Launch of the ‘Health Behaviour in School-aged Children’ Survey 2014

Launch of the ‘Health Behaviour in School-aged Children’ Survey 2014-image

Thursday, 10 December 2015

The Health Promotion Research Unit at NUI Galway delivers promising findings from national study in the health behaviours of our children   Dr Leo Varadkar TD, Minister for Health today, 9 December 2015, launched the main findings from the Health Behaviour in School-aged Children (HBSC) Ireland Survey 2014, carried out by the Health Promotion Research Unit at NUI Galway. The HBSC study is a cross-sectional study conducted in collaboration with the World Health Organisation (WHO) Regional Office for Europe.  Findings in the report are based on 13,611 school students from 230 schools across the county and are compared with data from the last HBSC survey in 2010. In welcoming the report, Minister for Health, Dr Leo Varadkar stated: “I welcome the decrease in smoking levels and drunkenness as well as the increase in fruit and vegetable consumption among children in Ireland. I am concerned about children’s exposure to second hand smoke and the ease at which young people report being able to purchase cigarettes. There are also still a worrying number of children going to bed hungry and skipping breakfast. If we can convince children that healthy habits and lifestyles are worth pursuing, then we have got a better chance of these children maintaining healthy behaviours and habits into adulthood. Being healthy and preventing disease is a key focus of Healthy Ireland.” Commenting on the findings, Principal Investigator Dr Saoirse Nic Gabhainn stated: “This report brings welcome good news about the health behaviours and well-being of children in Ireland with a decrease in smoking, alcohol and cannabis use. Further, the majority of children in Ireland report having high life satisfaction. However there are areas of children’s lives where we need to continue to encourage positive healthy behaviours particularly around physical activity and nutrition.” Key Findings 2014 (Main Study, 10-17 year olds) A decrease in the proportion of children reporting tobacco, alcohol and cannabis use from 2010.  Overall 8% report that they currently smoked (12% in 2010); 21% report ever being really drunk (31% in 2010) and 8% report cannabis use in the last 12 months (9% in 2010). New to the study this time, young people were asked about their exposure to second hand smoke in their family home and family car (12% reported adults allowed to smoke in family home; 16% report adults allowed to smoke in family car). Children were asked about cyberbullying. Overall, 13% of children report ever being bullied in the past couple of months by being sent mean messages and 15% ever being bullied in the past couple of months by someone posting unflattering or inappropriate pictures of them online without permission. Overall, 27% of young people aged 15-17 years old report having ever had sex. An increase in the proportion of young people who report eating fruit and/or vegetables more than once a day (fruit: 23% 2014 vs. 20% in 2010) (vegetable: 22% 2014 vs. 20% in 2010).  There is a decrease in the proportion of young people who report eating unhealthy foods.  Overall, 27% report eating sweets daily or more (37% in 2010) and 13% report soft drink consumption daily or more (21% in 2010). The proportion of young people who report excellent health, feeling very happy with their life and high life satisfaction has remained stable or unchanged from 2010.   Study Context The survey runs every four years and in 2014 there were 44 participating countries and regions (  The 2014 Irish HBSC survey, carried out by the Health Promotion Research Centre at NUI Galway is the fifth round of data collection in Ireland. The overall study aims to gain new insight into, and increase our understanding of young people’s health and wellbeing, health behaviours and their social context. As well as serving as a monitoring and a knowledge-generating function, one of the key objectives of HBSC has been to inform policy and practice. A total of 13,611 children aged 9-18 from 230 schools across Ireland participated in the 2014 survey.  Overall, 59% of invited schools and 84.5% of invited children participated.  This report includes findings from the HBSC main study, which includes children from 5th class to 5th year and middle childhood, which includes children in 3rd and 4th class in primary schools. For the first time in the Irish HBSC survey, children and young people from across the country identified new priorities for the study and these findings are also presented in this report. Click the link to view the Irish HBSC survey. ENDS

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An Taoiseach Announces National Conference as part of Ireland 2016

An Taoiseach Announces National Conference as part of Ireland 2016-image

Thursday, 10 December 2015

Ireland 1916-2016: The Promise and Challenge of National Sovereignty An Taoiseach Enda Kenny T.D. and Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht Heather Humphreys T.D., today (10 December) announce a major National Conference as a key part of Ireland 2016 Centenary Programme. NUI Galway will host the major national academic conference of the 1916-2016 commemoration next year, on the theme, Ireland 1916-2016: The Promise and Challenge of National Sovereignty. This conference will run 10-12 November 2016 and will include academic contributions from a broad range of Ireland's universities and institutes of technology, as well as from a number of leading international figures. The Department of Education and Skills is also delighted to support this conference and has reserved some funding within its Ireland 2016 commemorative programme for the project. This major international conference will facilitate an intensive exploration of two dominant and connected themes: - The vision and aspiration invested in an independent Irish state by idealists and thinkers of the revolutionary generation - The challenges facing the Irish sovereign state in 2016 – and the visions and horizons of ambition that should inspire the Irish people as they face the future Speaking at the announcement, An Taoiseach Enda Kenny T.D. said: “This is an opportunity to acknowledge the role of third level institutions in Irish life and the contribution they make to helping us examine our history, reflect on our achievements and look to our shared future. The conference is a national initiative and an invitation to all our third level institutions to participate, engage and contribute our best thinking at this unique moment in Ireland’s history.” Minister Heather Humphreys said: ”Next year, all of our third level institutions will be a hive of activity; hosting debates and discussions on the Rising, the last 100 years, and the future. This flagship National Conference, to be hosted in NUIG, will examine the ideals of the 1916 Leaders and the challenges facing the 2016 generation. Our third level sector will help us to understand our history better as we commemorate the centenary of the Easter Rising, and to consider what Irishness means to us as a nation a century later.” The conference will convene 10-12 November 2016 and will be addressed by several leading international speakers. Among those who have already confirmed they will participate in the conference are: Louise Richardson, Vice Chancellor of Oxford, Roy Foster, historian, and academics Professors Kevin O'Rourke, Mary Daly, Philip Pettit, Brendan O'Leary, and Dr Maurice Manning. The conference will also be addressed by Conference Patron Michael D. Higgins, Uachtarán na hÉireann. Major plenary sessions are planned on The Promise of 1916; Culture and Identity in a Globalized World; Economy, Society and the Well-Being of Citizens; and The Challenges, Promise and Responsibility of Education in the 21st century. The conference will conclude with a session on Political Futures and New Paradigms. Conference Chair and Chancellor, National University of Ireland, Dr Maurice Manning, said: “Ireland’s Decade of Centenaries has provided a wonderful opportunity for our nation to take stock and to examine 100 years of Irish independence. As the 100th anniversary year draws to a close in November 2016, this national academic conference will enable a wide ranging reflection on how Ireland – a small country can position itself globally for the next period of its development. We believe this is a great opportunity for Irish academics and global commentators to reflect on Irish identity and independence and to look forward at Ireland in a globalised future.” There will be a programme of public events associated with the conference which will be open to the public. A detailed programme will be available in early 2016 and updated on Dr Jim Browne, President of NUI Galway welcomed the announcement: “NUI Galway is very pleased to host this national academic conference on our campus next year. We look forward to welcoming colleagues from all Irish higher education institutions to our campus for an important discussion on Ireland 1916-2016: The Promise and Challenge of National Sovereignty. We also embrace the public dimension of this event and will ensure wide participation in a public programme of talks, exhibitions and events on the campus and across the city.” ENDS

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Friday, 11 December 2015

NUI Galway to host regional heat of one of the biggest science communication competitions in the world and is seeking scientists with a passion for public engagement As part of the recent Galway Science & Technology Festival Exhibition, NUI Galway launched ‘FameLab’, one of the biggest science communication competitions in the world. For the first time ever the University will host a regional heat in the competition and the organisers are calling for entries now. If you think you can explain a scientific concept to a general audience, in just three minutes, then why not enter? You could become the new face of science, represent Ireland at the 2016 FameLab International finals in the UK, and open doors to global opportunities in science communication. The competition is open to scientists, mathematicians and engineers across Ireland working in industry, business, research, academia, education, public service or other sectors, including specialist post-primary science teachers and third-level students of Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) subjects. Training for entrants will take place in Galway on Tuesday, 12 January with the Regional heat scheduled for Tuesday, 9 February 2016 at An Taibhdhearc Theatre in Galway. The application deadline to enter is Friday, 31 December 2015. Successful candidates who make it through to the initial regional heat, will be invited to attend an all-expenses paid Communication Masterclass that will help them develop invaluable STEM media and presentation skills. The Communication Masterclass will take place in Dublin on the 19 and 20 March, 2016. The aim of each presentation is that the audience and judges should be left inspired and enthused about science. The winner will be a charismatic presenter who makes the science easy to listen to, entertaining, exciting and who is not only able to communicate the science but who can share their passion for it. The FameLab Ireland Final will be held at the Science Gallery in Dublin on Thursday, 7 April 2016 and participants will be judged by leading researchers, media personalities and science policy makers on the content, clarity and charisma of their presentation. To register your interest and take part in the FameLab Galway competition, apply to: Please note that the competition is not open to people who are already working professionally in public engagement with science, including: • Press or PR officers, even for science-related organisations • Artists who work on science-related themes • Performers whose shows are about science or engineering • Science centre staff who work exclusively or mainly with the public • Journalists and broadcasters (as their main or only job) • Non-specialist teachers Contact if you are unsure about your eligibility. ENDS

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NUI Galway Professor Attends 2015 Nobel Prize Ceremony in Honour of Winning Supervisor

NUI Galway Professor Attends 2015 Nobel Prize Ceremony in Honour of Winning Supervisor-image

Friday, 11 December 2015

A research professor at NUI Galway helped honour his previous supervisor for winning the Nobel Prize in Chemistry 2015, awarded by the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences in Stockholm yesterday Thursday, 10 December. Professor Bob Lahue from the Centre for Chromosome Biology at NUI Galway, trained as a postdoctoral fellow in the laboratory of Nobel laureate Professor Paul Modrich of Duke University in the United States. Professor Modrich, the James B. Duke professor in the Department of Biochemistry at Duke University’s School of Medicine, was one of three scientists to share the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for landmark discoveries over four decades of work in DNA repair. The Nobel Committee cited one of the Lahue-Modrich publications as groundbreaking. The Nobel Committee recognised Professor Modrich’s work on mismatch repair, which acts as a genetic spellchecker to preserve the DNA. Defects in mismatch repair are now known to cause certain hereditary forms of colorectal cancer. Genetic testing of cancer patients helps identify those with mismatch repair defects, providing information which is important in guiding their treatment. Commenting from the Nobel Prize ceremony, NUI Galway’s Professor Lahue said: “Our DNA is damaged every day in every cell. DNA repair is a fix-it machine that repairs the damage and keeps our genetic information safe. It was tremendously exciting to discover how mismatch repair worked. Paul is an outstanding supervisor and I feel very lucky to have trained in his laboratory. It was wonderful to see him honoured with a Nobel Prize for his seminal work.” Professor Lahue has worked since 2007 at NUI Galway’s Centre for Chromosome Biology in the Biosciences Research Building. Science Foundation Ireland, the Irish Research Council and the Health Research Board have funded his research. ENDS

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Abbey Theatre Minute Books Revealed For First Time

Abbey Theatre Minute Books Revealed For First Time-image

Monday, 14 December 2015

Abbey Theatre/NUI Galway Digital Archive Partnership makes content from years 1904 – 1939 available online to the public -Offering fascinating behind the scenes views of the Abbey Theatre during the years of W.B. Yeats’s involvement in the theatre -Insight into leading figures from Irish Literary Revival -The struggle for funding -Insights into a pre and post-independence Ireland Monday, 14 December, 2015: As the Yeats 2015 celebrations draw to a close, a most fitting unveiling will take place today (Monday 14 December) as the Abbey Theatre Minute Books will be made available to the public for the first time on a new website. Collectively, the minute books amount to nearly 1,000 pages, covering some of the Abbey’s most significant events from the period 1904-1939. These minute books are now being published as part of the Abbey Theatre and NUI Galway Digital Archive Partnership (2012-2015). A Digital Journey Through Irish Theatre History, the Abbey Theatre - NUI Galway Digital Archive Partnership is the largest digital theatre project ever undertaken, and heralds a new era in Irish theatre scholarship, both nationally and internationally. Previously unseen, the Abbey Theatre Minute Books date from 1904 to 1939 and include the period in history when both Lady Gregory and W.B. Yeats were involved in the management of the Abbey Theatre. The Abbey Theatre minute books contain notes from meetings of the theatre’s Board of Directors. They offer a fascinating glimpse behind the scenes of the theatre, showing how the Abbey’s managers dealt with a variety of issues, from choosing plays to determining how much to pay their actors. Along the way, we find important information about leading figures from the Irish Literary Revival and beyond: not just W. B. Yeats, Lady Gregory and John Millington Synge but Sean O’Casey, Lennox Robinson, Teresa Deevy, Sean O’Faolain, Frank O’Connor, and many others. We also learn about great Irish actors such as Molly Allgood, Ria Mooney, Barry Fitzgerald, Cyril Cusack and many more. NUI Galway Professor of Drama Patrick Lonergan said that the minute book will be of huge interest to theatre scholars, historians, and anyone with an interest in Irish culture: “the story of the Abbey Theatre is in many ways the story of our nation in microcosm. This online resource shows the Abbey Theatre and NUI Galway working together to reveal new aspects of that theatre’s story – and, by extension, new aspects of the story of Ireland. Users of the site will be able to search easily through hundreds of pages of records, and can move between the handwritten originals and carefully transcribed webpages. And all of this is available entirely free of charge to readers anywhere in the world.” The minute books allow us to understand better how theatres are run. Yeats wrote about his approach to theatre business in a poem that was tellingly called “The Fascination of What’s Difficult”, cursing “plays/ that have to be set up in fifty ways”. Here we find Yeats encountering all sorts of difficulties - from the threat of government censorship of Sean O’Casey’s The Plough and the Stars in 1926 to the leaking of his late play Purgatory to a Jesuit priest in 1938. And those difficulties are indeed fascinating. We also learn much about the day to day activities of keeping a theatre in business: the struggles to find appropriate funding, the actors’ requests for extra money or time off, and the maintenance of the building. And of course we learn much about Ireland, both before and after independence. The Abbey Theatre famously was the first state-subsidised theatre in the English-speaking world, earning funding in 1925 from the newly independent Irish Free State. Bryan McMahon, Chairman of the Abbey Theatre said:  “The Abbey Theatre is proud to reveal, for the first time, our early Minute Books, an exciting milestone in our ground-breaking digital archive partnership with NUI Galway.   It is wonderful to manifest digitally the inner workings of the national theatre during its formative years.  These Minute Books give us fascinating insights into the management style and business acumen of W.B. Yeats and Lady Gregory and the contribution made by the Board of Directors.  Indeed, the Minute Books reveal that Yeats was so integral to the Abbey Theatre, that Lennox Robinson, playwright and Board member, was dispatched to France to assist in the repatriation of his remains.  As we all know, it was an unsuccessful mission.  The Abbey Theatre is delighted that in this Yeats’ commemorative year, the full story of W.B. Yeats as theatre maker can be fully revealed.” In total, the Abbey Theatre and NUI Galway are making available seven minute books, including: 1904-1905 – outlining the foundation of the theatre, its relationships with other theatres in Ireland, and its evolving approach to its actors and patron Annie Horniman. 1908-1912. The book is primarily a record of plays to be performed as the theatre moves through the period. It also details actors’ issues, training and staging practicalities. 1912-1939. This book contains minutes of the company’s annual general meetings, and thus is different from the other publications, with some overlap in the minute books from 1929-39. 1925-1931 After a hiatus, the Abbey Theatre Board of Directors resumes taking minutes in 1925, following the Free State government’s decision to fund the theatre. A central topic of debate here is the fate of Sean O’Casey’s The Plough and the Stars. 1932-1936. The theatre grapples with ongoing financial difficulties, responds to the death of Lady Gregory, and its actors are offered the opportunity to make movies in Hollywood. Ernest Blythe formally joins the Board. 1936 to 1937. While covering a relatively short period, this minute book gives a fascinating account of the Abbey’s relationship with Teresa Deevy. We also find growing tensions between the Board and the Abbey company of actors. 1937 to 1939. Dominated by negotiations with the Irish government for the creation of a new theatre, which would house the Abbey Theatre and Gate Theatre (the outbreak of war in 1939 meant that this plan was never completed). Also notable here is the production of Yeats’s final plays, in particular the controversial Purgatory, which appeared at the Abbey Theatre Festival in 1938. This is a major milestone in this ground-breaking digitisation project which has brought the most advanced digital technology to bear on one of the world’s most historic theatre archives. The unprecedented access to the historic material enabled by its digitisation has far reaching benefits for students and researchers of the University. The unveiling of the Abbey Theatre Minute Books goes one step further, bringing this project to a public audience for the first time. The Abbey Theatre Minute Books can be viewed ENDS

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An Taoiseach Launches Mayo Medical Academy

An Taoiseach Launches Mayo Medical Academy-image

Monday, 14 December 2015

Academy integrates medical education with clinical delivery for medical doctors of the future  An Taoiseach Enda Kenny TD today (14 December 2015) officially launched the Mayo Medical Academy, an NUI Galway partnership with Saolta University Health Care Group and Mayo University Hospital for the training of doctors. The Academy is housed in a purpose-designed facility located in the former chapel on the grounds of Mayo University Hospital. This is a major investment by NUI Galway into Clinical training in Mayo, one of a series of proposed medical academies in the West/North West region. Construction of similar facilities at Sligo and Letterkenny University Hospitals is almost completed and they will be opened early in the New Year. Speaking at the Launch, An Taoiseach Enda Kenny TD said: “ I welcome this investment into clinical training facilities for medical students at Mayo University Hospital. This is a tremendous contribution to medical education and research in the west of Ireland. The ongoing development of the Medical Academies by NUI Galway and Saolta Health Group is an important strategic investment in the North-West region. The Mayo Medical Academy will support university medical education at Mayo University Hospital and thereby enhance its reputation and significantly benefit the local knowledge economy.” Medical Education and Clinical Delivery The new Mayo Medical Academy will allow doctors of the future to fine tune their clinical skills under the watchful eyes of tutors and lecturers covering all medical specialties. 60 students per semester from third, fourth and final medical years rotate through Mayo University Hospital for one year clinical training. The co-location of the Academy with the hospital is deliberate as it allows students to attend didactic teaching in the Academy and also bedside teaching in the hospital. One of the strengths of the NUI Galway Medical School Academies is the ratio of both tutors to students and also of students to patients. Speaking at the launch of the Mayo Medical Academy, NUI Galway President, Dr Jim Browne said: “As well as being enormously important for the clinical education of our students, the real benefit of this partnership is to the health system across our region. Our relationship with Saolta University Health Care Group through the Mayo Medical Academy brings a range of tangible benefits: including better learning outcomes for medical students; better treatment rates for patients, with increased personnel on wards; and better opportunities for recruitment and retention of top staff in hospitals across the region through association with the University. Many people and organisations have given their energy to see this project come to fruition and NUI Galway is very pleased to be opening the first of its new Medical Academies in Mayo today.” Mayo General provides students with excellent exposure to a wide variety of specialities. From January 2016 onwards, the Mayo Medical Academy and Mayo General will also be welcoming student as part of the School’s new Junior Internship programme called iJuMP (Intern Junior Mentoring Programme). The School of Medicine promotes the development of its graduates to a level of excellence in preparedness for clinical practice, allowing them to function as a competent doctor in a changing, complex and demanding working environment. Final year medical students will from January be working on the wards as part of a team and functioning as junior interns. They will be supported by supervising consultants and will work closely with current interns to learn everything about the clinical environment first hand. The medical curriculum at NUI Galway is a five-year programme with an annual intake of approximately 180 students.  The curriculum is innovative and integrates the life sciences with clinical practice, provides for early patient exposure, immersion in a variety of clinical environments and, from the 2015/16 academic year onwards, will also be emphasizing intern preparedness to a greater extent. Commenting, Professor Kevin Barry, Consultant Surgeon and Dean of the Medical Education said, “Mayo University Hospital has always had very close links with third level institutions, particularly NUI Galway and GMIT.   The development of the Academy means that Mayo University Hospital will become part of an officially recognised teaching network. Providing students with a positive and rich experience within our acute hospitals will enable Mayo University Hospital and the wider Saolta Group, attract and retain first-class consultant and non-consultant hospital doctors.” Mayo Medical Academy Building Mayo Medical Academy is housed within the boundaries of a previous Catholic Church. The original structure was built at a cost of £3,400 in the early 20th century and was used for religious purposes during the period 1902 to 2010. This building, which is strategically located across from the main public entrance to Mayo University Hospital, has been sensitively restored into a multipurpose teaching facility, which is destined to become the subject of much favourable architectural comment in the future. As the original building was subject to a historic preservation order, all aspects of the church were carefully retained during the heritage restoration project which began in February of this year and was completed one-week ago. The design team consisted of Taylor Architects, Castlebar, Co. Mayo and the work was undertaken by the local construction firm of Mountain View Securities. The entire project was funded by NUI Galway at a cost in the region of €2.2 million. The final result comprises a stunning and innovative architectural design, combining the best of old and new. The building encompasses many features that facilitate a flexible approach to teaching and the various spaces within the building are designed to accommodate different student group sizes simultaneously. Emphasis is placed on Internet and WiFi connectivity within the building, including various teleconferencing links to NUI Galway. A lecture theatre, clinical skills space and student reading room comprise some of the many attractive features of the Mayo Medical Academy. Students will have 24-hour access to facilities on the ground floor, enabling easy transfer from the hospital to a more personal learning environment. Charlie Meehan, General Manager Mayo University Hospital added, “The development of a teaching academy at Mayo University Hospital comes at a critical time in the development of our health services nationally. This facility will enhance the hospital’s reputation and contribute over time to even higher standards of patient care in all of our clinical departments. The vision of the Academy is to integrate medical education with clinical delivery and develop an ecosystem that positions the hospital as a progressive facility that delivers the highest quality patient care together with excellent medical training and research.”    ENDS

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Register and Attend NUI Galway first Mini Med School!

Register and Attend NUI Galway first Mini Med School!-image

Wednesday, 16 December 2015

The first ‘NUI Galway Mini Med School’ is taking place next January and February 2016 to encourage and inspire the next generation of healthcare professionals. The programme is aimed at Transition, 5th and 6th year students and will be run on campus on the 27 January and the 3, 10 and 17 of February 2016. NUI Galway Mini Med School is designed to give students a taste of what it would be like to study a healthcare-related degree at the University, while encouraging them to pursue their interests. It is the second initiative of its kind in Ireland along with the College of Surgeons in Ireland (RCSI). The Mini Med School is a four-week interactive course and in its first year the theme will focus on Cancer and Oncology. The course will cover Clinical Medicine, Nursing, Research and The Future of Oncology. Each session will take place from 7pm to 9.30pm at NUI Galway and will include two speakers, a question and answers session with nursing and medical students, and an interactive medical activity. Students who attend can familiarise themselves with activities that NUI Galway students are involved in as part of their health care degree, engage and learn conceptual and practical aspects of oncology and its health care implications, and have the opportunity to meet and discuss healthcare studies with current NUI Galway medical and nursing students. Mini Med School is designed for any Transition, 5th and 6th year secondary school students from the Republic of Ireland. Registration will open on 16 December and will close once the 150 places available have been attributed. Note that registration is a first-come, first-serve basis and that participants must attend the four sessions of the event. NUI Galway Mini Med School is a voluntary initiative created, planned and organised by students from the NUI Galway Cancer Society with the support of the College of Science and the College of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences. It is supported by the Emergency Medicine Society (EMSSI), the Irish Coast Guard, the University’s Cell EXPLORERS programme, the Irish Cancer Society and by an NUI Galway Students’ Union EXPLORE Innovation Initiative project led by first year Medical Student Rosemary James and Dr Muriel Grenon from the School of Natural Sciences. If you have any questions please contact For the latest information on program developments, follow MiniMed on Twitter @NUIGminimed #NUIGminimed16 or Facebook or visit our EXPLORE website Those interested in attending must register online, at the Mini Med School Eventbrite website: ENDS

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Gamma Rays from distant Galaxy seen by NUI Galway Astronomers

Gamma Rays from distant Galaxy seen by NUI Galway Astronomers-image

Wednesday, 16 December 2015

Radiation from a very distant galaxy has been detected by the VERITAS telescopes in Arizona, surprising astronomers. This galaxy is so far away that the radiation has been traveling toward us for at least 7.6 billion years, ultimately reaching Earth. In April 2015, after traveling for half the age of the Universe, a flood of powerful gamma rays from the galaxy PKS 1441+25 generated a torrent of light in our atmosphere that was captured by the VERITAS (Very Energetic Radiation Imaging Telescope Array System) cameras. VERITAS uses a system of four 12-metre diameter mirrors and cameras that takes 500 billion “pictures” every second. They detected very-high-energy gamma rays, with energies tens of billions of times the energy of ordinary visible light. Details of the detection have been published in Astrophysics Journal Letters. The primary analysis of the VERITAS data was carried out at NUI Galway’s Centre for Astronomy. Dr Mark Lang, a corresponding author on the scientific letter commented: “We were surprised to detect very-high-energy radiation from such a distant object. We had expected that it would be absorbed by the extra-galactic background light (EBL), a type of cosmic fog that fills the Universe. This allows us to make an important measurement of the light emitted by all stars over the history of the Universe.” PKS 1441+25 is a quasar in which material swirls into a super-massive black hole which has a mass of millions of times that of the Sun. Some of the material gets channeled into jets and propelled outwards at almost the speed of light. We are looking down the barrel of one of these jets. PKS 1441+25 is one of the farthest sources of very-high-energy gamma rays ever to be detected by ground-based instruments like VERITAS. The galaxy was also detected by NASA’s Fermi satellite and the MAGIC observatory based in the Canary Islands. NUI Galway undergraduate astronomy students Crystal Cloherty and Adam Moylan had the opportunity to study the PKS 1441+25 data as part of a University summer research internship programme. “We were thrilled to think we were looking at an outburst of radiation that happened when the Universe was only half its current age”. Co-author Dr Gary Gillanders from the Centre for Astronomy remarked “For a number of years Ireland has had no national funding scheme to support fundamental research of this type; it has been a real challenge for us to participate in an international scientific collaboration. Following the publication of the Government’s new science strategy we eagerly look forward to the re-emergence of financial support for basic research. This is essential if we want our students to be exposed to cutting-edge discoveries.” VERITAS is an international collaboration of over thirty institutions in the US, Canada, Germany and Ireland, including NUI Galway, UCD and Cork IT. ENDS

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NUI Galway Student Wins National Award for Volunteering

NUI Galway Student Wins National Award for Volunteering-image

Thursday, 17 December 2015

Barry Foley, a fourth year Occupational Therapy student at NUI Galway, has won a National Award for Volunteering in the category of Health and Disability at the Volunteer Ireland awards. The awards aim to celebrate and recognise the thousands of remarkable people across the country who selflessly gives their time and talent to benefit others.  Originally from Barna, Co. Galway, Barry was nominated for the award by Ability West, where he has been a volunteer there since 2011 working. Ability West is a non-profit organisation that provides services and supports to over 520 individuals with intellectual disability throughout the City and County. Barry said: “I was embarrassed to win as I don’t volunteer for awards, but now that I have, I would like to see if there is a potential to use this opportunity to get other people involved in some way. I’m hoping that by sharing the stories of volunteers to break down any barriers that people may have to volunteering, including shyness, lack of confidence or social anxiety.”     Linda Keane from Ability West said: “Barry enthusiastically embraces and promotes equality for people with an intellectual disability and encourages service users to reach their potential. Barry, a qualified fitness instructor, brings a number of groups to the gym, develops work out plans for individuals and encourages them to see it through, while promoting healthy living lifestyles.” “Barry has made a difference to the lives of so many.  In my 10 years as Volunteer Manager, no volunteer has shown our service users more what they are capable of achieving in such a positive way.  He treats them the same as he does other people.  Most importantly, when he brings our service users to the gym, he shows the wider public that people with an intellectual disability can set goals and work hard to achieve them”, continued Linda. Lorraine Tansey Student Volunteer Coordinator said, “At NUI Galway our student volunteering programme ALIVE seeks to connect students with great skills to community partners that can host them and offer them a positive experience. We are grateful to community groups like Ability West who provide support and acknowledgement to volunteers.” ENDS         

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NUI Galway Graduate Receive Gaisce Gold Award

NUI Galway Graduate Receive Gaisce Gold Award-image

Thursday, 17 December 2015

An NUI Galway graduate, Caoimhe Joyce Hearne was among a special group of inspirational young people presented with the Gaisce Gold Award by President Michael D. Higgins for her outstanding community work and significant personal achievement at a special ceremony in Dublin Castle recently. Originally from Clonmel, Co. Tipperary, Caoimhe graduated from NUI Galway with an Honours Bachelor of Science (Podiatry) degree in November 2015. Caoimhe volunteered with a Barretstown Summer Camp and also carried out an 85km walk along the East Munster Way which ran through Tipperary and Waterford. She was a member of the NUI Galway Boat Club and rowed competitively with the club, and was also a member of the NUI Galway Gaisce committee where she went on to become a Bronze PAL, providing bronze participants with advice and guidance as they complete their Bronze Gaisce challenge. As well as her primary degree, Caoimhe also completed a Dioploma sa Ghaeilge in NUI Galway. Gaisce – the President’s Award is a programme that aims to foster and develop young people's potential. It is a guided and supported framework that is provided for young people to explore their natural skills and gain confidence in their abilities, while contributing to their community. This year 47 Gaisce Gold Awards were presented to young people who excelled and achieved their goals. The Gaisce Gold Awardees successfully completed five challenge areas for 52 weeks or more – developing a personal skill, volunteering in their community and participating in physical activity. The Awardees also embarked on a five-day outdoor adventure journey and a week-long residential project as part of their Gaisce Award challenge.  Speaking about her Gold Award, Caoimhe said: “I would definitely advise people to try out the Gaisce challenge, whether it be bronze, silver or gold. It is great to set goals and to challenge yourself to achieve each goal to the best of your ability. Doing Gaisce in college really provided me with a memorable college experience. I got the chance to join various clubs and societies and meet great groups of people outside my course.” -Ends-

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