Wednesday, 22 May 2019

As part of a new Spotlight on Research lecture series at NUI Galway’s College of Arts, Social Sciences, and Celtic Studies, NUI Galway researchers will deliver a lecture on the ground-breaking Active Consent programme. The lecture will take place on Thursday, 6 June in GO11, Moore Institute. The team will describe the importance of sexual consent as a window on young people’s openness in talking about sensitive topics, and the scope to expand this conversation into mental health and the use of alcohol and drugs. Developed by Dr Pádraig MacNeela, Dr Siobhán O’Higgins and Kate Dawson of the School of Psychology, and Dr Charlotte McIvor, O’Donoghue Centre for Drama, Theatre and Performance, this talk will theorise the signature approach of the Active Consent programme team in relationship to the current policy and educational landscape around sexual health education and assault prevention in Ireland and internationally. Working together since 2014, this team, comprised of researchers from Psychology, Health Promotion, and Drama and Theatre Studies, designs evidence-informed tools (based on survey and qualitative data), including workshops and creative arts interventions, which in turn facilitate dialogue regarding consent and sexual health. The team’s embrace of consent as an active, positive educational paradigm – inclusive of all genders, all relationships and all sexualities – is intended to empower young people as active agents in the negotiation of their sexual relationships. Now funded between 2019-2023 by the Lifes2good Foundation with support from NUI Galway, the Active Consent programme has set the objective of unifying third-level, secondary school and sporting organisations’ provision of consent-focused sexual health education. This talk will reflect on the team’s learning since 2014 in partnership with young people, trends in third-level Irish sexual health data that they have observed over this period, and why they believe that a multi-disciplinary approach, which considers interdependent educational and community sectors, is essential for sustainable change in social and personal attitudes towards consent within sexual relationships in a post-#MeToo era. Dr Seán Crosson, Vice-Dean for Research in the College of Arts, Social Sciences and Celtic Studies at NUI Galway, said: “The Spotlight on Research series aims to highlight the world leading and ground-breaking research being undertaken across our College. Academics within the College have received national and international recognition for the research they are undertaking, including major awards and research funding for ground-breaking interdisciplinary projects such as the Active Consent programme. This series provides a platform for us to bring these research achievements to the attention of both the academic community and the wider general public.” -Ends-

Tuesday, 21 May 2019

Fáiltíonn OÉ Gaillimh roimh chiste nua a thacóidh le mic léinn cur lena gcumas teanga trí sheimeastar a chaitheamh sa Ghaeltacht D’fhógair Príomh-Aoire an Rialtais agus Aire Stáit don Ghaeilge, don Ghaeltacht agus do na hOileáin, Seán Kyne, T.D. ciste a thacóidh le seachadadh an tSeimeastair Ghaeltachta.  Sainchlár tumtha teanga é an Seimeastar Gaeltachta atá dírithe ar fhorbairt líofacht sa Ghaeilge do mhic léinn atá ag déanamh staidéar ar an nGaeilge nó ar ábhair trí mheán na Gaeilge.  Clúdóidh an ciste nua lánlóistín do mhic léinn le teaghlaigh Gaeltachta i gcaitheamh na tréimhse 12 seachtainí nó Seimeastar iomlán. D’fháiltigh an Dr Dorothy Ní Uigín, Príomhfheidhmeannach Gníomhach, Acadamh na hOllscolaíochta Gaeilge roimh an bhfógra: "Treiseofar go mór ar eispéireas tumtha teanga agus cultúir na mac léinn de thoradh na deise a bheith acu fanacht le Teaghlaigh Gaeltachta atá faofa ag an Roinn Cultúir, Oidhreachta agus Gaeltachta." Tá Ollscoil na hÉireann Gaillimh ag súil go bhféadfadh suas le 100 mac léinn a bheidh ag tabhairt faoi Sheimeastar Gaeltachta, trasna Ionaid Ghaeltachta an Acadaimh i gCarna, an Cheathrú Rua agus Gaoth Dobhair, tairbhe a bhaint as an gciste don bhliain acadúil 2019-2020. "Léiríonn an Seimeastar Gaeltachta, a d’fhorbair an tAcadamh i gcomhar le Roinn na Gaeilge, tiomantas Ollscoil na hÉireann, Gaillimh don Ghaeilge,’"a deir an tOllamh Tadhg Ó hIfearnáin.  "Treisíonn an tionscnamh straitéis an Rialtais i leith na Gaeilge freisin, sa Ghaeltacht agus lasmuigh di, go háirithe mar a bhaineann sé leis an bPróiseas Pleanála Teanga, an Polasaí Oideachas Gaeltachta (2017–2022), agus an Straitéis 20 Bliain don Ghaeilge." -Críoch- NUI Galway welcomes the announcement of a fund to support students develop their Irish anguage skills by residing in the Gaeltacht for a Semester The Government Chief Whip and Minister of State with responsibility for the Irish Language, Gaeltacht and the Islands, Seán Kyne, TD, has announced a fund to support the delivery of the Seimeastar Gaeltachta.  The Seimeastar Gaeltachta is a specialised semester-long Irish-language immersion programme in the Gaeltacht, developed to improve fluency in the Irish language for undergraduates studying Irish, or/and other disciplines through the medium of Irish.  The new fund will cover the costs of full-board accomodation for students with Gaeltacht households for the duration of the Semester.  Dr Dorothy Ní Uigín, Acting Chief Executive of Acadamh na hOllscolaíochta Gaeilge welcomed the announcement: "The opportunity to stay with Gaeltacht households, approved by the Department, will greatly augment the language and cultural immersion experience for our students.  Economic, social and cultural benefits will also accrue from this new fund which will support our students to reside in the Gaeltacht from September – December each year." NUI Galway anticipates that approx. 100 students from NUI Galway undertaking the Seimeastar Gaeltachta across Ionaid an Acadaimh in Carna, an Cheathrú Rua and Gaoth Dobhair could benefit from the fund during the 2019-2020 academic year.   "The Gaeltacht Semester Programme developed by an tAcadamh in conjunction with Roinn na Gaeilge reflects NUI Galway’s sustained committment to the Irish language" says Professor Tadhg Ó hIfearnáín, Roinn na Gaeilge. "The initiative also augments the Government’s Strategy for the sustainment of the Irish language in the Gaeltacht and nationally, specifically with regard to The Language Planning Process, The Policy on Gaeltacht Education (2017–2022), and the 20 Year Strategy for the Irish Language."

Tuesday, 21 May 2019

NUI Galway’s School of Computer Science becomes a centre of excellence in making Ireland an AI island  The Minister of State with responsibility for Higher Education, Mary Mitchell O’Connor T.D. launched on (Monday, 20 May) two new Masters programmes in Artificial Intelligence at NUI Galway. One of the programmes is to be delivered completely online and targets employees of Irish industry who may need to significantly deepen their computing skills through a specialisation in Artificial Intelligence (AI), while the other is classroom-based. The online MSc in Artificial Intelligence is a new initiative in online learning by the School of Computer Science, and is   co-funded by Technology Ireland ICT Skillnet. It is an agile response to new industry needs in Ireland for the AI skills in the workforce, and its part-time online format is structured to the needs of industry based learners, supporting lifelong learning and enabling people to learn where they live. Over 60 people attended the event including representatives from 20 companies, almost all of which are based in the West Region and are engaged in new product development using AI technologies, with applications including: microprocessor design; semi-autonomous vehicles; face recognition; image analysis; customer engagement; financial analytics; cybersecurity, and many others. The two-year part-time online Masters in Computer Science - Artificial Intelligence has been developed in cooperation with Technology Ireland ICT Skillnet based on the needs of Irish industry. Technology Ireland ICT Skillnet will manage company engagement with the part-time online programme and will co-fund employee student fees. The Programme Director for the online course is Dr Conor Hayes. The one-year full-time Masters in Computer Science - Artificial Intelligence will be a classroom-based programme, for full-time students, and is primarily aimed at recent graduates of computer science and related degrees, including international students. There are opportunities for industry collaborators to propose topics for the capstone AI projects that students will complete. The Programme Director for this course is Dr Michael Schukat. Both programmes will equip the students with state-of-the-art knowledge and practical skills in Artificial Intelligence that will address a skills deficit that is acutely felt by Irish industry today. September 2019 will see the first intake of students into the new part-time online and full-time Masters programmes, which complement the School of Computer Science’s existing and highly sought after Masters in Computer Science – Data Analytics, which is very popular among students and employers for its technical depth and relevance to industry and research careers. Speaking at the launch, Minister of State for Higher Education Mary Mitchell O'Connor said: The Government is committed to making Ireland an AI island and will continue to support the teaching of these innovative programmes within higher education while also supporting industry needs by creating exciting new opportunities for innovation across all sectors. There are currently around 100,000 tech professionals working in Ireland with another 60,000 projected job openings over the next four years. These two innovative Master’s programmes at NUI Galway will help to ensure graduates have the highest skills needed to meet this demand and to make Galway and the West of Ireland a leader in Artificial Intelligence.” Professor Michael Madden, Chair of Computer Science at NUI Galway, says: “With this launch today, we are not just creating two new degree programmes, we are working to create a new capability in the West of Ireland and a new ecosystem of advanced AI companies, with their human capital emerging from our University’s research and teaching activities, and supported by organisations such as Enterprise Ireland, IDA, and the IT Association Galway, all of whom are represented here today.Both programmes have been designed to support the vision of the Government, as expressed by IDA Ireland, to build Ireland’s international profile as an ‘AI Island’.” While Artificial Intelligence might seem like a new area, initial research in AI dates back 50 years. In recent years a confluence of breakthroughs in hardware capability and insights into algorithm design have made the early promise of intelligent machines a reality. AI is one of the fastest growing areas of ICT industry and research. It has the potential to positively transform every aspect of all our lives, from smart cities and autonomous vehicles, through to improved healthcare services and low-carbon economies. Paul Healy, CEO of Skillnet Ireland, commented: “Ireland is one of the tech capitals of the world. We are home to a growing array of dynamic indigenous Irish tech companies and the location of EMEA headquarters for many of the world’s leading tech firms. There is a growing need for greater numbers of highly qualified and competent engineers to work in these organisations. This industry-led online programme, which is supported by Skillnet Ireland and the students’ employer, will help ensure that we are producing engineers here in Ireland with the skills needed to become global leaders in AI technologies.” Professor Madden, adds: “Within NUI Galway, we have a 20-year track record of research and teaching in machine learning and AI, in the Data Science Institute and right across the School of Computer Science. In the two new Master’s programmes, students will learn about all of the latest advances in these areas, benefiting from research-led teaching. All students will be required to study Ethics in AI, because we recognise the important ethical issues that can arise in modern AI applications. And all students will put their knowledge into practice by engaging in substantial capstone projects, conducting research and building prototype systems that use leading-edge AI technologies.” For further information about the two new Masters programmes, visit: http://www.nuigalway.ie/artificial-intelligence/ -Ends-

Friday, 17 May 2019

Astronomers from NUI Galway have been working with Croí na Gaillimhe on an intergenerational project involving an active retirement group and students from Our Lady’s College Galway. The project is part of a wider project, Making Space, celebrating 200 years of the Royal Astronomical Society. Every Tuesday for the past three months the University has worked with a local artist Finbar McHugh who created new art works which demonstrate different scientific ideas. The programme included trips to the University and to Birr Castle where the latest astronomical observatory in Ireland, the i-Lofar Radio Observatory, is based.  On Tuesday, 21 May, there will be a celebration of the event showcasing the work and the presentation of certificates. The event will be introduced by Professor Walter Gear, Dean of the College of Science and Engineering, NUI Galway, and the certificates will be presented by Professor Steve Millar from the Royal Astronomical Society.  Croí na Gaillimhe will also mark the end of their Galway 2020 ‘Small Towns Big Ideas’ project, Mill Street Quilters by hosting a graduation ceremony in the O’Donoghue Centre for Drama, Theatre and Performance, NUI Galway. The project brought together two groups, the sewing group at Croí na Gaillimhe and the intergenerational group Young Hearts, to create three quilts based on the Galway 2020 themes of Language, Landscape and Migration. Under experienced tutor Marcella Morgan, the Mill Street Quilters group met regularly and the quilts were hand sewn to encourage more intergenerational connections between the young and the old. This event is presented in partnership with the NUI Galway Physics Department. Professor Andy Shearer, Centre for Astronomy, NUI Galway, said: “Our intention with Making Space is to bring astronomy to communities which don’t normally take part in scientific outreach. We also wanted to explore different ways of communicating scientific ideas, can artists help scientists tell the public what they do? We were delighted to work with Croí na Gaillimhe to develop better links with community groups outside of the University.” Loretta Needham, Manager of Croí na Gaillimhe, spoke about the importance of Making Space available to the community and the acknowledgement by NUI Galway and Our Lady’s College Galway of learning what is happening in places other than the class room, saying: “It is true to say that young and old participants have broadened their horizons. Community Education is what Croí na Gaillimhe is about, it is learning that promotes change and transformation, and promotes empowerment for those marginalised or oppressed. I would like to thank NUI Galway and RAS200 for extending the programme into the community and Galway 2020 for the quilting project.” -Ends-

Friday, 17 May 2019

NUI Galway researcher develops a new bioengineered cardiovascular stent  A new type of cardiovascular stent, coated in antibodies to improve its incorporation into blood vessels, has been developed by scientists and engineers in Ireland and Poland. Professor Gerard Wall, a microbiologist and investigator of the Science Foundation Ireland Centre for Research in Medical Devices (CÚRAM), based at NUI Galway, led the EU-funded project which has designed and produced a novel stent. The stent is the first of its kind to use human antibodies for cell capture, to avoid activating the patient’s immune response. The antibodies are isolated in the laboratory using phage display technology, a genetic engineering approach that mimics the human immune system, followed by production in E. coli bacteria for tethering onto the lattice structure of the stent under sterile manufacturing conditions. Coronary artery disease occurs when the coronary arteries become hardened and narrowed due to the buildup of plaques on their inner walls. This can lead to stenosis, or narrowing of coronary arteries, reducing blood flow to the heart. This is the most common cause of death in Europe, resulting in approximately two million deaths each year. While surgical insertion of stents to re-open arteries is now commonplace, arteries can become re-blocked over time when cells such as macrophages and smooth muscle cells from the patient’s blood grow over the stent surface. It is this problem that the new stent design addresses: steel stents produced by the manufacturing partner in Poland are coated with human antibodies, produced in the NUI Galway laboratory, to capture endothelial cells from the patient’s blood and the surrounding artery. This leads to stents becoming rapidly “camouflaged” within the walls of the native blood vessels, enabling them to avoid rejection by the patient’s immune system while providing the mechanical strength necessary to keep the artery open. Professor Wall, Head of Microbiology and CÚRAM Investigator at NUI Galway, explains: “The prototype stent arises from the combined expertise of stent manufacturers, protein engineers and interventional cardiologists. It has demonstrated its effectiveness in preclinical studies and is now under development by the manufacturer in Poland with a view to reducing restenosis (reoccurrence of a narrowing of a blood vessel) events in patients and improving the long-term outcome of surgical interventions.” Professor Abhay Pandit, Scientific Director at CÚRAM in NUI Galway, said: “The development of this new cardiovascular stent addresses a critical patient need, which drives all research at CÚRAM. By partnering with leading research institutions in Europe, this unique team brought together a critical skill set to design and produce a real solution that will have a very significant impact for those who urgently need it. The outcome of this partnership is a testament to the power of collaborative research.” The work, published in the Journal of Biomedical Materials Research, was carried out at NUI Galway, Poland’s Wrocław University of Technology and Wrocław Medical University, and Comenius University in Slovakia, as well as stent manufacturer Balton in Warsaw. It was funded under the EU’s Marie Curie Industry-Academia Partnerships and Pathways (IAPP) scheme and provided cross-sectoral research training for researchers from the three participating countries. To read the full piece in Journal of Biomedical Materials Research, visit: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1002/jbm.b.34380 -Ends-

Friday, 17 May 2019

Large differences between local council spend and income, but as it should be as it reflects differences in localities and constituents Rural/urban divide remains a big and challenging issue, with cross-council fiscal disparities getting bigger since the last local elections An end to austerity with some big increases in council spending since 2014, both on the aggregate and at individual council level Based on data on commercial rates, local property tax, and local services that they fund, a need to reconsider the balance between business and non-business taxes Friday, 17 May, 2019: Researchers Dr Gerard Turley and Stephen McNena from the Whitaker Institute at NUI Galway have developed an online platform that allows taxpayers to see how their money is spent locally. Initially designed for PublicPolicy.ie with funding from Atlantic Philanthropies, the www.nuigalway.ie/localauthorityfinances website shows local council revenue incomes and spending on local public services. Aimed at improving transparency and accountability but also at informing the public on how local councils raise and spend taxpayers’ money, the interactive web application can be used to readily access individual council income and spending budgets, but also cross-council comparisons with a view to identifying best and worst performing councils. Using local authority budget data from the website, the researchers find big differences in the local authorities, in terms of both council spending (and changes over time) but also council income, and, in particular, commercial rates. Among other explanations, differences in local authority spending can be accounted for by variations in expenditure needs, arising from differences in the socio-economic and demographic profile of the area and its population. Of the eight functional areas that local councils provide, four service divisions account for 75 per cent of total current spending. These are housing (€351), roads (€208), environmental services (€152) and recreation and amenities (€102), with the national average spend per person in 2019 for each of these service divisions reported in brackets. Across the 31 local authorities there are sizeable differences in terms of how much councils spend per person, with the highest and lowest spend per head in Dublin City Council and Meath County Council, at €1,751 and €635 per inhabitant respectively. More specifically, expenditure per person on housing ranges from €686 in Dublin City Council to €86 in Galway County Council. On roads, the range is €396 in Leitrim County Council to €92 in Fingal County Council. For environmental services, including the fire service and street cleaning, Dublin City Council spends €362 per person whereas Meath County Council spends €84 per person. On recreation and amenities, spending per capita ranges from €223 in Galway City Council to €44 in Meath County Council. Dr Gerard Turley, Whitaker Institute at NUI Galway, says: “As for spending changes over time, in general it is the more urban, eastern local authorities that have witnessed the largest increases in day-to-day spending since the last local elections, with the more rural local authorities experiencing the smallest increases and even some recording reductions in spending since 2014. In contrast, all local authorities experienced reductions in current (and even more so in capital) spending between the local elections of 2009 and 2014, coinciding with the years of austerity. Notwithstanding the recovery in the general economy since the last local elections, the issue of the rural/urban divide remains a serious challenge for our policymakers, both local and national.” Funding sources also differ, reflecting differences in tax bases and economic activity. These revenue income differences are particularly true for rural versus urban councils, with the more urban densely populated councils able to rely more on own-source incomes such as commercial rates, retained local property tax (LPT) and user charges, resulting in a greater degree of fiscal autonomy for these councils, while the rural less populated county councils have to depend more on central government grants to provide local public services. Stephen McNena, Whitaker Institute at NUI Galway, explains: “As most tax revenue for local councils is in the form of commercial rates and not local property tax, we looked at the commercial rate called the Annual Rate on Valuation (ARV), for 2019. For those local councils that have not revalued the commercial rates base recently, the tax rate ranges from 79.25 in Kerry County Council to 56.77 in Tipperary County Council. Where local councils have undertaken a recent revaluation of industrial and commercial properties liable for commercial rates, the tax rate ranges from 0.2760 in South Dublin County Council to 0.1500 in Fingal County Council. Of the four Dublin councils, two of them are amongst the councils that levy the highest commercial rates in the country, but, on the other hand, the other two Dublin councils have the lowest rates nationwide. As for these cross-council differences in the ARV, the rate in 2019 in any local council is a reflection of that council’s rates levied in the past.”  As a tax on business property, commercial rates account for about 30 per cent of total revenue income, as against the local property tax which accounts for only eight per cent of revenue income. Given the Government’s recent decision yet again, to defer the revaluation of residential properties for local property tax purposes, this imbalance between business and non-business taxes to fund local public services is an issue that requires more analysis and discussion, with the 2019 local elections an ideal opportunity for voters and policymakers to debate this and other local concerns.  These cross-council differences in budget income and spending are not unexpected, given the variations in the profile, circumstances and choices of the different areas and their constituents. The argument in favour of decentralisation and having local councils (and elections) is to bring government closer to the people, so that citizens get what they want given their differences in preferences and willingness to pay, rather than the uniformity than comes with central government provision. For more information on this research visit, www.nuigalway.ie/localauthorityfinances or contact NUI Galway economics lecturers Dr Gerard Turley or Stephen McNena at gerard.turley@nuigalway.ie or stephen.mcnena@nuigalway.ie. -Ends-

Thursday, 16 May 2019

Bill McEvoy, an expert in heart disease prevention who last year returned to Ireland to take up the position of Professor of Preventive Cardiology at NUI Galway and Consultant Cardiologist at Galway University Hospitals, has been invited to debate another international expert on the benefits of aspirin in preventing heart disease and stroke. This debate is important because aspirin is so widely used and because it will also be published in the New England Journal of Medicine, the premier international medical publication, which is widely read by doctors around the world. Professor McEvoy argues that aspirin continues to have a role in certain patients who are at high risk for heart disease and stroke but who have yet to suffer a clinical manifestation (also known as the ‘primary prevention’ of cardiovascular disease). On the other hand, Professor Sigrun Halvorsen from the University of Oslo in Norway argues that the use of aspirin in primary prevention of cardiovascular is no longer justifiable. Both agree that aspirin should be continued in those who have already suffered a clinical heart attack or stroke, in order to reduce the chances of a recurrence (termed ‘secondary prevention’). The motivation for this major debate among physicians is based on three recent 2018 clinical trials that suggested aspirin is less effective in the primary prevention of cardiovascular disease than had been previously thought. Older clinical trials, carried out before the turn of the millennium, had demonstrated that aspirin can prevent heart attacks and strokes among adults who were at sufficiently high risk. However, these trials were done at a time when smoking was more common and the treatment of high blood pressure and high cholesterol was less effective than what is available today. In the 2018 trials, the benefits of aspirin in preventing heart disease and stroke appeared to have been less pronounced in adults treated to current best practice standards (participants in the 2018 trials had much better control of their blood pressure and cholesterol than did the participants in older trials of aspirin). This suggests that aspirin may no longer be necessary for primary prevention as long as cardiac risk factors like smoking, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure are well controlled with modern treatments. Because aspirin causes increased bleeding, particularly in the stomach, there have consequently been arguments to now stop using aspirin for the primary prevention of cardiovascular disease altogether. However, Professor McEvoy, who also led the review of evidence for aspirin for a recent clinical practice guideline, published by the American Heart Association and American College of Cardiology in March 2019, feels that aspirin continues to have a potential role in some patients. In his pro-argument, he points out that two of the three recent aspirin trials continued to report reductions in non-fatal heart attacks with aspirin use. Furthermore, over a quarter of patients in the recent 2018 trials did not take their aspirin as prescribed, whereas participants in the older studies were much more compliant with the aspirin medication. Therefore, one reason aspirin might not look as good in the recent studies is because the participants simply weren’t taking it. Indeed, when some of the 2018 trials were reanalyzed to look at patients who actually took the aspirin, the reductions in heart attack were even more evident (though these reductions still appear less than in older trials). Professor McEvoy also argues that, because heart attacks are rarely fatal in a modern era where most patients have a stenting procedure or cardiac surgery to open the blood vessel blockage that caused the heart attack, the benefits of aspirin may take a longer time than previously thought to become evident (specifically less non-fatal heart attacks might translate into less heart failure over prolonged follow-up) and that the results of these 2018 trials (which only reported results after five years of follow-up) will need to be extended to 10 or more years before it is known for sure that aspirin is not as effective as previously thought. Ultimately, McEvoy feels the ball should be in the patient’s court. If, after discussing the risks and benefits of aspirin with their doctor, the patient prefers to prevent a heart attack than a bleeding episode (most of which are minor) and if the patient’s risk for cardiovascular disease is sufficiently high, then McEvoy feels it is reasonable to continue recommending aspirin for now- though with annual reassessment of the pros and cons. In a statement Professor Bill McEvoy, NUI Galway and Galway University Hospitals, said: “As an Irish physician, its great to be invited to lead this international debate among physicians around the world. I’m proud that Galway and Ireland are flying the flag of heart disease and stroke prevention and this article is great exposure for the research we are carrying out at NUI Galway and the National Institute of Preventive Cardiology, also based in Galway.” Professor McEvoy has also been invited to write an extended review on this topic for another leading medical journal, The Lancet, which is due to be published on 25, May 2019. To read the full debate in New England Journal of Medicine on Wednesday, 15 May 2019 at 5pm EST, visit: https://www.nejm.org -Ends-

Wednesday, 15 May 2019

NUI Galway will host the 7th EUGEO (Association of Geographical Societies in Europe) Congress in conjunction with the 51st Conference of Irish Geographers from 15-18 May. The theme for this year’s event is ‘Re-imagining Europe’s Future Society and Landscapes’. The theme focuses on the centrality of the concepts of society, environment and landscape within the Discipline of Geography and the importance of the relationship that exists between the physical and cultural landscape. The theme was selected to reflect a number of key urgent concerns and research questions that geographers are currently engaged with and this Congress will offer participants the opportunity to reflect on and re-imagine environmental and sustainable futures within the geographical boundary of Europe. 500 delegates from 37 countries will be attending the four-day event which includes interactive panels, fieldtrips to the Burren, paper and poster sessions as well as early career networking events and international keynote contributions. NUI Galway is delighted to welcome two of Europe’s leading physical and social scientists, Dr Larissa Naylor (Reader for Physical Geography at the University of Glasgow) and Dr Michele Lancione(Senior Research Fellow and Director of ECR Development in Sheffield University). Michele is an urban ethnographer and activist and his opening a keynote lecture on Wednesday, 15 May in the Bailey Allen Hall and will focus on the theme of Homelessness and Governmentality. Larissa is an international expert in climate change adaptation and she helped establish the UK’s Marine Climate Change Impacts Partnership, and has reviewed the coastal chapter for the IPPC. Geography at NUI Galway is one of the largest and most vibrant disciplines in the College of Arts, Social Sciences and Celtic Studies, and has built a strong reputation for research and teaching excellence through the work of dedicated staff who have extensive experience nationally and internationally. In hosting this congress, Galway joins the ranks of cities such as Amsterdam (previously hosted in 2007), Bratislava (2009), London (2011), Rome (2013), Budapest (2015) and Brussels (2017). Conference Chairs, Dr Kathy Reilly and Dr Frances Fahy, College of Geography and Archaeology, NUI Galway, explain that: “It is an honour to host the EUGEO Congress which is only held every second year and we are delighted to welcome 500 national and international colleagues from all around the globe to this significant event.Over the next three days we are looking forward to a vibrant and rich conference programme which will include cutting edge research exploring some of society’s pressing issues.” The four-day Congress programme will feature multiple sessions with academic experts from throughout Europe that will cover topics on: Agriculture and Climate Change: exploring the adverse effects of climate change, especially on agricultural lands. Homelessness and Rooflessness: examining the trends and trajectories and challenges of service provision – Beyond the Capital: Examining homelessness in the West of Ireland. Marine Spatial Planning in a Time of Uncertainty. Migration, Mobility and Belonging – Realities and ideals in rural-out migration and return; Finding home through motion – transnational, translocal and transitional spaces of belonging. Geographies of Sustainable Consumption – Everyday clothing geographies: insights for sustainable fashion consumption. Earth Observation Applications in environmental mapping and monitoring – A Earth Observation Applications in environmental mapping and monitoring; Earth Observation for Inland and Coastal Water Quality Monitoring in Ireland; Hyperspectral mapping of Ascophyllum nodosum in Galway Bay; A comprehensive roadmap to 50 years of (satellite) earth observation resources for the island of Ireland (1972 – 2023). (em)Powering Communities: the path to forging a new energy landscape -Learning from Living Labs: Experiences from the Field. Enlightening Generational Renewal in Agriculture Policy: A Roadmap for CAP Post2020 – Female Successors in Irish Family Farming – Four Pathways to Farm Transfer; Risky Business: Farmer Perceptions of Economic Risk in Land Transfer Processes. Historical Climatology – Quality control of long-term daily maximum and minimum air temperature series in Ireland; Wetter winters: drier summers: Real or data artefact; Reconstructions of historical river flows for the island of Ireland. Palaeoenvironmental Change – Chironomid response to prehistoric farming in northwest Ireland; Abrupt global climate change recorded in the eastern North Atlantic during past warm climates. Wind energy – bringing the uncertainties into focus – An automated wind-speed forecasting system for a wind farm in southwest Ireland. Approaches to European Rural Development: Looking Towards 2021 – LEADER and vernacular expertise in rural development. Building coastal resilience for current and future climates – Enablers and barriers to building coastal community resilience. The Future for Peatland – The emerging role of cultural ecosystem services in conserving Irish peatlands. The conference is supported by EUGEO, Geographical Society of Ireland, NUI Galway, Springer, Failte Ireland, EPA Research, Moore Institute, National Rural Network and RealSim. For full programme details and venue and session timetables at NUI Galway over the four-days, visit: https://www.eugeo2019.eu/conference-schedule -Ends-

Monday, 13 May 2019

NUI Galway will host the 7th EUGEO (Association of Geographical Societies in Europe) Congress in conjunction with the 51st Conference of Irish Geographers from 15-18 May. The theme for this year’s event, ‘Re-imagining Europe’s Future Society and Landscapes’ will look at agriculture and climate change from the viewpoint of citizens, politics, behaviour change and climatology. Researchers from the Risk Aqua Soil project led from NUI Galway, will host a session on ‘Agriculture and Climate Change’ on Thursday, May 16 from 3.45pm-5.15pm in the University’s Human Biology Building. Risk Aqua Soil is an EU INTERREG Atlantic Arc project supported by the European Regional Development Funds. The project aims to develop a comprehensive management plan for risks in soil and in water to improve the resilience of the Atlantic rural areas. Through transnational cooperation, the project partners will combat the adverse effects of climate change, especially on agricultural lands. Session on Agriculture and Climate Change - Panel presentations followed by open discussions will feature: Dr Jean Francois Berthoumiem, Project Manager, Risk Aqua Soil Project, Association Climatologique de la Moyenne-Garonne et du Sud-Ouest, France. Topic: A summary on Risk Aqua Soil pilot actions in agricultural lands that will permit better soil and water management taking into account the risks associated with climate change. Dr Mary Ryan, Agricultural Researcher, Rural Economy & Development Centre, Teagasc. Topic: The challenges for farmers in relation to climate smart agriculture and the mitigation measures that can be employed to develop resilience. Dr Brenda McNally, Research Fellow, TCD. Topic: Farmers, Climate Change and Communication: Insights from a critical review of global studies on public engagement with climate action? Dr Denis O’Hora, Behavioural Scientist, Department of Psychology, NUI Galway. Topic: Challenges in generating behaviour change in line with sustainable farming practices. Dr Sinead Mellett, Chair of the session on Agriculture and Climate Change, and Risk Aqua Soil Project researcher, Whitaker Institute, NUI Galway, said: “This is a great opportunity to share the research being carried out in agriculture and climate change. This session will help open conversations about how to be prepared to fight against future events. We will discuss how to encourage farming that is both resilient and sustainable. Identifying trends and issues in research into farmers’ views and behavioural change challenges on different levels of climate action and discuss what farmers in Ireland can do in relation to climate mitigation policy.” The four-day Congress programme will feature multiple sessions with academic experts from throughout Europe that will cover topics on: Homelessness and Rooflessness: examining the trends and trajectories and challenges of service provision - Beyond the Capital: Examining homelessness in the West of Ireland. Marine Spatial Planning in a Time of Uncertainty. Migration, Mobility and Belonging – Realities and ideals in rural-out migration and return; Finding home through motion – transnational, translocal and transitional spaces of belonging. Geographies of Sustainable Consumption – Everyday clothing geographies: insights for sustainable fashion consumption Earth Observation Applications in environmental mapping and monitoring – A Earth Observation Applications in environmental mapping and monitoring; Earth Observation for Inland and Coastal Water Quality Monitoring in Ireland; Hyperspectral mapping of Ascophyllum nodosum in Galway Bay; A comprehensive roadmap to 50 years of (satellite) earth observation resources for the island of Ireland (1972 – 2023). (em)Powering Communities: the path to forging a new energy landscape -Learning from Living Labs: Experiences from the Field. Enlightening Generational Renewal in Agriculture Policy: A Roadmap for CAP Post2020 – Female Successors in Irish Family Farming – Four Pathways to Farm Transfer; Risky Business: Farmer Perceptions of Economic Risk in Land Transfer Processes Historical Climatology – Quality control of long-term daily maximum and minimum air temperature series in Ireland; Wetter winters: drier summers: Real or data artefact; Reconstructions of historical river flows for the island of Ireland. Palaeoenvironmental Change – Chironomid response to prehistoric farming in northwest Ireland; Abrupt global climate change recorded in the eastern North Atlantic during past warm climates. Wind energy – bringing the uncertainties into focus - An automated wind-speed forecasting system for a windfarm in southwest Ireland. Approaches to European Rural Development: Looking Towards 2021 - LEADER and vernacular expertise in rural development. Building coastal resilience for current and future climates - Enablers and barriers to build coastal community resilience. The Future for Peatland – The emerging role of cultural ecosystem services in conserving Irish peatlands. The conference is funded by EUGEO, Geographical Society of Ireland, NUI Galway, Springer, Meet in Ireland, EPA Research, Moore Institute, National Rural Network and RealSim. For full programme details and venue and session timetables at NUI Galway over the four-days, visit: https://www.eugeo2019.eu/conference-schedule For more information about the Agriculture and Climate Change session contact, Dr Sinead Mellett, Risk Aqua Soil Project, Whitaker Institute, NUI Galway at sinead.mellett@nuigalway.ie or visit https://www.eugeo2019.eu for conference details. -Ends-

Monday, 13 May 2019

NUI Galway’s Alumni Ensemble choir was presented with the ‘Chamber Choir of the Year’ award at the recent Cork International Choral Festival. The alumni ensemble formed in 2013 in NUI Galway by graduate, Peter Mannion. The group is comprised of graduates of NUI Galway, many of whom met in the University’s Choral Society while studying there. They come together in Galway during the year to reconnect and rehearse new music for public performance. Their winning repertoire at the Cork Choral Festival included contemporary Estonian composer, Arvo Pärt, and Renaissance Italian composer, Claudio Monteverdi. Peter Mannion, Director of the NUI Galway Alumni Ensemble, said: “Our choir offers us a wonderful opportunity to come together with friends and share our passion for singing. Chamber choirs are small by nature and it takes time and care to make sure that each of our voices blend together while maintaining their expressive quality. It is wonderful for us to represent the University in winning this major competition.” As well as competing in the National Chamber Choir competition, the NUI Galway Alumni Ensemble performed a lunchtime concert for the public in the Methodist church in Kinsale. Founded in 1954 the Cork International Choral Festival is held annually over the five days. The Festival, which is the oldest in Cork and one of Europe’s most prestigious Choral Festivals, included gala concerts, schools concerts, national and international competitions, workshops and free outdoor performances. -Ends-

Monday, 13 May 2019

An exhibition from artist Pádraic Reaney’s, Inis Airc, is now open in NUI Galway’s Hardiman Research Building. The exhibition displays 23 art works responding to the changing form of the island of Inishark, off the west Galway coast, which was abandoned by the last residents in 1960. The free exhibition, which runs until 28 May, consists of paintings and graphics that uniquely capture a crumbling cultural landscape, which once supported a community of over 200 people. Since 2002, Pádraic has visited the island regularly, making studies in watercolour and drawing dilapidating houses and farmsteads, as all evidence of human impact fades away. His oil paintings and graphics viscerally enliven these spaces once again in a blending of colour, physical landscape, and remnants of fishing communities. This exhibition challenges the viewer to consider the history of our islands, and to critically examine the larger rural decline. Born in Carraroe, Co. Galway, Pádraic Reaney studied Fine Art and now lives and works in Moycullen. His work has gained national and international acclaim, and he has held collections in such places as Ireland’s Great Hunger Museum, Quinnipiac University, USA; Siena Art Institute, Italy; and Urawa Wood-Cut Prints Association, Japan. The exhibition is hosted by the University’s Moore Institute and funded by the Discipline of Geography for the 7th EUGEO Congress international conference.   For more information about the exhibition contact Dr Richard Scriven, Discipline of Geography, NUI Galway, richard.scriven@nuigalway.ie. For more information on Pádraic Reaney’s art visit http://reaneyart.com/ -Ends-

Thursday, 9 May 2019

Three primary schools from Dublin, Offaly and Cork have been shortlisted to showcase their randomised clinical trials at NUI Galway on Friday, 17 May when the overall winner will be announced and presented with the START Trophy 2019. Now in its fourth year, the Schools Teaching Awareness of Randomised Trials (START) competition aims to educate students about why we need randomised trials to improve healthcare nationally and globally.  Primary schools around the country were invited to create their very own fun randomised clinical trial earlier this year. The competition is run by the Health Research Board – Trials Methodology Research Network (HRB-TRMN) at NUI Galway, to celebrate International Clinical Trials Day, and the anniversary of the first clinical trial which was carried out in 1747 in the British Navy. The three shortlisted primary schools are: Gaelscoil an Eiscir Riada NS, Tullamore, Co. Offaly with teacher Aoife Ní Fhlannagáin. Trial title: ‘Does listening to the same music while studying for and completing a test improve your scores?’ Video: https://sites.google.com/eriada.ie/start-competition-2019-r6/ Ovens NS, Co. Cork with teacher Conor Murphy. Trial title: ‘Does watching TV while doing written homework cause you to lose concentration?’ (Podcast available on request). Scoil Mobhí NS, Glasnevin, Dublin with teacher Fiona de Bhál. Trial title: ‘Does positive encouragement and praise affect running speed?’ Video: https://sway.office.com/SljbZKvFkAUJ5AYu?ref=Link Dr Sandra Galvin, HRB-TMRN Programme Manager at NUI Galway, said: “This initiative has really captured the children’s imagination and creativity, but I also think we can learn so much from their approach. Trials can be complex and challenging for people to understand, and yet here we have children rising to this challenge so well. START is about breaking down the barriers in the understanding of trials, and helping understand the power trials have to improve healthcare for all.” Speaking about the competition entries, Dr Darrin Morrissey, Chief Executive at the Health Research Board, said: “The ingenuity and approach that young people have taken to designing their own trials to inform decision-making is incredible. I hope that as they talk about what they have done, at home and with friends, that it helps demystify the idea of clinical research and encourage more people to ask about what trials are available to them in relation to their own healthcare.” The three shortlisted schools were selected by judges: Teacher, Aisling Murray, Kinvara National School and last year’s winning class teacher; Dr Andrew Oxman, Research Director, Global Health Unit, Norwegian Institute of Public Health, Oslo, Norway; and Ms Sarah Chapman, Knowledge Broker at Cochrane UK.  To learn more about the HRB-TMRN START competition visit: www.hrb-tmrn.ie or follow on Twitter @hrbtmrn and Facebook at START Competition. See short videos from START competitions 2018, 2017 and 2016, here: https://www.hrb-tmrn.ie/public-engagement/start-competition/ -Ends-

Thursday, 9 May 2019

As the academic year draws to a close, NUI Galway is celebrating another remarkable year of societies. With over 125 student societies, over 1,000 committee members and 12,000  members, societies continue to flourish on campus. Recent successes at national events such as the Board of Irish College Societies (BICS) National Society Awards, Musical Theatre Intervarsities, Irish Student Drama Awards (ISDA) and Dance Intervarsity highlighted their achievement and hard work over the past year. Riona Hughes, Societies Officer at NUI Galway, said: “It has been a bumper year for our societies with numerous successes, they have organised almost 3,000 events this year. They have invited the wider community onto campus and engaged with partners throughout the world, it is a joy to see their efforts rewarded at a national level.” At the recent BICS Awards 2019 NUI Galway were presented with two awards. Best Event was won by AMSI & Paediatric Society’s ‘Healthy Heroes’ and Best Society was presented to the University’s LGBTQA+ society GiGSoc, marking NUI Galway’s fourth year in a row to win this much coveted award. NUI Galway now currently holds the record for the most awards since the BICS’s Awards inception with 50 awards won over the past 19 years. The Musical Society GUMS hosted the fourth annual Musical Theatre Intervarsities in NUI Galway in March and won three awards including Best Direction for Patrick Conneely, Best Musical Direction for Katie Feeney and Best Overall Show. The Drama Society (Dramsoc) won a record-breaking six awards and received a further 18 nominations at ISDA 2019. The awards included Best Costumes, Best Hair and Make-up, Best Supporting Actress, Best Lighting Design, Best Supporting Actor, and Best Ensemble. During the 2018/19 academic year Dramsoc produced a total of eleven show s and held over 135 events. The Dance Society Irish troupe, choreographed by student Matthew Gardner, also won first place in their category at the Dance Intervarsity. -Ends-

Thursday, 9 May 2019

Tá mórstaidéar nua dar teideal Gaelic Games on Film: From silent films to Hollywood hurling, horror and the emergence of Irish cinema foilsithe ag an Dr Seán Crosson. Déanann an Dr Crosson, ar acadóir é i Scoil Scannán agus Meán Digiteach Huston in OÉ Gaillimh, iniúchadh sa leabhar seo ar an gcaoi a léirítear cluichí Gaelacha ar an scáileán mór. Is é an Dr Paul Rouse, Scoil na Staire, COBÁC agus údar an leabhair Sport and Ireland: A History, a sheolfaidh an leabhar, atá foilsithe ag Cló Ollscoile Chorcaí, ar an gCéadaoin, an 15 Bealtaine ag 6pm in Institiúid Scannán na hÉireann, Barra an Teampaill, Baile Átha Cliath. A History, on Wednesday, 15 May at 6pm in Irish Film Institute in Temple Bar, Dublin. Bíodh is go bhfuil cluichí Gaelacha i measc na spórt is mó a bhfuil tóir orthu in Éirinn, idir rannpháirtíocht agus spéis an phobail, is beag duine a mbeadh a fhios acu go bhfuil traidisiún fada ann na cluichí seo a thaispeáint ar an scáileán mór, ar traidisiún é a théann siar chomh fada le tús ré na scannánaíochta. Chomh luath leis an mbliain 1901, rinne an Irish Animated Photo Company scannánú de chluiche iománaíochta i gCorn Dúshláin Cullen idir ‘Rovers’ agus ‘Grocers’ a imríodh ag Bóthar Mhic Sheoin – Páirc an Chrócaigh sa lá atá inniu ann – ar an Domhnach, 8 Nollaig na bliana sin, ar scannán é a taispeánadh mar chuid d’Oíche Mhór Ghaelach sa Rotunda ar Shráid Pharnell an Chéadaoin dár gcionn. Ó shin i leith, is iomaí uair a chuir cluichí Gaelacha móitíf ar fáil do lucht déanta scannán a mbaintear leas aisti arís is arís eile chun léiriú a thabhairt ar ghnéithe den fhéiniúlacht Éireannach, bíodh is nach raibh na gnéithe sin féin gan locht. Labhair an Dr Crosson mar seo a leanas: “Seans gurb é an ghné is suntasaí agus is spéisiúla den scéal seo an caidreamh buan idir iománaíocht agus Hollywood. Tá scannáin déanta ag an gcuid is mó de stiúideonna móra Hollywood, leithéidí MGM, Paramount agus Warner Bros, a dhírigh ar spórt uathúil seo na hÉireann. Sa bhliain 1936 d’eisigh MGM gearrscannán faoin teideal Hurling mar chuid dá shraith ‘Pete Smith Specialities’ a raibh an-tóir ag an bpobal air. Léiriú neamhghnách a bhí ann inar cuireadh síos ar an iománaíocht mar chluiche ‘ionsaí agus slacairt’ na hÉireann, agus tharraing sé go mór ar steiréitíopaí seanbhunaithe agus conspóideacha an ré sin maidir le hÉirinn agus muintir na hÉireann. Bhí sárbhliain ag gearrscannáin Hollywood faoin iománaíocht in 1955 nuair a ainmníodh scannán de chuid Paramount, Three Kisses, do ghradam Oscar.” Bíodh is go bhfuil léargais faoi leith ar Éirinn agus ar chultúr na hÉireann le fáil ón gcaoi ar cuireadh cluichí Gaelacha i láthair go hidirnáisiúnta, tá dlúthnasc ann idir teacht chun cinn an chultúir dhúchasaigh scannánaíochta agus an chaoi ar léiríodh cluichí Gaelacha. D’eascair na léirithe is luaithe de chluichí Gaelacha dá bhfuil againn – scannán neamhfhicsin d’athimirt Chluiche Ceannais na hÉireann 1914 idir Ciarraí agus Loch Garman, agus píosa as scannán 1918 Knocknagow – ó na hiarrachtaí a rinne comhlachtaí agus daoine aonair ceannródaíocha i stair scannánaíochta na hÉireann, ar áiríodh ina measc siúd an Irish Animated Picture Company (an chéad léiritheoir agus dáileoir scannán dúchasach) agus an Film Company of Ireland, an chéad chomhlacht Éireannach a bhí i mbun léiriúchán príomhscannán. Sa tréimhse i ndiaidh an Dara Cogadh Domhanda, is ar Institiúid Náisiúnta na Scannán, Éire a bhí fócas chultúr scannán na hÉireann dírithe, agus ar Ghael Linn ina dhiaidh sin. Ba chás leis an dá eagraíocht cluichí Gaelacha a léiriú, agus rinne siad amhlaidh i scannáin chóitseála Ghael Linn Peil (1962) agus Christy Ring (1964) i measc scannán eile. Tá Seán Crosson ina Chomhstiúrthóir ar an MA in Iriseoireacht Spóirt agus Cumarsáid agus ina Stiúrthóir ar Thaighde agus ar Theagasc Iarchéime i Scoil Scannán & Meán Digiteach Huston in OÉ Gaillimh. Is é atá i gceannas freisin ar an nGrúpa Taighde Spóirt agus Aclaíochta atá lonnaithe in Institiúid de Móra, OÉ Gaillimh, agus tá go leor foilsithe aige i réimse na scannán, agus é ag díriú le blianta beaga ar an gcaoi a léirítear spórt i scannáin. I measc a chuid foilseachán tá Sport and Film ar bronnadh gradam air, Sport, Representation and Evolving Identities in Europe (mar chomheagarthóir), agus ‘Sport and the Media in Ireland’ in eagrán speisialta den iris Media History. I ndiaidh an tseolta, taispeánfar scannáin, nach bhfeictear rómhinic, ag 7pm ina bhfuil léirithe de chluichí Gaelacha, Rooney (1958) san áireamh. -Críoch-

Wednesday, 8 May 2019

Health Economics is increasingly being used to inform research and development about the design and development of new medical technologies and is also a vital component in determining the commercial viability of new medical technologies. The Health Economic and Policy Analysis Centre in collaboration with CÚRAM, the Science Foundation Ireland Centre for Research in Medical Devices at NUI Galway will hold a seminar to discuss the challenges associated with the health economic assessment of medical devices with reference to recent regulatory changes.  Researchers at the Health Economics and Policy Analysis Centre (HEPAC) at NUI Galway are currently applying health economic methods to explore a range of research questions in relation to medical devices, and a wide range of chronic disease areas including ageing, dementia, disability, mental health, chronic disease, cancer, and obesity. While the research is mainly of an applied nature with an emphasis on peer-reviewed academic output, members of HEPAC also engage and contribute to policy formulation in a range of areas at national and international level. Current research projects include those funded by agencies such as the Health Research Board, Science Foundation Ireland, Atlantic Philanthropies, and industry partners. The following topics will be discussed: The particular characteristics of medical devices that lead to additional challenges for health technology assessment of medical devices. Key aspects of the conduct and methods of health technology assessment for medical devices.  The key recommendations for improvements in processes and methods that could enhance the potential for health technology assessment and optimise the diffusion of medical devices. This seminar is aimed at medical device developers, manufacturers, regulators, healthcare practitioners, analysts, consultants, and health technology assessors interested in the health economic assessment processes aimed at informing key decision making throughout the full development and evaluation pathway of medical devices. Those attending may be new to the field of health technology assessment of medical devices and may be working in an academic or industry environment. This seminar will also be suitable for experienced analysts interested in having a deeper understanding of the challenges of medical device evaluation. Keynote speaker Professor Rosanna Tarricone, is an Associate Professor in Public Administration at Bocconi University, Milan and Associate Dean at SDA Bocconi School of Management. She graduated in Business Administration at Bocconi University and holds an MSc in Health Services Management and a PhD in Public Health and Policy, both from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, UL, UK. She has over 100 publications in the areas of health policy, healthcare management, economic analysis of health care services and health technology assessment. In recent years she has focussed on health technology assessment of medical devices and has been the leader of a large, three-year EU-funded research project ‘MedtecHTA’ that has made recommendations on how to improve methods for assessing the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of health technologies. Rosanna also serves as advisor for the Ministry of Health of Italy and as an expert to the Director General of Research and Director General of Health of the European Commission. Professor Tarricone is also a member of the International Association of Health Economics, the International Health Technology Assessment organisation and the International Society for Pharmacoeconomics and Outcome Research where she also served as member of the Board. Dr Michelle Queally, Discipline of Economics and CÚRAM at NUI Galway, said: The medical device sector is very important for Ireland and indeed more locally in Galway. Europe’s premier cluster of medical device companies is based in the Galway region. The Health Economics and Policy Analysis Centre in collaboration with CÚRAM at NUI Galway are very much looking forward to linking in with local and national medical device companies at our upcoming seminar on 13 May. Establishing value in healthcare including medical devices is a growing area of concern, particularly in light of recent regulation changes. We are delighted to host our visiting speaker, global expert in the field, Professor Tarricone to discuss the challenges and recommendations in the economic evaluation of medical devices and we look forward to a lively discussion.” The seminar will take place on Monday, 13 May from 9am to 12pm at the Institute for Lifecourse and Society, North Campus, NUI Galway.  For further information and for registration contact Michelle Queally at michelle.queally@nuigalway.ie or on 091- 492934. To register for the event, visit: https://www.eventbrite.ie/e/health-economics-for-the-evaluation-of-medical-devices-tickets-56561541092 -Ends- 

Wednesday, 8 May 2019

Mobile content creation festival to be held on campus June 6-8 NUI Galway is delighted to announce today (Wednesday, 8 May) that it is to partner with Mojofest, the mobile content creation festival, to bring three days of events for marketers, journalists, communicators and SMEs to its campus from 6-8 June. Mojofest is a three-day festival which explores and celebrates the use of smartphones for photography, film-making, audio production, livestreaming, marketing, social media content creation and journalism. The event includes keynotes, plenary sessions with international speakers, hands-on workshops/activities and an exhibition by some of the world’s leading app developers and accessory manufacturers who make professional smartphone content creation possible. Speaking at the launch, Mojofest Director Glen Mulcahy, said: “I’m absolutely thrilled to be able to bring the conference back to NUI Galway again. Having lived in Galway for 15 years myself I know what a wonderful, vibrant and creative community there is here and feedback from the delegates last year was fantastic. It simply would not have been possible to do this without the support and partnership of NUI Galway.” The partnership with NUI Galway has involved skills development programmes for staff and students, with 224 undergraduate and postgraduate marketing students incorporating the techniques of professional content creation to develop visual marketing stories and strategies.  NUI Galway’s Director of Marketing and Communications, Lorna Farren, added: “We’re delighted to welcome Mojofest back to the campus this year. Mobile content creation and user generated content are important components of most communications strategies, and this event brings some of the world’s leading experts to our campus, providing great opportunities for our students and the wider community to look at future trends in this evolving medium.” The conference is aimed at social media managers, CSR teams, marketing and public relations executives, filmmakers, journalists, media/journalism students, mobile photography enthusiasts, media executives and SME Business owners.  The event takes place from Thursday 6th - Saturday 8th June in the Bailey Allen Conference Hall at NUI Galway. The conference is being run in association with RTÉ. Notable sessions include: Computational Photography - how smartphones are gaining ground on “pro” cameras. Mobile story formats for Social media e.g. Instagram. Mobile multi-camera live streaming - the future of “local TV”? Smart Podcasting - building your brand with audio. Workshops include underwater photography, livestreaming setups, vertical storytelling formats, photo walks and much more. Keynote speakers include: Emmy award winning journalist Waad Alkateab who documented the Syrian war from within Aleppo with just her phone and a DSLR. Her award winning stories were broadcast on Channel 4 news where she now works as a documentary filmmaker. Multi award winning Director of Photography, Philip Bloom will present a keynote on the evolution of consumer technology and how it has the potential to transform storytelling. In her first visit to Ireland, the managing director of the Al Jazeera Media Network’s AJ+, Dima Khatib, will share insights into how traditional TV organisations like Aljazeera leveraged digital technology to reinvent the way news was sourced, created and distributed to engage new audiences via mobile. Mojofest organiser, Glen Mulcahy, has pioneered the use of smartphones for content creation since 2011 and he has trained over 5000 journalists in Ireland, Europe, the USA and the Middle East in the techniques that will be explored at the event. The conference website is http://www.mojofest.eu  and tickets are on sale now. ENDS

Tuesday, 7 May 2019

NUI Galway participates in major international study showing sewage can reveal levels of antimicrobial resistance worldwide A comprehensive analysis of sewage collected in 74 cities in 60 countries worldwide has yielded the first, comparable global data, which show the levels and types of antimicrobial resistant bacteria that are present in mainly healthy people in these countries. The National Food Institute, Technical University of Denmark, led the study, which was conducted by an international team of researchers including Professor Martin Cormican, Dr Dearbháile Morris and Dr Louise O’Connor from the Discipline of Bacteriology, School of Medicine at NUI Galway. The World Health Organisation describes antimicrobial resistance as the ability of a microorganism (like bacteria, viruses, and some parasites) to stop an antimicrobial (such as antibiotics) from working against it. As a result, standard treatments become ineffective, infections persist and may spread to others. The key finding from the study showed that there were marked differences in the levels of antimicrobial resistance observed by region and regions with poorer sanitation had higher levels. This suggests that improving the overall sanitation and health in these regions could limit the overall global burden of antimicrobial resistance. The study was published in the in the highly regarded scientific journal Nature Communications. In the study, the researchers mapped out all the DNA material in the sewage samples and found that according to antimicrobial resistance the world’s countries fall within two groups. North America, Western Europe, Australia and New Zealand generally have the lowest levels of antimicrobial resistance, while Asia, Africa and South America have the highest levels. Brazil, India and Vietnam have the greatest diversity in resistance genes, while Australia and New Zealand have the lowest. Dr Dearbháile Morris from the School of Medicine at NUI Galway, said: “The approach taken in this study is an important first step towards the development of a global model for surveillance of all disease causing organisms, not just antimicrobial resistance.” Sanitation and health closely linked to antimicrobial resistance The researchers’ findings show that most of the variables, which are associated with the occurrence of antimicrobial resistance in a country, are related to the sanitary conditions in the country and the population’s general state of health. The project lead, Professor Frank Aarestrup, Technical University of Denmark says: “In the fight against antimicrobial resistance, our findings suggest that it would be a very effective strategy if concerted efforts were made to improve sanitary conditions in countries with high levels of antimicrobial resistance.” A step closer to a global surveillance system The overall ambition of those participating in the study is to developing a worldwide surveillance system that can continuously monitor the occurrence and spread of disease-causing microorganisms and antimicrobial resistance. As such, it would be possible to use the global surveillance data, for example, to manage diseases that threaten to spread beyond a country’s borders and develop into pandemics, such as Ebola, measles, polio or cholera. Professor Aarestrup, added: “Analysing sewage can quickly and relatively cheaply show exactly which bacteria abound in an area, and collecting and analysing sewage does not require ethical approval, as the material cannot be traced back to individuals. Both parameters help to make a surveillance system via sewage a viable option - also in developing countries.” Read the full study in Nature Communications at: https://www.nature.com/articles/s41467-019-08853-3 -Ends-

Tuesday, 7 May 2019

A major new study, Gaelic Games on Film: From silent films to Hollywood hurling, horror and the emergence of Irish cinema, examining the depiction of Gaelic games on film has been published by NUI Galway Huston School of Film & Digital Media academic Dr Seán Crosson. The new book, published by Cork University Press, will be officially launched by Dr Paul Rouse, School of History, UCD and author of Sport and Ireland: A History, on Wednesday, 15 May at 6pm in Irish Film Institute in Temple Bar, Dublin. While Gaelic games are among the most popular sports played and followed in Ireland, few perhaps will be aware of the long tradition of depicting these games in the cinema, a tradition that goes back to the earliest days of the cinema. As early as 1901 the Irish Animated Photo Company filmed a Cullen’s Challenge Cup hurling game between ‘Rovers’ and ‘Grocers’ played at Jones’ Road – now Croke Park – on Sunday, 8 December that year, a film that was screened as part of a ‘Grand Gaelic Night’ at the Rotunda on Parnell Street the following Wednesday. In subsequent years, Gaelic games have repeatedly provided filmmakers with a resonant motif to represent perceived aspects of Irish identity, perceived as these representations have been neither straightforward nor unproblematic. Dr Crosson said: “Perhaps the most extraordinary and fascinating aspect of this story is the enduring relationship between hurling and Hollywood. Most of the major Hollywood studios, including MGM, Paramount, and Warner Bros, have produced films focused on this most distinctive of Irish sports. In 1936, MGM released a short, simply titled Hurling as part of their highly-popular ‘Pete Smith Specialities series’. This extraordinary depiction described hurling as Ireland’s ‘game of assault and battery’ and drew heavily on established and problematic stereotypes concerning Ireland and Irish people at the time. The peak for Hollywood short films on hurling came in 1955 when the ‘Paramount Topper’, Three Kisses, was nominated for an Oscar.” While these international depictions of Gaelic games provide revealing insights into the depiction of Ireland and Irish culture often from afar, the emergence of an indigenous film culture is inextricably linked to the representation of Gaelic games. The earliest surviving depictions we have of Gaelic games – a 1914 actuality of the All-Ireland football final replay of that year between Kerry and Wexford, and a sequence in the 1918 feature film Knocknagow – emerged from the efforts of pioneering companies and individuals in the story of Irish cinema, including the Irish Animated Picture Company (the first indigenous film producer and distributor) and the Film Company of Ireland, Ireland’s first producer of feature films. In the aftermath of World War II, an Irish Film culture began to coalesce around the efforts of the National Film Institute of Ireland and subsequently Gael Linn. For both organisations, film depictions of Gaelic games were key concerns and featured among their most popular productions, including Gael Linn’s coaching films Peil (1962) and Christy Ring (1964). Seán Crosson is Co-Director of the MA Sports Journalism and Communication and Director of Graduate Research and Teaching at the Huston School of Film & Digital Media at NUI Galway. He is also leader of the Sport & Exercise Research Group, based in the Moore Institute in NUI Galway, and has published widely on film, focusing in particular in recent years on the representation of sport in film. His previous publications include the award-winning Sport and Film, (as co-editor) Sport, Representation and Evolving Identities in Europe, and a special issue of Media History journal on ‘Sport and the Media in Ireland’. The launch will be followed by screenings at 7pm of rarely seen films featuring Gaelic games, including Rooney (1958). -Ends-

Tuesday, 7 May 2019

Professor Peter McHugh has been elected to Fellowship of the Irish Academy of Engineering (IAE). This distinction has been bestowed on Professor McHugh by the IAE in recognition of his “exceptional career and contribution to the advancement of engineering and economic and social progress in Ireland”.  The Irish Academy of Engineering is an all-island body with a mission to advance the wellbeing of the country by marshalling the expertise and insights of eminent engineers to provide independent advice to policy makers on matters involving engineering and technology. Fellowship of the Academy recognises outstanding distinction in engineering in Ireland and overseas, covering academia, public sector, industry and engineering consultancy, with a current membership of 146.  A native of Ballyhaunis, Co. Mayo, Peter McHugh is the Established Professor of Biomedical Engineering, and former Dean of Engineering and Informatics, at NUI Galway. He holds a BE from UCG (1987), and an MSc (1990) and PhD (1992) in Engineering from Brown University, USA. He has a very distinguished record of scholarly achievement, and has been hugely influential in the development of biomedical engineering research and education at NUI Galway over the last 20 years, including the development of significant interactions with the local and national medical technology industry. President of NUI Galway, Professor Ciarán Ó hÓgartaigh, said: “On behalf of colleagues at NUI Galway, I extend warmest congratulations to Peter on this recognition by the Irish Academy of Engineering. His election to Fellowship signals the immense and continuing contribution which Peter continues to make to the field of engineering in Ireland, in particular to the area of biomedical engineering. As an educator, researcher and an academic leader at NUI Galway, Peter has demonstrated his personal talent and his commitment to the advancement of engineering in Irish society. I’m delighted to see his achievements so justly recognised by the Academy in this way.” Speaking about his Fellowship, Professor Peter McHugh, NUI Galway, said: “To be elected to the Irish Academy of Engineering is indeed an honour, and I hope to be able to build on this to further enhance the impact of engineering at NUI Galway and the west of Ireland on the national and international stage.”  For more information about the Irish Academy of Engineering, visit: www.iae.ie. -Ends-

Wednesday, 1 May 2019

NUI Galway has announced four new senior appointments to lead the University’s work in internationalisation, science & engineering, university development and the student experience. Professor Becky Whay will be joining in the role of Vice-President: International; John Concannon has been appointed to a new role of Vice-President: Development; Dr Michelle Millar is the new Dean of Students; and Professor Walter Gear is the new Executive Dean of the College of Science and Engineering.   The four new appointees are part of new management structures being put in place by the University President, Professor Ciarán Ó hÓgartaigh. Announcing the new appointments, Professor Ó hÓgartaigh said: “Our new management structures place an emphasis on our development and growth nationally and internationally, while supporting our distinctive student experience, research, teaching and public engagement. These appointments reflect the ambition, values and sense of purpose, people and place underpinning the new strategy for our University which we look forward to publishing later this year as we begin the next exciting chapter of NUI Galway’s development. NUI Galway is a place which encourages talented people to make a difference and I am delighted that our new appointments commence these roles with that mandate in mind.”   Professor Becky Whay Since 2000, Professor Becky Whay has been working at the University of Bristol which is ranked 51st in the World and 4th in the UK for Research. Most recently she has been Director of Internationalisation for the Faculty of Health Sciences, which is a large, research intensive Faculty supporting the University’s Medical, Dental and Veterinary Schools.  Under Becky’s directorship the Faculty has grown its international student population, increased the levels of international research collaboration and seen significant growth in international institutional partnerships. At the same time, she has shared the Head of School responsibilities for Bristol Veterinary School and led the School through a period of substantial change culminating in a recent high profile, ongoing bid for American Veterinary Medical Association accreditation.   Becky has an international reputation for her research into dairy cattle and working equine welfare and works in areas of the world where human animal interdependency is critical to family livelihoods.  She was the inaugural President of the International Society for the Study of Lameness in Ruminants and has Chaired the Animal Welfare Science, Ethics and Law Veterinary Association. In 2015, she was recipient of the CEVA Farm Animal Welfare of the Year award.   John Concannon Following a successful nine year tenure in various management roles in Unilever, John Concannon returned to Galway as CEO of Ireland West Tourism in 2004. He led the merger of the Regional Tourism Authorities in 2006 in the role of Director of Regional Development for Fáilte Ireland, and following this he took up the role of Director of Market Development with the National Tourism Development Authority. In 2014 he was appointed Director of the “Ireland 2016 Centenary Programme”, the largest cultural initiative undertaken in the history of the State, and subsequently led the development of the “Creative Ireland” programme, to mainstream culture and creativity across public life. Following this, John was appointed as Director of Strategic Communications in the Department of the Taoiseach.  John is currently employed as Assistant Secretary General in the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, in the role of Director General of “Global Ireland”, an initiative designed to double Ireland’s international footprint by 2025, which includes the campaign for Ireland to win a seat on the United Nations Security Council.   John has served as Chairman of Cope Galway (charity for homelessness domestic violence, and elderly support) for eight years, served as Chairman of Gaisce – The President’s Award for six years, is former Chairman of the Galway Age Friendly Initiative, a Co-Creator of Ashoka Irelands ChangeNation, and was a Director of ChangeX.org social enterprise. He is currently a Board Member of Connacht Rugby.   A graduate of NUI Galway, John was selected as Irish “Marketer of the Year” in 2011 for his work marketing Ireland, and was nominated again in 2013 as the Creator of “The Gathering”.   Dr Michelle Millar Dr Michelle Millar has taught in the School of Political Science & Sociology at NUI Galway since September 1998. Teaching Policy and Public Administration to undergraduate Arts, Public & Social Policy and Nursing & Midwifery students and postgraduate Community Development, Family Support and Social Work students, she was awarded the President’s Award for Teaching Excellence in 2017. Michelle has provided programme leadership at undergraduate and postgraduate level since 1998, developed new programmes and served as the Chair of the School Teaching and Learning Committee 2014-18.   In January 2018 she was appointed Head of School Political Science & Sociology. Michelle is a Senior Research Fellow at the UNESCO Child and Family Research Centre and has acted as Principal Investigator on several funded research projects, the most recent an IRC Social Protection Research Innovation Award. Her research interest focuses on social inclusion and parenting specifically those parenting alone which led her to being called as an Expert Witness to the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Social Protection.     Professor Walter Gear Born in Waterford City, Professor Walter Gear moved to England at a young age and studied Physics and Astrophysics at Queen Mary, University of London. Following his PhD in millimetre-wave studies of Active galaxies and a brief sojourn as a postdoc at Lancashire Polytechnic (now UCLAN), he took up a Civil Service Scientific Officer position at the Royal Observatory, Edinburgh supporting the then newly-built James Clerk Maxwell Telescope (JCMT) in Hawaii.   In his time in Edinburgh, Walter led the team building the first large camera for submillimetre wavelengths and spent over a year at the observatory for commissioning and early science. On his return to the UK from Hawaii, Walter moved on to the Mullard Space Sciences Lab at UCL, where he played a major role in the construction of the SPIRE camera and spectrometer for far-infrared wavelengths with the Herschel Space observatory and in its science programme. In 1999, he moved to Cardiff to create the Astronomy Instrumentation group there, and subsequently spent eight years as Head of the School of Physics and Astronomy, and more recently in Deanship roles for Internationalisation and for Postgraduate Studies where he led substantive, strategic change for the benefit of the university and of his colleagues. Over the years, Walter has also taken many roles in peer review and advisory committees in the UK and Europe and is currently a member of the International Oversight Board for the JCMT, which he will continue whilst at NUI Galway, as we have now become a member of the consortium operating the telescope.   These appointments add to the recent appointments of Sharon Bailey and Josephine Hynes who have already recently joined NUI Galway as Bursar/CFO and Director of Human Resources respectively.   -Ends-

Wednesday, 1 May 2019

Kate Kenny, Professor of Business and Society at the J.E. Cairnes School of Business and Economics at NUI Galway has just launched her new book, Whistleblowing: Toward a New Theory (Harvard University Press). An introduction to the book is provided by Dr Tom Clonan and Professor Ricca Edmondson. Despite their substantial contribution to society, whistleblowers are considered martyrs more than heroes. When people expose serious wrongdoing in their organizations, they are often punished or ignored. Many end up isolated by colleagues, their professional careers destroyed. The financial industry, rife with scandals, is the focus of Professor Kate Kenny’s penetrating global study. Introducing whistleblowers from the United States, the United Kingdom, Switzerland, and Ireland working at companies like Wachovia, Halifax Bank of Scotland, and Countrywide–Bank of America, Whistleblowing suggests practices that would make it less perilous to hold the powerful to account and would leave us all better off. Professor Kenny interviewed the men and women who reported unethical and illegal conduct at major corporations in the run up to the 2008 financial crisis. Using the concept of affective recognition to explain how the norms at work powerfully influence understandings of right and wrong, she reframes whistleblowing as a collective phenomenon, not just a personal choice but a vital public service. A number of people were interviewed for the book in relation to their whistleblowing experiences. Paul Moore worked for HBOS bank in the UK when he challenged a problematic sales culture within the organization; Eileen Foster was an executive vice president at Countrywide until she reported systemic home loan fraud; Olivia Greene disclosed wrongdoing in defense of a colleague at Irish Nationwide Building Society; and UK and US whistleblower, Martin Woods reported a series of money-laundering activities at Wachovia Bank. Speaking about the book, Professor Kate Kenny from NUI Galway, commented: “Genuine whistleblowers are often poorly served and supported by society. I wanted to explore why this is so. Through hearing those who have spoken out, we might begin to re-frame accepted attitudes towards whistleblowers.” Kate Kenny is Professor of Business and Society at NUI Galway. Her work focuses on organisations and particularly on how they affect our daily lives as employees and as citizens. Her aim is to see whether new and innovative theories emerging in the field of organization studies might contribute to these questions. Dr Tom Clonan served as an Irish Army Officer from 1989 to 2000. Dr Clonan became one of Ireland’s most high-profile whistleblowers when his research on sexual violence in the Defence Forces led to a Government inquiry. Today he is also a campaigner for disability rights. He is currently a Security Analyst with The Irish Times, providing in-depth defence and military analysis of fast-moving international events. He also provides expert analysis to RTÉ television and radio, and international broadcasters including the BBC and Sky News. Ricca Edmondson is Professor of Political Science and Sociology at NUI Galway. She is also a Visiting Professor at the University of Tampere, Finland, and Editor of the European Journal of Cultural and Political Sociology. Among other work, she is currently carrying out research with colleagues from the US and Canada into forms of motivation to wisdom and virtue. The book launch was hosted by the Whitaker Institute and Management Discipline at NUI Galway. More information about the book, here: http://www.hup.harvard.edu/catalog.php?isbn=9780674975798 -Ends-

Wednesday, 1 May 2019

Psychotherapist, author and trainer, Dr Barbara Dowds will deliver a public lecture entitled ‘Listening to Depression and Anxiety: Human Needs and What Makes Life Worth Living’ at NUI Galway on Thursday, 9 May, at 6pm. During the talk Dr Dowds will address the question as to why depression and anxiety have increased so rapidly in Ireland and worldwide in recent decades. The talk will hear Dr Dowds’ argument that a fragmenting society and an obsession with success and winning have led to a crisis of identity, as people substitute an isolated ‘performing self’ for an authentic connected one. She makes the case that our current crisis of instability and inequality has produced two kinds of human responses. Those who tend to internalise pressures develop depression and/or anxiety. In contrast, there are those who externalise the crisis and express it in the anger, hatred, and blaming we see in populism. Dr Eilis Ward, Lecturer with NUI Galway’s School of Political Science and Sociology, said: “While we are inclined to think about depression and anxiety now as an illness, Barbara's work shows that there is a very close relationship between the economy and society and people's deep sense of themselves. In other words, the social environment we live in is hugely important to our mental and emotional stability. Barbara’s work offers a vitally important analysis, that we suffer hugely when our very basic needs are not being met. She points us towards thinking about the social breakdown that late capitalism produces, its competitiveness, individualism and isolation, and the way this causes depression and anxiety. Her work puts basic human need back into the centre of our view, the need to trust and be trusted, the need for belonging, for fairness and the need to have meaningful relationships in our lives. When these innate needs are not met, we can withdraw and become depressed. This talk will be of interest to all and especially to anyone working in the area of mental health.”  Dr Dowds is a Dublin based psychotherapist who has recently published a book entitled ‘Depression and the Erosion of the Self in Late Capitalism’, which investigates the reason for ongoing increases in depression and anxiety in contemporary society The meeting is being hosted by the School of Political Science and Sociology, NUI Galway and all are welcome. The venue is lecture theatre MRA201 in the Ryan Institute Annex (Wards Shop entrance). For more information contact Eilis Ward, School of Political Science and Sociology, NUI Galway at eilis.ward@nuigalway.ie. -Ends-

Tuesday, 30 April 2019

The e-Assessment Association names advanced assessment provider Qpercom as the winner of Best Use of Summative Assessment Award 2019 The e-Assessment Association recently hosted their international award programme, the e-Assessment Awards in London. The association highlights advancements in e-assessment across all sectors and industries. NUI Galway spin out, Qpercom was selected as winner for ‘Best Use of Summative Assessment 2019’. Winners were selected from a group of global assessment providers by a panel of highly experienced, international experts. Summative Assessment examines the outcome of courses and stands between the student and their accreditation. Qpercom’s Observe software solution was created ten years ago at NUI Galway to digitalise the Objective Structured Clinical Examination (OSCE) used in healthcare education to assess clinical skills of students. Manual correction and analysis of OSCEs was extremely time consuming and expensive before Observe. In clinical practice, as in aviation, a person may only get one opportunity to make a critical decision. There is no room for error in clinical assessments which qualify tomorrow’s clinicians to deal with life and death. Today, thousands of clinical assessments are measured in universities around the world using Observe. Dr Thomas Kropmans, CEO of Qpercom and Senior Lecturer in Medical Informatics and Education at NUI Galway, said: “We have supplied Observe to universities worldwide for over ten years, with thousands of students and their examiners benefiting from the technology. Receiving the Best Use of Summative Assessment award with international recognition from this calibre of assessment providers is the icing on the cake for us. Qpercom’s advanced assessment solutions provides detailed psychometric analysis. Our work allows educators to make reliable decisions of who should pass or fail. These decisions are backed up by embedding the Standard Error of Measurement, which should be incorporated in any kind of robust assessment. “Observe assesses our future clinicians and nothing is more critical than assessing life and death situations. We incorporate best practices in Quality Assurance in our software. Our mission to advance assessment will continue, and we are grateful for this recognition of the direction of our work by the e-Assessment Association.” Qpercom spun out from the School of Medicine at NUI Galway in 2008. Originally based at the University’s Business and Innovation Centre with a team of seven specialists, Qpercom provides advanced assessment software solutions to universities globally, including the University of Dundee, Karolinska Institute and the National University of Singapore. For more information about Qpercom, visit: www.qpercom.com or follow on Twitter @qpercom. View the e-Assessment Awards highlights, here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2-ZzbsTwVHI&feature=youtu.be -Ends-

Tuesday, 30 April 2019

2019 AtlanTec conference at NUI Galway to feature Design Thinking for Teens, Tech Tag World Championships, the Digital Women’s Forum and more The international line-up of expert speakers has been announced for the AtlanTec 2019 conference at NUI Galway on Thursday, 30 May. Now in its fifth year, the conference is a cornerstone of the AtlanTec Festival organised by the non-profit IT Association Galway (ITAG). This year’s conference title is ‘The art of artificial intelligence and machine learning, new paradigm or false dawn?’ The event will combine futuristic thinking, real-life case examples, and deep-dives into technologies and trends. Over 400 business leaders, expert software developers, and technologists are expected to attend the day-long conference. Dynamic keynote talks and panel discussions will feature futurist Denis Rivin, IBM expert Steve Tolle, medical innovator Catharine Bowman, Ally Watson from Code Like a Girl and Microsoft’s Gary Short. Three afternoon parallel sessions will cover Artificial Intelligence (AI) Implementation, Tools and Techniques and the MedTech AI Revolution. Caroline Cawley, CEO of ITAG, says: “Great minds are attracted by the AtlanTec conference’s growing popularity year on year, and by the region’s worldwide IT reputation. We are delighted to welcome such excellent speakers and delegates. The conference will be the endnote to the AtlanTec Festival which kicked off in April. Other events include, Design Thinking for Teens, Music Technology with the Swansea Laptop Orchestra, Tech Tag World Championships, the Digital Women’s Forum Afternoon Tea and a series of schools events for secondary school students and STEAM Inspiration.”  Ireland is at the heart of ICT (Information and Communications Technology) in Europe, with eight of the top ten global software companies based here. The industry employs over 37,000 people and generates €35 billion in exports annually.  David Murphy, Director of Knowledge Transfer and Innovation at NUI Galway’s Innovation Office, said: “The west of Ireland has a range of strong, vibrant technology companies operating in an innovation ecosystem which is supported by world-class education, research, and business supports. This ecosystem provides a platform for companies to have global impact from the region whether they are individual entrepreneurs, scaling indigenous companies, or large multinational corporations.”  For further details on the conference visit: http://atlantec.ie/atlantec-conference/ and follow on Twitter @atlantecfest and on Facebook at AtlanTec Festival.  View short AtlanTec video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=76lpiUDG428. -Ends-

Monday, 29 April 2019

Fees for Postgraduate Courses to Remain at EU levels for current and incoming students  NUI Galway today announced that students from Northern Ireland and Great Britain who enrol for postgraduate taught courses for the 2019/2020 academic year will be treated in the same manner as EU citizens for the duration of their course regardless of the nature of Brexit. UK students enrolling on a full-time taught postgraduate course in 2019 will also be considered eligible for the Taught Masters Scholarship Scheme, a scholarship valued at €1,500 awarded to EU students presenting a first-class honours (or equivalent) in a Level 8 primary degree.   The University is keen to address student concerns amid continuing uncertainty around the nature of Brexit. NUI Galway will adopt this approach in 2019 so that all students treated as EU, once in the system, will continue to be so treated for the full duration of their studies. The University is also working with the rest of the system to try to ensure a common approach for students coming in from 2020 onwards. Speaking on the matter, NUI Galway Registrar and Deputy President, Professor Pól Ó Dochartaigh, said: “As our University campuses span the west of Ireland and include the border region in Donegal, we are extremely mindful of the impact of Brexit on this island. We are committed to playing our part to equip students and researchers with the tools needed to understand and address issues emerging from this rupture to the EU block, as the European project faces its biggest challenge in a generation.  “As an increasingly uncertain process continues, our Northern Irish and Great Britain students will at least have certainty on their educational status, and we look forward to supporting them in engaging with this new European landscape in the coming years. We would encourage students both in the North and in Great Britain to look to NUI Galway to pursue the next stage of their education. For many Northerners in particular, who might currently be studying in Great Britain, this is the perfect opportunity to come back to Ireland for postgraduate study.”  -Ends-

Monday, 29 April 2019

NUI Galway students who have taken an entrepreneurial journey recently pitched their ideas for a healthcare solution in the mHealth domain. The programme delivered by LaunchPad, NUI Galway’s student entrepreneurship hub, has trained over 30 student innovators develop novel solutions to real world problems which have the potential for global impact. The programme is funded as part of the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT) Health which is a network of best-in-class health innovators backed by the EU. The programme focussed on two challenges: supporting those diagnosed with dementia to remain autonomous and independent, and supporting those living a sedentary lifestyle whose health has started to deteriorate. The programme built momentum through an eight week-long series of workshops designed to support students to develop as a team, understand customer discover, design thinking and the lean canvas.  The winning project, Hear Me, is a hearing device designed to assist people with cognitive decline. It has a machine learning aspect to support memory recall, music therapy and voice recognition. The technology adapts and grows with the user.  The winning team were Ross Dempsey, Harshal Deshmukh, Ketan Udaysingh Bhadoriya, Mark Caffery and Hemant Kumar Surouthia with backgrounds in Physics, Business Analytics, Information Systems and Exercise Physiology. The winning team was mentored by Claire O’Sullivan from BioInnovate Ireland.   Second prize was awarded to Zeel, which focused on solving the problem of limited physical activity by individuals who are not motivated and have poor habit-forming techniques. Zeel builds on the human psychology of positive habit-forming, and promotes a healthier lifestyle through real rewards and competitive social interactions. Team Zeel are Joshua Chao, Laura McDermott, Kevin Lee, Paul Walsh and Ciarán McDermott. The team members have backgrounds in Engineering, Science, Business and Medicine. The team was mentored by Dr Robert McEvoy, BioInnovate Ireland. Third prize was awarded to the Unforgettapil team. Market research from dementia care specialists and recently diagnosed patients showed that one problem stood out above the rest; compliance with medication. Unforgettapil tackled this problem through an innovative wearable device which dispenses daily medication. Smart canisters and time-controlled delivery encourages adherence to a medication regime by incorporating it into daily life. Team Unforgettapil include Liezel Ravenscroft, Sarah Murphy, Christopher Patti, Corey Cunningham and Balaji Ayyalusamy Seenivasa Raghavan. The students have backgrounds in Medicine, Engineering and Business Analytics. The team was mentored by Damien Moloney, BioInnovate Ireland. The ultimate goal of EIT Health Campus Entrepreneurship labs is to offer an experiential training programme connecting business, research and innovation with students so they can master the craft of entrepreneurship and innovation through real life cases. NUI Galway is a new site for the EIT Health Campus E-Lab Programme. Natalie Walsh, Executive Director of the programme at NUI Galway said: “We are passionate about our programme expanding and creating new international platforms to showcase our growing student innovation community. The EIT Health E-Lab is an excellent fit for our campus, particularly given NUI Galway’s position as a global hub for MedTech education, training and innovation. Creating these types of opportunities for our students showcase the value of diversity, inclusiveness and team building to innovative practices and having access to world class mentors including our colleagues in BioInnovate Ireland, give students a unique and highly valuable experience.” The top performing teams will travel to Spain in June to represent NUI Galway at the EIT Health Campus E-Lab finals. -Ends-

Monday, 29 April 2019

Marine litter and microplastics have become a huge global issue and their negative impact on marine animals causes great concern. A new study led by marine scientists from the Ryan Institute at NUI Galway in collaboration with UCC and Villefranche sur Mer Laboratory has found that microplastics may also impact on important ecosystem processes which facilitate the uptake of carbon dioxide from our atmosphere. The research was published in the international peer-reviewed journal Environmental Science and Technology. The study’s findings suggest that the uptake and the long-term storage of atmospheric carbon dioxide in our oceans that is fuelled by key organisms may be negatively impacted by microplastics. Carbon dioxide (CO2) is a greenhouse gas released during the burning of fossil fuels and its atmospheric levels have continually risen over the past couple of centuries. It is naturally absorbed by our oceans through biological, chemical, and physical processes. The research team from NUI Galway, the Villefranche Ocean Observatoire, France and UCC studied how microplastics interact with marine animals called salps. Salps are jellyfish-like animals and they play a very important role in this uptake of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and its downward transport to the sea floor where the carbon gets stored. Lead author of the study, Alina Wieczorek, Ryan Institute, NUI Galway, explains: “Our oceans are estimated to have captured one quarter to one half of all human-derived carbon dioxide from the atmosphere in the last two centuries and this downward transport of carbon by salps and other zooplankton animals accounts for a major portion of this.” At the sea surface, microscopic algae turn dissolved CO2 into fuel (organic carbon). These algae are consumed by many different animals and form the basis of the marine foodweb. As this organic carbon is passed up through the food chain much of it is respired and converted back into CO2 which is then released into the ocean and the atmosphere. However, some of the captured carbon is transported to the sea floor in the form of sinking particles. This is where salps play an important role. They ingest algae at the sea surface and produce dense faecal pellets, which rapidly sink to the deep sea, carrying with them some of this captured carbon. However, during laboratory experiments carried out at the Villefranche Ocean Observatory the researchers found that when salps ingest microplastics and incorporated them into their faecal pellets they did not sink as fast anymore. Alina Wieczorek adds: “Our study suggests that salp faecal pellets will remain at the sea surface for longer when they contain microplastics and while there, they may get broken down causing the carbon dioxide to be re-released back into the ocean and atmosphere. These findings show that microplastics have the potential to lower the efficiency of one of the most important natural processes occurring within our oceans, that is, the biologically driven transport of CO2 to the seafloor.” The researchers also noted that while alterations in the density of the salp faecal pellets may cause some of them to be recycled in the upper waters, some may still reach the sea floor and transport the microplastics within them to the deep sea. Recent findings of microplastics in the Mariana Trench, the deepest point on Earth located in the western Pacific Ocean, support this theory. Dr Fabien Lombard, a co-author of this study, Villefranche sur Mer Laboratory (Sorbonne Université), explains: “Most studies focus on the quantity of plastic in the oceans, but when looking at these quantities, it appears that a large quantity of the smaller plastic is “missing” and disappears from the sea surface without a clear explanation. Such transport mediated by zooplankton faecal pellets may explain why plastics are even found in deep sediments.” Dr Tom Doyle, senior author of the study from UCC, (formerly NUI Galway), comments: “Our study highlights that marine litter and microplastics may impact on animals and even ecosystems in ways we just haven’t considered yet. However, it is very important to point out that our study was carried out in a laboratory and under controlled conditions. We now need to go out into the field to further test our hypothesis by quantifying the abundance of microplastics found in salps and their faecal pellets in different areas of our oceans.” The study was funded by an NUI Galway postgraduate scholarship and by the PLASTOX Project under the Marine Institute’s Marine Research Programme run by the Irish Government via framework of JPI Oceans. The research was also supported by the European Marine Biological Research Centre-France, whose French state funds are managed by the ANR within the Investments of the Future program. This research was further supported by a research grant from Science Foundation Ireland’s (SFI) Irish Centre for Research in Applied Geoscience (iCRAG), co-funded under the European Research Development Fund and by PIPCO RSG and its member companies.  To read the full study in Environmental Science and Technology, see: http://dx.doi.org/10.1021/acs.est.8b07174 Video of the Salp study: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8mCLaj9cy9g&feature=youtu.be -Ends-

Monday, 29 April 2019

Renowned film theorist Professor Laura Mulvey to deliver keynote address Monday, 29 April, 2019: Renowned film theorist Professor Laura Mulvey, Senior Professor of Film Studies at Birkbeck College, University of London, and Dr Denis Condon, NUI Maynooth, will deliver the keynote addresses at the 15th Irish Screen Studies Seminar. The Seminar will take place at the Huston School of Film & Digital Media, NUI Galway from 9-10 May. The Irish Screen Studies Seminar provides a unique platform for the presentation of new work – research, practice, and research through practice – by scholars and filmmakers from third-level institutions on the island of Ireland, as well as those working on Irish screen-related topics in other universities and colleges worldwide. Dr Conn Holohan, Lecturer in film at the Huston School and board member of Irish Screen Studies said: “We are delighted to welcome the seminar back to NUI Galway for the first time since 2011. This year will see researchers and practitioners from across Ireland and beyond delivering papers on an exciting range of topics, from contemporary Irish cinema to video activism in Iran. We are particularly excited to welcome our two keynote speakers, Professor Laura Mulvey and Dr Denis Condon.” Professor Mulvey’s keynote address will explore her use of digital technology to remix Hollywood films of the 1950s and will be followed by a screening of her avant-garde classic Riddles of The Sphinx, which she co-directed with Peter Wollen in 1977. Professor Mulvey is responsible for some of the most influential publications in the field of film studies over the past forty-five years, including her 1975 article ‘Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema’, which remains a foundational text for feminist film theory, and her 2006 book Death 24x a Second, which explored the role new media technologies play in our experience of film.  Dr Condon’s talk will focus on the moral panic generated by the popular press around the supposedly increased working-class criminality engendered by cinema-going in Ireland in the 1910s. Dr Condon is a Lecturer in film at NUI Maynooth and has published widely on early cinema going in Ireland, including the 2008 book Early Irish Cinema, 1895-1921. The Huston School of Film & Digital Media is the leading centre for research and teaching in film and digital media in the West of Ireland. The school offers teaching and research programmes at both undergraduate and postgraduate levels (up to PhD), including the recently launched BA in Film & Digital Media and pioneering MA degrees in Film Studies: Theory and Practice, MA in Film Production & Direction, MA in Digital Media, MA in Public Advocacy and Activism, and MA in Sports Journalism and Communication. The full programme for the Irish Screen Studies Seminar can be found at www.irishscreenstudies.ie.  Further information on the Huston school is available here: http://www.filmschool.ie/ -Ends-

Wednesday, 24 April 2019

Studies illustrate the potential impacts of changes in clinical guidelines for primary prevention of cardiovascular disease Clinical guidelines have widened eligibility for cholesterol lowering drugs (statins) Evidence to support statin use is limited Statin use impacts large proportion of Irish population and healthcare budgets with potential associated costs rising from €14 million to €107 million per annum New research from the J.E. Cairnes School of Business and Economics at NUI Galway has examined the impacts of changes to recommendations of clinical guidelines for the prevention of cardiovascular disease. The study published today (24 April 2019) in the British Journal of General Practice, calculated that the proportion of a sample of people in Ireland aged over-50 who did not have cardiovascular disease but who could be eligible for statins (cholesterol lowering drugs), increased from 8% in 1987 to 61% in 2016. Follow-up research to this study was also published today (24 April 2019) in the journal BMJ Open, which for the first time exclusively used primary prevention data that examined the evidence to support statin use in primary prevention and found considerable uncertainty as to whether statin use in people without cardiovascular disease is beneficial. Background Statins are cholesterol lowering drugs that are used to prevent cardiovascular disease. They are prescribed to those who already have established cardiovascular disease, (for example, those who have had a heart attack or stroke, which is referred to as secondary prevention) as well as those without prior cardiovascular disease (primary prevention). An earlier study by the researchers, published in September 2018, found that almost one third of adults in a sample of over-50 year olds in Ireland took statins. Of these, almost two thirds took statins for primary prevention of cardiovascular disease, but there was a notable difference between men and women. 57% of men who were taking statins did not have cardiovascular disease compared to 73% of women who were taking statins. Statins are widely prescribed and command a large share of drug expenditure in Ireland and other countries. In 2016, statins ranked as fifth in terms of highest expenditure under the medical card scheme and the second most prescribed type of medicine on the scheme. An increasingly larger proportion of the population are using statins, and this is becoming very resource intensive and arguably unsustainable. Summary of two new studies The British Journal of General Practice study found that while in 1987, 8% of a sample of over-50’s who did not have cardiovascular disease could have been eligible for statins, by 2016, 61% of the same sample would be eligible, with associated costs rising from €14 million to €107 million per annum. In 1987, 40 of the people in the lowest risk category would have had to be treated to prevent one cardiovascular event and by 2016, 400 people would have to be treated for the same impact. The proportion of statin-eligible patients achieving risk reductions that patients regard as justifying taking a daily medicine, fell as guidelines changed over time. The BMJ Open study examined the evidence that underpins statin use in people without cardiovascular disease. Before being prescribed a statin, it is recommended that a person’s baseline risk of cardiovascular disease is estimated. This can be determined by GP’s using risk calculators. If a person’s risk is estimated above a certain threshold, statin therapy may be recommended. In this study, the authors looked at the results from statin trials (reported in systematic reviews) according to peoples’ levels of risk. They found that in most categories of risk, there was considerable uncertainty as to whether statins could benefit the patient. For those who are already at low-risk of cardiovascular disease, the benefit (if there is one) may be so miniscule that it would not justify taking a daily medicine or taking the chance that they may experience side-effects. From the perspective of overstretched healthcare budgets, statin use in some low-risk people may represent overuse of medicine and low-value care thus warranting more careful consideration. Lead author of the studies, Paula Byrne, SPHeRE scholar, J.E. Cairnes School of Business and Economics, NUI Galway, said: “Increased eligibility for statin therapy impacts large proportions of our population and healthcare budgets. Decisions to take and reimburse statins should be considered on the basis of cost-effectiveness and acceptability to some low-risk patients. One would have to question whether some patients, who may achieve very small reductions in risk of cardiovascular disease by taking statins, would agree to take this medication were they fully informed. From a societal perspective, we need to ask whether or not statin use in such people represents value for money in the health sector.” Findings The overarching aim of the British Journal of General Practice study was to explore the impact of changing clinical guidelines on statins for the prevention of cardiovascular events over time, incorporating patient preferences regarding preventive treatments. This involved four analyses. First, the authors estimated the increasing proportions of people who would be considered eligible for statin treatment according to each of the seven European Society of Cardiology/European Atherosclerosis Society (ESC/EAS) guidelines from 1987 to 2016. Second, the authors estimated the potential cost increases associated with each consecutive guideline recommendation. Third, the ‘numbers-needed-to-treat’ (NNT) to prevent one major vascular event in patients at the lowest baseline risk for which each guideline recommended treatment was calculated, as well as for those at low, medium, high, and very-high risk according to the most recent 2016 guideline. Finally, the authors compared these ‘numbers-needed-to-treat’ with those reported by patients as being the minimum benefit they would need to justify taking a daily medicine. Changes in recommendations for the use of statins have resulted in almost two thirds of over-50’s in Ireland and similar countries being considered eligible for statin therapy. This has implications for the medicalisation of large proportions of the Irish population, as well as for already resource constrained healthcare budgets. The value for money of the widening use of statins should be considered from both a societal and individual perspective. The decision to take and reimburse statins could be informed by ‘numbers-needed-to-treat’, which are large in some risk categories. As seen from the analysis, the researchers found a proportion of their sample would require significantly greater reductions in absolute risk to justify taking a daily medication of statins. To read the full study on the analysis of changing clinical guidelines in the British Journal of General Practice, visit: https://bjgp.org/content/early/2019/04/22/bjgp19X702701 To read the full overview of systematic reviews describing the evidence to support statin use in primary prevention in BMJ Open, visit: https://bmjopen.bmj.com/content/9/4/e023085 To read the September 2018 study describing the proportion of statin users in an Irish sample in BMJ Open, visit: https://bmjopen.bmj.com/content/8/2/e018524 -Ends-

Wednesday, 24 April 2019

Members of the Travelling community officially launched the first Traveller student society in Ireland this week. The Minceir Whiden Society was co-founded this year by Traveller students at NUI Galway and the Galway Traveller Movement. ‘Minceir Whiden’ means ‘Travellers Talking’ in the Cant language, which is spoken by the Irish Travelling community. Riona Hughes, Societies Officer at NUI Galway, said: “The Societies Office in NUI Galway is delighted to be the first to include a Traveller society among their list of societies. We look forward to many collaborations and to support inclusion in third level and look forward to a productive year for the society. Congratulations to all the students involved in the initiative.” The society aims to work towards increasing Traveller participation in third level education, while providing a safe and welcoming space on campus. At present, just 1% of the travelling community hold a third-level qualification, with just 9% of Traveller children completing the Leaving Certificate compared to 86% of the settled population. NUI Galway student Owen Ward said: “One of the main objectives of the society is to empower members of the Travelling community to enter third-level education, while being encouraged and supported by NUI Galway. At present, there is a small number of Traveller students studying at NUI Galway across numerous disciplines. Also, it is of paramount importance to build positive alliances and relationships between Traveller students and the student and staff body at NUI Galway, as well as the wider community.” -Ends-