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).  

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 www.research.ie. ENDS

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. (www.viridisaquaponics.com) New Generation Biogas (England) - technologies and equipment for local community power production and bio-fertilizers through anaerobic digestion. (www.ngbiogas.com) IFood Systems (Canada) - packaging technology that extends the shelf life, safety and vitality of agricultural food products. (www.ifoodsystems.com) Flexiway Solar Solutions (Australia) a subsidiary of NRS International that creates fit-for-purpose solar lights for the humanitarian aid and international development sectors (www.nrs-international.com) 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. (www.hedviga.cz) Arcadian Biomass (US) expertise in project development, construction, commissioning and operation of lumber, wood chipping, co-generation and wood pelletising operations. (acadianbiomass.com) 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  (www.aquiva-foundation.com) Risk Management International, Ireland's longest established firm providing risk management and project assurance. (www.rmi.ie) Indaba Mobile, a South African-based mobile-focused enabling company that extends social networking and communication to the last mile in frontier markets. (www.indabamobile.co.za) 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. (www.opencarb.com) “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-

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 cellexplorers@nuigalway.ie or visit www.cellexplorers.com for more details on our activities. -Ends-      

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 www.europedirect.ie -ends-

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

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-  

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

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-

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

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-

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 Jason.king@nuigalway.ie. Registration fees will cost €30 for Faculty/Salaried and €15 for Postgraduate/Unsalaried. -ends-   

Tuesday, 31 March 2015

NUI Galway academic, Dr Eoghan Clifford has won the World Title in the Men’s C1-2-3 Scratch Race at the UCI Para-cycling Track World Championships in Apeldoorn, Netherlands, which took place over the weekend. Dr Clifford is a lecturer in Civil Engineering and a member of the Ryan Institute for Environmental, Marine and Energy Research at NUI Galway. The Galway-based rider, who is the reigning road and time trial world champion and who was competing in his very first scratch race, also claimed bronze in Friday’s C3 3km individual pursuit. Dr Clifford burst onto the international Para-cycling scene last summer, when he won both the Road and Time Trial World Titles at the Para-cycling Road World Championships in the USA, and competed on the track for the first time this February, after being introduced to the track in January. Speaking after the win on Sunday, Dr Clifford said: “I stayed near the back for the first few laps, but when the attacks started after 5-6 laps I knew my legs were good. I’m not an explosive rider so I rode high on the track so I could cover moves, and when the pace died I put in a good hard dig to tire out people. With about 25 laps to go I put in one big huge attack when I saw the main guys boxed in, and I just kept going.  That was a long 25 laps! Once I caught the main group I rode through to the front to keep out of danger and keep an eye on the rest." This brings to an end another fantastic World Championships for the Irish Para-cycling Team, which won a gold medal and two bronze medals. Speaking at the end of the successful weekend, Dr Clifford was said: “We’ve had a great worlds; I’m delighted for everyone here. I couldn’t have asked for better support than Neill, Gerry, Tommy and Johnny, with it being my first time on the track it was great having these guys behind me. I would also like to thank my colleagues from the College of Engineering and Informatics at NUI Galway for their support. It was also great to have my family over here earlier in the week; I really hope they saw it online today.” -Ends-

Tuesday, 31 March 2015

Civil Society Coalition on Legal Capacity Reform Today, a broad disability rights alliance called on the Irish government to finally replace outdated ‘lunacy’ laws and end the crisis of widespread human rights violations against people with disabilities in Ireland. On the eight-year anniversary of Ireland signing the UN Convention on the Rights of Person with Disabilities, it called for an end to the foot-dragging on the Assisted Decision-Making (Capacity) Bill 2013  and for it to finally move to Committee Stage in the Dáil. Dr Eilionóir Flynn, Acting Director, Centre for Disability Law & Policy, NUI Galway said: “It seems unimaginable that a country would use a ‘Regulation of Lunacy Act’ from the 1800s to govern decision-making issues for people with disabilities. While horrific disability abuse scandals make national headlines, the 2013 Bill has been long-fingered by the government. The UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities entered into force in 2007. Yet Ireland is one of only three EU governments that has failed to ratify it.” The government has promised to enact the Assisted Decision‐Making (Capacity) Bill following a law reform process that was initiated in 2008. This is a necessary precursor to Ireland’s ratifying the UN Convention. Yet reports indicate that the Bill published in 2013 may fail to be enacted in 2015. Tina Leonard, Head of Advocacy & Public Affairs, Alzheimer Society of Ireland, said: “People’s lives are being impacted by this delay. Today, thousands of people in residential centres, hospitals and in their own homes are having decisions about their lives and care made for them, not by them. These include decisions like what to eat or what they may spend their money on, as well as very serious decisions like what invasive health procedures they should have. This is a systematic abuse of their human rights caused by the ongoing lack of a legal framework on legal capacity." Colm O’Gorman, Executive Director, Amnesty International Ireland said:  “We  urgently need legislation that  enables  people to exercise their legal capacity and  autonomous decision-making. They should have access to the supports they need to fully exercise those rights rather than have decisions about their day‐to-day lives made by others. Otherwise they remain voiceless with no control over their own lives, and at risk of coercion, neglect or abuse.” Áine Hynes, Irish Mental Health Lawyers Association said: “We are calling on the Government today to take urgent action to bring the Bill to Committee Stage. We are also asking the Government to have a fresh look at our recommendations for how this Bill should be strengthened. It particularly needs to reform ‘informal decision making’ so potential for abuse is removed, and put in place safeguards for people who are effectively deprived of their liberty in residential settings.” Gráinne McGettrick, Policy and Research Manager, Acquired Brain Injury Ireland, said: “It is not just people with disabilities who are being let down by this failure to bring the Bill to Committee Stage in the Dáil. It is families who may feel forced to make their loved one a ‘ward of court’ to support them to manage financial assets. It is older people with age-related disabilities who remain open to abuse and lack of support. It is people whose informed consent is not currently required for mental health treatment, including electroconvulsive therapy, to be administered against their will. It is for all people who may require decision ­making assistance and safeguards at some point in their life. In other words, the Bill is for all of us.” Shari McDaid, Director, Mental Health Reform, said: “We are calling on the Government to keep its promise to bring the Bill to committee stage before the summer recess. We are also asking the Government to have a fresh look at our recommendations for strengthening the Bill, and in particular to affirm that people with mental health difficulties can have their advance decisions respected during mental health treatment.” Paddy Connolly, CEO, Inclusion Ireland said: “The Áras Attracta scandal in December 2014 shocked the Irish nation. But the revelation of abuse of people receiving disability support services is only the tip of the iceberg. The abuse shows the need for human rights-compliant capacity legislation to be swiftly passed and implemented as a matter of urgency.” -ends-

Tuesday, 31 March 2015

ALIVE Certificate Awards ceremony celebrates student commitment to community NUI Galway’s ALIVE Programme today celebrated 12 years of student volunteering with the presentation of awards to 1,000 student volunteers at a special ceremony on campus. The ALIVE certificate acknowledges volunteering efforts by NUI Galway student both on and off campus in a range of clubs, societies and community-based organisations. In attendance were community organisations from across Ireland to help recognise the valuable contribution student volunteers have made to their work and to society. Lorraine Tansey, NUI Galway Student Volunteer Programme Coordinator, said: “We come together annually as a university community with our community partners to acknowledge students’ commitment to volunteering. The ceremony is an important opportunity to pause and say thank you while also reinforcing positive engagement.” The goal of NUI Galway’s internationally-acclaimed student volunteering programme, ALIVE, is not only to connect students with volunteer vacancies but also mould and design graduates that make meaningful contributions to society as future volunteers and community members. Since the start of this academic year in September, students have organised fundraising events for Saving Grace, Irish Cancer Society, Serve, and Suas to name but a few. Volunteers have given their time weekly and generously to school programmes, Childline, Ability West, Shave or Dye events, computer skills programmes, Riding for the Disabled Ireland, Galway Healthy City research and scouting. Through these important community activities students are given a rich opportunity to build their skills for future employment and personal development. Volunteering also has a huge impact on health and well-being for all members of community. “With over 1,000 students achieving award for the contribution to enhancing the life of the campus and the communities across Ireland and internationally, NUI Galway are proud to support student engagement and all its benefits”, added Lorraine Tansey. This year’s ceremony featured a keynote speech from John Gilmore, NUI Galway Alumni and member of the International Advisory Committee to the National Youth Council of Ireland. During the ceremony, John shared his work with the European Youth Forum as current Vice President of the European Confederation of Youth Clubs and member of steering committee for the “No Hate Speech” Campaign as well as the strides he has made in his professional work as a nurse. LorraineTansey continued: “John brings together the epitome of an NUI Galway graduate, not only a very active volunteer for his passions and beliefs for equality for youth, but also a civic professional, pushing the boundaries of the world of nursing.” To find out more please visit www.nuigalway.ie/cki -Ends-

Tuesday, 31 March 2015

NUI Galway spin-out Orbsen Therapeutics has been recognised by the annual Knowledge Transfer Ireland Impact Awards (KTI). Orbsen Therapeutics, a biotech company, was nominated for the Spin-out Company Impact Award. The KTI Awards acknowledge cases where knowledge transfer activities had a particularly significant impact on wider society and the economy. The announcement was made last week at a ceremony in the Hilton Hotel, Dublin. Minister of State for Skills, Research and Innovation, Damien English T.D. presented the awards, giving credit not only to the companies, but also to the research performing organisations that supported the success. Orbsen Therapeutics is Ireland’s leading cell therapy bio-technology company, based on the NUI Galway campus. It was founded by Professor Frank Barry and Professor Tim O’Brien of the Regenerative Medicine Institute (REMEDI) at the University. Orbsen has rapidly developed and patented a method for purifying a novel stromal cell from several adult human tissues. Stromal cells are rare cells (less than 0.01%) found in many tissues where they regulate and limit the immune system from launching attacks that can damage tissues during disease. Orbsen’s discovered and patented a method for specifically purifying these rare, therapeutic stromal cells and developing them for clinical use. To accelerate the clinical development of their cell therapy (Cyndacel-M), Orbsen has collaborated with 24 independent research laboratories across the EU to secure €24 million in EU research funding between 2013 and 2015. These EU funds are being used to develop Cyndacel-M through early-stage clinical safety trials across the EU. Specifically, between 2015 and 2018, Cyndacel-M will be tested in clinical safety trials in patients suffering from Diabetic Foot Ulcers, Autoimmune Liver Disease, Corneal Transplant Rejection, Diabetic Kidney Disease and Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome. In additon, the EU funds have enabled Orbsen to grow from a group of founders to a diverse team of 14 research scientists in the last two years. NUI Galway has supported Orbsen Therapeutics from the start, assisting in the development of Orbsen’s technology, while providing expertise and facilities. The University’s Technology Transfer Office then helped Orbsen develop a rapid Intelectual Property protection strategy, allowing Orbsen Therapeutics to begin the clinical trial process. NUI Galway has also been instrumental in connecting Orbsen with a network of EU collaborators to further their research. Orbsen Chief Scientific Officer Dr Stephen Elliman says of the nomination and the relationship with NUI Galway: “We are honoured to be nominated for KTI Spin-out Company of the Year. It recognises the huge efforts made by our own research team and our network of research partners to move Cyndacel to the clinic so efficiently. Also, we are grateful to NUI Galway for their support over the years. The TTO have been instrumental in our progress to this point and we continue to enjoy working with them.” Fiona Neary, Business Development Manager at Ignite Technology Transfer Office NUI Galway adds “We are delighted that Orbsen have been recognised in this category. The team has worked incredibly hard to achieve their goals and continue to go from strength to strength. They have always been a joy to work with.” For more information: http://orbsentherapeutics.com/ http://tto.nuigalway.ie/en/ -ends-  

Monday, 2 February 2015

                                    Graduate Will Leahy from 2FM presents Network at Digital Summit NUI Galway has over 90,000 graduates around the world, and at a recent NUI Galway event, RTE’s Sean O’Rourke, NUI Galway Alumni Association Chair launched a new departure through the means of an innovative social media platform for the University’s graduates to connect. The new Alumni Network is an exciting new way for graduates to connect with NUI Galway's global network and with each other, and it can be found at www.nuigalway.ie/network This week in Galway over 500 people attended the first ever West of Ireland Digital Summit organized by OMiG Marketing and speaking on the new Global Network, NUI Galway graduate and 2FM DJ Will Leahy said: “We've always known that NUI Galway graduates are making waves in many roles and locations around the world. This website nuigalway.ie/network is a very visual way to show where our recent, and not so recent, graduates are and what they are doing. “It’s fantastic to see a University using a social platform like LinkedIn in such an engaging and dynamic way. The NUI Galway Global Alumni Network is an excellent way for people to connect with each other and it is great to see this University tapping into their rich cohort of graduates.” Since the site went live, NUI Galway has seen over 600 graduates tag their location through this platform. From Mexico City to Kuala Lumpur, it’s fascinating to see where NUI Galway, or indeed UCG, graduates have gone, and the career paths they have chosen – from an Engineer in Kyoto and a Patent Executive in the European Patent Office in Munich to a Development Coordinator in Ethiopia – NUI Galway graduates are spread far and wide in a plethora of interesting career paths. Using an innovative approach to social media we have reached people who graduated as far back as 1962. Mr Leahy added: “It seems that NUI Galway is the first University in the world to tap into LinkedIn's interface in this way, allowing graduates to register via LinkedIn, tag themselves, tell us where they are, what they are doing and to connect with each other. The platform also gives current students and graduates the ability to connect to potential employers through the network, so endless possibilities……including the likes of me checking up on classmates from years gone by.” Ireland West Airport Knock have also announced their partnership with NUI Galway in connecting their graduates with the West of Ireland and the world offering flights to international destinations so put yourself on the map and join the NUI Galway Alumni Network - www.nuigalway.ie/network. ENDS

Monday, 2 February 2015

The Ryan Institute for Environmental, Marine and Energy Research at NUI Galway has just launched a new podcast channel on iTunes. Within weeks of going live, iTunes are recommending the radio channel under ‘New & Noteworthy’ on its iTunes store. Interviews with academic staff about their research, recorded seminars by visiting academics and archived media interviews have been uploaded onto the channel and are accessible through the iTunes store for free. The content can be downloaded by visiting the home page of the Ryan Institute website at www.ryaninstitute.ie. Listeners can hear about the human body generating electricity, computer models predicting storm surges, genetic analysis of sea creatures, challenging human consumption or antibiotics in the environment. “In just three weeks since going live, the podcast channel has reached number four in the Natural Sciences category of iTunes podcasts. This is a major achievement considering the competition from the big news corporations around the world, and major global learning institutions who are regularly uploading content,” said Dr Martina Prendergast who is the Strategic Development Manager of the Ryan Institute and who conducted many of the interviews for the site. She went on to explain that iTunes has created a number of categories for their podcasts and the Ryan Institute is filed under Science and Medicine, which has three sub-categories (Medicine, Natural Sciences, and Social Sciences). “Considering that there are about 30,000 overall daily podcasts on iTunes, the rapid rise through the charts of the Ryan Institute channel is a considerable success, and we are happy that our activities are profiled on a global platform. It was made possible by working with Garry Kelly from GK Media who made it really easy for us to record and upload content.” she added. Dr Sarah Knight, Ryan Institute Outreach Officer, who conducted some of the interviews said: “We will be regularly adding content as the weeks go by, so I urge everyone to subscribe to the channel to receive updates and notifications of when we add new seminars and interviews. The goal over the next six to eight months is to record interviews with every one of our 100 academic staff and to get to number one in the iTunes charts.” Dr Prendergast said: “This would mean that the research activities of the Ryan Institute community could reach audiences in countries across every continent. This will place the spotlight on our world-class research that is contributing to solving some of the most pressing issues of the 21st century around the environment, energy and food security, economic resilience, and social cohesion.” ENDS

Monday, 2 February 2015

Musician Seán Gilrane to present first lecture NUI Galway’s Centre for Irish Studies and Comhrá Ceoil have announced details of the fourth Martin Reilly Lecture Series with musician Seán Gilrane presenting the first talk this year. Entitled ‘The life, times and music of the legendary Leitrim flute player John McKenna (1880-1947)’, the talk will take place at 6.30pm on Tuesday, 10 February int the Galway City Library. Seán’s talk stems from research conducted as part of the recent publication and recording ‘The Music and Life of John McKenna: The Buck from the Mountain’. This release, published by the John McKenna Society in Leitrim, is the definitive work on McKenna and includes his complete corpus of 44 commercial recordings, as well as a substantial accompanying book containing an extensive biography, an analysis of his music style and legacy together with music transcriptions of his tunes. McKenna was one of the premier stars of the legendary golden age of Irish traditional music in New York in the 1920s and 30s, and left behind an unsurpassed legacy that is the first major corpus of recorded Irish flute music. A native of Leitrim himself, and a flute player, Seán has worked extensively with the John McKenna Society in researching the life and music of the maestro McKenna. 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. The success of the series thus far confirms the interest in research of this kind in Galway, where traditional music and dance are part of the cultural fabric of the city. Admission is free to all talks in the Martin Reilly Lecture Series. Further information on this and other planned talks in the series available by emailing Martinreillylectureseries@gmail.com, or Facebook: Martin-Reilly-Lecture-Series. -Ends-

Monday, 2 February 2015

The 5th International Nursing and Midwifery Conference, hosted by NUI Galway’s School of Nursing and Midwifery, will be held from 30-31 March. The conference is organised in partnership with the Nursing and Midwifery Planning Development, HSE West/Mid West. The over-arching theme of the conference, 'Building and Promoting Excellence in Practice' highlights the importance of strengthening nursing and midwifery practice at international, national, local and community levels. The conference provides an opportunity for researchers, practitioners and policy makers to get together to learn, debate and share methods of building and promoting excellence in practice. There will be oral and poster presentations and five different workshops that delegates can choose to attend. Keynote addresses will explore: Evidence - Professor Neal Maskrey, Honorary Professor of Evidence-Informed Decision Making, Keele University. Compassionate Care - Professor Belinda Dewar, Professor of Practice Improvement at the University of the West of Scotland. Risk and Resilience - Professor Charlotte Clarke, Head of the School of Health in Social Science, University of Edinburgh. Motivation - Evelyn Gilmore, Consultant Work and Organisational Psychologist, an Accredited Psychotherapist and a Business and Executive Coach. Professor Kathy Murphy, NUI Galway’s School of Nursing and Midwifery, said: “This conference will be a unique experience offered within the beautiful, peaceful city of Galway. The conference reception and cultural event showcases the best of Irish music and dancing, while offering delegates the opportunity to sample traditional Irish cuisine.” The conference is unique as it integrates an arts and wellbeing focus into the programme to promote the wellbeing of practitioners, so that they can return to care with energy and purpose. Music is woven into the programme and delegates will also have the opportunity to attend a critically acclaimed short play focused on healing, performed by actor and playwright, Caroline Lynch. Delegates can choose to attend mindfulness or relaxation sessions and there will be a designated wellbeing area to relax in. To avail of the early bird reduced fees please visit http://www.nursingmidwifery.ie/site/view/9/registration/ and register prior to Monday, 9 February. -Ends-

Tuesday, 3 February 2015

Students who meet strict criteria will be awarded 40 CAO ‘Performance Points’ for eligible undergraduate courses under the NUI Galway Creative Arts Scholarship Scheme. Building on the success of the inaugural Creative Arts Performance Points scheme in 2014, NUI Galway is to again reward a limited number of students with exceptional achievements in selected disciplines in the creative arts with CAO ‘Performance Points’ for entry into undergraduate courses in the University. This is the only Creative Arts Scholarship Scheme of its kind offered by a university in Ireland. The Creative Arts Scholarship Scheme is offering 40 ‘Performance Points’ in recognition of the significant time and dedication applicants have shown to reach an exceptional level in their chosen field in the creative arts, along with evidence of academic achievement and commitment. CAO applicants for this scheme must meet strict criteria in a number of creative arts achievements. The 40 ‘Performance Points’ will be added to a minimum requirement of 350 CAO Points from a single sitting of the Leaving Certificate in 6 subjects. The closing date for applications is 14 February 2015. This year’s offer will be made to a maximum of 15 candidates who are selected through a two-stage process involving an application (stage one) and interview (stage two). Candidates will be made a conditional offer of their performance points prior to the Leaving Certificate and the CAO change of mind. The Creative Arts scheme is available in areas where the University has an acknowledged international standing: Creative Writing Digital Arts and Media Drama, Theatre and Performance Film Non-fiction writing, including Journalism Students with high standards of achievement in any of those areas may apply for any undergraduate course within the University, with the exception of Medicine (GY501). Successful applicants will be assigned a mentor in their Creative Arts discipline. Mentors will assist the students’ development as artists during their time at NUI Galway. President of NUI Galway Dr Jim Browne said “NUI Galway is proud of the many alumni who have excelled in the creative arts. As a University, we aim to lead in our research, innovation and learning and the Arts Scholarship Scheme recognises and supports similar ambition and dedication in those that excel in the creative arts.” NUI Galway’s Professor of Drama and Theatre, Patrick Lonergan added, “Many NUI Galway students have benefitted from the support that the University has offered them in creative arts for many years. The Performance Points Scheme will broaden the horizon of achievement both for NUI Galway and for students with an interest in creative arts, and we have the facilities, structure and supports in place to help students achieve their goals, both academic and creative.” In recent years NUI Galway graduates have had great success in the creative arts. Cathal Cleary was named Britain’s most promising young director in 2012; Aoife Spillane-Hinks has directed plays for Rough Magic Theatre, the Gate Theatre Dublin, and more; Deirdre Sullivan is the author of  Prim Improper (nominated for Children’s Book of the Year, 2011);  Tara McKevitt is a playwright whose works have appeared with Smashing Times Theatre Company and Tron Theatre Glasgow; and Duncan Lacroix appeared in Outlanders, a 16-part serial for Sony Television produced by Ron Moore (Battlestar Galactica) and directed by John Dahl (Dexter, Breaking Bad). Applicants will be selected through a completed application form, samples of work provided, references and an interview process. The assessment will be based on the selected creative arts areas, and will also consider evidence of academic achievement and commitment. The successful candidates will then receive a conditional offer of the 40 performance points prior to the Leaving Certificate and CAO changes. Successful candidates will receive benefits such as dedicated mentoring and support for resources. These supports will be for the duration of the undergraduate degree of the successful candidate and will be reviewed on an annual basis. This scheme will only apply to new entrants applying for full-time undergraduate courses at NUI Galway. Students must receive a minimum of 350 CAO Points from a single sitting of the Leaving Certificate in six subjects, and must achieve all minimum entry and course specific requirements. For further details visit http://www.nuigalway.ie/creativeartsperformacepoints/. -Ends-

Tuesday, 3 February 2015

Minister for Skills, Research and Innovation, Damien English T.D., recently visited NUI Galway’s students, academic staff and industry partners involved in the Higher Diploma in Software Design and Development (Industry Stream). The visit coincided with the Government’s launch of Action Plan for Jobs 2015. The Minister welcomed the opportunity to meet with students and graduates of the programme who are experiencing the benefit of the Government’s SpringBoard ICT Skills investment. He also met with a number of local industry partners who have partnered with NUI Galway on this innovative programme such as Avaya, Storm Technologies and INSIGHT. Speaking during the visit, Minister English said: “Earlier today we launched the Action Plan for Jobs 2015 and a key element of that is a National Talent Drive which involves a 60% increase in the number of ICT graduates from higher education by 2018. The importance of these objectives were never so obvious than here today after meeting with such talented and enthusiastic graduates who are benefitting from those efforts.” Programme Director, Dr Enda Howley advocated the return on investment of ICT conversion programmes for the economy: “We are now seeing our graduates successfully win lucrative salaries that are resulting in the initial investment being reimbursed more than four times in the first 12 months of graduation through direct and indirect taxation. No other investment could offer such a fast and significant return for the government. We are very fortunate to have experienced such a positive engagement from industry by providing paid internships for our students prior to enrolment in the programme. This unique arrangement allows us to reskill each student specifically for each company’s technology requirements, in return for the promise of a paid internship at the end of the programme. This is the ultimate win-win for all involved, and we look forward to continuing this engagement over the coming years. 90% of our programme graduates are now in long-term employment in software companies.”  The ICT Skills scheme was devised by the Higher Education Authority in 2012 to fund the University fees of suitable graduates from areas such as engineering and science for reskilling to meet the skills shortage in the software development industry. NUI Galway has developed the Higher Diploma programme with a view to selecting highly performing level 8 graduates and pairing them for re-training and internships with our participating industry partners.  Applications for the 2015-16 academic year will open in May, and potential applicants or partner companies are encouraged to contact the Programme Director Dr Enda Howley for more details at ehowley@nuigalway.ie. -Ends-

Tuesday, 3 February 2015

Máire Ní Mhaoilchiaráin, the newly appointed 2015 Sean-Nós Singer in Residence at NUI Galway, will give a series of sean-nós singing workshops beginning on Wednesday, 11 February at 7pm in the Seminar Room at the Centre for Irish Studies, NUI Galway. From Áird Thoir, Carna, Máire comes from a family which has a long and rich tradition of sean-nós singing. Her vocal style echoes with the singing from her mother Bairbre and the Heaney side of the family, Joe Heaney being her granduncle. The workshops are free and open to all and will run for five weeks. This project is funded by Ealaín na Gaeltachta, Údarás na Gaeltachta and An Chomhairle Ealaíon in association with the Centre for Irish Studies at NUI Galway. Further information available from Samantha Williams at 091 492051 or samantha.williams@nuigalway.ie. -Ends- Ceardlann Amhránaíochta ar an Sean-nós in OÉ Gaillimh Cuirfear tús le sraith de cheardlanna amhránaíochta ar an sean-nós san Ionad an Léinn Éíreannaigh, Ollscoil na hÉireann, Gaillimh ag 7pm, Dé Céadaoin,11 Feabhra 2015. Is í Máire Ní Mhaoilchiaráin, atá ceaptha mar Amhránaí Cónaitheach Sean-nóis i mbliana, a bheidh i mbun na gceardlann. Is as an Aird Thoir, i gCarna, Máire agus tá oidhreacht shaibhir cheolmhar le cloisteáil ina cuid amhránaíochta. Thug sí léi a cuid amhrán óna máthair, Bairbre a fuair an ceol ó mhuintir Éinniú, agus a huncail Joe ina measc. I gclann Bhairbre, tá cáil na hamhránaíochta ar Mháire agus ar a deirfiúr Bríd. Tá na ceardlanna saor in aisce agus beidh fáilte roimh chách. Tuilleadh eolais ó Samantha Williams ag 091 492051 nó samantha.williams@nuigalway.ie -Críoch-

Wednesday, 4 February 2015

Ireland’s largest and longest-running student-run energy event will take place in NUI Galway’s Engineering Building on Wednesday, 11 February from 5-9pm. Now in its fifth year, the Energy Night is organised by the University’s Energy Society and this year the event will focus on smart grid and the growing technology and privacy issues associated with it. Last year’s event ‘Energy in Ireland – Local Wellbeing, National Priorities, Global Challenges’ produced a very lively debate on the topic of wind farms and their impacts. This year will provide an even more topical discussion on Irish Energy. Energy Night 2015, “Smart Grid, Pushing Technology and Privacy Boundaries” aims to discuss the progression of Smart Grid, Smart Meters and the Future of Energy Efficiency. After the dominance of the Internet of Things at the Consumer Electronic Show and also the data privacy controversy with Irish Water, this promises to be an innovative event. A ‘Careers in Energy’ seminar will be held from 5-6pm. Several speakers from major energy companies such as Eirgrid, Arup and Accenture will deliver presentations on their current projects and various employment opportunities in Galway and Ireland. The poster competition on the theme of ‘Energy, Environment and Sustainability’ will take place at 6.30pm and is open to all NUI Galway undergraduate and postgraduate students. The evening’s main event, a panel discussion will take place at 7pm and feature speakers with backgrounds in ICT, Data Privacy and Energy all with the aim of exploring the future of Smart Grid in Ireland. The moderator for the panel discussion will be Dr Karlin Lillington, contributor to The Irish Times, The Guardian and Wired.com. NUI Galway’s Dr Michael Schukat, an expert in network security and embedded systems, will provide the ICT expertise for the night, with Rónán Kennedy from the University’s School of Law providing context on how law and information and communications technology influence each other. There will also be a talk on an overall view of the future of Irish Energy and how Smart Grid will play an influential role in this. The discussion will include a lengthy Q&A session with active participation from the audience. The event is free of charge and all are welcome. For updates follow the Energy Society on twitter at @nuigenergynight, on Facebook at NUIG-Energy-Society, or visit the website, http://www.nuigenergynight.com/. -Ends-

Wednesday, 4 February 2015

Ireland’s national Technology Centre for Biorefining & Bioenergy (TCBB) at NUI Galway has welcomed the announcement by Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Mr Richard Bruton TD of a package of €25 million in funding for the new Dairy Processing Technology Centre. The TCBB will be providing the sustainability pillar of the new Dairy Processing Technology Centre announced this week at Arrabawn Dairies in Nenagh, Co Tipperary. “In our contribution within the Dairy Processing Technology Centre, the TCBB will focus on activities that improve the competitiveness and sustainability of the dairy industry. We will do this through value-added applications for processing wastes and residues to reduce costs, recover resources and improve environmental impact,” said Mr Bart Bonsall, Technology Leader and head of centre, TCBB. NUI Galway’s Vice-President for Research, Professor Lokesh Joshi commented: “This is very impressive news for TCBB and NUI Galway. With the lifting of European Union milk quotas only weeks away, this is a key investment and industry collaboration announced by Minister Bruton and Enterprise Ireland.” Professor Donal Leech, Dean of the College of Science, NUI Galway is the NUI Galway representative on the board of directors of the new DPTC. -ends-

Monday, 9 February 2015

GiGSoc (Gay in Galway Society) will today launch its third annual Rainbow Week at 7pm in the IT Building. The week, running from 9-13 February, will consist of numerous events to promote LGBTQA (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer/Questioning and Ally) presence on campus. On Tuesday, there will be an information session on the new Marriage Equality Taskforce. This session is a collaboration between GiGSoc and NUI Galway Student Union for the upcoming Marriage Equality Referendum in May. On Wednesday numerous LGBTQ workshops such as Sexual Health, Trans 101 and LGBTQ and the Law will take place. Jessica Watts, Events Officer of GiGSoc said: “Many of us on the committee attended USI Pink Training in November. We got to hear a number of useful talks on relevant LGBTQ issues. With our workshops, we hope to bring that training to a wider audience on our campus.” The highlight of Rainbow Week is the Rainbow Ball, which takes place on Thursday, 12 February in the Clayton Hotel with tickets available for €35. Some up-and-coming bands will perform on the night, which will be headlined by popular Galwegian drag act Kiki St. Clair.   Sean Reilly, Co-Auditor of GiGSoc, said: “Rainbow Week is about celebrating the diversity of people who identify as LGBTQA. Our objective is to give our members a chance to celebrate their identities with a bit of panache.” Tickets for Rainbow Ball 2015 can be purchased through the SocsBox in Áras na Mac Léinn, or by contacting GiGSoc at gigsoc@socs.nuigalway.ie. -Ends-

Tuesday, 10 February 2015

Extension of the Athena SWAN Charter for women in science to the higher education sector in Ireland The Irish universities are working to address gender imbalances in the higher education sector through the extension of the Athena SWAN Charter to Ireland, officially launched today by Minister for Education and Skills, Jan O'Sullivan. Irish Universities Association (IUA) Chief Executive, Ned Costello said: "tackling gender equality needs to be actively pursued and the Athena Swan Charter and Awards are a real force for positive change." During 2015, the UK-based Equality Challenge Unit (ECU) announced that they would, for the first time, make access to their awards system possible outside of the UK by allowing Irish higher education institutions to sign up to the Athena SWAN Charter for women in science from Autumn 2014. Signing the Charter is the first step towards applying for Athena SWAN Awards, which recognise and celebrate good practice in recruiting, retaining and promoting women in STEMM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics and medicine) in higher education. The first Award applications from Ireland are due by the end of April next, and the universities are currently preparing their submissions. The Irish universities, working with colleagues from across the higher education sector, have played a strong role in facilitating this extension of the Charter and the associated Athena SWAN Awards to Ireland. Applications are rigorously reviewed prior to an award being made, and progress is closely monitored afterwards. Securing an award under the Charter involves the development of an institution-wide Action Plan to improve gender equality and diversity, and putting in place appropriate structures to rigorously monitor progress of the Plan's implementation. The Plan itself must be specific to issues faced by the institution. Experience has shown that active engagement and significant "buy-in" from academic staff and senior management is critical to a Plan's successful implementation. A 2013 external evaluation identified the significant impact of Athena SWAN on organisational structure and culture change in the UK higher education system. The ECU has recently announced the expansion of the Athena SWAN charter to include arts, humanities, social science, business and law departments alongside the current science, technology, engineering, mathematics and medicine disciplines, a development which is welcomed by the universities.

Wednesday, 11 February 2015

New global university ranking, funded by the EU, announces NUI Galway as only one of two Irish Institutions to achieve all-round top scores on International Orientation NUI Galway has been given the highest ranking of four A’s in U-Multirank, an EU Commission-led initiative to measure excellence in higher education and research institutions worldwide. The indicators, published this week across Europe show that NUI Galway ranked highest with an A grade in all four performance indicators of international orientation. These related to teaching and learning, doctoral training, research and the composition of academic staff. These new ‘readymade rankings’ focusing on International Orientation show how 237 Universities in the U-Multirank database perform on internationalisation, using measures spread across teaching and learning, doctoral trainings, international research collaboration and the composition of academic staff. The rankings make this comparison at both the institutional level and in four academic fields: physics, business studies, electrical engineering and mechanical engineering. Just 27 universities out of the 237 – barely one in ten – achieved all-round top scores in the new institutional level ranking. Professor Brian Hughes, Dean of International Affairs, NUI Galway welcomed the announcement: “NUI Galway is a university that embraces internationalisation in all of its activities. Being connected to the world is part of our everyday reality, and we are delighted to receive this external validation for our international orientation.” U-Multirank is a new global university ranking funded by the European Commission and takes a different approach to existing global rankings of universities; it is multi-dimensional and compares university performance across a range of different activities grading them from “A” (very good) to “E” (weak). It does not produce a league table of the world’s “top” 100 universities based on composite scores. Instead, it allows users to identify a university’s strengths and weaknesses, or the aspects that most interest them. “Achieving four ‘A’ scores for international orientation is a significant achievement. Not many institutions are ever likely to accomplish it,” commented Frans van Vught one of the U-Multirank project leaders. “And it is not necessarily the institutions you would expect that perform best: these rankings identify high-performing universities not captured by other rankings with their heavy research focus." The rankings show that excellence in international orientation is found in widely diverse institutions. The 27 all - round top performing universities come from a wide range of institutions differing in terms of size, sector, mission and age. The 27 top performers are located in 12 different countries. In further rankings news, NUI Galway has been named in the top 100 most international universities in the world 2015 by THE (Times Higher Education) who compiled a list using the “international outlook” indicator of its World University Rankings methodology. All the institutions that feature in the THE World University Rankings 2014-15 top 400 were considered. This measure considers each institution’s percentage of international staff, its international student numbers and the proportion of its research papers published with a co-author from at least one other country. Further information on U-Multirank is available at www.umultirank.org and for THE information see www.timeshighereducation.co.uk -ends-

Wednesday, 11 February 2015

New £1.5 million project to focus on economic and social costs of violence against women and girls A new research project announced today (11 February) is to investigate the social and economic costs of violence against women and girls in developing countries. Led by Dr Nata Duvvury of the National University of Ireland Galway, and funded by the UK’s Department for International Development, the project will give policy-makers ways of estimating the social and economic costs of violence to national economies. NUI Galway will lead an international team comprising Ipsos MORI, London, UK and the International Centre for Research on Women (ICRW), Washington DC, USA on the GBP£1.5 million, three-year project. The ambitious project will take a multi-disciplinary approach, involving experts in economics and the social sciences, including political science, sociology, gender studies, public health and psychology. The research aims to pinpoint identifiable links between violence against women and girls (VAWG) and the economic impact this has on nations at differing stages of development. The research will be undertaken in three countries – Ghana, Pakistan and South Sudan – representing fragile, conflict affected and/or low-middle income states. The project will survey over 4,500 women across those countries and will carry out in-depth interviews with survivors of VAWG. By producing new empirical research and evidence on the economic and social costs of VAWG, the research project will strengthen the argument for resources to implement laws, provide health and social support services and to mobilize communities to shift the social norms that underpin VAWG. The project is part of the UK Department for International Development’s investment of £25 million over five years, in a pioneering violence against women and girls Research and Innovation programme called ‘What Works to Prevent Violence’. Tackling violence against women and girls is a top priority for the UK government. This programme is driving innovation, and will generate ground-breaking new evidence, and inform new prevention programmes on the ground. According to Dr Nata Duvvury, an established global expert in field, and Co-Director of Centre for Global Women’s Studies at the National University of Ireland Galway: “Violence against women and girls is a global issue. We need an immediate, pragmatic, informed and coherent response across nations. We understand today, more than ever before, the debilitating impact it has on individuals, families and communities. What we now need to understand are the myriad impacts of violence on the economy and society, we can then identify which interventions need to be prioritised for the benefit of individuals and society as a whole.” Innovative economic analysis There is growing interest to estimate the socio-economic impact of violence against women in many parts of the world. In a previous study led by Dr Duvvury, on costing domestic violence against women in Vietnam, the estimated loss of productivity, out-of-pocket expenditures, and foregone income for households came to about 3.19% of GDP. The project plans to further advance this frontier using innovative quantitative and qualitative research methods to capture economic and social costs at individual, household, community and national levels. “The importance of the potential research findings to policy makers, practitioners, communities and families cannot be overstated. Building on this evidence is crucial to create a better understanding of the tragic consequences of violence against women and girls – not only as a gross violation of human rights, but as a global economic issue. With such evidence, we have the potential to catalyze investments into the prevention and response to violence against women,” said Stella Mukasa, Director, Gender, Violence and Rights at the International Centre for Research on Women. The research team led by Dr Nata Duvvury at the National University of Ireland Galway includes Dr Stacey Scriver, Post-Doctoral Researcher and Project Coordinator, Global Women’s Studies, Dr Srinivas Raghavendra, Lecturer, School of Business and Economics, Sinead Ashe, Post-Doctoral Researcher, Global Women’s Studies, and Dr Diarmuid O’Donovan, Senior Lecturer, School of Medicine, NUI Galway. ends

Wednesday, 11 February 2015

World Gold Medallist and Four Time Olympian Olive Loughnane among Awardees NUI Galway has announced the winners of the 2015 Alumni Awards to be presented at the 15th annual Alumni Awards Gala Banquet on Saturday, 7 March, 2015 in the Bailey Allen Wing located in Áras na Mac Léinn on campus. The Alumni Awards recognise individual excellence and achievements among the University’s more than 90,000 graduates worldwide. The Awards programme boasts an impressive roll call of outstanding graduates who have gone on to honour their alma mater, including, for example, President Michael D. Higgins, Rugby great Ciarán FitzGerald, RTÉ broadcaster Sean O’Rourke, Attorney General Máire Whelan, former Creganna CEO, Helen Ryan, Tony Award-winning actress, Marie Mullen and Gráinne Seoige. The winners of the six alumni awards to be presented at Gala 2015: Award for Arts, Literature and Celtic Studies - sponsored by AIB - Dr Tom Mitchell, Former Provost, Trinity College Dublin. Alumni Award for Business and Commerce – sponsored by Bank of Ireland - Catriona O’Farrell, Former CEO, Fintrax Group. Alumni Award for Law, Public Policy and Government – sponsored by Bank of Ireland - Ms Justice Carmel Stewart, Judge of the High Court. Alumni Award for Engineering, Science and Technology – sponsored by Aramark - Pearse Mee, IT Entrepreneur, founder of AMT-SYBEX. Alumni Award for Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences – sponsored by Medtronic - Dr Morgan O’Connell, retired Medical Officer for the Royal Navy, Consultant Psychiatrist and specialist in PTSD. Alumni Award for Contribution to Sport – sponsored by Galway University Foundation - Olive Loughnane, Olympic athlete and World Champion, Irish race walker. Speaking on the announcement of the Awards recipients, President of NUI Galway, Dr Jim Browne said: “Our Alumni Awards programme recognises the many Galway alumni who are leaders in their chosen fields. These awards celebrate the life-long value of an NUI Galway education and recognise individual achievements among the University’s more than 90,000 graduates worldwide. I congratulate each of the Award winners and look forward to welcoming them back to campus for the Gala Banquet in March.” For ticket and booking information contact the Alumni Office on 091 493750 or email alumni@nuigalway.ie. Online bookings at www.nuigalway.ie/alumni-friends -Ends-