieve gender equality The University intends to serve and engage with its diverse communities in mutually enriching ways, through enhanced relationship on campus, in the region and around the world. Among its commitments to communities it serves, is its commitment to equality for staff. “NUI Galway is a university on a journey”, continued Dr Browne. Our grounds are open and welcoming, a centre of study and work, but also a place to visit, live work and play. Our human capital is our most valuable asset and we are committed to ensuring all colleagues have the opportunity to contribute fully and be recognised for their efforts. Our new Strategic Plan will actively respond to the developmental, professional and personal needs of all of our colleagues; transform the organisational culture to improve gender quality; and to secure Athena Swan award which recognises good employment practice for women working in higher education.” Provide 80% of students with work-placement opportunities and open new student accommodation and sports facilities The NUI Galway student is a global citizen and students are educated to be valued for their academic excellence, their distinctiveness, and their world readiness. Dr Browne explained: “Our first commitment is, and will always be, to our students and our commitment to delivering excellent academic and developmental opportunities for our students informs all our decision-making. NUI Galway’s reputation for top quality teaching is rightly celebrated and we will continue to provide, recognise and reward this teaching excellence.” The University’s teaching is widely recognised too in its successes in student retention and this very high rate of 84% will be maintained. The Strategic Plan outlines that 80% of all undergraduates will receive a work-based experience. The University is also recognised in its leadership in the use of online and blended learning technologies; and in its recruitment of students from non-traditional backgrounds. Vision 2020 will see these accomplishments enhanced, including revised admissions requirements for students applying from Northern Ireland and Great Britain. Among the targets outlined, the University has committed to the construction of new sports facilities, to include an elite water sports facility; 3G synthetic training and competition facility for all sporting codes; additional sports pitch; as well as an upgrade of existing natural grass surfaces. In addition, the University plans to make almost 1,000 new student residences available – bolstering its commitment to attracting international students. A new purpose-built home for Drama, Theatre and Performance will also be completed. The new Strategic Plan will enhance community partnership through initiatives such as an Industry and Innovation Hub and by leading Galway’s European Capital of Culture bid. ENDS Plean Straitéiseach seolta ag OÉ Gaillimh agus spriocanna uaillmhianacha aici don bhliain 2020 OÉ Gaillimh a bheith áirithe i measc an 200 ollscoil is fearr ar domhan Os cionn €100 milliún de chistí iomaíocha AE a ghnóthú Athrú ó bhonn a chur ar chultúr na heagraíochta chun comhionannas inscne a bhaint amach Socrúchán oibre a chur ar fáil do 80% de na mic léinn Áiseanna nua lóistín agus spóirt a chruthú do mhic léinn Naisc leis an bpobal a neartú trí thionscnaimh ar nós an Mhoil Tionsclaíochta agus Nuálaíochta agus ceannas a ghlacadh ar iarratas na Gaillimhe ar stádas mar Phríomhchathair Chultúir na hEorpa   Rinne Uachtarán Ollscoil na hÉireann, Gaillimh, an Dr Jim Browne, Fís 2020 – Plean Straitéiseach nua na hOllscoile, 2015–2020 – a sheoladh inniu. As seo go ceann cúig bliana, tá sé mar sprioc ag an bplean uaillmhianach an rangú atá ag Ollscoil na hÉireann, Gaillimh a ardú go tapa ionas go mbeidh sí i measc an 200 ollscoil is fearr ar domhan agus, mar aon leis sin, os cionn €100m de chistí iomaíocha AE a ghnóthú.  Maidir le mic léinn na hOllscoile, tá gealltanas in Fís 2020 go mbeidh eispéireas foghlama a bheidh bunaithe ar shocrúcháin oibre ar fáil in 80% de na cláir bhunchéime. Beidh tairbhe le baint ag na mic léinn freisin as árais nua chónaithe mar aon le háiseanna breise i gcomhair spórt páirce agus uisce. Ar bhonn idirnáisiúnta, méadóidh Ollscoil na hÉireann, Gaillimh líon na dtíortha as a dtagann a cuid mic léinn; tá sé mar aidhm ag an bplean cúig bliana seo gur as áiteanna lasmuigh d'Éirinn a thiocfadh 25% de mhic léinn na hOllscoile. Ar bhonn áitiúil, tá sé beartaithe ag an Ollscoil mol tábhachtach tionsclaíochta agus nuálaíochta a fhorbairt agus ceannas a ghlacadh ar iarratas na Gaillimhe ar stádas mar Phríomhchathair Chultúir na hEorpa sa bhliain 2020. Leanfaidh an Ollscoil freisin den chúram atá leagtha roimpi aici cothroime inscne a thabhairt i gcrích agus an fhoireann oibre a chumasú le barr a gcumais a bhaint amach. Agus an plean á chur i láthair fhoireann uile na hOllscoile aige, labhair an Dr Browne ar an gcur chuige a bheidh ag an Ollscoil nuair a bheidh cothrom 175 bliain a bunaithe á cheiliúradh in 2020, agus ar an mórtas ba chóir a bheith ar chuile dhuine a bhí i láthair as ucht ar baineadh amach le deireanas: "Tá athrú mór chun feabhais agus fás fíorthapa tagtha orainn le deich mbliana anuas, go háirithe i dtaobh an champais de, agus foirgnimh, áiseanna agus saotharlanna taighde nua ar an bhfód anois againn. Tá €400 milliún infheistithe againn san fhorbairt caipitil. Caithfimid anois cur le cumas ár ndaoine – infheistíocht agus tacaíocht a thabhairt dár n-institiúid agus í ag baint aitheantas áitiúil agus náisiúnta amach mar ollscoil a bhfuil clú, cáil agus meas uirthi ar fud an domhain mhóir." OÉ Gaillimh a bheith áirithe i measc an 200 ollscoil is fearr ar domhan Ainneoin gur ar gcúl a chuaigh ollscoileanna eile na tíre, tá Ollscoil na hÉireann, Gaillimh ag dul ó neart go neart le blianta beaga anuas sna ranguithe iomaíocha domhanda is mó a dtugtar aird idirnáisiúnta orthu – rangú Times Higher Education (314) agus rangú QS (284) – ba í Ollscoil na hÉireann, Gaillimh an t-aon ollscoil Éireannach a chuaigh chun tosaigh sa dá mhór-rangú idirnáisiúnta seo. I gcóras U-Multi-rank an Choimisiúin Eorpaigh in 2015, d'éirigh le hOllscoil na hÉireann, Gaillimh an rangú is airde – ceithre Ghrád A – a bhaint amach. Áiríodh Ollscoil na hÉireann, Gaillimh freisin ar an 100 ollscoil is idirnáisiúnta i rangú an Times Higher Education i leith béim idirnáisiúnta. Agus a próifíl ag neartú léi, cuirfidh Ollscoil na hÉireann, Gaillimh roimpi spriocanna uaillmhianacha don idirnáisiúnú a bhaint amach. Leagfaidh sí roimpi mar sprioc dhaingean a bheith áirithe ar an 200 ollscoil is fearr ar domhan faoi 2020 agus oibreoidh sí go fuinniúil ina leith sin. Agus é mar sprioc aici a bheith áirithe ar na hollscoileanna is fearr ar domhan, cuirfidh sí dlús breise le caidrimh thábhachtacha atá aici le dreamanna timpeall an domhain. Beidh an uaillmhian seo á tiomáint ag an mbéim atá ag an Ollscoil ar mhórghníomhartha a bhfuil aitheantas idirnáisiúnta acu i sainréimsí teagaisc, taighde agus rannpháirtíochta sa phobal. Méadóidh Ollscoil na hÉireann, Gaillimh an sciar dá mic léinn ar ón gcoigríoch iad. Tá sé mar aidhm ag Fís 2020 gur as áiteanna lasmuigh d'Éirinn a thiocfadh 25% de mhic léinn na hOllscoile trí chéile. Os cionn €100 milliún de chistí iomaíocha AE a ghnóthú Agus an Ollscoil ag tógáil ar a bhfuil bainte amach cheana féin ó thaobh deontais ón gComhairle Eorpach um Thaighde, leagtar sprioc dhaingean amach in Fís 2020 luach €100 milliún de chistí taighde a fháil ó chláir Eorpacha. Tá an Ollscoil tar éis cúig théama taighde thrasdisciplíneacha a shonrú mar réimsí tosaíochta, agus í ag tógáil ar a bhfuil bainte amach cheana féin aici go hidirnáisiúnta: Eolaíochtaí Sóisialta Feidhmeacha agus Beartas Poiblí; Eolaíocht Bhithleighis agus Innealtóireacht; Comhshaoil, Muir agus Fuinneamh; Daonnachtaí i gComhthéacs, lena n-áirítear Daonnachtaí Digiteacha; agus Ionformaitic, Anailísíocht Sonraí, Eolaíochtaí Fisiciúla agus Ríomhaireachtúla. D'éirigh thar cionn leis an Ollscoil le blianta beaga anuas ó thaobh méadú ar an taighde PhD agus tá ceann de na rátaí clárúcháin is airde ar chláir PhD struchtúrtha in Éirinn trí chéile ag an Ollscoil. Tá sé mar sprioc ag an Ollscoil 200 céimí PhD a bheith aici in aghaidh na bliana faoin mbliain 2020 agus 80% de na mic léinn PhD a bheith ag tabhairt faoi chláir PhD struchtúrtha, ardú ar an 40% atá i gceist faoi láthair. Athrú ó bhonn a chur ar chultúr na heagraíochta chun comhionannas inscne a bhaint amach Tá i gceist ag an Ollscoil freastal ar a cuid pobail ilchineálacha agus caidreamh a bhunú leis na pobail sin ionas go mbainfidh na pobail agus an Ollscoil araon tairbhe as an gceangal atá eatarthu; neartófar an gaol idir na pobail agus an Ollscoil ar an gcampas, sa taobh seo tíre trí chéile agus timpeall an domhain d'fhonn an sprioc sin a bhaint amach. I measc ghealltanais na hOllscoile do na pobail ar a bhfreastalaíonn sí, tá an gealltanas i leith comhionannas do chomhaltaí foirne. "Tá Ollscoil na hÉireann, Gaillimh ar aistear", a dúirt an Dr Browne. Tá tailte na hOllscoile fairsing agus fáilteach – áit le haghaidh staidéir agus oibre, ach áit freisin le cuairt a thabhairt air, le cónaí ann agus le siamsaíocht a dhéanamh ann. Is iad ár ndaoine an acmhainn is luachmhaire dá bhfuil againn agus tá rún daingean againn an deis a thabhairt dár gcomhghleacaithe uile a gcion iomlán féin a dhéanamh agus go bhfaighidís aitheantas as a gcuid iarrachtaí. Sa Phlean Straitéiseach nua seo, rachfar i ngleic go gníomhach le riachtanais fhorbarthacha, ghairmiúla agus phearsanta ár gcomhghleacaithe uile; cuirfear athrú ó bhonn ar chultúr na heagraíochta chun comhionannas inscne a bhaint amach; agus bainfear gradam Athena Swan amach mar aitheantas don dea-chleachtas fostaíochta do mhná atá ag obair san earnáil ardoideachais.” Socrúchán oibre a chur ar fáil do 80% de na mic léinn agus áiseanna nua lóistín agus spóirt a chruthú do mhic léinn Is saoránaigh den domhan mór iad mic léinn Ollscoil na hÉireann, Gaillimh agus oiltear iad ionas go mbeidh meas orthu as a bhfeabhas acadúil, a sainiúlacht, agus as a bheith ullamh don saol mór. Mar a mhínigh an Dr Browne: "Is dár mic léinn a thugaimid tús áite, agus beidh sé sin amhlaidh i gcónaí; an rún atá againn deiseanna acadúla agus forbarthacha den scoth a thabhairt dár mic léinn, is air sin a bhunaímid chuile chinneadh dá ndéanaimid. Tá clú agus cáil ar Ollscoil na hÉireann, Gaillimh as feabhas a cuid teagaisc agus leanfaimid den ardchaighdeán teagaisc seo a chur ar fáil, a aithint agus luach saothair a thabhairt ina leith.” Léiriú eile ar ardchaighdeán an teagaisc san Ollscoil is ea a fheabhas a éiríonn linn mic léinn a choinneáil; déanfar an ráta an-ard seo – 84% – a choimeád. Leagtar amach sa Phlean Straitéiseach go gcuirfear socrúchán oibre ar fáil do 80% de na mic léinn. Aithnítear fosta go bhfuil an Ollscoil ar thús cadhnaíochta i dtaca le teicneolaíochtaí ar líne agus teicneolaíochtaí foghlama cumaisc; agus i dtaca le hearcaíocht mac léinn ó chúlraí neamhthraidisiúnta. Ach a gcuirfear Fís 2020 i gcrích, neartófar tuilleadh an méid atá á bhaint amach sna cúrsaí seo; áirítear air sin riachtanais iontrála leasaithe le haghaidh mic léinn ó Thuaisceart Éireann agus ón mBreatain Mhór. Ar na spriocanna atá leagtha amach, tá gealltanas ón Ollscoil go dtógfar áiseanna nua spóirt – áis spóirt uisce éilíte ina measc; áis traenála agus comórtais shintéiseach 3G le haghaidh chuile chineál spóirt; páirc spóirt bhreise; agus uasghrádú ar na páirceanna féir atá ann faoi láthair. Lena chois sin, tá sé beartaithe ag an Ollscoil beagnach 1,000 áras cónaithe nua a chur ar fáil do mhic léinn – léiriú ar a dháiríre is atá sí mic léinn ón iasacht a thabhairt chun na Gaillimhe.  Cuirfear bailchríoch freisin ar áras saintógtha don Amharclannaíocht, Drámaíocht agus Taibhléiriú. Leis an bPlean Straitéiseach nua seo, déanfar naisc leis an bpobal a neartú trí thionscnaimh ar nós an Mhoil Tionsclaíochta agus Nuálaíochta agus trí cheannas a ghlacadh ar iarratas na Gaillimhe ar stádas mar Phríomhchathair Chultúir na hEorpa. CRÍOCH

>> Read full story about NUI Galway launches Strategic Plan with ambitious aims for 2020

Technologies which mimic the human eye to be developed for large space telescopes

 Technologies which mimic the human eye to be developed for large space telescopes -image

Monday, 30 March 2015

Scientists at NUI Galway are developing technologies which mimic the human eye for use in large space telescopes. This optics research activity is being carried out under a contract awarded by the European Space Agency (ESA) for €1 million, under the title ‘Active Optics Correction Chain for Large Monolithic Mirrors’, and it is funded by the ESA Technology Research Programme. The Principal Investigator on the project is Dr Nicholas Devaney of the School of Physics at NUI Galway. He has many years of experience developing adaptive optics systems for different applications, including astronomy, imaging of the human retina, and microscopy. Over the next four years, Dr Devaney and his colleague, Dr Alexander Goncharov, will design and build a functioning ‘active optics’ system suitable for application to space telescopes. Part of the work will be subcontracted to the prestigious Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Optics in Germany. According to Dr Devaney: “Active optics might be a solution to the problem of image blurring associated with large telescopes deployed in space. With active optics, the optical elements are adjusted until a sharp image is obtained. This is similar to the way in which our eyes are capable of focusing on both distant objects and objects that are close to us, by adjusting the shape of the lenses in our eyes.” The researchers believe that even more precise control can be obtained using specialised sensors, called ‘wavefront sensors’. These are specially designed to measure the deviation of the light waves from their ideal shape, while a ‘deformable mirror’ can be used to correct the light. The team will develop a device which they hope can be a prototype for integration into future, large space telescopes. The blurring in imagery in large space telescopes is caused by the use of ultra-thin mirrors which are inherently ‘floppy’. Engineers have developed these thin mirrors to reduce the weight of the telescope, and therefore the cost of launching them into space. Space telescopes can provide exquisite images of the cosmos, with a new generation of even larger telescopes coming on stream in the coming years. These will carry on the work of the likes of the Hubble Space Telescope, which was launched in 1990. The Herschel space observatory, launched in 2009 by the European Space Agency, had a telescope diameter of 3.5m. The James Webb Space Telescope will be launched by NASA in 2018, and it will have a diameter of 6.5m, almost three times larger than the Hubble Space Telescope. The European Space Agency is currently exploring enabling technologies for large optical systems in space, for observation of the universe or for observing the Earth itself. “Active optics has not yet been used in space, and it is necessary to develop it for future space telescopes,” explains Dr Devaney. “This technology has already been developed for telescopes on the ground. In fact many Earth-based telescopes have systems called ‘adaptive optics’ which even correct for blur caused by atmospheric turbulence.”  -ends-

>> Read full story about Technologies which mimic the human eye to be developed for large space telescopes

International Conference on Intercultural Theatre and Performance

International Conference on Intercultural Theatre and Performance-image

Monday, 30 March 2015

NUI Galway will host a major international conference on ‘Interculturalism and Performance Now: New Directions?’ from 10-11 April. The conference will feature leading scholars in intercultural theatre and performance studies from Australia, Canada, the United States, the UK and Turkey. The conference is being organised by NUI Galway’s Dr Charlotte McIvor, NUI Galway Lecturer in Drama and Theatre Studies, and Dr Jason King, a Postdoctoral Fellow in the Moore Institute, as part of an Irish Research Council funded project on ‘Interculturalism, Migration and Performance in Contemporary Ireland’ at NUI Galway. International experts such as Professor Rustom Bharucha from India, Professor Ric Knowles from Canada, and Professors Julie Holledge and Joanne Tompkins from Australia, among others, will give lectures about interculturalism, theatre and performance during the conference. Dr Charlotte McIvor’s new book, entitled Staging Intercultural Ireland: New Plays and Practitioner Perspectives, which she co-edited with Dr Matthew Spangler, an Associate Professor of Performance Studies at San José State University in California, will also be launched at the conference by Professor Patrick Lonergan, Director of NUI Galway’s Centre for Drama, Theatre and Performance. The edited collection contains eight plays with critical introductions, and six interviews with migrant and Irish-born theatre artists who are producing work at the intersection of interculturalism and inward-migration in Ireland during the first decades of the 21st Century. The book offers a contribution to transnational migration studies, as well as intercultural theatre research in a global context. Dr McIvor said: “We are so excited to be welcoming some of the most distinguished experts from around the world to the campus and to Galway so that they can experience and visit Ireland’s most intercultural city. It is especially fitting that Staging Intercultural Ireland is going to be launched at the conference, which brings together the most distinguished experts in the field. It will help them get a sense of how intercultural theatre and performance have developed in Galway in Ireland.” During the conference, Stories of a Yellow Town will be performed by The Gombeens on Friday, 10 April from 4.30 – 6.30pm in the Bank of Ireland Theatre on campus. The play is based on an intertwining of true personal stories told in the words of the Brazilian and Irish people living in Gort, Co. Galway. The conference, launch of Staging Intercultural Ireland: New Plays and Practitioner Perspectives, and Dr Charlotte McIvor and Dr Jason King’s ongoing work on the Irish Research Council funded “Interculturalism, Migration and Performance in Contemporary Ireland” project all attest to the cutting edge research at NUI Galway on intercultural theatre and performance in Ireland. For more information or to register for the conference, contact Dr Jason King at Registration fees will cost €30 for Faculty/Salaried and €15 for Postgraduate/Unsalaried. -ends-   

>> Read full story about International Conference on Intercultural Theatre and Performance

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