August 2004

NUI Galway's Digital Enterprise Research Institute (DERI) - Weaving the New Web

NUI Galway's Digital Enterprise Research Institute (DERI) - Weaving the New Web-image

Monday, 30 August 2004

Emerging Internet Technologies - the Semantic Web - has massive business,technology, and social applications. A research project at NUI Galway's Digital Enterprise Research Institute (DERI) entitled the Friend of a Friend (FOAF) project (http://www.foaf-project.org/), is a practical experiment designed to identify and solve social and business concerns arising from the next generation of web technology - the "semantic web". The first FOAF Workshop which takes place on 1-2 September at NUI Galway, will bring together people from all perspectives to discuss the issue. It will be attended by social, technical, legal, business and academic parties to try to shape and mould the evolution of these new social applications of internet technology with the budding semantic web. Online Social Networking sites and the Friend-of-a-Friend standard make it possible for communities to exist on the Internet and allow companies to build infrastructure to connect people and manage connections. FOAF and Online Social Networking also open significant business and usage opportunities. "The FOAF standard acts as a crystallization point for development of the Semantic Web", says Dr Decker. "People are extending the FOAF standard to manage their own personal and business information. Dr John Breslin, another organizer, and also a researcher at DERI, says: "Until recently, each site kept its own database of personal information. This meant that each time you visited a separate site you had to re-enter the same information. A similar thing happens each time you buy something off the Internet. Go to a different shopping site and you have to retype in the same information over again. The semantic web will allow your computer to do this automatically for you. The challenge is to enable your computer to "know" what information is appropriate to give out about you." There is a growing user and business interest in being able to transport relevant information between sites. This obviously raises big security issues. No one wants information that they enter for personal reasons to be available to marketers, spammers or fraudsters. FOAF is trying to reduce the need for data re-entry, while allowing users to control who sees what information about them. Topics to be discussed will include, among others Applications of online social networks; Trust Issues in social networks; Privacy, etiquette and best practice issues for aggregators; Exchange of social network information; Integration with desktop and mobile applications; Business Models for the Semantic Web (Life after banner advertisements). Ends

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September 2004

Presentation to National University of Ireland, Galway of the Shields Family Arc

Presentation to National University of Ireland, Galway of the Shields Family Arc-image

Thursday, 30 September 2004

- giving students greater insight into Arthur Shields and his contribution to the Irish Cultural Revival and Abbey Theatre- Collection includes: Unpublished letters of Yeats, Lady Gregory and O'Casey Rare first editions of books signed by the authors, including Pomes Penyeach (the 1927 Paris edition) by James Joyce Collection of Abbey plays from the 1920s onwards The National University of Ireland, Galway is delighted today (Thursday 30th September) to announce the gift to the Library and the University of the papers of the late Abbey actor Arthur Shields and those of the Shields Family (Barry Fitzgerald was a brother of Arthur Shields). The collection was presented to the President of the University, Dr Iognáid Ó Muircheartaigh, by Arthur Shields' daughter Christine Shields, at an event hosted in the James Hardiman Library. This extensive archive which includes posters, programmes, and playscripts - including annotated directors' playscripts of many Abbey productions from the 1920s and 1930s and material relating to the administration of those tours: press cuttings, photographs, correspondence, and financial accounts, will complement the Library's existing theatre archives. Commenting on the donation, The President of NUI Galway, Dr Iognáid Ó Muircheartaigh, said: "Outside of the Abbey itself and the National Library, this archive is the strongest collection relating to the Abbey and will be of enormous benefit to the study of twentieth century Irish theatre in the University. This donation will give our students greater insight into the work and contribution of Arthur Shields. We are committed to the advancement of Film and Theatre Studies at this University and the growth of our theatre archive along with the progress of the Huston School of Film and Digital Media, demonstrates this commitment." Marie Reddan, Librarian at the James Hardiman Library added, "We are honoured to receive this outstanding donation which will enhance our Library's existing theatre archives which include those of Druid, Macnas, An Taibhdhearc, Galway Arts Festival, The O'Malley Lyric Theatre Belfast and also the John McGahern literary archive." The collection also comes with Arthur Shields' book collection, which includes many of the Abbey plays from the twenties onwards. Shields was from his youth, committed to the Irish cultural revival (he was one of the last fighters to remain in the GPO in Easter 1916), and he acquired a very complete library of Irish poems, plays, and stories of the period. This collection includes rare first editions with copies signed by the authors, such as a copy of Pomes Penyeach (the 1927 Paris edition) by James Joyce. The bequest resulted from the enthusiasm of Dr Adrian Frazier of the Department of English at National University of Ireland, Galway who in his research on Irish actors in Hollywood in the 30s and 40s, (when Arthur Shields managed Abbey tours to America), became aware of the papers which were in the possession of Arthur Shields' daughter Christine, who lives in Oakland, California. Aware of Christine's desire to see the collection located in Ireland, Frazier signalled the particular interest of the National University of Ireland, Galway and in a relatively short time, the collection was donated to the University. Ends

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NUI Galway Physicist receives International Award at the Hungarian Academy of Science

NUI Galway Physicist receives International Award at the Hungarian Academy of Science-image

Wednesday, 29 September 2004

Dr Colin O'Dowd, NUI Galway, was the 2004 recipient of the Smoluchowski Award in Aerosol Science, awarded at the European Aerosol Conference, held at the Hungarian Academy of Science in Budapest this month. He is the first Irish recipient of this prestigious award. Aerosol Science is the study of airborne particles which range in size from nanometres (one thousand millionth of a meter) to millimetres and influences all aspects of our life from medical, industrial and environmental disciplines. This honour is awarded annually to a distinguished young scientist (under the age of 40) who has contributed outstanding research works to the field of Aerosol Science over the last 2-3 years. The award is in honour of the Polish physicists, Marian Smoluchowski (1872-1917), for pioneering works in aerosol physics. Dr O'Dowd's research focuses on the impact of atmospheric aerosols on climate change and air quality. Atmospheric aerosols are required to form clouds and consequently have an important impact on the global hydrological cycle. Also, both cloud and aerosol haze layers block the sun's heat and are predicted to partially reduce global warming from greenhouse gas emissions. O'Dowd has had 3 of his articles published in Nature – the world's premier scientific journal – over the last 2 years and has published more than 150 scientific articles over the last 14 years. The aerosol science award is open to competition from the fields of Fundamental Aerosol Physics, Medical Aerosols, Industrial Aerosols, Process Engineering, Combustion Aerosols, and Atmospheric Aerosol Science. Since its inception in 1986, there have been three awards in the field of Atmospheric Aerosols (one each for Finland, the UK and the US) and now Dr O'Dowd of Ireland. Ends

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NUI Galway scoops Hewlett Packard Mobile Technology award

NUI Galway scoops Hewlett Packard Mobile Technology award-image

Monday, 27 September 2004

NUI Galway has been named as one of only seven European universities to be funded by the Hewlett Packard (HP) sponsored Mobile Technology for Teaching Grants Scheme. The award, worth $100,000, consists of 40 state-of-the-art wireless enabled laptops, tablet PC devices, and mobile computing network infrastructure. All second year B.Sc. (IT) students will have use of a laptop, and will have full access – using the on-campus mobile network - to internet-based software, virtual classrooms and collaborative working environments. The project, managed by the Department of Information Technology, was selected based on its innovation potential and its scope to enhance the learning of students on the accredited B.Sc. degree programme in Information Technology. This technology award will facilitate an enhancement of the project-based learning approach, widely used in the B.Sc. (IT), by enabling the class to work together as a team to design and build an industry-standard internet auction site. The project will also make use of the skills learned by students on both the business and language streams, and will be translated into European languages. Dr. Jim Duggan, Project Leader, and Lecturer at the IT department, says that the great benefit of this project is that B.Sc. (IT) students will gain a unique insight into the real-world complexities of internet software development. "They will appreciate the scale of these projects, get a chance to apply their technical, business and language skills, and experience the challenges and excitement of working as part of a large team,." The project will run for the entire academic year, and the laptop resources will be made available to future second year classes of the B.Sc. (IT). Ends

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Global Oil reserves will be depleted by 2030

Global Oil reserves will be depleted by 2030-image

Friday, 24 September 2004

Global oil reserves will be fully depleted by the year 2030 and the introduction of alternative fuels must be a priority for governments across the globe, according to Professor John Simmie who was speaking at the official opening of the Environmental Change Institute (ECI) at NUI Galway today (September 24th 2004). The Environmental Change Institute was officially opened by Jim Higgins MEP and has been established as a result of successful bids by NUI Galway to obtain funding (€10.62m) under Cycles II and III of the Irish Government's Programme for Research in Third Level Institutions (PRTLI). The research into biodiesel is a unique study by an Irish university into the uses and functionality of biodiesel which is the only alternative fuel that can be used directly in any existing, unmodified diesel engine. Biodiesel is a renewable fuel derived from vegetable oils and animal fats. It has a positive impact on global warming and can limit dependence on foreign-derived fuel supplies. Professor John Simmie of the Department of Chemistry and ECI at NUI Galway said, "With global oil reserves severely threatened, we must seek alternative methods of fuel production. The situation is extremely serious. Oil production has peaked in 52 out of 99 oil producing countries and it is estimated that oil will be depleted by 2030. Research into alternative methods of fuel is vital if we are to maintain energy levels going forward." Professor John Simmie also stated that the Irish Government must take immediate measures to curb the amount of carbon dioxide being discharged by Irish consumers and suggested that biodiesel represents a realistic alternative, producing approximately 80% less carbon dioxide emissions and almost 100% less sulphur dioxide. Based on tests, biodiesel also provides a 90% reduction in cancer risks. Biodiesel also replaces the smelly exhaust odour of petroleum diesel with the pleasant aroma of freshly-cooked popcorn or chips. While the research is at the initial stages, the Environmental Change Institute estimates that biodiesel could be a reality in Irish vehicles quite soon. Speaking at the official opening of the ECI, Professor Emer Colleran, Director of ECI added, "We are very excited about the wealth of research projects being undertaken at the Environmental Change Institute. We are working hard to make a significant and positive contribution to tackle global environmental issues and to the very challenging field of Environmental Change Research. The development of the ECI has been made possible through PRTLI funding which enables us to adopt an interdisciplinary approach to this research, where we can bring together a pool of experienced researchers and post-graduate students in a state of the art facility. NUI Galway is renowned for the quality of its work internationally and we look forward to the development of the ECI and the positive impact that the findings of the Institute's research will have on making significant environmental change across the globe." Professor John Simmie also called on the Irish Government to impose measures to curtail the purchase of SUVs and to reduce the size of car engines. "The rising level of affluence in Irish society is having detrimental affects on our environment especially with the introduction of larger engines and the growing attraction of sports utility vehicles (SUVs). The Irish government must curtail the purchase of SUVs which guzzle fuel and as a result are emitting twice as much carbon dioxide as ordinary cars." Other areas of research being undertaken at the ECI include a study by Dr Vincent O'Flaherty and student Niamh Breathnach into levels of contamination in Irish drinking water, which will result in recommendations to the Environmental Protection Agency on how best to reduce the levels of contaminated drinking water. Research is also being undertaken into Marine Environmental Modelling by Dr Michael Hartnett, which is a study into the transport of pollutants discharged into the coastal waters and seas surrounding Ireland. Professor Emer Colleran, is also undertaking a study into reducing the effects of landfill gas emissions and the resulting effect on global warming. Ends

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Screening for harmful algae and their toxins to improve shellfish quality

Screening for harmful algae and their toxins to improve shellfish quality-image

Monday, 20 September 2004

Phytoplankton research at the National Diagnostics Centre, NUI Galway New molecular tests to identify the presence of dangerous phytoplankton in Irish waters are being carried out by scientists at NUI Galway. Phytoplankton are microscopic organisms and a major plant life in the sea. A small proportion of these, known as harmful algal blooms, produce substances that are toxic to humans and can cause fish kills. This new research, being conducted by the National Diagnostics Centre in collaboration with the Martin Ryan Institute at the University, and funded by the Higher Education Authority is aimed at developing more automated tests than are currently in existence, to identify the presence of these harmful species and their toxins. The NUI Galway project is two-pronged and involves a range of experts at the National Diagnostics Centre and the Martin Ryan Institute. The first part of the project is exploiting a molecular technology, the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) in combination with DNA probes, short specific sequences of DNA, to identify HAB species. These tests will enable rapid detection of toxic species thereby providing an early warning system for their presence in shellfish production areas. The other part of the research programme at the NDC involves the production of antibodies specific for the algal toxins. The detection systems involving antibodies are not labour-intensive and relatively unskilled personnel can produce reliable and reproducible results. The two major stakeholders with an interest in such a research project are the consumer and the fish-farmer. The consumer requires good quality shellfish for consumption and the fish-farmer depends on this industry for a sustainable livelihood. When toxic phytoplankton are found in water, a decision has to be taken on the possible closure of various waters or bays in the vicinity, while follow-up examinations are carried out to ascertain if toxins are present. "Exports of Irish shellfish are currently worth €50 million annually to the Irish economy," says Dr Majella Maher, who is leading the molecular technology section of the three-year project, due to be completed next year. Dr Maher explains that one of the drawbacks of the existing visual method of identification is that it can be difficult to identify precisely some of the toxic phytoplankton species present in samples. "However, with specific molecular tests, we could identify all toxic species," she says. "As the procedure involves fully-automated instrumentation, results become available within a single working-day." Dr Marian Kane, Manager of the National Diagnostics Centre and one of the leaders of this project, says: "A variety of analytical methods is required for the detection and determination of algal toxins in shellfish to satisfy the requirements of both the commercial producers and the regulatory agencies". "Antibodies are versatile tools – they are cheap to produce on a large scale and can be used for fully-automated test systems, such as biomolecular interaction analysis (BIA) assays, or packaged into rapid detection systems that can be used at the point where they are needed, rather than sending samples to laboratories for toxin detection," says Dr Kane. This research is being carried out in collaboration with the Martin Ryan Institute, NUI Galway, and the National Marine Institute, now also based in Galway. Ends

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Israeli academic to provide insights into multi-ethnic education

Israeli academic to provide insights into multi-ethnic education-image

Monday, 13 September 2004

The Arab-Israeli conflict is rarely absent from world news and the deep-seated problems associated with it often seem intractable. Educating young people on both sides to understand and respect each other's past is a positive contribution towards creating a long-term peaceful society in that troubled region. One such man who has done valuable work in this area is Dr Simon Lichman who will be in Galway this week, to give a talk entitled Using Culture and Folklore in Education to Build Bridges Between Arab and Jewish Children In Israel, in Room D 202, Education Technology Building, NUI Galway on Friday, 17 September at 12.00 noon. The talk is hosted by the University's Department of Education. Dr Simon Lichman, a graduate of Hebrew University and the University of Pennsylvania, has specialized in drama, folklore and the use of culture and traditions to better understand our past as a means to positively shape our future. He is the initiator and Director of the Traditional Creativity in the Schools Project. The Project works with Islamic Palestinian and Jewish Israeli children in twinned classes and schools and focuses on both the commonalities and the differences in their shared Semitic cultural backgrounds. It creates relationships, sometimes friendships and provides a basis amongst ordinary people for a peaceful co-existence. "There are clearly some parallels between the troubles in Northern Ireland and the situation in Israel/Palestine so as well as being of interest in its own right, the lecture will be of particular interest to an Irish audience for this reason," says Professor Keith Sullivan, Department of Education, NUI Galway. "Dr Lichman is an excellent speaker who provides an insight into how he and his colleagues in the Traditional Creativity in the Schools project have dealt with a difficult problem in a way that is both respectful towards and enabling for both cultures involved. The solutions provided will also provide useful insights for those who have an interest in multiethnic educational initiatives for an increasingly ethnically-mixed Ireland." The lecture should be of interest to teachers, from the primary, second and third level sectors, to University academics and to anyone interested in human rights issues in education. Ends

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NUI Galway to host Major Conference on Human Rights and Disability Discriminatio

NUI Galway to host Major Conference on Human Rights and Disability Discriminatio-image

Thursday, 9 September 2004

The Disability Law & Policy Research Unit (based in the Law Faculty, NUI Galway) and the Equality Authority, are to co-host a major conference entitled Human Rights and Disability Discrimination: Exploring the Value Added by the ECHR and other sources of European Law, on Saturday 25th September from 9.00am-5.30pm in the Fottrell Theatre, Arts Millennium Building, NUI Galway. The conference is one of the first events to deal with the immediate implications of incorporation of the European Convention on Human Rights into Irish law for a particular category of persons and comes on the eve of publication of the long-awaited Disabilities Bill. It will be of interest to persons involved in disability discrimination litigation whether as litigants or lawyers as well as to those involved in public policy, service delivery and research. Speakers include: Niall Crowley and Eilis Barry of the Equality Authority; Professor Gerard Quinn, Donncha O'Connell, Shivaun Quinlivan, Mary Keys and Dr. Laurent Pech of the Law Faculty, NUI Galway; and Des Hogan of the Irish Human Rights Commission. The conference will also be addressed by two experts from the United Kingdom: Anna Lawson of the University of Leeds and David Ruebain, a solicitor specialising in disability discrimination litigation with a particular interest in the education rights of young persons with disabilities. The conference will be addressed by Alderman Catherine Connolly, Mayor of Galway at 5.00pm. There is no registration fee for participants who are, however, advised that advance registration is requested by the organisers. Ends

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Leading Cancer Research Scientist to speak at NUI Galway

Leading Cancer Research Scientist to speak at NUI Galway-image

Monday, 6 September 2004

A renowned expert in cancer research will give the inaugural Annual Cancer Research Lecture in NUI Galway later this month. Professor Thanos Halazonetis's talk, "DNA Damage Checkpoints and Cancer" will take place at 1.00pm on Friday, 17 September 2004 in the McMunn Theatre. The lecture is being hosted by the University's Department of Biochemistry and supported by the Bank of Ireland, University Branch. Professor Thanos Halazonetis graduated from the Dental School in Athens and did a PhD degree in Genetics at Harvard University. He currently holds a research position at the Wistar Institute and a Professorship in the Department of Pathology at the University of Pennsylvania. Professor Halazonetis is researching how normal cells respond when the genetic material is damaged and how defects in these responses result in cancer. A particular focus is the DNA Damage Checkpoint Pathway, which co-ordinates a range of cellular responses to DNA damage, ensuring efficient repair and therefore suppression of tumour formation. In particular, Professor Halazonetis has been studying various DNA damage response markers in a spectrum of lung lesions ranging from hyperplasia to invasive carcinoma. His findings indicate that even in its earliest stages, cancer is associated with activation of the DNA Damage Checkpoint Pathway. Professor Halazonetis is coming to NUI Galway because of similar research to his being carried out by Professor Noel Lowndes and his team in the University's Genome Stability Laboratory. "We are privileged that Professor Halazonetis is coming to share his knowledge with us," said Professor Lowndes, whose research team is currently working on related genes in model systems more amenable to genetic studies. "We believe that the involvement of the DNA damage checkpoint Pathway in cancer requires that we understand this pathway at the molecular level. In fact, great strides have been made in recent years in research in this area and, with the recent establishment of the Genome Stability Cluster, NUI Galway is now contributing to the exciting progress being made. This understanding will lead to advances in the treatment of one of the most serious diseases of our time". Ends

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October 2004

NUI Galway confers honorary degrees on four outstanding individuals

NUI Galway confers honorary degrees on four outstanding individuals-image

Tuesday, 19 October 2004

NUI Galway has conferred honorary MA degrees on four individuals in recognition of their special contribution to their specific areas of activity. They are: Jim Lyons, former CEO of Co. Clare Vocational Education Committee for his immense achievements in many aspects of education in Co Clare, particularly in the area of Adult Education. During the 1980s, in partnership with NUI Galway he set up the first literacy tutor-training course in the region, and established a pioneering adult literacy programme within Clare VEC, which served as a model for other regions. He has also published two successful books on education, School in Action and School 2000. Sr Enda Ryan, for her immense achievements in many aspects of education in Malaysia, where she founded Assunta Secondary School which started with 84 students in 1958 and today has more than 2000 pupils. Since going to Malaysia, Sister Enda s contributions towards building that new nation have not gone unrecognised, as she has received numerous awards and honours recognising her achievements. Seán and Máire Stafford, for their outstanding contributions over many years to the activities of An Taibhdhearch Irish language theatre in Galway. Both have had long and distinguished acting and directing careers with the theatre. Hugo O'Neill, O'Neill of Clanaboy, descendant of the O'Neill Chiefs of Ulster, was honoured for his contribution to Ireland-Portugal relations. His forebears went to Portugal in the 1740s but retained strong links with Ireland. Ends

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